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Brain-Friendly B Vitamins

Protect your brain by kicking up your B vitamin intake, especially if your diet isn't the healthiest. Getting enough B vitamins to avoid deficiency may prevent a number of brain issues, such as seizures, strokes and Alzheimer's disease.

Here's how B vitamins can help protect your brain.

VITAMINS B6, B12 Vitamins B12 and B6 help the body use fats and protein, make red blood cells and promote proper brain and nervous system function. It's rare to have a vitamin B6 deficiency, but vegans and strict vegetarians are at increased risk of a B12 deficiency, as this vitamin is found naturally in animal-derived foods.

B12 deficiency causes several problems in the brain and nervous system, including numbness and tingling. If it progresses too far, you might even see degeneration of parts of the brain.

For vegans, strict vegetarians and those at risk of a B12 deficiency - particularly older adults, because the risk increases with age - a multivitamin might help. For most people, their diet will have enough B12 to prevent a deficiency. The best sources of B12 include clams, beef, fish and milk products. If you can't or won't be getting enough B12 in your diet, check with your doctor to see what your B12 levels are and find out the best multivitamin to take.

VITAMIN B9 Another B-vitamin that everyone should be thinking about is vitamin B9, more commonly known as folate or folic acid. Evidence increasingly suggests that folate, along with other B vitamins, are essential for brain health. As a bonus, this little vitamin packs a big health punch for men and women of every age, so taking a folic acid supplement is usually a good idea even if you eat a folate-rich diet.

Like with other B-vitamins, most people get acceptable amounts of folic acid in their diets. Great sources include dark, leafy greens, beets, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, whole grains, kidney and white beans, peanuts, avocado, orange juice and fortified cereal. However, pregnant women and women who are trying to become pregnant are often advised to take a supplement anyway, which can help lower the risk of neural tube defects, including brain damage in fetuses.

This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.

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