4 important B-vitamins for brain health  

Soft boiled eggs on top of toast

Regardless of your age or life stage- nurturing your brain is essential. And while many factors play an important role in your brain health, like quality sleep, exercise and managing stress, proper nutrition can also have a major impact. Here’s 4 B-vitamins that play a vital role in ensuring a healthy brain: folate, vitamin B12, riboflavin, and thiamine.  

But first, what are B-vitamins? 

B-vitamins are a family of 8 vitamins that play many critical roles in your body, including energy metabolism, blood cell formation – and you guessed it – proper brain function.1 They’re water-soluble, meaning any B-vitamins that your body does not need immediately, get excreted in your pee. Since your body does not have any B-vitamin reserves to dip into, it’s important to meet your daily needs through diet or supplements. 

1. Folate (folic acid) – vitamin B9 

Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is essential for preserving brain health. It’s a key building block for neurotransmitters – brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin which impact your mood and memory.2,3 Low levels of folate can lead to increased irritability, brain fog and fatigue. Keep those blah days at bay by piling your plate with folate rich foods including leafy greens, fruits, eggs, beans and nuts. Taking a folate supplement may be necessary if you have certain digestive disorders, are deficient, or are pregnant or breastfeeding. When shopping for a supplement- you’ll likely see folate listed in its synthetic form- folic acid. Don’t let the word ‘synthetic’ deter you. Folic acid is a well absorbed, acceptable form of folate.*    

2. Cobalamin – vitamin B12 

Of all the B vitamins to support brain health, vitamin B12 is probably the most well-known. This celebrity vitamin helps produce red blood cells that carry much needed oxygen to your brain. Vitamin B12, like its partner in crime folate, is also needed to churn out those “happy” chemicals that impact your mood.5 Good sources of vitamin B12 are beef, clams, salmon, and eggs. If you’re on a strict vegetarian or vegan diet, adding nutritional yeast or a B12 supplement can help ensure you’re getting enough.* 

3. Riboflavin – vitamin B2 

You may already be familiar with the eye-promoting benefits of riboflavin, but it also plays a role in keeping your brain healthy. Riboflavin assists enzymes in your cells to carry out important brain functions and helps keep your brain chemicals in check.6 Riboflavin may also help combat mild headaches and discomfort, which are thought to be caused by imbalances in brain chemicals, though more research is needed.4 Riboflavin can be found in beef, milk, almonds, eggs, and fortified oats.*  

4. Thiamine – vitamin B1 

Thiamine is vital for keeping up your mental strength and mood. It plays an incredibly important role in converting nutrients into energy for your brain cells to work properly. While 94% of people get enough thiamine in their diet- confusion and short-term memory loss are often the first signs of deficiency.7  Pork chops, mussels, tuna, black beans, and acorn squash are great sources of thiamine.*  

About Author  

Natalie is a nutritionist with a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of North Florida. Natalie believes that proper nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated and is determined to help others reach their health goals. 

Do you have questions about supplements? Reach out to one of our experts, or take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.     

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.      
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.        


  1. Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy–A Review. Nutrients. 2016 Jan 27;8(2):68. doi: 10.3390/nu8020068. PMID: 26828517; PMCID: PMC4772032.
  2. Ma, F., Wu, T., Zhao, J. et al. Folic acid supplementation improves cognitive function by reducing the levels of peripheral inflammatory cytokines in elderly Chinese subjects with MCI. Sci Rep 6, 37486 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep37486
  3. Miller AL. The methylation, neurotransmitter, and antioxidant connections between folate and depression. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Sep;13(3):216-26. PMID: 18950248.
  4. Soh Y, Lee DH, Won CW. Association between Vitamin B12 levels and cognitive function in the elderly Korean population. Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 Jul 24;99(30):e doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000021371. PMID: 32791746; PMCID: PMC7387066.
  5. Marashly ET, Bohlega Riboflavin Has Neuroprotective Potential: Focus on Parkinson’s Disease and Migraine. Front Neurol. 2017 Jul 20;8:333. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2017.00333. PMID: 28775706; PMCID: PMC5517396.
  6.  Thompson DF, Saluja HS. Prophylaxis of migraine headaches with riboflavin: A systematic review. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2017 Aug;42(4):394-403. doi: 10.1111/jcpt.12548. Epub 2017 May 8. PMID: 28485121.
  7. Valizadeh M, Valizadeh N. Obsessive compulsive disorder as early manifestation of B12 deficiency. Indian J Psychol Med. 2011 Jul;33(2):203-4. doi: 10.4103/0253-7176.92051. PMID: 22345852; PMCID: PMC3271502.

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