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What Is Required for a Healthy Nervous System?

By Caitlin Shih
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A healthy nervous system is best maintained by supporting the body nutritionally as a whole; any deficiencies will almost always come back to impact the nervous system as well. Carbs, proteins, calcium, and other nutrients in particular play key roles in the function of the nervous system and of the brain specifically. Certain vitamins, including vitamin B1, B6, and B12, are especially influential in a healthy nervous system. In addition, good fats and water are essential for proper nervous system function, especially given the fact that the brain is composed mainly of those two. While healthy lifestyle choices on the whole are a key aspect of maintaining any bodily function, individuals may also do certain activities specifically designed to exercise the nervous system.

Carbohydrates are essential in providing the brain with the energy it needs to maintain a healthy nervous system, as the brain burns through glucose 10 times faster than any other bodily tissue. Complex carbohydrates are ideal for providing the brain with enough continuous energy to reach its full potential and are most often available in oatmeal, brown rice, and bran. Proteins provide the essential building blocks for all areas of the body, making them vital for sustaining the nerves and the brain. These can be found in meat, fish, nuts, and dairy.

Calcium aids the body by maintaining nerve impulse conduction and muscle contraction. Whole milk is a popular source of calcium, but this nutrient can also be found in certain fruits and green, leafy vegetables. Choline is another nutrient required for a healthy nervous system, as it specifically helps to build the neurotransmitters that pass electrical impulses through the brain. This can be found in peanuts, egg yolks, and liver.

Vitamin B1, or thiamine, helps to advance the production of amino acids, which are the necessary building blocks for a healthy nervous system. Thiamine can be found especially in brown rice, pork, and whole-wheat bread. Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine and provides the materials required for the creation of neurotransmitters. Potatoes, fish, and legumes are particularly high in vitamin B6. Vitamin B12 is essential for myelin, the coating material that protects the nerves, and it can be found in eggs, milk, and red meat.

Nearly 70% of the human brain is composed of water, and 50 to 60% of the remaining dry weight is fat, making these two absolutely necessary for proper brain function. Keeping fully hydrated is fundamental for facilitating communication within the brain as well as between the brain and the body. Healthy fat can be found in nuts, oils, and cold-water fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Omega-3 fatty acids in particular are important, making up 35% of the fat in the brain.

A nutritious lifestyle in general is the surest way to maintain a healthy nervous system, including the avoidance of hydrogenated oils, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to chemicals such as pesticides. Proper stress and mood management can also aid greatly in maintaining overall health. In addition, individuals can perform certain exercises that specifically employ the nervous system; for example, writing on paper for 15 minutes a day as neatly as possible greatly engages all major aspects of the body's nervous system.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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