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Mental Performance

Everything you do in life: exercise, school, work and hobbies depend on your general well-being and a good mental performance. In this article, we will go through 8 effective tips on how to improve your everyday mental performance.

Woman sitting at a computer.

Get tips on how to perform your best mentally.

1. Carbohydrates and blood sugar

Your brain uses glucose as fuel, which means that you should first and foremost make sure you eat enough carbohydrates. Your brain mainly gets glucose from your blood sugar, which, in other words, is glucose in the blood. Make sure you have an even blood sugar level by eating regularly and focusing on consuming slow carbohydrates. If you haven’t eaten for a while and need to increase your blood sugar quickly, you should consume fast carbohydrates, e.g. a sports drink or a bar. However, this is only if necessary.

Another aid to maintaining stable blood sugar levels is the mineral chromium. You can get this into your body by eating e.g. mussels, tuna, nuts or taking a chromium supplement.

2. Drink water

During physical activity or in warmer environments, fluid loss occurs easily, which can lead to a deteriation in your mental performance. Studies have shown that a fluid loss corresponding to 2% or more of the total body weight can lead to a deterioration in both physical and mental performance. This means that a man weighing 80 kg can experience a significant reduction in performance if he loses about 1.5 liters of fluid.

The requirement differs significantly between different individuals, e.g. due to varying degrees of activity and the surrounding temperature. Normally, the fluid losses for a normal person are between 2-2.5 liters per day. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least 1 ml per kcal. A man weighing 80 kg consumes about 2000 kcal per day, which means that he should drink about 2 liters per day.

If you want to optimize your rehydration, a sports drink is preferable as the content of both carbohydrates and salts stimulates both absorption and storage of fluid.

3. Fatty fish makes you smart

Fatty fish, such as salmon, contains a special omega 3 fatty acid called DHA. This is the main fatty acid in your brain and your central nervous system. Intake of DHA is therefore important for your brain to function normally. An easy way to get DHA into your body if you do not eat fatty fish regularly is through an omega 3 supplement.

4. Start the day with oatmeal

When it comes to mental performance, a certain category of substances deserves a mention: B vitamins. There are many different B vitamins that all have different properties and functions. However, in this context, four of these B vitamins should be given a little extra time in the spotlight - niacin, vitamin B5 (also known as pantothenic acid) and folic acid.

A deficiency of niacin, also called vitamin B3, can cause dementia, fatigue and memory loss, while pantothenic acid plays an important role in the function of all cells, including brain and nerve cells. Since common deficiency symptoms are also fatigue and sleep disorders, you should make sure that you get enough pantothenic acid. Folic acid is also an important player in this context, as typical deficiency symptoms are weakness, fatigue and difficulty concentrating.

B-vitamin rich foods are above all whole grain and dairy products. So what could be better than oatmeal with milk? However, many people prefer a supplement containing the most important B vitamins.

5. Minerals for the brain

In meat, fish and eggs, there are two important players: Iron and zinc. Iron is very important for oxygen transport, and too low an iron intake depreciates your body’s ability to transport oxygen, which can have a negative effect on your mental ability.  Common symptoms of iron deficiency are decreased attention and poor memory and verbal ability.

The other important mineral, zinc, plays an important role in the functioning of the nervous system, and studies have also shown that the addition of zinc leads to improved results in connection with memory tests.

6. Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a substance with a long tradition that in modern times has attracted attention in the research world where, among other things. attempts have been made to demonstrate its positive effect on mental performance and focus. Research has shown varied results, but it’s clear that Rhodiola rosea is one of the most common and popular health food supplements. Many people experience improved mental sharpness and energy in everyday life.

7. A cup of coffee for increased alertness

Caffeine, which is found mainly in coffee, but also in tea, cocoa and various energy drinks and supplements can have a positive effect on your mental performance. For example, the effect of caffeine on alertness has been investigated in studies where reactivity is used as a benchmark.

To achieve this positive effect, you should consume at least 75 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to about a cup of coffee. In the studies, however, pure caffeine has been used, which is only available in supplements, as it leads to a faster and clearer response. It may therefore be more beneficial to consume caffeine tablets or an energy drink with added caffeine.

8. Tyrosine and dopamine

Dopamine acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and has a number of important physiological functions in the body. Above all, it is important for sleep, attention, memory and learning. Dopamine is formed in the adrenal glands with the amino acid tyrosine as a precursor. Many people therefore take tyrosine supplements when their mental performance needs to be at its best.

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