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Foods that boost your studying brainpower

Sarah Kelsey is a lifestyle writer, editor and spokesperson based in Toronto. She was the editor of AOL/The Huffington Post Canada’s StyleList, Style and Living sites. Today, she's a freelancer writing for some of North America’s top pub...

Super foods

Looking for an intellectual leg up when it comes to your studies? Boost your brainpower with a few of these vitamin- and nutrient-rich foods.

Woman eating sandwich

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Why: Research suggests that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps protect the brain from degeneration and improves the quality of the brain's cells. This helps boost your ability to concentrate on certain tasks, including studying. Our bodies do not naturally produce omega-3 fatty acids, so it's vital you eat the right foods to get them into your daily diet.

What you should be eating: Fish, such as salmon and herring; nuts and seeds, such as pumpkin, and fortified eggs

Vitamin B1

Why: A key protector and regulator of the nervous system, vitamin B1 (aka, thiamine) helps the body metabolize carbohydrates, converting them into fuel that can be used by the brain for energy (necessary for memory and focus).

What you should be eating: Whole grains; leafy greens; sunflower seeds; certain fish, such as tuna; carrots; asparagus

Folic Acid

Why: Recent research into the causes of Alzheimer's and brain degeneration shows that maintaining an adequate supply of folic acid can protect the brain from the early signs of aging. What's more, constant mental or physical stress (as when facing deadlines or exams) depletes the body of this important nutrient, impairing your brain's ability to function properly.

What you should be eating: Spinach and other dark green vegetables; lima beans; cantaloupe; watermelon; wheat germ; liver

Antioxidants

Why: Absorbed by the body from certain fruits and vegetables, antioxidants stave off the negative effects of free radicals on the body's cells. The more antioxidants you eat, the healthier your cells -- and therefore your brain. Getting enough on a daily basis also protects your brain from degeneration and helps sharpen memory and focus.

What you should be eating: Tomatoes; blueberries; dark chocolate; leafy greens; nuts; grapes

Iron

Why: Iron deficiency can cause all sorts of problems, including a shortened attention span. That's largely because iron helps carry oxygen to your brain through red blood cells, keeping the brain alert and attentive. Women may need an iron supplement due to blood loss during periods (check with your doctor first). Vitamin C boosts your body's iron-absorbing powers, so eat some fruits and veggies with whatever meat you cook up.

What you should be eating: Leafy greens; lean meats; fortified cereals

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