Brain fog: Is a vitamin deficiency affecting your cognitive function?

Brain fog is all about mental confusion, poor concentration and an inability to focus. Know the causes of brain fog.
Brain fog
Brain fog can affect your daily activities. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 22 Nov 2023, 08:59 am IST
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Brain fog is not a scientific or a medical term, but it is used to describe a state of mental confusion and impaired cognitive function. You may get a feeling of haziness, find it difficult to concentrate and face memory lapses. People experiencing brain fog may find it challenging to think clearly or perform mental tasks efficiently. Stop losing your mental peace over why it happens. Read on to know the causes of brain fog and effective ways to treat it.

Brain fog is essentially a cognitive fog that temporarily clouds mental clarity and impacts daily functioning, senior neurologit Dr Naveen Kumar tells Health Shots.

Woman having a headache
Brain fog can be due to many reasons. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the causes of brain fog?

The cognitive fog can be influenced by many factors including:

1. Inadequate sleep

Insufficient rest can leave you feeling tired the whole day, and it also disrupts neurotransmitter balance, affecting cognitive processes.

2. Dietary factors

Poor nutrition, including deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, can contribute to cognitive fog. A 2021 study published in the Nutrients showed that a vitamin B12 deficiency, which helps in healthy function of the brain, can cause brain fog.

3. Chronic stress

Prolonged stress triggers the release of cortisol, which can impair cognitive functions and contribute to brain fog.

4. Health conditions

Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia are often linked to persistent brain fog, says the expert. As per Harvard Health Publishing, Covid-19 also has a connection to brain fog. Following Covid-19, you may experience lingering symptoms such as body aches, fatigue, inability to work out, headache and difficulty in sleeping. Some of these issues may be because of permanent damage to organs such as the kidneys, lungs or heart. When the damage to these organs happen or you experience the symptoms, they can impair thinking and memory and ultimately cause brain fog.

5. Medication impact

Certain medications such as antihistamines usually help to treat allergy symptoms, stomach issues or colds, but they may have cognitive side effects.

6. Hormonal changes

Fluctuations in hormones, like during menopause, can contribute to cognitive fog. When there is a drop in estrogen levels during menopause, it can lead to poor concentration, among other things.

What are the common signs of brain fog?

People experiencing brain fog may find it challenging to articulate thoughts, make decisions or perform mental tasks that would typically be routine.

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Woman with a headache
Know the signs of brain fog. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

The signs of brain fog include:

• Mental fatigue
• Difficulty concentrating
• Short-term memory lapses
• Confusion
• General feeling of haziness or fogginess in cognitive function

These symptoms can vary in intensity and duration, and identifying them early can be crucial for addressing underlying causes and finding effective solutions, says Dr Kumar.

Also read: Brain fog before period: 5 reasons why it happens and how to fix it

How is brain fog diagnosed?

Diagnosing brain fog entails a comprehensive review of medical history, physical exams, cognitive assessments, and lab tests for nutritional or hormonal imbalances. Imaging studies may be included if necessary. This information guides tailored treatment plans for people facing brain fog.

How to deal with brain fog?

To combat brain fog, adopting a holistic approach is very important.

• Engaging in cognitive exercises, such as mental puzzles, contributes to sharpening cognitive abilities.
• Prioritising healthy lifestyle choices, including balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and effective stress management, plays a crucial role.
• Maintain proper hydration, as it helps to support optimal brain function.
• Incorporating mindfulness practices like meditation and deep breathing techniques can effectively alleviate stress and enhance cognitive clarity.
• Avoid alcohol and drugs, as these substances can adversely affect your brain.

While doing all this, don’t forget to collaborate with your doctor to review and adjust medications if necessary.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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