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Four Nutrients to Improve Reaction Time

Four Nutrients to Improve Reaction Time

Make every second count


Are you looking for ways to boost your reaction time and perform at your best?  This may be especially true if you play sports that require a quick response to something you see. Whether it’s a soccer ball headed towards you in the goal, or a fastball towards home plate, quick processing and reactions can be the difference between a win and a loss. Read on for some of the best nutrients to help improve your reaction time.


First on the list are lutein (L) and zeaxanthin (Z) which are carotenoids found in a variety of foods including basil, parsley, spinach, kale, eggs and pistachio.  One randomized placebo-controlled study published in Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics suggests that L and Z stored in the eye can help support quick responses to what we see. The researchers assessed reaction times of 102 young healthy people with a test called temporal contrast sensitivity function (tCSF) which is linked to L and Z levels. During the study, participants received either 20mg Z, 26mg Z + 8 mg L or placebo daily.  After four months, the people who took the supplements increased their processing speed when compared to those who didn't take them. Suggesting that increasing intake of L and Z can help even young, healthy people get better at reacting quickly to things they see. Just one cup of cooked spinach provides over 20mg of L and Z. 


Next on the list are B vitamins which are essential to keep our nervous system functioning properly and they play a role in converting food into energy.  Deficiency can cause depression, fatigue and cognitive decline, including short term memory loss, but with proper diet can be avoided. B vitamins are found in protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. Leafy greens, peas, and beans are also a source in addition to fortified cereals. 


Next, consider beet juice.  Studies suggest it may have a positive effect on cognition and reaction time during prolonged exercise – even during sports!


Last but not least, we have carbohydrates. While many people tend to demonize carbs, they are actually an important source of energy for the brain. When you don't have enough glucose (a type of carbohydrate) in your system, your reaction time can suffer. So don't be afraid to include healthy sources of carbs in your diet, such as whole grain breads, fresh fruits, and starchy vegetables.


Remember to prioritize a healthy diet, adequate hydration, and active lifestyle to help you perform at your best both mentally and physically. Cheers to quicker reflexes, sharper focus, and better overall health!


Published September 1, 2023.

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