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Four Common Causes of Brain Fog


Four Common Causes of Brain Fog

While brain fog is not an official medical diagnosis, it is usually a symptom of an underlying health issue. Living with brain fog can affect your performance at work, your ability to maintain relationships, and your concentration.


Brain fog is a neurocognitive impairment that causes confusion, forgetfulness, and a feeling of being “scatterbrained”. You may have a hard time with your memory, decision-making, and you may struggle to focus. These symptoms can make it difficult to accomplish daily tasks and may put a strain on your job or personal relationships.


Brain fog is a common symptom of several health conditions. Here is a breakdown of four common causes of brain fog and how you can minimize your symptoms.


Poor Sleep Quality

When you are deprived of sleep, your brain cells cannot communicate effectively. This may cause lapses in memory, visual perceptions, and other cognitive functions. Without enough sleep, your neurons struggle to encode information and translate visual cues into conscious thoughts. This is why it is dangerous to drive when you’re sleepy, or why you might have trouble focusing at work after a bad night’s sleep.


Although sleep deprivation is unavoidable sometimes, it’s important to prioritize a healthy sleep schedule and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep as often as possible.


Thyroid Conditions

Your thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck that produces hormones that affect your growth and development. Some thyroid conditions can impact your memory, concentration, energy levels, and cause brain fog. In some cases, these symptoms are so severe that they are sometimes mistaken for dementia.


Since optimal thyroid hormone levels are imperative for good cognitive function, both hypo- and hyperthyroidism can cause brain fog. Along with diminished cognitive skills, thyroid conditions can interfere with your executive functions such as planning, decision-making, and impulse control.


Luckily, brain fog caused by thyroid conditions is highly treatable. Testing brain fog symptoms to find out if they’re thyroid-related is the most effective way to start feeling better faster! A functional medicine doctor will help you uncover the root cause of your symptoms and create a personalized treatment plan to minimize or eliminate your brain fog.


Nutrient Deficiencies

The food you eat has an enormous influence on your health. While searching for a root cause, many people overlook the fact that their diet may be contributing to their brain fog. 


Undereating, or not eating a balanced diet, could lead to brain fog symptoms, including trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, and slugging thinking.


Optimizing your diet is one of the first steps toward eliminating brain fog. Virtually any health condition will benefit from a more nutrient-rich diet, which will fuel your body with the resources it needs to perform at its highest potential. Here are some of the key nutrients to focus on to improve brain fog.


Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for healthy brain function. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to an increased risk of depression, which can cause brain fog symptoms such as sluggish thinking and poor memory.


Correcting a vitamin D deficiency is simple and can be accomplished by spending more time in the sun, eating fortified foods, or taking a vitamin D supplement.


Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a micronutrient that is best known for its role in red blood cell production, DNA synthesis, and central nervous system function. Without enough B12, you may notice diminished cognitive skills, such as poor memory and judgment.


Luckily, correcting a B12 deficiency is as simple as taking a supplement or incorporating more dairy, red meat, eggs, and poultry into your diet.



Most people associate iron with red blood cell production. However, it is also essential for cognitive function and brain development. If you are lacking iron, your memory, attention, behavior, and nervous system may be affected.


The best sources of iron are animal products, so those following a vegan or vegetarian diet may be at a higher risk for an iron deficiency. If your diet is plant-based, you may want to consider working with your doctor to determine which iron supplement would be best for you.


Omega-3 Fatty Acid

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential and healthy fat that help reduce inflammation, support brain function, and promote a healthy heart. They are most abundant in certain types of fish, so if fish is not a staple in your diet, you may be at risk of a deficiency.


Sardines, cod, salmon, tuna, and trout are all great sources of omega-3’s. If you don’t eat fish for any reason, you should consider supplementing to prevent or minimize brain fog.


Chronic Illnesses

Brain fog is a common symptom of several chronic illnesses. Fatigue, unstable blood glucose levels, and inflammation can all affect cognitive function. Some of the conditions that are linked to brain fog include:


  • Depression
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Anemia
  • Diabetes
  • Sjögren syndrome
  • Autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and Hashimoto’s


Brain fog is a red flag that is alerting you that something more is going on beneath the surface. If you’ve had persistent brain fog for any length of time, it may be time to work with a functional medicine for testing to get to the bottom of your symptoms.


At Novis Health in Phoenix, we believe that testing is the best way to approach brain fog. Looking for nutrient deficiencies, assessing sleep quality, evaluating thyroid health, and testing for other chronic conditions is the most effective way to get you back to feeling your best. To find out how you can take back control of your health, schedule a consultation at Novis Health in Denver today!

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