Who hasn’t wasted an hour or two going from email, Facebook, Wikipedia, Pinterest, Tumblr, Etsy, then back to email? A little mental break is good for you–and good for your company. Increasing body of research shows that taking regular breaks from work increases your creativity and productivity. But if you are having serious difficulty concentrating, feel chronically distracted and unfocused, see if you are getting enough of these three things.
1. Water: Dehydration not only slows down your metabolism, it also slows down your cognitive abilities: According to a study, dehydrated pilots performed significantly poorer on cognitive function tests (flight performance, spatial recognition) than hydrated pilots. If you are working out, you should be drinking even more than the recommended 64 oz of water a day.
2. Magnesium: Studies show most Americans don’t get enough magnesium. An essential electrolyte needed to balance the cellular fluid levels, magnesium is crucial for proper cognitive function. Magnesium deficiency can cause anxiety, poor memory, fatigue, and weakness. Fortunately, it’s easy to get magnesium from vegan sources: 1 oz serving of pumpkin seeds have 151 mg, 1 oz of Brazil nuts have 107 mg, and same amount of almonds have 78 mg. Make your own trail mix by adding some vegan carob or chocolate chips, or sprinkle some over salad or cereal.
3. Omega-3: Vegans are particularly vulnerable to omega-3 deficiency, since this essential fatty acid is found in large quantities in fish and eggs. Those who consume large amounts of Omega-6–found in corn oil, safflower oil, soy oil, and sunflower oil–might also be deficient in omega-3, which can cause poor memory, fatigue, and mood swings, as well as immune system weakness, heart problems, and poor skin and hair. Make sure you get enough walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and flax oil in your diet–and for high heat cooking, swap your extra virgin olive oil with canola oil, which has omega-3 and takes heat well.