Nurturing Nerve Health Using Banana

  • Noor Balbol Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience, King's College, UK
  • Pranjal Ajit Yeole Bachelor's of Biological Sciences, Biology/Biological Sciences, General, University of Warwick, UK


Our nervous system is comprised of two parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system (CNS) refers to the brain and the spinal cord, which extend to and connect to the peripheral nervous system.

This connects to all our organs and governs all aspects of our biological health. Thus, the nervous system is primarily responsible for coordinating a range of bodily functions including cognition, balance, memory, sensory perception, language, speech and motor functions.

This in turn allows us the ability to perform refined movement. Our nervous system is also heavily involved in mental health and therefore it is imperative to optimise our neurological health.

Bananas are found to contain various nutrients including a high potassium content, B6, C and A vitamins and antioxidants that are particularly beneficial for nerve health.1

Nutritional composition of bananas

Bananas are comprised of a unique nutritional composition that is particularly beneficial for enhancing neuronal health. This is owed to the high potassium content within bananas, and the fact that they are an excellent source of a range of vitamins including A, B, C and D.

Likewise, bananas have a high fibre content which aids digestion. They are also a great source of tryptophan, which is a precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that governs many biological processes of brain activity, mental well-being, and gut health.2 Neurologists have also found that tryptophan can be considered an anti-dementia treatment option.2

Bananas also have antioxidant properties, which are necessary for the elimination of harmful free radicals in the body and minimising chances of cancerous activity. Antioxidants also protect our nervous systems against neurodegeneration, which refers to the loss of functional nerve cells that often occurs with age or as a result of neurological disorders.

The role of potassium in nerve function

Bananas’ rich potassium content is especially significant for optimising nerve health as it is one of the most essential minerals involved in all biological processes. It facilitates transport across cell membranes and is essential for the propagation of electrical impulses across our nerve cells.

A single banana is sufficient to provide us with the 23% daily requirement of potassium intake necessary for our bodies to function optimally.3 An excessively low level of potassium in the body is a condition referred to as “hyperkalemia,” which has been associated with several neurological disorders such as neuropathy and an increased risk of stroke.3,4

Similarly, studies show that low potassium levels may also be causing memory impairment in Alzheimer’s and worsening of psychosis symptoms.5,6 

Potassium plays a pivotal role in the intricate process of nerve signal transmission. It serves as the chief regulator of the electrical charge difference across nerve cells. At rest, the membrane potential of a typical nerve cell approximates to -70 millivolts, a state referred to as the resting potential. This delicate balance is maintained through the controlled movement of positively charged potassium ions inside the neuron and sodium ions in the surrounding extracellular fluid. The resting potential is significant as it maintains a negatively charged state within the cell, in preparation for a signal transmission.

During signal transmission the nerve cell becomes depolarised, as sodium channels in the nerve cell membrane open, resulting in an influx of positively charged sodium ions, momentarily rendering the cell's interior positively charged. This is called an action potential. The dynamic alteration in electrical charge across the membrane is pivotal for the effective transmission of signals, underscoring the integral role potassium plays in regulating the intricate functionality of nerve cells and enabling the complex communication that forms the foundation of the nervous system's functioning.

Potassium ions are specifically fundamental to the process of restoring the nerve cell back to a resting potential through a process of potassium ion efflux. This swiftly restores the negative charge within the cell membrane, which ensures the cell is prepared for future electrical signals. 

Potassium intake significantly impacts nerve-related disorders as it is vital for the proper functioning of nerve cells. Inadequate potassium levels can lead to muscle weakness, paralysis, and disruptions in nerve signalling, resulting in conditions like hypokalaemia and periodic paralysis.

Conversely, excessively high potassium levels can also negatively affect nerve cells and manifest as neurological symptoms. Potassium imbalances can cause a range of issues, including numbness, tingling, confusion, seizures, and altered mental states.

Furthermore, kidney diseases and other systemic conditions that affect potassium regulation can indirectly lead to nerve-related disorders. Hence, maintaining a balanced potassium intake is crucial for overall nerve health.

Vitamin B6 and nerve health

Additionally, bananas are a great source of vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, comprising 0.4mg in each banana which equates to approximately 25% of our daily B6 requirement.7,8 Vitamin B6 is vital for nerve health as it facilitates the production of neurotransmitters crucial for nerve cell communication and mood regulation, including serotonin, dopamine and GABA which govern the majority of all our neurobiological processes.

Vitamin B6 plays a role in myelin formation, a fatty layer which insulates nerve fibres for efficient signal transmission responsible for all our motor and cognitive activities. Vitamin B6 aids neuronal health through its involvement in haemoglobin synthesis, which ensures an adequate oxygen supply is transported throughout the body to meet the energy demands of nerve cells. Likewise, it plays an essential role in glucose metabolism in nerve cells and thus, is crucial for the regulation of energy use in the brain.9

The neuronal advantages of vitamin B6 are vast as its antioxidant properties help protect nerve cells from damage caused by free radicals, contributing to long-term nerve health and the prevention of neuropathy. Studies have shown that it is also important during pregnancy for foetal nervous system development. Therefore, it is essential to maintain an adequate B6 intake through a balanced diet.

Additionally, due to the role of vitamin B6 in the synthesis of various neurotransmitters, being deficient may lead to various neurological disorders including epilepsy, and neuropathy and has also been shown to have an association with Downs syndrome.10 The coenzyme vitamin B6 works to catalyse the process of converting precursor molecules into important neurotransmitters. For example, B6 plays a crucial role in the transformation of the amino acid tryptophan into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood control and emotional well-being.

Additionally, it aids in the synthesis of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure, motivation, and motor function, from the amino acid tyrosine. In addition, B6 participates in the production of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is essential for regulating and calming brain activity.

Similarly, recent studies have revealed that vitamin b6 helps alleviate symptoms of autism; the exact mechanism that results in this remains uncertain. However, neuroscientists believe that this is because autistic individuals have impairments in neurotransmitter synthesis which is catalysed by vitamin B6. In particular, vitamin B6’s involvement in the process of synthesising the neurotransmitter GABA is involved in regulating various brain functions including facilitating perception and memory.

Post-mortem studies of autistic brains observed a 50% reduction in enzymes involved in the production of the neurotransmitter GABA.11 

The enzymatic reactions catalysed by the B6 are essential for ensuring our nervous system has access to an adequate supply of these neurotransmitters. Therefore, vitamin B6 deficiency can disrupt these processes, potentially leading to imbalances in neurotransmitter levels, which thus have significant effects on mental and emotional health.

Hence, it is important to ensure that we incorporate a substantial level of B6 intake from our diets to assist the normal functioning of the nervous system, as it helps maintain the appropriate balance of these neurotransmitters, which are fundamental for effective nerve cell communication, mood regulation, and overall neurological well-being.

Antioxidant properties of bananas

Bananas’ antioxidant properties are owed to the fact that they contain vitamins A and C which help protect neurones from oxidative stress. Antioxidants help protect nerve cells from damage, which often leads to neurodegenerative disorders, by neutralising harmful cancerous molecules called free radicals.

These free radicals roam freely causing cellular damage by infiltrating and compromising the genetic material of cells when they are left in the body without being neutralised by antioxidants. Therefore, the antioxidant properties of bananas can help protect us against degenerative neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Likewise, several studies have indicated that banana peels have anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties,which is imperative for nurturing nerve health since inflammation is the primary cause of many neurological diseases.


In summary, bananas contain a variety of essential nutrients that are particularly useful for our nervous system. Based on this knowledge, it is encouraged to incorporate bananas within our diet since it is a useful source of fibre and glucose which provide us with our daily energy requirements, notably aiding in digestive health, regulating blood glucose and gut health, as well as optimising our digestive system’s ability to absorb useful nutrients.

Overall, bananas are nutrient-dense snacks that serve to optimise our health, especially since they are a viable source of potassium and various vitamins. They also help synthesise a range of essential neurotransmitters.

Furthermore, they can supply us with vitamin C, which strengthens our immune system minimising stress on the nervous system, and nurtures neuronal health. 


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  • Roberts BR, Doecke JD, Rembach A, Yévenes LF, Fowler CJ, McLean CA, et al. Rubidium and potassium levels are altered in the brain and blood of Alzheimer’s disease but not in cerebrospinal fluid. Acta Neuropathol Commun [Internet]. 2016 Nov 14 [cited 2023 Oct 19];4(1):119. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC5109650/
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  • Merrill AH, Henderson JM. DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH DEFECTS IN VITAMIN B6 METABOLISM OR UTILIZATION. 1987 [cited 2023 Oct 22]; Available from:
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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Noor Balbol

Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience, King's College, UK
BS Applied Medical Science, UCL, UK

Noor is a recent Masters graduate with a keen interest in neurology and how it influences all aspects of health. Noor is also experienced in the education sector and passionate about medical writing, medical communication and strongly advocates for health literacy. Noor is committed to making scientific knowledge accessible to the public and aspires to empower the general public with tools necessary to understand and optimise their health.

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