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Best Brain Performance Supplements


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Like the body, the brain also needs nutrients to remain optimally functional. And as we age, our brains require these nutrients even more. An AARP survey showed that over 25% of Americans aged 50 years and above take brain supplements regularly.

Further, the survey showed that omega-3, green tea, and turmeric/curcumin are among the most popular brain supplements used by adults.

Brain supplements fall into three broad groups – memory boosters, focus enhancers, and general supplements. Since brain cells are affected by oxidative stress, brain supplements can further be subdivided into those that maintain or improve brain health.


Key Takeaways 

  • Nootropics are substances that improve brain health and function.
  • Plants are the main source of nootropic compounds. However, some are naturally produced in the body.
  • Research is still ongoing on the nootropic effects of some compounds. 

What are Nootropic Supplements

The name "nootropic" originates from two Greek words – nous and tropein. Nous means 'mind' while tropein means 'to turn." So, nootropics are substances that can "change the mind." 

Due to their positive effects on the mind and body, nootropics are popularly used to make health supplements. They are mainly derived from botanical extracts though some naturally occur in the body. Fish oil is also another rich source of nootropic compounds.

Even though some of these compounds promise to boost cognitive function, remember that not anything labeled "nootropic" works. This is principally because the FDA does not regulate the health supplements industry. It only ensures that companies do not make health claims for these products.

As such, the effectiveness and safety of these products can vary. Be that as it may, there is strong evidence that nootropics can improve brain health. Taken in correct doses and in forms that combine premium botanical and non-botanical nutrients, nootropics can enhance cognitive function and optimize brain health. 

So, how do nootropics work?

Nootropics support brain health and function in more ways than one. Besides enhancing focus, concentration, attention, and alertness, they can also improve mood and cerebral blood flow. These compounds can also increase stress resilience and the synthesis of neurotransmitters. 

 

How do Nootropics Support Cognitive Function?

As mentioned earlier, nootropics work differently. However, instead of taking a single substance, it is advisable to take combo formulations. This way, you get the most benefits.

Cognitive functioning is a broad term that refers to several mental processes, such as:

  • Learning
  • Thinking
  • Reasoning
  • Focusing
  • Decision making
  • Memory
  • Problem-solving
  • Attention 

Given the diversity of nootropic compounds, let's explore how these compounds can influence cognitive function. 

When it comes to nootropics, plants are probably the most abundant supplier. The healing power of plants has been apparent since time immemorial which explains their integration into ancient medical systems. 

A popular nootropic in cognition is Sceletium tortuosum, a succulent south African herb commonly known as kanna. It is believed to promote calm and mental agility by impacting serotonin levels, neurocircuitry, and brain wave activity. 

For this reason, it is popularly used to reduce stress and enhance cognitive and executive functions. For example, a 2017 study in the World Journal of Neuroscience highlighted how kanna's influence on brain activity positively affected attention and memory.

Another class of common nootropics is amino acids. These are the basic building blocks of proteins. However, they are also shown to profoundly affect neurotransmitter synthesis, thus helping to regulate mood and motivation.

Dopamine, a "feel good" hormone involved in emotion and mental energy regulation, is synthesized from L-tyrosine. Now, according to a paper published in Frontiers, higher L-tyrosine levels can enhance working memory updates. This is essentially the brain deciding whether newly acquired information is worth keeping. 


How can Supplements Promote Memory Health?

Vitamins C, D3, K, and B exhibit nootropic activity by regulating the production of neurotransmitters, promoting anti-inflammatory mechanisms, and supporting methylation. These processes are involved in memory. Consequently, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people with low vitamin B12 levels performed poorly in memory tests. 

This is because vitamin B12 helps maintain the microstructural integrity of the hippocampus. This part of the brain is majorly involved in learning and memory.

Micronutrients such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, and iron also support brain function. These minerals are thought to promote cellular signaling, mitochondrial function, and neurotransmitter synthesis, among other functions.

And so, in a preclinical study, the researchers found that higher levels of magnesium L-threonate in the brain could improve short-term neuroplasticity, long-term potentiation, and learning and memory.

But you do not need to search far and wide for compounds that support brain health. Some are everyday compounds in our pantry, like turmeric, caffeine, and red wine.

Red wine contains a phytonutrient called resveratrol. In a study published in Nutrients, this compound was shown to improve verbal memory in women post-menopause. This effect is attributed to its cerebrovascular and antioxidant properties that eliminate free radicals and increase brain blood flow. 

As a result, resveratrol could help lead to brain longevity and better cognitive functioning.


Best Brain Performance Supplement

In sum, there are thousands of compounds with important nootropic qualities. We cannot possibly mention all of them, but here is a good head start.

L-theanine

L-theanine is a bioactive amino acid mainly found in green tea with caffeine-like nootropic attributes. It is a great alternative to caffeine for persons looking to boost their productivity or socialize with friends. L-theanine is ideal for enhancing focus levels and boosting mood.

Studies show that L-theanine stimulates the brain by increasing alpha waves, thus creating a state of "wakeful relaxation." This leads to mental arousal accompanied by feelings of contentment and an upbeat mood. 

Taurine

Besides dietary supplements, taurine is mostly found in fish, meat, human milk, and dairy products. It also occurs naturally in the body, specifically the eyes, muscles, brain, and heart.

This amino acid is thought to have a calming effect on the central nervous system. As a result, it is touted as a potential therapeutic agent in anxiety and seizure disorders. It has also been used to treat hyperactivity due to ADHD.

L-tryptophan

This is another amino acid used in protein building. It is found in red meat, dairy products, poultry, and eggs. Since the body does not make it, it must be consumed from food sources. 

From these sources, the body converts L-tryptophan into 5-HTP and then serotonin. Serotonin is one of the "feel good" hormones. It is essentially a neurotransmitter that relays messages between nerve cells. Changes in serotonin levels are thought to affect mood.

Acetyl-l-carnitine

Also known as L-carnitine, this compound is naturally produced in the body, where it helps convert fat into energy.

In human studies, acetyl-l-carnitine is believed to be nootropic and may help improve memory and thinking. Consequently, it is recommended to curb declines in memory and thinking, especially in older people.

Moreover, taking 1-4 grams of acetyl-l-carnitine orally may improve mood and reduce depressive traits in some people. It appears more effective in older people, especially in higher doses for treating dementia.

Creatine

This amino acid compound is expressed mainly in skeletal muscles and the brain. We can also get it from red meat and seafood. 

On brain health and function, there is evidence that creatine can boost cognition and thinking skills. Vegetarians typically benefit from creatine supplements since they do not eat animal products.

Glutamine 

This is the most abundant amino acid in the body. It is stored in the muscles and lungs, where much of it is made. Generally, the body makes enough glutamine to meet its needs, but there are times (e.g., during injury) when it may require more.

As a nootropic, glutamine may help enhance alertness, memory, mood, and focus. It may also boost energy levels and improve sleep quality.

GABA

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric aid) is one of the neurotransmitters involved in regulating our mental states. Its inhibitory activity on GABA receptors in the central nervous system suppresses neural excitement and calms the body down.

GABA's calming effects can also contribute to better sleep and reduced stress/anxiety.

Research further shows that GABA can positively affect cognitive functioning. In a study, participants who took GABA experienced less physical and psychological fatigue. Those who took the highest dose of GABA performed best in the cognitive assessment task (math problem).

Unfortunately, GABA levels in our bodies seem to decline with age in certain brain areas. This justifies supplementation. Eating healthy (unprocessed foods), exercising, meditating, and engaging in mind-calming activities (e.g., controlled breathing) is also advisable.

5-HTP

The body makes 5-HTP from tryptophan. It activates 5-HTP receptors in the body, thus increasing serotonin levels. Low serotonin levels are linked to mental problems, such as anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, among other health issues.

So, the nootropic attributes of 5-HTP owe to its ability to upregulate serotonin levels. As a result, 5-HTP may attenuate depressive symptoms.

That said, the anti-depressive effects of 5-HTP are stronger when it is combined with other nootropics than when it is used alone.


Best Botanicals for Brains Performance

As mentioned earlier, botanicals are probably the biggest source of nootropic ingredients used to make brain performance supplements. From Ayurvedic herbs to adaptogenic mushrooms and indigenous plants, botanicals possess many health benefits.

Panax Ginseng

Ginseng contains compounds called ginsenosides. These are thought to promote energy, maintain central nervous system homeostasis, and prevent fatigue.

Ginseng may also boost mood thanks to its ability to control blood sugar. According to Jessica Cording, a health coach, dietician, and author, stable blood sugar levels enhance focus and energy.

Bacopa Monnieri

This herb has a long history in Ayurvedic medicine, where it was traditionally used to treat epilepsy and anxiety. 

As a nootropic, bacopa monnieri may enhance brain function. For example, a rat study showed that it improved spatial learning and retention.

In one human study, this herb was shown to improve visual information processing speed, memory, and learning rate.

Also, in another human study, 300-600mg of its herbal extract significantly improved memory, information processing, and attention.

Though generally considered safe, bacopa monnieri may cause side effects such as nausea, digestive symptoms, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Further, pregnant women are advised against taking bacopa monnieri supplements due lack of research on its toxicology.

Guarana Seed

Guarana is a natural stimulant due to its caffeine content. As you know, caffeine stimulates both the mind and body. And thanks to guarana seeds containing four times more caffeine than coffee beans, they are a more viable solution for energy and focus.

Caffeine also boosts cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain. Likewise, guarana supports critical mental processes like learning, memory, attention, and information processing.

A case study seemingly supports these claims after demonstrating that guarana "improved reaction time and accuracy of task performance" in healthy adults. And in a 2004 clinical experiment, guarana combined with Panax ginseng was shown to boost cognitive performance.

Gotu Kola

A member of the parsley family, Gotu kola has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years in Southeast Asia.

Its nootropic qualities are attributed to compounds called triterpenoids. These compounds are thought to reduce anxiety and enhance mental function. 

For instance, a human study found that test subjects who took Gotu kola were less startled by new noise. Since being easily startled is often considered a sign of nervousness, scientists suggest this herb may help alleviate anxiety symptoms.

Ashwagandha Root & Leaf

Ashwagandha possesses significant nootropic properties. This herb is renowned for its anxiolytic properties hence its classification as an adaptogen. It appears to do so by regulating stress mediators, e.g., cortisol and c-Jun N-terminal protein kinase.

Taking ashwagandha may also boost cognitive function. A review of clinical studies concluded that ashwagandha could improve cognitive functions, especially among the elderly.

Lion's Mane Mushroom

These large, white, shaggy mushrooms contain bioactive ingredients with significant benefits for the brain.

For example, studies indicate that these mushrooms contain compounds that stimulate brain cell growth.

Other studies suggest that lion's mane extracts may reduce memory loss symptoms in rats besides curbing neural damage due to amyloid plaques. These plaques are typical in brains diseased by Alzheimer's.

Interestingly, a recent experiment showed that lion's mane mushrooms significantly improved cognitive test scores in persons with mild Alzheimer's.

Reishi Mushroom

A staple in Eastern medicine for many years, Reishi mushrooms can improve brain health by fighting depression and fatigue.

Existing studies on Reishi mushrooms' nootropic qualities have largely been conducted on sick people. As such, it is unclear if it holds promise for healthy individuals.

Cordyceps Mushroom

A 2018 mice study demonstrated that cordyceps improved learning while reducing memory impairment.

This mushroom's neuroprotective properties have also been highlighted. For example, a test indicated that it could mitigate neuronal cell death in the hippocampus. This brain region is where dementia mostly manifests.

Rat studies suggest that cordyceps could be as effective as Donepezil in improving spatial memory.

Ginkgo Biloba

This herb has been extensively evaluated for its anxiety-reducing properties and ability to reduce cognitive decline. Even though research is largely inconsistent on this, its nootropic effects are generally attributed to its ability to increase blood flow to the brain.

There are speculations that Ginkgo biloba may also support brain function. A handful of studies support Ginkgo Biloba's positive impact on mental performance. This has birthed claims that it could improve memory, attention, and focus.

However, a review of research studies on its relationship with improved brain function yielded inconclusive results. As a result, more studies are needed.

Turmeric Root

High-quality studies support turmeric's impressive range of benefits.

As a nootropic, turmeric may increase BDNF protein in the brain. This protein plays a key role in learning and memory.

This popular spice may also be critical to reducing the effects of neurodegenerative diseases. That's because it is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Nonetheless, more research is needed to establish whether turmeric can slow or reverse Alzheimer's progression properly.

However, turmeric shows considerable antidepressant activity. Studies suggest curcumin can boost neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. It may also elevate BDNF levels in the brain, thus enhancing learning and memory. 

Lemon Balm

Lemon balm has chemicals thought to induce a calming effect on the brain. As such, it may have therapeutic benefits for stress, insomnia, and dementia. However, these claims are not supported by scientific evidence.


Where to Find Brain Boosting Supplements Online 

Thinking of supplementing your diet with brain boosters? Try TUNE IN! This performance drink skyrockets your brain power by delivering key natural nootropic ingredients that support cognitive clarity, focus, and energy. It’s the best way to stay productive, alert, and focused throughout the day.

TUNE IN’s key ingredients include lion’s mane, cordyceps, stevia extract, Alpha GPC, rhodiola rosea root extract, and ashwagandha extract.

Lion’s mane is a powerful mushroom that increases nerve growth factor, while cordyceps supports cognitive clarity, mental stamina, and focus. Alpha GPC helps with brain health and memory recall. Rhodiola rosea root extract is a powerful adaptogen known for its ability to reduce stress and fatigue. Lastly, ashwagandha extract provides vital antioxidants for fighting oxidative stress.

These natural nootropic ingredients are clinically proven to help boost cognitive performance and increase energy. With TUNE IN, you can take advantage of the many benefits of these brain-boosting compounds without any of the nasty side effects. Plus, it’s easy to carry in your pocket or bag, so you can stay energized and focused wherever you go. 

Give TUNE IN a try today and see why it’s the best brain performance supplement on the market.

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