People are living longer. But with increased life spans comes more cognitive disorders. The good news is that taking some of the best brain supplements for adults can enhance brain function.
About one out of every six people on the planet have a brain disorder, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson disease. That’s approximately one billion people. (SOURCE)
The staggering number of people with neurological disorder is sobering.
In conjunction with increasing life spans is the chance of developing a brain disease. In light of this, are there any supplements that can help prevent brain disfunction? If so, which ones are best?
Best brain supplements for adults
Call them nootropics. Or call them smart drugs. Alternatively, you can call them ‘brain boosters.’
Either way you refer to them, there are some clinically-proven supplements. The best brain supplements increase memory, enhance creativity, boost motivation and encourage long focus and concentration.
Brain supplements interact and activate neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter is a chemical messenger in your brain.
You have billions of neurotransmitters. Their function is to carry signals. Proper neurotransmitter function is critical for a healthy brain.
Neurotransmitters transmit signals to each other via neurons. Neurons are highly specialized cells. Their sole role is to transmit nerve impulses.
Dopamine is one neurotransmitter that’s critical for healthy brain function. The problem is that very few neurons make dopamine.
If your neurons that make dopamine die in excess, you could develop Parkinson’s disease. However, the best supplements for brain function will activate the dopamine pathway.
How do the best brain supplements work?
The best brain supplements perform at least three major functions.
Firstly, they widen the blood vessels. Especially those of tiny arteries and veins in the brain.
Consequently, the secondary function is to increase the blood circulation to the brain.
Third, the supplements provide nutrients to the brain.
By doing these three functions, brain supplements increase energy and oxygen flow to the brain.
The last function is especially critical when you consider that the brain receives approximately 15% of the body’s total blood supply and oxygen.
15% might not seem like such a drastic amount. But, it’s a staggering amount because the brain only makes up about three percent of your body’s total body weight.
Brain supplements nourish your neurons. Again, neurons are nerve cells in your brain. You have about 100 billion neurons in your brain.
Neurons get their energy from glucose. And they get glucose from the carbs you eat (or from protein and fats).
The best brain supplements protect neurons from inflammation. As a result, neurons are able to healthily and effectively communicate with each other.
Another thing the these supplements do is protect the brain from harmful toxins. One result of toxin exposure is brain aging.
Also, cognitive enhancers stimulate new neuron cells. By doing so, the best brain supplements increase brain activity.
Furthermore, the brain enhancers increase neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize the junctions (synapses) between nerve cells.
The best brain supplements may even help increase neuroplasticity after brain injuries.
One more function of the supplements for brain support is to prevent amyloid-beta proteins from clumping together. These proteins are a major factor in Alzheimer’s disease.
Best brain supplements for adults for preventing neurological disease
Fish oil supplements such as omega-3’s are one of the best things you can take for your brain.
Fish oils contain two acids that studies like this one link to brain health. These two acids are DHA and EPA.
Of the two, DHA helps preserve brain function. As for EPA, it helps fight inflammation that may cause the brain to age prematurely.
Are you eating two or three servings of cold-water oily fish such as sardines or wild salmon a week? Then you might not even need to take a fish oil supplement.
But if you’re not fish eater, definitely consider it. However, if you’re vegan, a fish oil supplement won’t be the best brain supplement for you.
The good news is you can cut out the middle man, er, fish!
You see, the reason why salmon are so high in omega-3 fatty acids is because of the algae they eat. Thus, you can buy a high-quality algae oil supplement for brain health.
There are also several other vegetarian and vegan sources of omega-3’s. Walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds are examples.
However, the fatty acid in these alternative vegan omega-3 sources is mostly ALA. Now, ALA does convert to EPA and DHA. But not so efficiently.
This presents a nutritional dilemma for vegans. Some studies (like this one) show DHA boosts memory and reaction time.
Therefore, if you’re vegan, you might want to strongly consider algae oil. However, keep in mind that the quality of fish oil supplements vary greatly.
The low-quality oils turn rancid. Worse yet, some might even be rancid before you open the bottle.
If you’re going to take fish oil for brain health, shoot for about one gram per day. Try to find a high-quality fish oil that contains both DHA and EPA.
Brain booster vitamins
Most of the best brain boosters aren’t one-off vitamin supplements. However, there are a few vitamins that may enhance brain health and function.
Some of the B vitamins may be beneficial for cognitive function. Among them, B1 can prevent memory loss. Moreover, B1, aka thiamine, helps fire nerve impulses.
Folic acid is also known as vitamin B9. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, B9 is crucial for proper brain function. Moreover, this water-soluble vitamin plays an important role in mental and emotional health.
Another beneficial vitamin for the brain is vitamin C. In fact, the highest amount of vitamin C is actually found in the brain.
And remember dopamine from above? That all important neurotransmitter for brain function?
Well, vitamin C is a cofactor in producing dopamine. In other words, if your diet is low in vitamin C, your production of dopamine can suffer. And not only that, vitamin C protects your brain from premature aging.
Memory supplements that work
If you want to take supplements that can sharpen your memory, consider “racetams.” What are racetams? They are a family of chemicals.
These chemicals have been studied by researchers for over 40 years. What scientists have gleaned about racetams (also called “pyrrolidinone derivatives”) is their ability to protect the brain. Especially, after a stroke or epileptic seizures.
Racetams that are available for purchase on the market include piracetam, oxiracetam, aniracetam and pramiracetam. Of these racetams, perhaps most popular is piracetam.
Studies like this suggest piracetam enhances memory and learning. Piracetam is one of the most common remedies for treating memory disorders. This includes senile dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
(However, this biohacker blogger claims piracetam may produce bad side effects. Do your research before supplementing with piracetam or any other brain supplements.)
Another memory supplement with scientific backing is water hyssop. This plant native to India is better known in the natural health sphere as “Bacopa monnieri.”
Another name for it is “Brahmi.” In India, Bacopa is used to calm the nervous system. In addition, traditional Indian medicine healers use it to enhance memory.
Studies like this one suggest promising results for Bacopa’s positive influence on brain health. The abstract of the study says there is evidence it lessens the severity of dementia. Same goes for Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
Researchers speculate Bacopa offers the brain antioxidant protection. In addition, it helps activate choline. Choline is a nutrient critical for brain function. And remember those amyloid proteins that are responsible for Alzheimer’s? It turns out Bacopa reduces the amount of these harmful brain proteins. Moreover, Bacopa increases blood flow in the brain. It also enhances neurotransmitter function.
Best supplements for focus and concentration
Most brain supplements will offer numerous benefits. But if you’re especially looking for one that boosts your attention span, try Panax ginseng.
Also known as Asian ginseng, this herb is widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. Its use as a therapeutic herb dates back several centuries.
However, relatively recent research shows that Panax ginseng may lessen the severity of of Alzheimer’s disease patients because of its antioxidant property. That’s the finding according to this study.
And another study suggests that supplementing with Panax ginseng improves memory. A bonus, according to the study: Asian ginseng also elevates mood.
But perhaps the most surprising of the best brain supplements on the market is … are you ready for it? You’ll never guess.
Nicotine. Yes, the same chemical in cigarettes can enhance brain function.
But before your jaw drops to the floor, consider that nicotine is only one out of thousands of chemicals in an average cigarette. Take out the toxic brew of other chemicals and tar in a cigarette and you’re actually left with a nootropic.
The problem, of course, is finding a healthy delivery system for nicotine. Obviously, cigarettes are out of the question.
E-cigarettes (vapes) might be slightly healthier than regular cigarettes. However, the science is not definitive. Nicotine spray is discussed in some nootropic circles.
But if the thought of ingesting nicotine makes you gag, there’s another common brain supplement. If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re already getting a healthy dose of it: caffeine.
In fact, studies show that caffeine can jump start short term memory.