In a world where there are umpteen different items classifying themselves among the best brain supplements, it can be incredibly overwhelming to know where to start, and how to pick the right one for you.
I think we have all thought at one time or another how amazing it would be to live the life that we see in the movies. Hollywood has to lead us to believe that somewhere out there exists some kind of supplement or pill that we can take, that will help us reach a limitless mind state, where we are hyper-focused, and able to learn anything thrown at us, and do it at light speed.
Unfortunately, no, there is no semi-illegal, underground, hyper-advanced formula that can increase your neuron growth rate ten times or quintuple your synaptic messaging.
In this article, we will be highlighting some of the best supplements that are available currently for increasing your overall mental performance. Maximizing your potential is the ultimate goal.
There is nothing new about focus supplements, or brain supplements. They have, in fact, been in existence since the 1970s. There are more than 50,000 readers on the subreddit Nootropics (which is the more legitimate term for brain supplements).
Star students, Silicon Valley hi-tech millionaires and hedge fund managers all utilize supplements, herbs and trace minerals for boosting their performance.
When conducting our research, we were able to locate more brain supplement companies and products than even protein or pre-workout products. This segment is definitely growing and offers some very effective and great products.
We prefer research-focused companies and ones with data for backing their claims up. When it comes to brain supplementation, there is no place for Bro Science.
If you are wondering how these product work inside the body, or which ingredients you should look for in brain supplement stacks, keep reading.
Brain Supplements What To Expect
Like with any kind of supplement, expectations are very important. Keep in mind that you need to keep your expectations realistic and in check.
Supplement companies tend to really love hype. Frequently they do themselves a real disservice by using too much hype and passing beyond the threshold of what is believable and realistic.
When it comes to brain supplements (and a majority of supplements), we are basically talking about a boost in performance of around 5-50%. Even when it comes to the higher portion of that spectrum, some individuals are not sufficiently in tune with their bodies in order to notice any appreciable improvement. Obviously, that doesn’t always mean there hasn’t actually been an improvement.
The following are some of the main benefits that can be expected from many of the best brain supplements:
- Improved Overall Brain Health
- Ability to Bounce In Between Ideas and Thoughts
- Increased Processing Speed
- Improved Recall and Memory
- Clarity of Thought
- Reduced Mental Fatigue
- Increased Focusing Ability
Not every product includes all of these benefits. Some of them focus on just one or two of them, while others offer a broad spectrum of various benefits.
It should be easy to determine the areas you would like to improve and select a brain supplement product.
Expert Tip: If you can’t find a single product that works well for you, then you might want to create a nootropic stack of your own. Online there are large brain hacker communities who discuss and share the raw ingredients that work the best for them. You can purchase a majority of these ingredients on an individual basis in powdered from. However, it is frequently more expensive to create your own stack than it is to buy a ready-made product.
How do Nootropics work?
When you start looking into Nootropics available on the market today, you’ll find there are many supplements on offer and different supplements might work in different ways.How do Nootropic Work
When you start looking into Nootropics available on the market today, you’ll find there are many supplements on offer and different supplements might work in different ways. Whilst we don’t have the room to go into immense detail into how each nootropic supplement works, we can give you information about the two mechanisms that these supplements call upon.
1. Nootropics work by affecting neurotransmitter functions and we’ve already covered why these are important a little earlier in our guide. In brief, your brain is driven by billions of neurotransmitters and many of these transmitters have a set way of communicating with themselves. The communications between these transmitters result in the display of our moods, what we feel, and how we react to certain situations. Decreasing and increasing of the right chemicals in the right way will result in more efficient communication levels within the brain and this is what we are aiming for by taking Nootropics. Think of your brain as an industrial unit – the neurons are the employees and the neurotransmitters are the product. By taking Nootropics you increase the productivity of your neurons by increasing the number of products (neurotransmitters) they create and control
2. There are many nootropic supplements that help to increase the flow of oxygen to the brain and to parts of the body. Not only does your brain use oxygen as fuel, but it also delivers oxygen to the parts of the body that need it the most. When we experience a decrease in oxygen, this is known as hypoxia whilst a lack of oxygen is called anoxia.
Symptoms of mild hypoxia include lack of coordination and concentration whilst prolonged hypoxia can result in brain damage. Complete anoxia will result in permanent brain damage or death with death setting in after as little as 4-5 minutes.
When the brain is receiving good levels of oxygen it distributes these levels to the areas that need it the most – your life support functions. These include the heart and lungs. After this, oxygen is delivered to the memory. Sufficient oxygen levels help to increase brain functions such as memory creation and recall and concentration amongst others.
Oxygen is what powers your brain. Let’s go back to the factory example. If your factory was to have no oxygen the power would fail and the machines and workers (neurons) would eventually stop working. When you have lots of oxygen in your system your factory will be firing on all cylinders and running well.
3. Some Nootropics also increase your neuron growth factor (NFG). You may have been told that as you grow up and become an adult it is not possible to create new brain cells and that brain cells continue to decrease with age. However, modern science has since disproved this myth. In the 1950s, Rita Levi-Nontalcini and Stanley Cohen discovered the neuron growth factor and went on to win the Nobel Prize in 1986 for this discovery.
The NFG is the metric used to gauge the growth and maintenance of a number of different neurons. Let’s go back to the factory scenario again and the workers that are slaving away hard to produce products for your brain. Just as in any business, workers are hired and workers retire. When it comes to the brain factory, workers are hired a lot less quickly than they are retired and that results in the signs of aging in the brain. There are a number of Nootropics that can increase the hiring of workers so it is achieved at a much faster rate. Overall, brain aging will be decreased and mental health improved.
If you really want to understand how these smart drugs work you first need to know a little more about brain function in general. The cerebral cortex of the human brain is made up of billions of neurons. Each of these neurons is connected by as many as 10 billion synaptic connectors – pretty cool huh? When your brain receives any sort of stimulus or input, your neurons communicate with their respective link using a range of neurotransmitters. A very well-known transmitter is dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical that helps us to feel motivated, excited and to enjoy sensations and experiences. Many people suffering from depression have been found to be lacking in dopamine and this is also a problem for those suffering from anxiety and stress-related illness.
Your state of mind is linked directly to the state of your neurotransmitters and what is happening inside your cerebral cortex. For example, when we drink alcohol the neurotransmitter GABA is increased whilst our Glutamine levels decrease. This is what causes you to start feeling out of control in mind and body and which decreases reaction times and the ability to concentrate.
Whilst we all strive to reach our full potential in life many of us struggle and it can all come down to the state of our neurons and transmitters and how they are functioning. Many experts believe that we’ll all be popping Nootropics in the same way as we slurp down our coffee each morning and whether you’re a skeptic or not, you should watch this space.
If you do decide to try Nootropics it’s important that you make an informed decision. There is a lot of information available, but there are also many charlatans trying to sell fake or inferior products. Do your research and you will be rewarded with safe and effective Nootropics that do exactly what they say on the bottle. Another great benefit of taking Nootropics is that not many people have heard of them yet. This provides you with the edge and will make everybody wonder how you suddenly became more focused and motivated. Whether you decide to share your secret is up to you!
One thing that many supplement companies are really notorious for is having proprietary formulas meaning the exact amount of every ingredient that is part of the formula is not disclosed. The main purpose for proprietary formula is protecting the exact formulas so that copy-cat competitors will not rip them off. However, these nondisclosures are often used by companies as a change to label things (such as advertising a certain expensive ingredient without having to include the correct clinically tested dosage).
One way to partially get around that is to pay close attention to the order that the ingredients are listed in along with the total mg/g count for the entire proprietary formula. You can use this information to deduce approximations on different ingredient qualities fairly accurately.
Best Brain Supplement Ingredients
It is very important to know about the ingredient, whether you are creating your own stack or wanting to purchase a ready made product.
The list the follows are the best ingredients for nootropic brain supplements that are available currently for adults. Taking every one of these ingredients is not necessary. Many ingredient effects overlap. Therefore, taking clinically tested dosages of all of them isn’t a good idea. Some ingredients work well when they are paired with others and have synergistic effects. The products that follow all make use of ingredients that work together well in a synergistic way.
Piracetam: This is one of the most studied and oldest nootropics. In clinical studies, it is used commonly as a benchmark to compare with other types of nootropic brain supplement compounds. This supplement increases neurotransmission signaling, promotes fluidity within cell membranes and increases circulation inside the brain. In a majority of studies, younger subjects show little improvement in cognition, while older (55+) subjects do show improvement.
Bacopa Monnieri: This is probably my favorite nootropic of all. It has been shown to be effective for all age groups. Its main function is to increase nerve ending grow rate to increase neural communication. The noticeable effects that it produces are increased memory and reduced anxiety (which helps to improve learning and clear thought). It frequently it effectively paired with caffeine. Usually, around 2-3 weeks are required in order to maximize the potential of Bacopa.
CDP-Choline (also known as Citicoline): It is one out of 3 phospholipids that convert effectively into useable choline inside the body (Alpha GPC and phosphatidylcholine are the other two). Choline helps with the production of Acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for proper cognition and learning. Clarity and improved memory are noticeable effects.
Alpha GPC: Converts into choline inside the body. Although the action mechanisms of CDP Choline and Alpha GPC are different, they have a very similar net effect increased phosphatidylcholine and acetylcholine synthesis as well as increased choline levels inside the brain. They have similar noticeable effects.
Phosphatidylserine: Found in each cell of the body and inside the brain is the densest. It works at increasing communication between neurons and glucose metabolism. It has also been shown to strengthen cell walls and increase fluidity in between cell membranes. Improved cognition and memory are the noticeable benefits.
L-Tyrosine: Improves cognition (particularly memory) when under stress, which makes it a great performance enhancing brain supplement. It helps to replenish depleted levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine which is often associated with mental fatigue or sluggishness when depleted.
Caffeine+Theanine: These two together form an alert and clean state of mind. L-theanine and caffeine work together synergistically to help balance the negative effects out, leaving subjects focused and calm. Brain supplements that use caffeine but not l-theanine, in my opinion, are counterproductive. When paired together, the two of them will provide the most noticeable alertness and focus effect.
ALCAR: Or acetyl-l-carnitine is the amino acid involved in the metabolism of energy. This antioxidant has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and also work to promote focus and mental energy. Despite the fact that not many brain pills have this supplement in it doesn’t mean it should be ignored.
Omega-3: Not many of the all-in-one brain supplement products have any omega-3 properties (one that is around half way there is SmartX which contains around 100 mg of DHA). Everyone should take Omega-3s to protect and strengthen the brain. It is among the most essential of all supplements. The essential fatty acids EPA and DHA are contained in Omega-3s. DHA works at promoting healthy brain cell growth and fluidity, while EPA works at reducing inflammation. It is among the best brains supplements that you can take.
Prescription Medication vs. Brain Supplements: If you have children or under 26 years old, most likely you will be familiar with Vyvanse, Ritalin, and Adderall. They are prescription drugs and amphetamines that are prescribed to people who have ADHD and ADD. They work at correcting chemical imbalances inside the brain for those diseases. For individuals who have normal brains, they act as a super drug for enhancing mental agility and focus- but they do come with a cost. The drugs have numerous side effects which range from cardiovascular trauma to psychological instability.
A growing number of students make use of the prescription medications without having a prescription (with the normal brain chemical makeup). This is a growing concern and is dangerous. It has been estimated that up to 26% of all college students take or have taken ADD medication illegally. There are negative legal and health consequences that make it totally not worth it, especially when effective, healthy and safe alternatives are available such as brain supplements.
Brain supplements work inside your body’s natural framework. The supplements that are the most effective work at improving brain cell protection and growth, stimulate communication in between receptors, provide rare and needed nutrients and increase blood flow. A good brain supplement is effective not only at increasing mental agility, memory and focus, but it also works at protecting and strengthening the brain.
Are brain supplements alternatives to Adderall?
It depends on what your intended use is. Brain Supplements aren’t intended for treating disease. However, if your Adderall or another ADD medication is being used only to enhance mental energy and focus then supplements are a superior option.