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In the same way that athletes commonly take supplements to improve their physical performance, there are some who want to improve their wits by taking brain supplements to boost cognitive function. Of course, nobody will suddenly "become" a genius by taking a pill, but brain boosters can still serve a number of benefits.
The term "brain booster" can refer to a number of nutrients, vitamins or herbs that enhance alertness, concentration, mood, memory, thinking clarity and general focus. They can stimulate mental activity but aren't actively stimulants in the way caffeine or amphetamines are.
Much research has gone into ginkgo biloba in particular since researchers find its potential interesting; it seems that it could help treat a number of age-related mental declines, such as Alzheimer's disease. In fact, it's commonly prescribed in France and Germany.
This is just one brain supplement to consider. Here are the top 10 brain supplements:
1. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
An omega-3 fatty acid, DHA plays a critical role with developing brains. This trend doesn't simply stop at infancy, either; one of the best ways to improve your brain health is to improve your DHA levels.
One study showed that individuals who maintained low levels of DHA also had the least total brain volume. Not only that, but they also had larger instances of small brain strokes compared to those who had higher amounts of DHA in the body. Aside from this, those in the low DHA group also had poorer visual memory.
2. Vitamin D
Nobody can argue that vitamin D is important to health; this is something that has been known for many years. While we know vitamin D is critical to developing healthy bones, it also has recognition for its benefits in terms of longevity.
In the last few years, associations between vitamin D deficiency and brain disorders like autism, multiple sclerosis, dementia and Parkinson's disease have been established. In particular to dementia, the journal Neurology published a study showing low vitamin D to a higher risk of dementia. Because of this, it's a good idea to ensure you're getting enough of it even without seeking brain supplements.
3. Vitamin B12
Those who suffer from fatigue, memory loss or brain fog could be suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency. There are several benefits associated with consuming the vitamin. For one, it's necessary for red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, healthy nerve cells and overall energy.
You'll find vitamin B12 in all kinds of foods, and yet it remains a rather common deficiency affecting up to 40 percent of adults worldwide. Few people are aware of the condition, so doctors don't generally test for it. Untreated deficiencies lead to neurological problems, so maintaining your B12 levels can improve cognition. You'll find the vitamin only in animal foods.
Chances are you've heard about antioxidants from just about everyone by now. What are they and what kind of benefits do they bring? Simply put, these refer to chemicals that can break down damaging free radicals, which are chemicals naturally made in the body.
Free radicals can damage tissue by causing them to rust, similar to a piece of wet metal that was left outside for a while. In doing this, they can damage proteins and DNA. In fact, it is believed that this damage is the underlying aging process. Increasing antioxidants, as a result, can give you an edge on longevity to a degree.
An extract of the periwinkle plant, vinpocetine has proven to provide numerous improvements to certain ailments while also preventing them from occurring in other individuals. In addition to this, it is capable of improving cognition function, which includes not only short-term memory, but also long-term memory.
It may even have use for benefiting hearing, visual and heart functions, as well as bleeding gums, mouth sores and excessive menses. For this reason, further studies are recommended.
Alpha-GPC refers to a chemical that a soy fatty acid releases, which can then be used as medicine. In Europe, this is a common medication prescribed to those who suffer from Alzheimer's disease due to its ability to improve amnesia and other conditions.
There are two main forms that it is available in: One can be taken by mouth, while the other must be taken as a shot. In the United States, the only way to obtain alpha-GPC is by way of a dietary supplement in memory improvement products, so no shot is available to Americans.
Other ways that alpha-GPC can be used for treatment include stroke, dementia or even transient ischemic attacks, which are so-called "mini-strokes." The chemical may also be used to improve learning, thinking skills and memory in several patients.
7. Bacopa Monnieri
An well-known herb, Bacopa monnieri is regularly used in traditional practice to improve cognitive function and longevity. Adding it to your supplements can improve memory formation while also reducing anxiety levels. In fact, studies have already proven its effectiveness at improving memory formation. Although most studies occur with elderly patients, young people seem to be able to benefit as well, making this a great choice for anyone seeking better brain supplements in their day-to-day life.
Specifically, the herb is capable of interacting with the body's sertonergic and dopamine systems, but its primary concern rests with improving communication between our many neurons. In doing this, it improves the way the nervous system can communicate with the rest of the body, promoting nerve ending growth as well. Not only this, but it is also an antioxidant as well.
Suggested as a potential treatment against brain injury and spatial memory impairment, Huperzine-A is an cognitive function enhancer that stops an enzyme from degrading acetylcholine, a learning neurotransmitter. Because of this, there is a relative increase compared to the absence of treatment. It is included with the Cholinergic class of molecules and can do wonders in improving cognitive decline in both the young and the elderly.
The learning neurotransmitter acetylcholine also plays a role in muscle contraction in addition to its primary function. By increasing the levels of acetylcholine in the body, one may also experience improved strength; because of this, it's sometimes used by weightlifters and scholars alike. It's a safe compound that has been involved in several studies in humans, showing no real side effects when used for improving cognition.
9. Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC)
A common dietary supplement, ALC is an amino acid–which is the building block for all protein–the body naturally produces to help generate energy. It's also commonly used to help treat Alzheimer's disease along with other age-related memory loss conditions. It can also help improve depression in late life, thinking problems as a result of Lyme disease, thinking problems as a result of alcohol, and similar conditions.
ALC can even be used to poor brain circulation, Down syndrome, nerve pain and facial paralysis. It can improve memory problems in the elderly, those who drink heavily, and those who have suffered as a result of previous drinking behavior.
10. Ginkgo Biloba
As mentioned previously, Ginkgo biloba offers a number of beneficial repair and regenerative properties. In the United States, some may take ginkgo supplements to help improve thinking and memory. At the least, it is an antioxidant that can improve blood flow in the brain.
There have been studies that show ginkgo is capable of boosting cognitive speed along with improving memory to a modest degree in already healthy individuals. There is even evidence to suggest that the herb could be capable of improving the pain that is due to a clogged artery. As such, it may even help with other circulation problems. Beyond this, it can even help someone relieve the symptoms of PMS, such as mood changes and body tenderness.
Although each of these brain supplements have been shown to improve cognitive function and memory in its patients, it's impossible to predict how you specifically will react to each one. In all cases, it's a good idea to start with low doses and slowly increase them as needed, all while keeping tabs with your doctor.
Remember that a brain booster isn't going to work well if you aren't getting enough sleep. With that in mind, the most important way to ensure you're getting the most out of your brain is to ensure you're getting enough quality sleep every night.