What are memory supplements, you ask? You know that moment when you take that first sip of coffee, and the caffeine begins to pulse through your body and awaken a clearer mind, sparking you into more efficient state of productivity?
Our ability to remember information and produce high quality work efficiently is heightened when we consume caffeine. Even non-coffee drinkers are well aware of the effects.
In this article, we’ll look into what memory supplements are and how you can use such supplements to boost your brain power.
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Caffeine vs Memory Supplements
So what role does caffeine have when we consider what memory supplements are? Well, coffee is actually considered a nootropic. If you haven’t heard this term before, basically, a nootropic is defined as a substance that produces a brain boosting effect, which can enhance cognitive abilities such as reaction times, focus and memory.
In our busy lives that demand so much from us in our professional and personal responsibilities, the familiar feeling of brain fog many of us suffer from can really hinder our ability to move through all facets of life with ease and efficiency.
For productivity seekers and life hack enthusiasts, nootropics are definitely a new wave of supplements that are becoming more sought after and widely used, because of their brain boosting benefits.
This term was coined by Romanian psychologist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea in the 1960s, who came up with certain characteristics of what a pure nootropic is defined as:
- Cognitive function enhancement (focus, memory, learning)
- Improved reactions in thought and cognition when under stress
- Protects decline of brain cells
- Chemical protection against brain injury
- More efficient neural pathway communication
- Research driven proof
- Minimal or no side effects with low-to-no toxicity
Although not every nootropic on the market will contain all of these characteristics, you’ll generally find that the more pure the substance is and higher the quality, the more characteristics will be ticked of this list in each supplement.
In our context, the amount of characteristics each memory supplement displays (no side effects, protection of brain cells, etc.), will affect how pure and effective it will be on your system.
The mechanism of nootropic supplements interacting with our brain pathways are various, depending on the type of supplement you take and the concentration of each supplements. Generally, these are the main ways that they work:
- Circulation – the cerebral area circulation affects the way the brain performs. These supplements assist in oxygenating the blood, which supports your vessels to deliver nutrients to our brain needed to function smoothly.
- Brainwaves – nootropics can change brain wave frequencies to shift your cognitive state. Depending on the supplement, this can be a effect of deep calm, or high focus and concentration (like that coffee effect).
- Energy availability – the brain is the most energetically demanding body organ, using 20% of the body’s energy. The cell’s energy creation center (mitochondria) are affected to create a boost in the way they metabolize energy. This means you can access more mental energy, faster.
- Repair and protection – the antioxidant effect on the brain gives more support for the brain to defend against free radicals and toxicity. Cell repair and maintenance has also been found to be enhanced with nootropic use, allowing the body to regenerate. This is especially relevant to memory supplements being used in conditions like age-related decline that comes with dementia, for example.
- Brain chemicals – the balance of chemicals in our brain shift with nootropic use, enabling enhanced communication and cognitive abilities, such as memory and response.
10 Best Brain Boosting Supplements
There are a ton of nootropics in the market, and not all are just memory supplements. Over 200 drugs are cited to affect cognitive ability, and though the research is still recent, what has been found so far is encouraging.
The nootropics are all extracted from natural sources, though there are two classes of these supplements: either in natural form, or extracted for synthetic creation into more of a ‘drug’ (often coming in the form of a powder or pill).
The bottom line is, yes, these memory boosting supplements do work. Below we’ll outline some of the best brain boosting supplements and the research that demonstrates the benefits
1. Panax Ginseng
Traditionally used in around Asia and North America for centuries, this herbal medicine has been known to boost attention, memory and focus. It has even been used as a calming supplement for people suffering anxiety.
2. Ginkgo Biloba
Dating as far back as 270 million years, this herbal supplement aids cognition by allowing more blood flow to move through the brain. The main reported benefits have been focus and concentration enhancement and memory boosting.
One study found that it could benefit age-related cognitive deficits in older populations. Another study found higher instances of memory recall for people taking the supplement.
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Two types of Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA are found in supplements like fish oil. The function of DHA is to maintain the health of brain cells in their structure and function, reducing brain inflammation and improving brain cell growth. Memory, reaction time and problem solving skills are increased by taking DHA supplements, and the essential fatty acid EPA has also been linked to improving mood in people experiencing depression.
4. Amino acids
There are a wide range of amino acids that the body requires to support its physical metabolism of energy and balance of muscle mass. L-Tyrosine is one example of an amino acid that is also used as a cognitive enhancer due to the effect it has on calming the system and how your brain reacts to stress. As it is very bioavailable (highly absorbent in the body), only a small amount is needed to produce a powerful effect.
Similarly, Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino important for energy production in the body. Reports of feeling more alert and focused have been found in the research, whilst also being a beneficial supplement used to treat cognitive decline in those suffering mild dementia or Alzheimer’s.
5. Bacopa Monnieri
Another traditionally used nootropic is this ancient Ayurvedic herb, Bacopa Monnieri. For healthy adults, as well as subject suffering from brain function decline, it’s been found to improve memory and thinking skills.
Memory recall was also improved in another study of this supplement, though more studies are still needed to determine the effects at different dosage levels. This one has been a well known memory supplement for quite some time.
Found naturally occurring in grape, raspberry and blueberry skin, this antioxidant is also found in peanuts and chocolate.
These supplements are still being research in humans, though the effects so far are encouraging, with a long-term 26 week study noticing improved memory in healthy older adults when taking resveratrol supplement.
This compound is found in the makeup of our brains structure, and tends to decline the more we age.
To preserve brain health and assist with age related decline, research has found beneficial effects for people taking Phosphatidylserine supplements. Response time and memory have also been improved in healthy populations studies.
8. Rhodiola Rosea
This herb is known to assist the body to handle stress more efficiently. Research has indicated that taking Rhodiola Rosea supplements can decrease burnout symptoms and improve overall mood in people suffering from stress and anxiety.
For people experiencing brain fog and fatigue – which is many of us in our fast paced, busy lives, this natural herb is a beneficial supplement to take to create a more easeful state of mind.
As one of the most popular nootropic supplements, it increase cognitive functions such as learning ability, working memory enhancement, and logical thinking. It’s also a known mood boosting supplement.
Another well known name on the market of nootropics, this synthetic supplement has been used especially for people needing a boost in energy when studying or working long hours.
Generally, this supplement is used most widely by people with sleep disorders, though has been also taken by healthy individuals looking to boost a sense of alertness and increase in energy.
How to Take the Supplements
It’s always best to talk to your pharmacists or doctor when beginning any new supplement to determine the right dosage for you.
When you take nootropic memory supplements daily, overtime it has been found that some people can develop a tolerance to them.
It’s suggested to cycle your dosage, for example, 5 days on, 2 days off. In this way, you can reduce the chance of becoming ‘numb’ to the effects, whilst still reaping the health benefits and feeling the shift in your cognitive abilities.
Brain Boosting Recipes
Depending on which nootropic supplement you choose to take, and the form it comes in, you can make some interesting concoctions when you use them in drinks and foods.
Below are some favorite memory enhancing supplement recipes you can try at home.
Blend your favorite frozen fruit up with a cup of amino powder. The fruits will mask any taste of the powder, and it’s easy to remember to drink in the morning to start your day.
Fish Oil Dressing
Salads can be easily spiced up with a dressing, and the addition of fish oil as the base gives an extra kick of nutrients. Whisk your choice of fish oil with balsamic vinegar and crushed garlic for a tangy salad topper.
Boil water in a saucepan, remove from head and add fresh ginkgo biloba leaves to steep for up to ten minutes. Strain and drink to absorb the infused hot tea and reap the memory boosting benefits.
The Bottom Line
So if you’ve been suffering brain fog, fatigue, or generally want to boost your brain power and see just how much productivity you are capable of, then memory supplements and other nootropics could offer you some great benefits.
Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via unsplash.com