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Last Updated on August 8, 2019

Do Memory Supplements Work? 10 Supplements to Boost Brain Power

Do Memory Supplements Work? 10 Supplements to Boost Brain Power

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.

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.

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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.[1]

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.[2] Another study found higher instances of memory recall for people taking the supplement.[3]

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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.[4] Memory, reaction time and problem solving skills are increased by taking DHA supplements,[5] and the essential fatty acid EPA has also been linked to improving mood in people experiencing depression.[6]

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.[7] 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,[8] whilst also being a beneficial supplement used to treat cognitive decline in those suffering mild dementia or Alzheimer’s.[9]

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.[10]

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.[11] This one has been a well known memory supplement for quite some time.

6. Resveratrol

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.[12]

7. Phosphatidylserine

This compound is found in the makeup of our brains structure, and tends to decline the more we age.

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To preserve brain health and assist with age related decline, research has found beneficial effects for people taking Phosphatidylserine supplements.[13] Response time and memory have also been improved in healthy populations studies.[14]

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.[15]

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.

9. Noopept

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.[16]

10. Modafinil

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.[17]

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.

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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.

Amino Smoothie

Blend your favorite frozen fruit up with a cup of amino powder.[18] 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.

Ginkgo Tea

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

Reference

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Jane Dizon

Nurse, Ninja Mom, Digital Marketing Specialist and Writer

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Published on November 18, 2019

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

How to Think Critically: 5 Powerful Techniques

Critical thinking is the art of filtering through information to reach an unbiased, logical decision that guides better thought and action. It can be learned through powerful techniques listed in this article.

Before you read further, it is important for you to know that critical thinking is a state of mind, not a tool or strategy.

If you are bogged down in the trivial day to day matters of your professional and personal life, learning skills to develop your ability to think critically can help you rise above these issues and focus your energies where they are needed – to solve problems and accomplish objectives.

It stands to reason that the better the learning techniques, the better critical thinking and reasoning will be. My experience in helping people grow means I know exactly what is needed to teach critical thinking (hint: it’s not just pondering over the problem).

There are 5 powerful techniques that form the base of critical thinking:

  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Communication
  3. Creativity
  4. Open-mindedness
  5. Problem-solving

Once you learn the techniques listed and start employing them in your daily life, you’ll quickly start to notice a change in the way you approach problems and consequently, how you resolve them too.

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1. Analytical Thinking

Analytical thinking is the gathering and breaking down of information into small bites that help make sense of it.

To use it for critical thinking:

  • Be very clear on why you need the information. This is to recognize your limitations and employ foresight to overcome them.
  • Gather information from as many sources as you can: peers and experts, podcasts, relevant literature and any other place you can think of.
  • Rephrase questions multiple times to get different perspectives on data available and possibly arrive at different solutions.
  • Break down the data into factual subsets and relate each to the issue at hand.
  • Think on paper to make new connections. Write, doodle, make mind-maps or use spreadsheets. Data presented visually can help you make new connections make sense of emerging patterns.
  • Tidy up the workplace. Once data has been gathered, your workspace and your brain will both be cluttered with excess information. Neaten the physical space and clear your mind with meditation. The change in focus will help you view the information in a new light, potentially helping you reach newer, better conclusions.

Want more information and tips on adopting this powerful technique? What Are Analytical Skills and How to Strengthen Them For Success has all the information you need.

2. Communication

Communication is a key technique for critical thinking as it gives you access to the thoughts of people around you.

Data can be communicated through audio and visual means and in many cases, through careful observation of body language:

  • Ask for different points of view and seek justification for the same thing. When you invest in the matter, you will be able to explore all options to reach the best solution.
  • Listening without interrupting and only asking questions or voicing concerns once the speaker is done helps you make better connections.
  • Be 100% focused on a verbal or written discussion, you can better hear/read the opinions of the people involved.
  • Paraphrase the speaker/writer’s point of view and ask for affirmation. This enables you to pay full attention and use the input to think critically.
  • In a meeting, subtle communication cues are given by the body language of fellow attendees. An imperceptible frown, a small nod, pencil tapping etc. will all give you clues to what they are really thinking, just in case their actions are not in sync with their words!
  • Active observation, where you are watching and listening intently helps you know what to make of the information that is being passed around. It gives you clues to the general opinion about the topic under discussion and opens up new possibilities.

The information you gather through such communication will be invaluable in thinking critically to arrive at a decision that is holistic and unbiased.

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3. Creativity

Critical thinking is an art, and like any art form, its lifeblood is creativity. To really learn critical thinking, you need to include elements of creativity in the process!

  • Brainstorm with your team in an all-new location or work-shadow an industry expert to step out of your comfort zone. You could be surprised by the ideas that flow at a picnic or a game of billiards!
  • Gather data and tabulate it in the form of colorful, eye-catching charts, graphs and mind maps. The simple exercise makes your mind bring data together in different ways and presents them so multiple unique conclusions can be reached, giving you the flexibility to choose the best one.
  • Play brain games such as Sudoku or chess to appreciate how different factors can be manipulated to reach a preferred outcome. These games help make connections between previously disconnected nerves, giving your brain the power to find multiple pathways to answering problems.
  • In a similar vein, you can forge new neural connections by learning a new skill, a new language or even a new recipe!

I break down creativity in my other article What is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It. If you want to be good at critical thinking, you need to adopt creativity!

4. Open-Mindedness

It’s easy to say you’re open minded but is your mind really open?

To get an idea,

  • Be brutally honest about your strengths and weaknesses, and how these will impact the matter at hand.
  • Hear an opinion that conflicts with your own without forming a response before the opinion is fully voiced.
  • Acknowledge that there may be more than one approach to solving a problem and that they may all be right in some way.
  • Consider your true feelings when you will implement any required changes.
  • Disregard your long-held beliefs and assumptions and let go of habits.
  • Imagine the decision-making factors placed on weighing scales. Are they balanced?

Open-mindedness is a powerful technique for critical thinking. New possibilities can be uncovered, helping you resolve personal and professional matters in a manner that doesn’t frustrate you or alienate the other party.

5. Problem-Solving

Critical thinking is heavily dependent on problem-solving. An effective critical thinker will be a problem solver with the foresight to anticipate roadblocks and negative outcomes, and the experience and presence of mind to resolve them quickly and move on.

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One of the most effective problem-solving methodologies is the 5 Whys Analysis. Invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motors in the 1950s, it has been used successfully by the automobile giant to get to the root cause of problems.

The idea behind this is simple: start with the end problem and keep asking why until you get to the root cause of it.

The general idea is that asking why 5 times from the effect is enough to get to the cause, hence the name. However, the methodology does not limit the questions to 5, and why can be asked as many times as need to peel away the layers until a satisfactory answer is reached.

To use the 5 Whys Analysis, start off by listing the problem and writing why in front of it. The next point in the list should be answer to the first why with another why in front of it. Continue answering the question asked above followed by a why until you’ve asked the question 5 times and answered it six times. 99% of the time, the last answer will be the root cause of the problem stated in the first point.

For example, consider the a commonly given scenario where a vehicle does not start.

  1. Vehicle will not start. Why?
  2. Battery is dead. Why?
  3. The alternator is not functioning. Why?
  4. The alternator belt has broken. Why?
  5. It was old and worn out. Why?
  6. The car is not maintained according to manufacturer’s recommendation.

By this example, it is clearly demonstrated that 5 whys were asked to reach the root cause of the problem.

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The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

Over the years, the 5 Whys Analysis has been adopted by millions to reach the root cause of their personal and professional problems. Industry giant Six Sigma has also incorporated the 5x Why Analysis in the Analyze phase of their DMAIC methodology.[1]

Final Thoughts

Is critical thinking a new-fangled notion? Not at all. Its history can be traced back to Socrates who questioned commonly held beliefs. This practice was carried forward by leading scholars and thinkers from different times such as Aristotle and Plato, Colet and Moore, Descartes, Galileo and Newton.[2]

Today’s world is dependent on critical thinking to resolve all sorts of issues. It is now indispensable for issues ranging from personal relationships to professional jobs and those involving the global community.

The 5 techniques discussed here are important for effective critical thinking. When employed regularly, they will become a habit and will definitely improve your critical thinking skills so you can get better at predicting and resolving issues that concern you and your environment.

More About Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Mariya Pampova via unsplash.com

Reference

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