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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

More by this author

Jane Dizon

Nurse, Ninja Mom, Digital Marketing Specialist and Writer

15 Best Productivity Hacks for Procrastinators Do Memory Supplements Work? 10 Supplements to Boost Brain Power How Much Sleep Do Kids Need for a Productive Day? 15 Important Benefits of Stretching Before, After, and During a Workout These 17 Life Skills Will Teach Your Kids Responsibility

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Published on November 2, 2020

How to Use Your Unconscious Mind to Get What You Want

How to Use Your Unconscious Mind to Get What You Want

I get my best ideas when I’m not trying—when I’m zoning out in the shower or taking my dog for a walk. Suddenly, something I’ve been racking my brain to figure out seems to just come to me. It may seem like magic, but it’s actually just my unconscious mind coming through for the win.

What Is Conscious Thought?

Let’s start by explaining what the unconscious mind is not. I want you to think about what your dream house would look like if money were no object. Then, think about where you were the first time you can remember feeling joy.

That voice in your head that was talking you through those two tasks is your conscious mind. Simply put, any thought process that you are aware of (conscious of) is part of your conscious mind. I’m using my conscious mind as I sit here and write this article.

One of the major brain centers for conscious thought is in your prefrontal cortex. This is on the outside of your brain behind your forehead. Some of the downsides of conscious thought are that it’s energetically taxing and finite. What I mean is, your conscious mind can only think one thing at a time, and it burns through a lot of glucose to do so.

Try to figure out the square root of 2400 while creating a grocery list. You can skip back and forth between those two tasks, but your conscious mind can’t wrestle with both simultaneously.

Also, think of a time when you were utilizing your conscious mind for an extended period. Maybe you were in classes all day or busy with a tough work task late into the night. You were probably exhausted after such intensive and extended conscious thought.

What Is the Unconscious Mind?

That’s why the unconscious mind is such a valuable resource. It isn’t energy taxing, and it is virtually limitless. Your unconscious mind could be trying to figure out thousands of problems right now.

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The downside is that you aren’t conscious of any of it until you are—until your unconscious thoughts make it into your consciousness.

That’s why it behooves us to figure out how to create the right environment for our unconscious minds to flourish.

System 1 and System 2 Thinking

Daniel Kahneman’s seminal book Thinking, Fast and Slow gives us another way to think about the difference between the unconscious and conscious minds. Kahneman describes two different modes of thought called System 1 and System 2.

System 1 is quick, emotional, and intuitive, while System 2 is slow, methodical, and logical. System 1 works in tandem with System 2.

For example, if you see someone looking at you, your System 1 might assume they are upset with you. Then, your System 2 takes over to process information and discern what might actually be going on at that moment.

Kahneman warns us that System 1 and System 2 are metaphors for how the mind works.[1] It would be an oversimplification to try to explain specific regions where System 1 and System 2 thinking takes place. However, System 1 and 2 is a powerful way of thinking about different modes of thinking. Kahneman calls System 1 automatic thinking and System 2 effortful.

The idea of focus is key here. In a famous experiment, participants were told to watch a video and count how many times people in the video passed a ball to each other. This required their System 2 thinking. However, the intense focus required for this experiment caused most people to miss the fact that while the people in the video were passing the ball, a person in a gorilla suit slowly made his way through the shot.

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How to Make Your Unconscious Mind Work For You

Focusing too intensely can cause us to miss details and solutions better suited to our unconscious mind. That’s why we sometimes have to stop and chill out, instead of forcing solutions.

Here are five ways to make your unconscious mind work for you.

1. Manage Stress

Your unconscious mind is not a big fan of you being stressed out, overworked, or overwhelmed. Managing stress is important if you want to be able to come up with those effortless “aha!” ideas.

Imagine that you’re under a strict work deadline. Your anxiety is compounded by the fact that you’re worried about losing your job and that your entire family relies on your income. This is an incredible amount of pressure that makes it tough for your unconscious mind to break through with that effortless creativity.

Think back to the video where the person in the gorilla suit sneaks through all the people passing the ball around. Most people are so focused on the task at hand that they don’t see the most interesting part of the video. Stress and pressure can lead to a kind of tunnel vision that works the same way. Our attention becomes so narrowly focused that we aren’t able to zoom out and connect the dots between broader patterns and ideas.

That’s why it’s crucial to find ways to manage stress. I recently spoke with humor engineer Drew Tarvin who explained the 4 R’s of managing stress.[2]

First, try to reduce stress by eliminating stressors from your life. This might mean finding a less stressful job or leaving earlier for work.

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Next, reframe the stresses that you can’t eliminate. Reframing isn’t pretending that your stress doesn’t exist; it’s trying to think differently and change your perspective about stressors that do exist. This might mean looking at the bright side or trying to see the bigger picture. If I don’t want to quit my stressful job, I can try to reframe by thinking more about the money I make or the times I feel fulfilled at work.

The third step is to relieve stress. This means finding ways to relax throughout the day. You might try meditating or watching funny cat videos on YouTube to clear your head and relieve your stress.

Finally, refresh. Find ways to take more extensive breaks where you completely de-stress. Pre-COVID, this might have meant taking a vacation to a beach somewhere. But now, you’ll have to get more creative as you find ways to put your phone down, forget about work, and come back completely refreshed.

2. Take Breaks

Part of stress management is taking breaks. But taking breaks is also an important part of tapping into your unconscious mind.

When I’m trying to figure out how to structure an article or put together ideas for a larger project, I schedule in time to completely put the project down. This allows my unconscious mind the freedom to come up with some truly novel solutions, and unlike conscious thought, it feels effortless.

This is that experience of the light bulb suddenly going on while you’re showering or driving to work. When you aren’t focused on anything in particular, your unconscious mind has the quiet it needs to bubble up to become conscious thought.

So, take breaks. One strategy is what’s called the Pomodoro Technique, which is when you stop to take a five-minute break after every 25 minutes of work. This allows you to recharge. Plus, by systematically easing your intense focus, you are giving your unconscious mind opportunities to come up with some truly novel ideas.

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3. Get Creative

The unconscious mind is great at effortlessly seeing patterns and finding interesting solutions, but for this to happen, it needs some inspiration. That means creating and consuming as much creativity as you can.

Pick up an artistic or creative hobby. Paint, write, build, or dance. It’s also helpful to consume creativity. Go to museums, read poetry, and walk in nature. Taking in creativity with your conscious mind will give your unconscious mind all the inspiration it needs to be able to do its thing.

4. Don’t Force It

The most crucial takeaway about the unconscious mind is that you can’t force it. You can struggle and strain all you want when you’re using your conscious mind, but the unconscious mind can only bubble to the surface when you aren’t trying so hard.

Think back to that phenomenon of having an aha moment while you’re showering or walking your dog. The unconscious mind is better able to break through when you aren’t focused so intensely on whatever it is you’re trying to solve.

So, relax and give yourself some time and space. That’s when your unconscious mind is most likely to breakthrough.

5. Play

Finally, don’t forget about the power of play. Play is inherently fun, and a playful mode of thinking allows your unconscious mind more of a chance to innovate. If you turn your task into a game, you’ll be more relaxed, have more fun, and collaborate better with your colleagues. That means you’ll be more likely to riff and get to a more creative “unconscious mind” solution.

You can also add play throughout your day to tap into this freer, less constrained kind of thinking. Turn your commute into a game, play hide and seek with your children, or join a local bowling league. This will help you get reacquainted with your childlike sense of joy, wonder, and curiosity—all key ingredients to nurturing and fostering your unconscious mind.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with and utilizing your unconscious mind is very different from doing so with your conscious mind. Tapping your unconscious mind is a technique that, when done right, can help you get what you want by untapping your potential.

Featured photo credit: Katerina Jerabkova via unsplash.com

Reference

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