Nootropic supplements are quickly gaining popularity as a way to improve your memory and focus.
These supplements promise to boost your mental abilities without the side effects of conventional medications, but not all nootropics are created equal.
In this article, we’ll look at various supplements that are said to improve your brain health and cognitive function to find the best nootropic supplement for boosting memory.
Although boosting your brain power with a pill might sound a little far-fetched, many dietary supplements have scientifically proven benefits for brain health and cognitive function. For example, omega-3 fatty acids have potent antioxidant effects and support healthy brain function, with some studies showing they can help prevent age-related cognitive decline.
As well as improving mental performance and enhancing focus, memory and creativity, many nootropics have been found to maintain brain health and reduce age-related cognitive decline. In today’s busy world, these benefits could improve the quality of life for all kinds of people, so we’ll be looking at the pros and cons of nootropics to find the best nootropic supplements for you.
The term “nootropic” – from the ancient Greek “nóos” (mind) and “tropḗ” (a turning) – was originally used to refer to the synthetic drug piracetam, which improves mental performance and memory. However, the term, coined by Romanian chemist Dr Corneliu E. Giurgea, is now used to refer to various supplements and medicines that can improve mental performance.
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Nootropics are designed to boost your cognitive function by improving focus, memory and information processing, and the best nootropic supplements can provide dramatic benefits to cognitive function. While many substances can boost focus, etc. (such as caffeine, a natural stimulant), they can only be considered true nootropics according to the original definition put forth by Dr Corneliu E. Giurgea if they:
Neuroenhancement or brain enhancement refers to the targeted enhancement of cognitive abilities through medical interventions, such as pharmaceuticals and surgery. Although more research is needed in the field, many studies have found that certain drugs and some of the best nootropic supplements have surprising benefits for the mental abilities of healthy individuals.
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In the context of nootropics, the process of using supplements to enhance your mental faculties is called ‘brain enhancement’ because nootropic supplements are often known as ‘brain boosters’ or ‘brain enhancers’. Although this term is highly inaccurate – nootropics do not ‘enhance’ or alter your brain– it’s commonly used to refer to the benefits of nootropics, which enhance users’ cognitive functions.
Nootropics improve mental energy, focus, memory, and information processing, and the best nootropic supplements (according to the original definition) do all this without side effects. The mental benefits of ‘brain boosting’ supplements are obvious, but many of these products contain vitamins, minerals and extracts with other health benefits.
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Here are some of the most common ingredients in brain booster supplements and their wider health benefits if you need more convincing that nootropic supplements are beneficial for your mental and physical well-being:
Vitamin A is the generic term for a group of fat-soluble compounds that help preserve your eyesight, support your immune system and bone health, and maintain brain health. Beta-carotene – which your body can turn into vitamin A – is found in yellow, orange and red vegetables and is often added to the best nootropic supplements, along with vitamin A.
B-Vitamins are a group of eight essential nutrients that support various cellular functions, including energy production, cellular repair and the production of signalling molecules in your nervous system. In addition to supporting general health, B vitamins can help improve episodic memory and global cognition when taken as dietary supplements, especially in people deficient in one or more B vitamins.
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant that helps support immune function, brain development and neurotransmitter function. However, vitamin C is less effective for people with adequate levels, so it is rarely added to the best nootropic supplements since most people get enough from other sources.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant effects that can help prevent chronic conditions caused by free radicals (oxidative damage), such as dementia. Additionally, low levels of vitamin E have been linked to an increased risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, so supplementing with vitamin E can improve general health and brain function.
Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that support nerve cell health and cognitive function, making them a common addition to some of the best nootropic supplements. Vitamin K also supports the body’s healing process through blood clots and may help prevent inflammation.
L-theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in tea which may support immune function and regulate blood pressure, as well as increase alpha waves linked to creativity in the brain. Doses of L-theanine as low as 50mg can help increase your brain function, especially when taken with caffeine, so drinking a couple of cups of tea (which contains L-theanine and caffeine) may help boost your productivity.
Creatine is an amino acid your body uses to produce protein, is widely used to increase muscle mass with resistance training, and has surprising benefits for your brain. Creatine bonds with phosphate to create phosphocreatine molecules linked to improved short-term memory and reasoning skills, so this ingredient is equally at home in pre-workout powders and the best nootropic supplements.
The main bioactive compound in turmeric – curcumin – has powerful anti-inflammatory effects, which may decrease your risk of chronic diseases and protect against age-related cognitive decline. The anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric and curcumin have been linked to various health benefits, like improved heart health, mental health and skin, making them a great addition to any brain booster supplements.
Ginkgo biloba is a natural supplement proven to increase mental performance and cognitive function, and it is commonly added to the best nootropic supplements. Ginkgo biloba also has heart and eye health benefits and can reduce inflammation, lowering your risk of chronic diseases.
Last but not least, omega-3 fatty acids have the most health benefits of any supplement on this list, as they are essential for your heart, joints and brain. Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids supports healthy eyes, brain development, heart health, and brain health, reduces inflammation, and fights age-related mental decline.
Nootropics can be broadly defined as supplements or drugs that improve brain function in healthy people, but not all nootropics are created equally, and the effects of different supplements can vary wildly. Most nootropic supplements focus on proper nutrition and contain essential vitamins, minerals or amino acids, but these aren’t as beneficial for otherwise healthy people.
RELATED: If you’re interested in boosting your brain power with all-natural supplements, read our article on the best natural nootropics to learn about the natural herbs and extracts that can boost your brain power.
Indeed, most medical research shows that proper nutrition is the most important factor for brain health, so it’s more important to get a balanced intake of essential nutrients than focus on a single supplement. However, we couldn’t end this article without mentioning omega-3 fatty acids, one of the safest, most effective and all-around best nootropic supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits, including improved brain health and anti-inflammatory effects, and are some of the safest, most reliable ingredients in nootropic supplements. What’s more, omega-3 fatty acids are classed as essential nutrients and have been extensively researched, and are considered safe, even in higher doses.
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Most of the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids come from two main types – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – which are found in natural sources like fish oil. However, these specific omega-3 fatty acids can be isolated from their natural sources to make potent dietary supplements, and these are some of the best nootropic supplements:
DHA is vital for brain health, makes up around 25% of the total fat in your brain cells, and can improve thinking skills, memory and reaction times when taken as a supplement.
EPA has anti-inflammatory effects that may protect the brain from cellular damage and age-related cognitive decline, and it can improve symptoms of depression.
It’s natural to suffer from memory issues from time to time, especially if you find yourself busy or distracted, but you don’t have to live with brain fog. Plenty of natural and safe nootropics can boost your brain power and improve your memory, and some of the best nootropic supplements have wider benefits that can improve your overall health.
These dietary supplements can help you focus on your daily tasks and protect against cognitive decline, so they’re not just for students and over-achievers. However, nootropic supplements are no substitute for professional medical treatment, and you should consult a doctor if you’re having serious issues with memory and cognitive function.