Parents are beaming with pride if their children are usually praised for being smart and intelligent, a potential applicant is hired easily to a job if he shows sharpness of mind, businessman often closes a deal if he is smart and witty and eventually anybody who displays quintessential brilliance of mind are on the peak of their careers.
Most people believe that intelligence can be attributed to the hereditary genes from the parents or the bloodline that a family can boast of. One receives accolades always and praise-worthy words if somebody aced in an exam or top in competitive activities. Since competition is stiff today, one should able work shoulder to shoulder with others who are equally smart and intelligent to produce amazing outputs or products.
It takes something to have sharp mind because not all individuals are endowed with intellectual prowess, but there’s no reason to be crestfallen because today, everything is possible under the heat of the sun. Nootropics supplements are readily available in the market that could give you the boost you need to achieve a more alert and enhanced cognitive function.
What Are Nootropics?
The term ‘nootropics’ first referred to any natural or synthetic substance that may have a positive impact on mental skills, which can fall in three general categories: dietary supplements, synthetic compounds, and prescription drugs (1). They are believed to perform an array of amazing functions that may include memory boost, motivation, creativity, alertness and general cognitive function and it may also reduce age-related declines in brain function as well (2).
Best Nootropics Supplements
Resveratrol is gaining a reputation as nootropics supplement for controlling brain inflammation, boosting dopamine, helping reverse cognitive decline and fighting brain cell aging. Research revealed many benefits of resveratrol to one’s cognitive health (3). More studies in animals have shown that it can reduce depression, treat addictions, protect against memory loss, is anti-anxiety, reduce plaques in Alzheimer’s disease, improve learning, memory and mood, and protect the brain from stroke and shield from hearing loss (4). In addition, resveratrol is an inhibitor of enzyme PDE4 (Phosphodiesterase-4), which have been shown to be memory enhancers. It also boosts BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which has been called “Miracle-Gro for the brain” by Harvard Neuropsychiatrist John Ratey (5). When BDNF is released, nerve cells connect to other cells or their synapses. As brain cells “fire together”, they “wire together” to create memory (6).
2. Fish oil
Fish oil supplements are common replacements of fatty acids called EPA and DHA, which both have roles in maintaining cognitive function. These EPA and DHA are called omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce inflammation and act as a neuroprotective agent (7). These omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil are a popular supplement among beginners and enthusiasts because of anti-anxiety effects, improved blood flow to the brain, enhanced memory, and a host of other advantages (8). Several studies have shown that taking fish oil supplements may help improve memory in people with mild cognitive impairment, and they are also recommended to help people with depression (9).
The caffeine in coffee supports cognition by boosting certain brain chemicals to enhance energy and alertness. It is a popular bioactive compound and stimulant known for its energizing effects. Other phytochemicals in coffee also play vital roles in improving mood and cognition (10). So all together, coffee may help with energy, focus, mood and overall cognition (11). Caffeine works by modulating various neurotransmitters in the brain affecting the primary neurotransmitters called noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, glutamate and GABA (12). Manipulating these chemicals can enable the brain to function properly while enhancing mood, even when one exhausted (13). In fact, one study shows caffeine boosts arousal, mood, concentration and learning (14).
Phosphatidylserine is a nootropic that has been the subject of a large number of studies intended to take a closer look at the variety of its benefits. It is said to optimize mood due to its relationship to cortisol, often referred to as “stress hormone” because it is involved in the body’s response to stress (15). It plays a role in reducing cortisol in your body, thus, having a positive benefit on your stress levels. Another benefit of this supplement may have something to do with its neuroprotective properties, which can help people enhance their cognition that can come in several different forms, most prominently in the learning process (16). Including this supplement in your diet may be able to increase the rate at which people make calculations while also improving their overall accuracy in getting information right, according to one study (17). In addition, research has suggested that phosphatidylserine could help with the symptoms of cognitive decline, primarily helping people recall information more quickly (18).
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an acetylated form of L-carnitine with anti-aging, neuroprotective and nootropics effect that also decreases fatigue and improves attention, memory, learning and executive function (19). Acetyl-L-Carnitine helps transport of fatty acids into mitochondria where they’re needed for energy metabolism (20). Fueling your cells “power plants” can boost physical and mental energy. It also performs other significant roles like it is a necessary ingredient for acetylcholine formation, which boosts memory, mental alertness, and fluid thought (21). And, the antioxidant properties of Acetyl-L-Carnitine provides neuroprotective qualities, boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), and promotes cerebral blood circulation (22).
6. Ginkgo Biloba
Modern research confirms that ginkgo biloba supplement has many benefits for both brain and body. Some of ginkgo biloba’s most exciting benefits are related to memory, mood, and cognition. A number of studies and clinical trials have shown that ginkgo biloba supplements improved memory, particularly in individuals suffering from mild to moderate age-related dementia (23). It is also shown to improve circulation and blood flow in the brain makes it a useful and powerful nootropic, both on its own and in combination with other supplements (24). In addition, it also enhances cognition by increasing levels of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter most closely associated with learning, and dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with motivation and reward (25). As a mood elevator, the supplement is tested in clinical trials on participants suffering from anxiety disorders. Results confirm that it is an effective treatment for anxiety and has also been shown to be an effective mood modulator for adults with geriatric depression (26).
Creatine can reduce mental fatigue and improve cognition. In sleep-deprived rugby players, creatine (20 g/day) improved mood and cognitive skills after supplementing for a week (27). In another study, creatine improved complex cognitive skills taken for 7 days before sleep deprivation combined with moderate-intensity exercise (28). Studies suggest that creatine may reverse “brain fog” symptoms caused by stressors such as lack of sleep and circadian rhythm imbalances, which are common in athletes or in people leading a modern, fast lifestyle (29). Moreover, creatine is one of the nootropics that enhances reasoning as well (30). Memorizing information is useful, but reasoning logically through a difficult professional or educational problem is even more profound (31).
8. Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri is first and foremost a memory enhancer. There is strong evidence that bacopa supplementation also increases attention, heightens focus, reduces stress, and promotes calmness (32). Bacopa monnieri is an adaptogen, so it will definitely help you resist stress and reduce anxiety levels (33). A study published in 2008 looked at bacopa monnieri’s effects on 107 healthy people aged 18-60. These people were given either 300mg of bacopa monnieri extract or a placebo for 90 days (34). The bacopa monnieri treated group showed significantly better memory function than placebo (35). More importantly, the researchers made special note of the improvement in working spatial memory and rapid visual information processing (36).
9. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea is among the most well-studied and effective natural nootropics and adaptogens. It may improve cognitive function, enhance memory and learning, and protect the brain. It also helps with emotional calming and protects against emotional stress (37). A 2012 systematic review found that rhodiola may be helpful at alleviating brain fog (38). In addition, a 2012 study with 101 people found that 400 mg of rhodiola rosea per day for four weeks produced significant improvements in symptoms of stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion, and anxiety (39).
There are, however, many other nootropics supplements that can be added in the list. Surely, the above mentioned supplements have impact to one’s mental function and health. Although they give us the memory-boost we need, you still have to consult your healthcare practitioner to guide in choosing the right supplements for you. There are some side effects associated with these supplements once used. Your health provider will guide you and advise you in your journey in good health.