We’ve heard a lot of talks in the health field about the so called brain boosters or brain supplements. Specialists, researches and nutritionists, they all joined forces into trying to test and figure out if these brain supplement pills really do help people with memory issues, loss of concentration or focus and serious mental illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The single unique truth is that there is no magic pill or treatments that can actually make these problems disappear, but there are some things that a brain supplement can do in order to alleviate the pain or the discomfort of going through such nasty phases. Aging is hard to cope is as it is, let alone if it comes along with more worries, stress and health problems that we didn’t even imagine. And fighting on our own with all of these might be a little more hard than imagined. But still, all hope isn’t lost and as long as there are specialists out there trying to provide solutions for these problems, we can rest assure that we’ll find the best treatment for each and every one of us. And one of these “treatments” might be a brain supplement, for all that matters.
What is a brain supplement?
You might meet it in numerous forms, from pills to tablets and capsules, but also from bags to liquid forms. A brain supplement is a drug that you take when you found yourself in some of these situations:
You face difficulties in remembering important things. There is a limit between what’s normal to forget and what it isn’t and you should be fully aware that it happens to all kinds of people to sometimes forget stuff – from children to teenagers and young adults to elders. Our mind is a big treasure that needs constant training and reinforcement, and it is also one of the assets that we need to really take care of, not exhaust it and prevent, as much as it is in our power, to damage it. The mind is like a huge folder that stores up every detail – minor or important – from our lives and it is believed that its capacities of storage are somehow unlimited.
But because it is difficult for it to remember so many many things, sometimes it takes a break and either eliminates or deletes the unimportant details, drawing a line between them and the important things we have to remember. When you start forgetting things like your best friend’s name, people’s faces, familiar surroundings, then you need to ask yourself some questions or go see a doctor. But if it happens to forget where is your mobile phone, what you did with the keys a minute ago or where you parked your car at work this morning, then it’s nothing to worry about too much. A brain supplement chosen carefully for this kind of memory lapses or forgetfulness does not entirely fix the problem but it sure as hell improves it. And don’t worry, we’ll talk about the choosing part afterwards.
When you lack focus or concentration or both. Keeping your mind sharp and focused is a hard thing to do, because we often think of more than one thing each minute. Our mind is constantly doing multitasking and sometimes, when we have one important task to do in our face, we find it difficult to get it through with as it should. Think of regular activities, like driving. It needs focus and high attention, especially when the road is crowded. What will happen if you start thinking about the things you did last week and miss out the red semaphore that tells you to stop at a crosswalk? This is a worst case scenario, but at least now you know that what a brain supplement might be good for.
When you want to improve your cognition skills. A brain supplement is good for improving skills such as attention, memorizing, focus and concentration, all of these being cognition skills that help you think more accurately and pay more attention to details or anything you want, but keep in mind that these will not make you a smarter person by raising your IQ grades or making you a genius over night. Brain supplement is just an auxiliary help that does not fix all of your mental problems, but can surely improve them, and this is better than doing nothing, right?
When you experience early signs or advanced signs of Alzheimer’s disease. This is a mental illness that causes a slow decline in your thinking and reasoning skills, including memory. There are some symptoms to look after if you think you might be in danger of developing such a disease. The early signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s must include: memory losses that disrupts your daily life activities and you recognize this by forgetting recently learned information or important dates and events. You might ask for the same info again from time to time also. Another symptom refers to the inability to perform tasks that you did so quickly early before and that now ask you for much more time. You might also experience difficulties in doing or completing familiar tasks at home or at your office, lose track of dates, seasons or the passage of time, confuse places, changing in mood or personality.
When you experience early signs of dementia. Alzheimer’s is bad, but dementia is even worse. Why? Because Alzheimer’s is just the beginning and might be an important early sign of dementia and also a good cause to trigger this mental illness. Dementia is in fact a collection of symptoms that mostly include having trouble communicating, remembering information or impairments in thinking. The common symptoms that tell you if you’re in danger of dementia are the loses of short-term memory, difficulty in finding the right words to express something or to communicate your thoughts, mood swings, depression, apathy, difficulty in completing normal and usual tasks, confusion, difficulty following storylines, failing sense of direction, being repetitive, having a hard time to adapt to change or changes.
A brain supplement does not completely heal you of all these symptoms and diseases, but it can sure improve your health by a long shot. Don’t forget that even though getting older is an inevitable process, developing Alzheimer’s, dementia or experiencing memory loss is not, and you can definitely delay their developing or if not, you can alleviate the symptoms at ease. Other than aging, there are a lot of numerous causes because of which we might experience some brain health issues. What are these other factors?
For once, there is the stress, which we can’t actually escape. Poor nutrition habits is also a cause that can lead to damaging brain health and not to mention that certain state of minds such as pessimism, negativity, depression and others can lead to a poor mental health, which is part of our brain health too. Keeping our minds sharp and taking care of our brain health is a long-term process and it has a lot to do with our overall well being and general health.
A brain supplement is a good start for this kind of “job”, because it can be used to improve certain functions of the brain such as memory, focus, concentration and alertness. Besides brain supplements, you must also develop a healthier lifestyle, which includes a good healthy nutrition, because a brain supplement is just a series of essential vitamins that are added in your overall nutrition and that play an essential role in your brain functioning, alertness and memory skills. That means that a brain supplement should and must be viewed only as a supplement to an already healthier lifestyle and not just an independent method to gaining memory strength and focus.
Also, exercises are a big part of the brain health and brain supplement are just assisting them for a limited period of time.
However, a good brain supplement should be consisting of a serious of natural ingredients that serve our needs of a more focused attention, alertness and memory strength. These ingredients are also useful for improving the physical activity levels and our abilities as well. You should know that each brain supplement developers add their own unique dose of ingredients and only the ingredients they think best serve their desires, but you should be able to choose what is good for you and only for you. Pay attention to the three main goals that the best brain supplement stacks serve. These are:
- improvement of the physical health of our brain
- improving memory or neurotransmitters, which are responsible for creating connections between our thoughts, ideas, our understanding of things and so on
- improving our focus, attention, concentration skills
Regarding what ingredients should have the best brain supplements out there, these are the following:
- Ingredients for strengthening the tissue building or their repairing, which are good for the physical health. These ingredients should come as amino acids, which are responsible for building blocks of protein, protein being the main brick of our brain.
- Ingredients that release the production are the ones needed for improving the neurotransmitters and memory, that come in the form or many chemicals still researched about.
- Ingredients that should act as some form of stimulants, for the attention, focus and concentration skills. Most brain supplements use caffeine in order to stimulate these skills, because its safety and non-negative reactions of people to it.
Also, it would be very helpful if you’d check to see if the product has a complex of multivitamin in it. Usually, it should at least contain 400 mcg of folic acid and 500 mg of vitamin C. The answer is because vitamins have proven to be very efficiently when it comes to protecting our brain and providing it the necessary strength and energy to perform its tasks. Also, they have proven to improve memory a lot, by increasing the measurements of electrical activity in the brain. A few words about the vitamins and their benefic effects on the brain activities…
As we’ve said, a few stand alone brain supplements won’t do the magic tricks we want, but if they’re aided by a healthy lifestyle, a good nutrition and an auxiliary help coming in other supplements forms, it will sure as hell provide us some benefits. And since brain supplement uses a lot of vitamins as well, it’s important to know a few more facts about their relationship. So let’s start with the basics.
You need antioxidants if you seek to ACE your brain. And the “ACE” word is the perfect acronym to describe the benefic effects on the brain’s health of the vitamins A, C and E. Vitamins A, C and E are all antioxidants and their main role is to help us reduce the risks of a heart disease and make sure that our brain is fully oxygenated. It is often said that vitamin C is the best supplement one can take for the brain.
How does vitamin C work on our bodies?
Well, in order to do its magic tricks, the liver has to deliver glutathione and it can’t do that unless it’s drug-free and you eat the right foods high in amino acid cysteine. This glutathione can activate the vitamin C and help our bodies detoxify from the heavy metals and toxic chemicals that can interfere with the brain function as well as with the body function.
If you use a brain supplement and make sure to eat food that contains micronutrients, fiber, antioxidants and other compounds that are meant to contribute to your overall health, then this is your surest way to improve your brain health. Also, try to eat more foods that contain antioxidants, such as: blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, citrus fruits, carrots, cruciferous vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids (which you’ll find in fish like salmon), wheat germ or wheat germ oil and walnuts plus sunflower seeds.
Vitamins B are benefic for you as well and are good if you seek to de-stress your cranium. This vitamin group includes B6 and B12 vitamins and also folates, each and every one of them serving our brain functioning in several different ways. Most importantly, taking the proper vitamin B complex helps your brain deal a lot better with stress. You can get vitamin B not only from pills or brain supplement, but also from legumes, chickpeas, fish, poultry, meat for B12, and some dark green, leafy vegetables to extract the folates.
For your neurons, vitamin D is particularly awesome. This vitamin is also good for building strong bones, but their essential role is in cellular health, which includes the brain cells. Vitamin D can also be extracted as pills, tablets or capsules, but also from foods such as cod liver oil, wild salmon, mackerel, sardines.
As for the memory part, Choline is a micronutrient found in a various number of vegetables and lean proteins that play a key role in the functioning of the neurotransmitters. If you want a natural dose of Choline, try to eat more brewer’s yeast, soybeans and eggs. Put it altogether, there are a few welcomed supplements that can provide some modest benefits for people, such as: fish oil, a complex of vitamins B, curcumin made from turmeric, cocoa flavanols, huperzine A, phosphatidylserine, acetyl-L-carnitine, vinpocetine and CoQ10 that can improve memory loss.
Also, it is said that iron supplementation is good for the learning process and benefic for the memory. Some have spoken of the green tea benefits on the memory and brain function improvement, although its effects are not so well established, at least yet. Another brain supplement that has amazing results on the brain is the Gingko biloba, along vitamin E. Another interesting thing about the brain supplement world is the fuss and talking made around this subject.
Do brain enhancements really work?
What are their benefits on human brain?
Is there more a placebo effect or there are any visible signs of positive results?
Are they worthy of our money and effort?
Do they deserve to take the risk?
But one thing interests as in particular: there are so many different products out there and so many different names given to it, so what’s the real difference between all of these?
We call them brain supplement, brain boosters, brain enhancing drugs, smart drugs, nootropics, vitamins for the brain, but these are not one and the same, so what is what makes them apart? When you thought you’d knew more about this subject, you come across with so many names and confusing terminology that you don’t even know where to begin with. Well, you’re lucky that we do!
Let’s start by calling them all cognitive enhancers, because in the end, that’s what they do – improve our cognitive, mental skills and brain functioning. Now it’s time to add more light to the subject. The memory enhancing drugs or the brain enhancing drugs are also called smart drugs, and they are pharmaceutical products that one takes for the purpose of allegedly improve his memory, focus, attention, learning and some other cognitive skills.
The difference between them and the nootropics, which is a frequently used term nowadays which people use to describe any substance that is used in order to boost brain function, is that nootropics are cognitive enhancing drugs and supplements that are used to improve the health of the brain and are not meant to do any harm. Mainly, the difference is that the natural nootropic supplements are certified to be neuroprotective and safe, having just a few minor side effects, which is not the same that can be said about the brain enhancing drugs, although some people might be skeptical to the part of the definition that says that they “do no harm”.
As regarding the subjects of “do brain supplements make you truly smarter”, the test results have shown the fact that they don’t make a genius out of somebody over the night, but they do a great job into making someone believe that he or she can actually perform better. So, philosophically speaking, we might argue a lot around the subject: are brain supplements truly showing some results or is it just the placebo effects?
And maybe the philosophical side of ours would win the argument by saying that, like the positive results of so many other drugs so far, even the ones of the brain supplements consist mostly of a placebo effect. Why? Because our minds love to trick us into believing that some pills can actually heal all of our diseases and make us feel better and be healed over night. Actually, this placebo effect concentrates more on the idea of you taking a pill in order to make you better and by doing so, the mind clings to this (rather false) hope and thus, our body starts to feel better, the pain disappears and we suddenly feel and think we’ve healed.
Actually, everything relies on the power of our minds and brains. To cut the long story short, if you’ve started to take a brain supplement in order to feel more focused, to improve your cognitive skills such as attention, focus, concentration, learning and also to improve your memory and not having to deal with the unfortunate experience of a memory loss or forgetfulness, your mind or/and brain will cling to this idea and will start to think more accurate, focus more, be more careful with the details and the important things to remember, be more concentrated and be able to perform multitasking – or multi-thinking, to be more precise.
So, I guess it will remain a half mystery if a brain supplement does have positive and certain results indeed or is it just our brain’s power that “heals” us of such mental problems and issues. The fact is, as long as a certain brain supplement works for us and provide the wanted results, it’s okay to take advantage of them and use them in our favor.
Now, if we’ve seen all of the positive aspects of the brain supplements, it’s time to take a look into their side effects. A brain supplement is not fully safe to take and you shouldn’t expect to nothing bad happening to you, especially if you’re taking it without the doctor’s prescription. For example, taking brain supplement if you’re under the age of 25 might be dangerous for you, because the brain is not fully developed and you might overcharge it. Also, some of the people that have taken brain supplement thought about insomnia being a benefit, because it was allowing them to keep going doing their tasks with a minimum quantity of sleep for some extended periods of time.
In fact, if you visit some of the nootropic forums, you might even see people that are bragging about how little sleep they need to do their stuff since taking brain supplement. However, insomnia is not exactly a benefit, it is rather a hazardous side effect of a brain supplement and you should be aware that it is not that good for your brain. The brain needs sleep, and not just any sleep, but long quality sleep. Why? Because it is during our sleep that the brain manages to consolidate memories and build and also create new brain cells, in a word, the brain has a chance to repair itself from the exhaustion during the day.
Other side effects that a brain supplement can have on our bodies include headaches, insomnia, nausea, anxiety, racing heart, chest pains. Not to mention the fact that if you drink alcohol a lot or you’re using antidepressants, there are some brain supplements that you shouldn’t be taking at all, because mixing them, might cause your death.
What should we expect from a brain supplement?
It goes without saying that expectations are important when it comes to the decision of using brain supplement. But as it is with any other products, especially medical ones, you have to stay focused and remember that you should not have high or unrealistic expectations. You need to keep your expectations at a normal and realistic level, because there is no magic in using brain supplement, but a series of processes meant to improve your mental skills (and this, in the best case scenario, of course). Of course that producers and companies tend to pass the threshold of realistic and believable when it comes to promoting and differentiating their products, but let’s get serious, facts count more than words, now and forever and in any other businesses.
So, if you want to settle for some realistic expectations when it comes to brain supplement, you should know that the percent of performance boost lays somewhere between 5 and 50. Brain performance is important to any of us, but sometimes people don’t even notice it. This, however, doesn’t mean that the positive effects of brain supplement aren’t there. Au contraire. Among the benefits we should expect from a brain supplements are these:
- Increasing the ability to focus
- Reducing mental fatigue
- Providing clarity of thought
- Improving memory and recalling events, people, details, information
- Increasing the speed of mental processing and processes
- Providing the ability to bounce and skip between thoughts and ideas
- Improving the overall health of the brain
Now, of course, the benefits vary from a brain supplement to another. Some of them might fulfill them all, but most of them fulfill just one or two of these highlights. Of course there is always possible that some of the products touch an even broader spectrum of benefits. You just need to have in mind what are the areas that you seek to improve and pick the right brain supplement for it.
If you want to ensure yourself that you’re making the right choice when picking the brain supplement, make sure to look if it has any of these ingredients:
- Bacopa monnieri
- CDP-Choline aka Citicoline
- Alpha GPC
- Caffeine and L-Theanine
If you think it’s more helpful to know what were the best latest products and the most used, here is a list to rest your worries. This list contains the top of the best brain supplement for 2016 and the products that pleased people the most. On number 5, it is the brain supplement called Alpha Brain, and people mentioned they felt calm during its usage, experienced alert and clear of mind. On the 4th position is CILTEP, although the users didn’t appreciated its effects too much, confessing that they’ve felt alert and motivated at work, but nothing special in particular.
The energy level was rather baseline, not lower but not higher either. On the third position stands Nootrobox: Rise product. The people that used it claimed they felt satisfied by the results, which appeared quickly after a few weeks of use. On the second place it is the product called TruBrain, about which people said they worked really fine for them. Some of them confessed to have felt sharp of mind, experiencing clear of thought and alert feelings. The levels of energy were great.
Some of their disappointments were the cost of the brain supplement, the number of pills you’d have to take – 7 in the morning and 6 in the night – and the feeling of addiction and brain fog after coming off TruBrain. On the first position is SmartX-All in one product. People confessed that this brain supplement’s effects felt stronger than on any other products in the same category. These included staying focused 4-5 hours, being able to do multi tasking and being able to bounce between thoughts without interruption or training of thought. You’d only have to take 1 or 2 pills per day, and some people said that taking one in the morning and one after lunch worked pretty good for them.
The bottom line is, brain supplement or smart drugs or brain enhancement products or brain boosters or vitamins for the brain, or whatever you want to call them, they all have positive effects but also some negative ones. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. For some they work, for some they don’t. You can’t know until you try, this is true, but you should always consider what the benefits are and what the risks are, put them in balance and take your decision based on rational arguments rather than non-rational ones. Taking decisions in the impulse of the moment is not the answer, nor the solution.
The fact is, you only have one brain. One. And you can choose between artificially stimulate it for some perceived short-term benefits or you can instead nourish and protect it in order to keep it safe and sharp for a lifetime even. And you don’t exactly need a sharp brain to take the right decision, right?