Looking for the very best brain supplements? Consider this your reading list.
Just as with building and maintaining the function of your muscles, having good brain health isn’t all about brain training and meditation. If you didn’t already know, then you might just be surprised to learn that the health and function of your brain can be affected by what you put in your stomach, too.
The number of people who will develop dementia in the UK is predicted to soar to over 1 million by 2025, and 2 million by 2051. But you needn’t be too befuddled by the numbers as, although some ageing is inevitable, there are things you can do to keep your grey matter in check.
Having a good diet is the first step to protecting your cerebral prowess, but if you think you’re falling short, there are plenty of brain and focus supplements that can help maintain your brain health and keep you thinking sharp.
- Why use brain and focus supplements?
- Best brain supplements for memory
- Best brain supplements for focus
- Other brain health supplements
Why Use Brain and Focus Supplements?
Your brain requires nourishment, hydration, and energy to work at its most focussed. Ever had an exam and found you’ve been able to concentrate better than on other occasions? Your diet may well have played a part in that. Certain foods, including fruit and vegetables, have properties that can prevent your brain from damage. Certain brain supplements contain a concentrated dose of these nutrients, which help maintain your brain health and may help with memory and focus.
It’s always important to have a healthy diet, but supplements can fill in the gaps where you fall a little short. What’s more, other foods can actually be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of your brain, like trans-fatty acids, saturated fats and simple carbohydrates like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (found in soft drinks).
Best Brain Supplements for Memory
Fish Oil & Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil supplements are chock-full of fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which are two types of omega-3 fatty acids.
One of the many important health benefits that omega-3 fatty acids are linked to is keeping your memory performing at its best. That’s because DHA plays a big part in brain structure and function. In fact, DHA makes up a quarter of the fat and a massive 90% of the omega-3 fat that’s found in brain cells. DHA can be made in the body from foods containing a-linolenic acid, too, but this is a much slower process than consuming DHA directly.
Not all fats are “bad”, especially when it comes to the omega-3 in fish oil. One of the ways omega-3s can help with brain health is their anti-inflammatory properties, which protect the brain from the damage and effects of aging.1 Omega-3s are therefore considered a brain supplement as they are linked to improved thinking ability, memory and reaction time.1
If you prefer plant-based, you can also get your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids via Vegan Omegas.
Get the key info on fish oil in this article...
Phosphatidylserine is a fat compound, also known as a phospholipid, which is located in the brain. Phosphatidylserine supplementation has been shown to support brain health and mood when taken in 300 mg doses three times a day.2 It serves the brain health by reducing age-related damage. Doses of 900 mg a day have been found to improve cognitive skills and memory; making it one of the best supplements for memory and brain health.2
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid that your body naturally creates and you can get a boost through supplementation. It plays a big role in the production of energy, and by making you more alert and energised it also improves memory and focus.3 In other words, it’s a brain supplement that can help you to act sharp, think quick, all while keeping you on your toes.
Best Brain Supplements for Focus
Ginkgo Biloba is a brain supplement that’s derived from a natural source: the Ginkgo Biloba tree. It’s known as a brain-booster because of its ability to increase blood flow to the brain, which can help with focus as well as memory.4
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that you probably already know pretty well from your morning brew, but it comes in supplement form for a sharp boost in focus. It stimulates the brain and central nervous system, giving the pep and alertness that’s associated with coffee-drinking.
Other Brain Health Supplements
Creatine is known for its energy-giving potency, helping you to achieve more reps and to dig deeper for bursts of explosive power when you need it. It occurs naturally in the body, playing a part in the metabolism of energy, but it’s also found in small amounts in the brain. Creatine is therefore heralded as an important supplement for anyone who doesn’t eat meat, fish and eggs, as it has the potential to keep cognitive processes and memory sharp.5
Take our quiz to find out if you should be stocking up on creatine...
Take Home Message
The overall wellbeing of your brain, its function, ability to think, react, focus and remember is largely affected by what you put into your body. If you’re falling short on nutrients in your diet, nutritional supplements can help fill the gap that’s left behind.
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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.
- Dyall, S. C. (2015). Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and the brain: a review of the independent and shared effects of EPA, DPA and DHA. Frontiers in aging neuroscience, 7, 52
- Moré, M. I., Freitas, U., & Rutenberg, D. (2014). Positive effects of soy lecithin-derived phosphatidylserine plus phosphatidic acid on memory, cognition, daily functioning, and mood in elderly patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Advances in therapy, 31(12), 1247-1262.
- Rebouche, C. J. (2004). Kinetics, pharmacokinetics, and regulation of L‐carnitine and acetyl‐L‐carnitine metabolism. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1033(1), 30-41.
- Wesnes, K. A., Ward, T., McGinty, A., & Petrini, O. (2000). The memory enhancing effects of a Ginkgo biloba/Panax ginseng combination in healthy middle-aged volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 152(4), 353-361.
- Hemmer, W., & Wallimann, T. (1993). Functional aspects of creatine kinase in brain. Developmental neuroscience, 15(3-5), 249-260.
Claire is a Registered Dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach through the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.
Talking and writing about food and fitness is at the heart of Claire’s ethos as she loves to use her experience to help others meet their health and wellness goals.
Claire is also a certified indoor cycling instructor and loves the mental and physical boost she gets from regular runs and yoga classes. When she’s not keeping fit herself, she’s cheering on her hometown’s sports teams in Pittsburgh, or cooking for her family in the kitchen.
Find out more about Claire’s experience here.