What are brain supplements, and how are they beneficial? Brain supplements would enhance the brain's functioning or maintain regular brain function, owing to various factors such as stress and poor blood circulation. These supplements may be beneficial in helping alleviate problems such as psychological stress, medical conditions like stroke, inadequate blood supply due to habits like smoking, or perhaps just an imbalance of certain hormones and neurotransmitters that may result in lack of sleep, which in turn can lead to a host of problems. Most people use brain supplements to maintain their brain health, but does it work? These supplements improve your memory and speed up your brain's ability to focus, like many of the claims you see on the label of supplements. 25% of adults over the age of 50 are trying to keep their minds healthy. Does the question arise whether these supplements work? It is often not clear. Because FDA manufacturers are not required to prove how effective these supplements are unless they claim specific diseases, learn how beneficial these supplements are for you.
Health benefits of brain supplements
- It helps in delaying chronic problems like dementia, anti-ageing, memory boosting, improved focus and concentration.
- Reduces stress hormones
- Improves sleep quality
- Maintains overall brain health (in general).
Ten best supplements to boost brainpower
As can be seen, most of the supplements are derived from natural foods. The first objective should always be able to acquire these ingredients from your food.
- Omega 3 (from Fish/Walnut)- This is one of the essential supplements to maintain the brain's structure and function. The two ingredients DHA and EPA, have their functions. While DHA is associated with improved thinking skills, memory and reaction times, EPA has anti-inflammatory effects that prevent the brain from damage and ageing. Studies show that consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids by pregnant women has resulted in their off-springs being smarter. Traditional Mediterranean food includes fish rich in omega 3. But is omega-3 supplementation effective? So far it has not been proved in any significant study including studies sponsored by National Institutes of Health. People with APEE4 gene mutation (Mutation) associated with Alzheimer's may benefit significantly if they consume the supplement according to a review program conducted in 2017.
- Vitamin B (from leafy greens)- People at risk for Alzheimer's or those with deficiencies need their regular dose of B Vitamins. Vitamin B such as B6, B12 and B9 (folic acid) all play a significant role in maintaining the brain's health. But when you are not pregnant because folic acid is essential to prevent congenital disabilities. But additional supplements are unlikely to be helpful. But most people should pay more attention to food sources like green leafy vegetables.
- L-Theanine (from Green Tea)- Another natural amino acid present mainly in green tea. Coupled with caffeine, it improves mental performance. It is a natural amino acid that can enhance cognitive performance, especially when mixed with caffeine. No significant studies have been done about this yet. An analysis of this was done in 2019 involving 30 people. Experts say that it is better to consume green tea until more research is done on it. Green tea also naturally contains L-Thinline, Caffeine and Antioxidants, which are very beneficial for your mental and physical health.
- Vitamin E (from Almonds)- A powerful antioxidant that helps eliminate free radicals. It can help prevent and even slow down the onset of dementia. This antioxidant contains free radicals, which can damage your brain cells. But enough studies have been done to find out if vitamin E supplements can prevent dementia. However, one study has found that it can prevent the spread of Alzheimer's. Experts say that most healthy people eat foods like nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.
- Resveratrol- It is a potent antioxidant naturally occurring in the skin of purple and red fruits like grapes and raspberries. It prevents the deterioration of the part in the brain that is associated with memory.
- Gingko Biloba- It is derived from the ginkgo Biloba tree. You can expect enhanced blood flow to the brain upon consuming this, resulting in improved brain function like focus and memory.
- Curcumin (from raw turmeric)- A UCLA study has found that people who consume curcumin fared better on memory-based tests and less build abnormal proteins in their brains.
- Ashwagandha (from the ashwagandha plant)- A powerful Indian herb associated with reducing the stress hormone cortisol. It helps improve focus and concentration.
- L-Carnitine- This is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body. It is associated with improved metabolism and energy production.
- Rhodiola Rosea- It is derived from the herb Rhodiola Rosea and is known to improve mental processing by reducing fatigue.
Common side effects of brain supplements
Many people use supplements to increase memory and increase brain capacity, but is it right for you? Hardly you know the answer, but a study has warned those who take supplements and medicines to improve their brain capacity. According to a JAMA Internal Medicine study, such supplements include piracetam, prohibited from use in the United States. Side effects would usually occur if these supplements were to be taken without the right kind of supervision or guidance. For example- individuals consume such excess amounts of caffeine to keep themselves alert for work and exercise that it makes their system acidic and over-dependent on it.
Role of food and nutrition in cognitive function and brain ageing
- Healthy diet: To energize yourself physically and mentally, you first need to improve your diet. With the help of a healthy diet, you can keep yourself more nutritious and more energetic. What you eat for breakfast throughout the day has a significant impact on your health. Therefore, you should also have a healthy diet and avoid skipping breakfast. Consume almonds so you can get your daily dose of Vitamin E to eliminate free radicals. Take walnuts to get that dose of Omega 3 so that your brain can stay in top shape always.
- Whole Grains and Fruits: Whole grains contain a lot of nutrients that work to improve your diet. The nutrition present in it also improves the blood flow in your body. Apart from this, do not forget to consume fruits daily; they keep you mentally healthy and remove the deficiency of all the necessary nutrients. Another example would be to take green tea, antioxidants from berries, vitamin K from broccoli, magnesium from pumpkin seeds, vitamin C from citrus fruits regularly for its apparent benefits.
Brain supplements: What works and what doesn't? This is highly subjective. It is right to say that the same supplement might work for one person, and may not for the other. A clinical practitioner would be in the correct position to advise on what would ideally work for that individual based on their lifestyle and clinical health. Pericitum present in supplements causes damage: According to a study, all the drugs that are sold by claiming to speed up memory contain piracetam. The patient may also have to face many types of damage due to this piracetam. Such as diarrhoea, increased anxiety, insomnia may be the problem. Simultaneously, these medicines are so heavy that some people or the elderly can also have kidney problems.
(With inputs from Clinical and Sports Nutritionist, Vaibhav Garg, Founder and CEO Purecise)
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