6 Supplements that Promise to Give you a Mental Edge

If you feel like you are dragging through the day, whether because of seasonal depression or due to life stressors, you may be in need of a little boost to help you stay focused and productive. And without veering into Limitless sci-fi territory, there are supplements that claim to boost your brain power.
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Photo Credit: Jackson Hendry on Unsplash

What Are Brain Supplements?

They include vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, and omega-3s that either help a) optimize brain function, b) prevent cognitive decline or c) treat an existing condition.

Benefits of Brain Supplements

Some of the most popular forms of supplementation for improved cognitive abilities and overall mental well-being and energy include healthy fatty acids as well as different types of B vitamins.

Omega-3s

“Omega-3 supplements with high levels of EPA (what I call your “stress less/feel better” omega-3) and a lower ratio of DHA have shown to be as effective as prescription antidepressants at treating major depression,” says renowned psychotherapist and author of Heal Your Drained Brain, Dr. Mike Dow.

 

This is an example of someone using an omega-3 to treat a condition. Some may simply be popping an omega-3 to prevent cognitive decline or tame brain inflammation, or to complement a plant-based diet.

 

“Vegans often need to take an algae-based DHA supplement since the ALA they get from plant-based sources converts mostly to EPA but not DHA,” says Dr. Dow. So it’s a brain supplement for a specific diet.

B Vitamins

Some people take B vitamins for general energy, but others use specific types of B vitamins for brain function. “Folate, also known as vitamin B9, helps your body manufacture feel-good neurotransmitters,” says Dr. Dow.

Things to Consider

Keep in mind that supplements can’t replace a healthy diet or lifestyle. “Don’t eat fast-food all day and then think popping a brain supplement will undo the damage. Use them to further optimize,” says Dr. Dow. In other words, think of dietary aids as potentially beneficial complements to good habits.

You also want to be mindful of any interactions with other medication you’re currently taking. Even herbal remedies and natural products can have a harmful impact when misused or used in conjunction with other active ingredients. So do your research and check with your doctor and/or pharmacist before taking something new.

And since supplements aren’t strictly regulated like prescription drugs, the brand you choose is actually important here. “There have been independent studies of supplements; some brands didn’t have anywhere close to the dose they claimed. I tend to stick the brands I trust,” says Dr. Dow.

Ready to add a brain-enhancing supplement to your daily routine? We’ve rounded up some options below.

Supplements that Can Benefit Your Brain

Carlson Elite Omega-3

Omega 3 fatty acids are often found in foods like fish, but if you’re not eating fatty fish on a consistent basis, a supplement is a great idea. Healthy fats are important for body function in general, but a deficiency in omega-3s can increase the risk of depression, fatigue, and anxiety.

Carlson Labs makes top-rated omega-3 fish oil soft gel capsules that will benefit both your heart and brain — and even your vision.

SEE IT: $45.78 at Amazon.com

 

Natrol Cognium

This is a breakthrough product that​ is specially formulated to keep your mind sharp and your memory strong. The core ingredient in Cognium is backed by human clinical studies that show statistically significant improvements in memory and cognition in as little as four weeks.

SEE IT: $17.74 at Amazon.com

MegaFood Adult B-Centered

The pioneer of premium vitamins and supplements made from whole foods. According to MegaFood Medical Director Erin Stokes, ND, Bacopa supports cognitive function including memory and learning capacity, as well as the body’s response to stress.* Plus, L-Theanine has been shown to help promote a sense of relaxation while maintaining alertness, and may help to encourage relaxation, focus and cognitive function.*

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

SEE IT: $33.09 at Amazon.com

Pure Synergy USDA Organic Matcha Power

Green tea contains both caffeine as well as an amino acid called l-theanine. L-theanine encourages alpha wave activity in the brain, which promotes a calming/relaxing effect. The duo of caffeine and l-theanine can create a steady state of concentration and “calm awareness” that many find quite enjoyable (and less jarring than a cup of joe).  When shopping for Matcha Green Tea, look for organic, Japanese ceremonial-grade (versus culinary grade).

SEE IT: $27.95 at Amazon.com 

Visbiome High-Potency Probiotic


Probiotics are a source of healthy gut bacteria, and recent studies have shown a correlation between gut and brain health, particularly when it comes to mood disorders. Containing  112.5 billion strains of good bacteria, this supplement is a high-quality option that is shipped refrigerated to ensure freshness.

SEE IT: $50 at Amazon.com

Resveratrol 1450

We know this antioxidant because it’s found in red wine and chocolate, but it’s also said to slow down decline in brain function. We’ll cheers to that!

SEE IT: $21.00 at Amazon.com 


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