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The 10 Best Nootropic Supplements to Boost Brain Power

Nootropics are natural supplements or drugs that have a
beneficial effect on brain function in healthy people.

Many of these can boost memory, motivation, creativity,
alertness and general cognitive function. Nootropics may also
reduce age-related declines in brain function.

Here are the 10 best nootropic supplements to boost your brain
function.

Brain Medicine Concept

1. Fish Oils

Fish
oil
supplements are a rich source of docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two types of omega-3
fatty acids.

These fatty acids have been linked with
many health benefits
, including improved brain health
(1).

DHA plays a vital role in maintaining the structure and
function of your brain. In fact, it accounts for around 25% of
the total fat, and 90% of the omega-3 fat, found in your brain
cells (2, 3).

The other omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil, EPA, has
anti-inflammatory effects that may protect the brain against
damage and aging (4).

Taking DHA supplements has been linked with improved thinking
skills, memory and reaction times in healthy people who have
low DHA intakes. It has also benefitted people experiencing a
mild decline in brain function (5, 6, 7).

Unlike DHA, EPA isn’t always linked with improved brain
function. However, in people with depression, it has been
associated with benefits like improved mood (8, 9, 10, 11, 12).

Taking fish oil, which contains both these fats, has been shown
to help reduce the decline in brain function associated with
aging (13, 14, 15, 16, 17).

However, evidence for fish oil’s preservative effects on brain
health is mixed (18, 19).

Overall, the best way to get the recommended amount of omega-3
fatty acids is by eating two portions of oily fish per week
(20).

If you can’t manage this, then taking a supplement could be
beneficial.

More research is required to find out how much and what ratios
of EPA and DHA are beneficial. But taking 1 gram per day of
combined DHA and EPA is generally recommended to maintain brain
health (21).

Bottom Line: If you don’t eat the
recommended amount of oily fish, consider taking a fish oil
supplement to help promote good brain health and healthy
brain aging.

2. Resveratrol

Resveratrol is an antioxidant that occurs naturally in the skin
of purple and red fruits like grapes, raspberries and
blueberries. It’s also found in red wine, chocolate and
peanuts.

It’s been suggested that taking resveratrol supplements could
prevent the deterioration of the hippocampus, an important part
of the brain associated with memory (22).

If this is true, this treatment could slow down the decline in
brain function you experience as you get older (23).

Animal studies have also shown that resveratrol can improve
memory and brain function (24, 25).

Additionally, one study on a small group of healthy older
adults found that taking 200 mg of resveratrol per day for 26
weeks improved memory (26).

However, there currently aren’t enough human studies to be sure
of resveratrol’s effects (27).

Bottom Line: In animals, resveratrol
supplements have been shown to improve memory and brain
function. It’s not yet clear if the treatment has the same
effects in people.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine
is a natural stimulant most commonly found in tea, coffee and
dark chocolate.

Although it’s possible to take it as a supplement, there isn’t
really any need when you can get it from these sources.

It works by stimulating the brain and central nervous system,
making you feel less tired and more alert (28).

In fact, studies have shown that caffeine can make you feel
more energized and improve your memory, reaction times and
general brain function (29, 30, 31).

The amount of caffeine
in one cup of coffee
varies, but generally it’s 50–400 mg.

For most people, single doses of around 200–400 mg per day are
generally considered safe and are enough to benefit health
(32, 33, 34).

However, taking too much caffeine can be counterproductive and
has been linked with side effects such as anxiety, nausea and
trouble sleeping.

Bottom Line: Caffeine is a natural stimulant
that can improve your brain function and make you feel more
energized and alert.

4. Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a type of fat
compound called a phospholipid, which can be found in your
brain (35, 36).

It’s been suggested that taking phosphatidylserine supplements
could be helpful for preserving brain health (37).

Studies have shown that taking 100 mg of phosphatidylserine
three times per day could help reduce age-related decline in
brain function (38, 39, 40, 41).

Additionally, healthy people who take phosphatidylserine
supplements of up to 400 mg per day have been shown to have
improved thinking skills and memory (42, 43).

However, larger studies need to be carried out before its
effects on brain function can be fully understood.

Bottom Line: Phosphatidylserine supplements
could improve your thinking skills and memory. They could
also help combat the decline in brain function as you age.
However, further study is needed.

5. Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid produced naturally in your
body. It plays an important role in your metabolism,
particularly in energy production.

Taking acetyl-L-carnitine
supplements
has been claimed to make you feel more alert,
improve memory and slow down age-related memory loss (44).

Some animal studies have shown that acetyl-L-carnitine
supplements can prevent age-related decline in brain function
and increase learning capacity (45, 46).

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In humans, studies have found that it may be a useful
supplement for slowing the decline in brain function due to
age. It may also be useful for improving brain function in
people with mild dementia or Alzheimer’s (47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52).

However, there is no research to show it has a beneficial
effect in otherwise healthy people who aren’t suffering from a
loss of brain function.

Bottom Line: Acetyl-L-carnitine could be
helpful for treating a loss of brain function in the elderly
and people with mental disorders such as dementia or
Alzheimer’s. Its effects in healthy people are unknown.

6. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement derived from the
Ginkgo biloba tree. It’s an incredibly popular
supplement that many people take to boost their brain power.

It’s thought to work by increasing blood flow to the brain and
is claimed to improve brain functions like focus and memory
(53).

Despite the widespread use of ginkgo biloba, results from
studies investigating its effects have been mixed.

Some studies have found that taking ginkgo biloba supplements
can help reduce age-related decline in brain function (54, 55, 56).

One study in healthy middle-aged people found that taking
ginkgo biloba supplements helped improve memory and thinking
skills (57, 58).

However, not all studies have found these benefits (59, 60).

Bottom Line: Ginkgo biloba may help improve
your short-term memory and thinking skills. It may also
protect you from age-related decline in brain function.
However, results are inconsistent.

7. Creatine

Creatine
is a natural substance that plays an important role in energy
metabolism. It’s found naturally in the body, mostly in muscles
and in smaller amounts in the brain.

Although it’s a popular supplement, you can find it in some
foods, namely animal products like meat, fish and eggs.

Interestingly, creatine supplements can improve memory and
thinking skills in people who don’t eat meat (61).

In fact, one study found that vegetarians taking creatine
supplements experienced a 25–50% improvement in performance on
a memory and intelligence test (62)

However, meat eaters don’t see the same benefits. This may be
due to the fact that they are not deficient and already get
enough from their diets (63).

Bottom Line: Taking creatine supplements
could help improve memory and thinking skills in people who
don’t eat meat.

8. Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is a medicine made from the herb
Bacopa monnieri. It’s used in traditional medicine
practices like Ayurveda for improving brain function.

It’s been shown to improve thinking skills and memory, both in
healthy people and in elderly people suffering from a decline
in brain function (64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69).

However, it’s worth noting that only repeated use of Bacopa
monnieri has been shown to have this effect. People generally
take about 300 mg per day and it may take around four to six
weeks for you to notice any results.

Studies of Bacopa monnieri also show that it may occasionally
cause diarrhea and an upset stomach. Because of this, many
people recommend taking this supplement with food (70).

Bottom Line: Bacopa monnieri has been shown
to improve memory and thinking skills in healthy people and
in those with a decline in brain function.

9. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a supplement derived from the herb
Rhodiola rosea, which is often used in Chinese
medicine to promote well-being and healthy brain function.

It’s thought to help improve mental processing by reducing
fatigue (71).

People taking Rhodiola rosea have been shown to benefit from a
decrease in fatigue and improvement in their brain function
(72, 73, 74).

However, results have been mixed (75).

A recent review by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
concluded that more research is required before scientists can
know if Rhodiola rosea can reduce tiredness and boost brain
function (76).

Bottom Line: Rhodiola rosea may help improve
thinking skills by reducing fatigue. However, more research
is needed before scientists can be certain of its effects.

10. S-Adenosyl Methionine

S-Adenosyl methionine (SAMe) is a substance
that occurs naturally in your body. It’s used in chemical
reactions to make and break down important compounds like
proteins, fats and hormones.

It may be useful for enhancing the effects of some
antidepressants and reducing the decline in brain function seen
in people who have depression (77, 78, 79).

One study found that adding SAMe to the antidepressant
prescription of people who had previously not responded to
therapy improved their chances of remission by around 14%
(80).

More recently, a study found that, in some instances, SAMe may
be as effective as some types of antidepressant medications
(81).

However, there is no evidence that this supplement benefits
people who don’t have depression.

Bottom Line: SAMe could be useful for
improving brain function in people with depression. There is
no evidence it has this effect in healthy people.

Take Home Message

Some of these supplements show real promise for improving and
protecting brain health.

However, note that many brain-boosting supplements are only
effective for people who have a mental condition or are
deficient in the supplemented nutrient.

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