Brain supplements are a growing industry in the UK. This article will examine what brain supplements are, what foods or ingredients they might contain, and why you might want to use one. We will also compare brain supplements with ‘smart drugs’.
What Are Brain Supplements?
Brain supplements are supplements that support cognitive function. They are a type of ‘nootropic’, which are substances that can help with cognition. However, brain supplements are distinct from ‘smart drugs’ - another type of nootropic - as brain supplements tend not to contain drugs or pharmaceuticals. Instead, they use more natural ingredients such as superfoods, herbals, amino acids, vitamins or minerals.
What Do Brain Supplements Contain?
As mentioned, brain supplements typically do not contain drugs or pharmaceuticals. They focus largely on using food-supplement quality ingredients to nourish the brain and improve its performance.
Brain supplements may include ingredients like:
Acetyl L-Carnitine. Acetyl L-Carnitine is an amino acid. Its name comes from the Latin word for ‘meat’, as it was first isolated from meat products. It is also found in asparagus, avocado and other vegetables. Acetyl L-Carnitine functions as an antioxidant in your body, which helps to mitigate brain fog. Moreover, Acetyl L-Carnitine might be able to increase metabolism in the brain, that helps boost alertness and cognitive function.
B Vitamins. B Vitamins are found in many brain supplements. This is because B Vitamins have been found by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to “contribute to psychological function.” They generally help boost mental clarity and get rid of 'brain fog'. There are also trials underway at the University of Oxford that may solidify the theory that a lack of B Vitamins may be linked with dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Choline. Choline, found in cruciferous vegetables and eggs, is another popular ingredient in brain supplements. This is because choline becomes acetylcholine in the human body, which is a neurotransmitter that's important for regulating cognitive processes, mood and intelligence. Interestingly, choline is also very useful for some medical imaging techniques.
Nootropic Supplements Made From Brain Supplement Ingredients
As a result of the positive effects that brain supplement ingredients can have on the brain, it's possible to use these ingredients together, in a nootropic supplement. This might also be called a nootropic 'stack', which is a mix of several complementary ingredients.
These stacks or supplements contrast greatly with other more popular nootropics such as 'smart drugs'. We will explore this further in the sixth section of this article, but in short, nootropic supplements made from these natural ingredients can be just as effective as smart drugs, while remaining safer and more affordable.
Why Are Nootropic Brain Supplements Good?
Brain supplements can provide several benefits and advantages, which we will detail below.
Brain supplements may help you concentrate. They can increase your ability to focus, making you able to work more effectively, or maintain concentration for longer on something you otherwise might find dull. People who are studying, or who need to focus for long hours, might find this effect helpful.
Brain supplements can support motivation, too. This can be the result of nutrients provided by the supplement, or because of the enhanced concentration it gives you. Either way, some brain supplements may be able to give you a greater ‘will to work'.
Mental energy is another important facet of cognition that brain supplements can help with. Giving your brain a well-designed supplement can help stave off mental fatigue, and boost both your mental performance through a boost to your energy levels. Brain supplements can help you be more alert and get more done with the hours in the day.
It’s also possible to boost your performance under pressure through using brain supplements. Some brain supplements are designed to help you think more clearly while under pressure. They can can be very helpful if you’re about to sit an exam, deliver a presentation or anything else that might be quite stressful and requires you to think clearly.
Brain supplements can also help your mood. The thorough nutrition that brain supplements provide can, in some instances, help your mood, which may make getting through your work easier.
Brain Supplements Vs ‘Smart Drugs’
Additionally, brain supplements have numerous advantages over the aforementioned ‘smart drugs’.
Many ‘smart drugs’, such as Ritalin, Adderall or Modafinil* can have very intense effects. They can be useful for short periods, but are too intense in many instances. ‘Smart drugs’ can cause restlessness, nervousness and over-stimulation. This can actually impede you when you need to concentrate and work. And, there may be a chemical crash after the effects of a ‘smart drug’ have worn off that will make it harder to work the next day.
Most non-pharmaceutical brain supplements and natural nootropics avoid this problem. Their effects are much smoother, because these kinds of brain supplements work synergistically with your body to improve your brainpower through nutrition. Consequently, brain supplements are still very impactful, while avoiding the problems associated with over-stimulating ‘smart drugs’.
Moreover, many ‘smart drugs’ can cause quite significant side-effects. For example, Modafinil has been commonly reported to cause insomnia, headaches, stomach trouble and other problems. There is also the risk of more severe side effects, with many pharmaceutical ‘smart drugs’ having the potential to cause quite serious issues. Modafinil, according to the FDA, can exacerbate mental problems or cause acute rashes. These effects are rare, but are cited as potential issues.
Brain supplements that avoid pharmaceuticals do not cause these sorts of problems. The side effects associated with brain supplements tend to be much less severe. With brain supplements, the worst side effects you will encounter are dehydration or mild headaches - and these tend to be very rare. Similarly, there are minimal risks of provoking or exacerbating mental problems as the result of using a natural nootropic or brain supplement.
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Finally, ‘smart drugs’ are frequently bought online, from offshore pharmacies. This can be both expensive, and the quality of the products may be compromised as these pharmacies operate outside of British regulations. Their products could be adulterated, or otherwise impure - this can cause even more unwanted effects. You don’t know for certain what’s in a pill bought from an unregulated retailer.
Brain supplements are largely available legally, from licensed producers within the UK. This means their products are regulated, and guaranteed to contain what they’re meant to. Moreover, their pricing is more competitive, and there is frequently no need to pay expensive shipping costs as you might with a ‘smart drug’ bought from overseas.
This article has addressed brain supplements. It has defined what ‘brain supplements’ are, what they might contain and what benefits they can provide. Moreover, it has compared them with pharmaceutical ‘smart drugs’, to illustrate the advantages brain supplements have over their pharmaceutical counterparts.
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