The 10 Best Brain Supplements for Focus & Memory in 2021
Benjamin Martin - 21 Feb 2021
Brain supplements are all the rage at the moment.
Across universities, businesses and workplaces, individuals are taking it upon themselves to improve their brain performance by taking brain supplements. It can seem like a daunting world at first. After all, no one likes to take risks when it comes to their brain.
That's why we asked our team of supplement and nutrition experts to list their ten favourite brain supplements for improving your focus, concentration, energy and mental performance.
It's important to note that the term brain supplements tends to refer to natural supplements, rather than synthetic phatmaceuticals such as modafinil, Adderall or Ritalin.
Keep reading on to find out the ten best brain supplements that work in 2021.
- What are brain supplements?
- Our 10 favourite brain supplement ingredients
- Nootropic stacks made from brain supplement ingredients
- Why are nootropic brain supplements good?
- Brain supplements vs smart drugs
- Conclusion: the best brain supplements
What are brain supplements?
Brain supplements are supplements that support cognitive function - focus, concentration, mental performance, mental energy etc.
They can be classed as a type of nootropic, but the term brain supplement usually refers to natural substances (e.g. superfoods, herbals, amino acids, vitamins, minerals) rather than pharmaceuticals.
Brain supplements for focus or energy can be useful for students, working professionals, parents, or anyone who is generally active.
The 10 best brain supplement ingredients that actually work
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.
Below, we have listed our favourite tried and tested supplements for the brain. These are natural brain supplements for memory, concentration and cognition.
1. Matcha Green Tea & L-Theanine
L-theanine is an amino acid that has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, dopamine and GABA in the brain, helping reduce anxiety and stress.
It can be found in high levels in matcha green tea. Additionally, it can help boost your immune system.
A South American fruit, guarana seeds are a very popular ingredient in supplements as they can positively affect the brain and central nervous system, making you feel less tired and more alert.
Guarana is also often used in energy drinks.
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.
4. Gingko Biloba
Gingko Biloba comes from the maidenhair tree, native to China. It's one of the worlds oldest trees, with fossil records showing that they have been around for at least 270 million years (around the period when the first-ever large carnivores and herbivores came into existence).
Each tree can live thousands of years, and there have been written records showing that in 2600 B.C.E, Gingko Biloba was used to treat asthma and bronchitis.
The list of the purported benefits of Gingko Biloba is extremely long, making it one of the most widely used supplements today, and perhaps one of the most interesting trees in history.
Tyrosine is one of 20 essential amino acids that our body requires to break down protein. Whilst it can be found in a multitude of food, such as avocados, fish, eggs, milk and more, some people do have a disorder where they can't make Tyrosine on their own. These people will need to take Tyrosine supplements.
Furthermore, Tyrosine is also extremely helpful for those who are under a high amount of stress or are sleep deprived, as it can increase alertness, memory and learning.
6. Panax Ginseng
Panax Ginseng is a plant from China. The root of the plant is used to make a popular herbal remedy that Chinese people have used for thousands of years. It has a reputation for having many positive effects on brain health and general wellbeing.
7. 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.
8. B Vitamins
Many brain supplements contain B Vitamins. This is because the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has found that B Vitamins 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.
Curcumin is what gives turmeric its yellow pigment, and successive studies have shown that it is great for your body and brain. Not only may it help alleviate symptoms of depression, and act as an antioxidant, but it also helps soothe inflammation, a leading cause of brain fog.
Probiotics such as Acidophilus have been in the news recently because scientists, doctors and nutritionists have been finding more and more links between the gut and the brain.
Ever had a gut feeling about something? That's the most obvious way the gut communicates with the brain,. Recent research suggests what's going on in the gut can affect mood, memory, concentration and mental performance.
This is the reason why probiotics are becoming a staple in biohacker toolkits.
Nootropic stacks made from brain supplement ingredients
It's possible to use brain supplement ingredients together in one product to benefit from the positive effects they have on the brain. This might also be called a nootropic stack, which is a mix of several complementary ingredients.
These ingredients can come from vegan sources or from non-vegan sources such as apoaequorin, which is extracted from jellyfish.
You can find both stacks and individual ingredients on popular supplement sites such as the Vitamin Shoppe, Holland and Barret, Walgreens and GNC. These stacks or supplements contrast greatly with other more popular nootropics like smart drugs.
We will explore this further in the sixth section of this article, but in short, nootropic stacks made from these natural ingredients can be just as effective as pharmaceutical smart drugs, such as Modafinil, Adderall, Ritalin and Noopept, 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 can 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 because of the nutrients in the supplement or because of the enhanced concentration it gives you. Either way, some brain supplements may be able to give you more ‘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 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 by using brain supplements. Some brain supplements are designed to help you think more clearly while under pressure.
They can be very helpful if you’re about to sit an exam, give a presentation or do 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, support a positive mood, which may make getting through your work easier.
Brain supplements vs smart drugs
Additionally, brain supplements have numerous advantages over the aforementioned pharmaceutical 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 hinder you when you need to concentrate and work. You might also experience a chemical crash after the effects of a smart drug have worn off. This will make it harder to work the next day.
Most non-pharmaceutical brain supplements and natural nootropics don't have 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. For the same reason, brain supplements are more suitable for kids, but you should always check the ingredients carefully before purchasing brain supplements for children.
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 potential issues.
Brain supplements made with natural ingredients do not cause these sorts of problems. The side effects associated with natural 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.
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 legally widely available from licensed producers within the UK. This means that the products are regulated and guaranteed to contain what they’re meant to contain.
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.
Conclusion: the best brain supplements
If you want to improve your mental performance, we would strongly recommend choosing naturally-sourced brain supplements over pharmaceuticals. They are much safer and provide better long-term results.
The best brain supplements are made with ingredients, such as the ones listed in this article, that have been scientifically proven to improve and support your brain function.
It is much more convenient to opt for a brain supplement that includes several effective ingredients rather than buying the ingredients separately.
Read more about our favourite brain supplement, Brainzyme Focus Elite, here.
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About the author
Benjamin Martin is a nootropic and brain supplement enthusiast who has tried every type of performance-boosting supplement under the sun. At Brainzyme, he uses his expertise to produce educational content for the Nootropics UK and Brain Supplements UK blogs.
Based in Edinburgh, Benjamin loves spending his free time in nature whenever he gets the chance.