An Expert Guide to the Best Brain Health Supplements Available Now
Benjamin Martin - 5 March 2021
Our brain is our most important organ. Runners fuel up on carbohydrates, bodybuilders on protein, so why not fuel your brain for greater mental performance, too?
In this article, we list the best ways you can improve your brain health.
- What is brain health?
- Lifestyle choices for brain health
- Diet for brain health
- Brain health supplements
- The best natural supplements for brain health
- Conclusion: how to boost your brain health
What is brain health?
People are paying increasingly more attention to their brain health alongside how healthy their bodies are.
The brain is the most important organ as it keeps everything functioning in your body. That's why it's important to ensure that you take good care of your brain health.
The World Health Organisation defines good brain health as a state in which you can realise your own abilities and optimise your cognitive, emotional, psychological and behavioural functioning to cope with different life situations.
Lifestyle choices for brain health
Good quality sleep is essential for good brain health. When you sleep, your brain processes all the information it has gathered during the day. Sleep resets and detoxes the brain, allowing it to heal and rest.
Experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep a night. You should aim to wake up around the same time every day, even during weekends.
Keeping your body active is also a good way to boost your brain health. Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, which in turn can improve your cognitive functions.
Studies have shown that the more physically active you are, the higher you will score in memory and problem-solving tests.
Diet for brain health
Eating a balanced diet is a good way to ensure you get all the essential nutrients for good brain health.
Foods that are beneficial for the brain include, for example, fatty fish, nuts, certain fruits and vegetables.
Not only is it important to ensure that your diet consists of brain healthy foods, but you should also avoid foods that can have negative effects on the brain. These include sugary drinks, processed foods and refined carbs, for example.
Brain health supplements
Brain health supplements are supplements made with ingredients that support cognitive function - focus, concentration, mental performance, mental energy etc.
Usually these supplements include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbals and superfoods.
If you are interested in ensuring that your brain stays healthy and works in the most efficient manner, it may be beneficial for you to consider trying supplements that support brain health alongside a balanced diet.
The best natural supplements for brain health
The market is saturated with different kinds of supplements, so we understand that it might be a bit of a challenge to find the right kind of brain health supplements for you.
When looking for supplements that support and improve your brain health, you should look for ones made with ingredients that have been scientifically proven to work.
Below, we have listed the best natural ingredients that support your brain health, so you should look for supplements that include these.
1. Green Tea (including EGCG and L-Theanine)
Green tea is very good for your brain health: it is believed that people who drink green tea one to six days a week have less mental decline than people who do not drink green tea.
This is because green tea contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant, and theanine, which is an amino acid with beneficial properties for your brain. This makes green tea good for boosting brain health.
However, unless we consume lots of fruits and vegetables, or drink lots of green tea every day, we aren’t likely to get enough antioxidants to prevent premature brain ageing.
The British Medical Bulletin suggests supplements with concentrated antioxidants might help, particularly ones with matcha green tea. This type of tea has more EGCG than normal green tea, so it will help your brain health more. It also includes high levels of L-theanine, which has been shown to increase levels of serotonin, dopamine and GABA.
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.
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.
Curcumin was the subject of a BBC study with interesting results. Moreover, a groundbreaking clinical study linked curcumin to beneficial effects on brain function, so curcumin may have significant positive effects on brain health.
Acetyl-l-carnitine, sometimes known as ALCAR, is an amino acid that functions as an antioxidant for the brain. As a result, it increases your brain health and keeps your mind clear of brain fog.
ALCAR can also boost metabolism in the brain and help brain cells. This, in turn, increases brain health, boosts alertness and helps cognitive function.
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.
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 foods 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.
Tyrosine is needed for the development of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine can help brain health and function. This is because it influences mood, performance, and motivation. As a result, tyrosine is helpful for brain health.
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. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is an incredibly popular herbal supplement that is widely used by many people to help their brain health.
It 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.
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.
Increasing your intake of B vitamins is a good way to support brain health. B vitamins help mental clarity, and can aid in alleviating brain fog. Brain fog's symptoms include forgetfulness, confusion, lack of mental clarity and lack of focus.
Choline, found in cruciferous vegetables and eggs, aids brain health as it’s needed for the production of acetylcholine.
Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter, as it helps in regulating mood, intelligence and other cognitive processes.
Interestingly, choline is also very useful for some medical imaging techniques.
Iron contributes to normal cognitive function and the immune system.
As a result, taking iron can help brain health, particularly because many people are deficient in it.
Magnesium helps regular psychological and nervous system function, thus promoting brain health.
Zinc has good properties for general health. Additionally, zinc is now thought to have beneficial effects on brain health.
Zinc may play a role in cognitive stability and might help with memory formation. Zinc also encourages communication between neurons and the hippocampus. This makes zinc great for brain health.
Acidophilus is an extremely popular probiotic. Also known as Lactobacillus acidophilus, it converts sugars to lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, stemming the growth of bacteria that's non-conducive to optimal health.
Acidophilus has often been cited to treat a multitude of health conditions, and to contribute to a positive mood.
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, but 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 brain health supplements.
Conclusion: how to boost your brain health
If you want to improve your brain health, we would strongly recommend choosing naturally-sourced brain health supplements that include as many of the ingredients listed in this article as possible.
The best brain health supplements are made with ingredients that have been scientifically proven to improve and support your brain function.
It is much more convenient to opt for a brain health supplement that includes several effective ingredients rather than buying the ingredients separately.
Read more about our favourite brain supplement, Brainzyme Focus Elite, here.
Try this 3-in-1 brain health supplement
- Brain supplement, multivitamin & a live culture
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Do you want to learn more about brain supplements?
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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.