In an increasingly busy world, it can often feel impossible to focus. Performing well at work, school, and/or the gym can leave your brain feeling frazzled and the first cognitive functions to suffer are likely to be concentration and memory.
There are several key vitamins and minerals that aid cognitive performance and although they’re all readily available via a healthy diet, many of us are still at risk of being deficient. Worried you might be one of them? Then you could benefit from popping a brain pill or two. Here are the best brain supplements for memory and concentration.
If you’ve seen the film Limitless, you’ll know why people are obsessed with nootropics. Nicknamed the limitless pill, nootropic supplements are said to be one of the most effective smart drugs for brain enhancement.
Nootropic ingredients vary but the best nootropic supplements will generally include L-theanine which is an amino acid that aids concentration. Caffeine is another common ingredient and is well-known to improve focus and alertness.
Natural nootropics are known to benefit memory, and multiple studies have been conducted on their use against memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Nootropics can enhance every element of memory, which is especially useful when working or studying.
- Long term - memories that we hold onto throughout our lives.
- Short term - knowledge and experience that is held onto for around 30 seconds.
- Recall – remembering information and recalling it later.
Concentration is essentially the mind’s ability to focus on a task without being distracted, and nootropics can benefit students and workers with busy schedules. Enhanced concentration can also benefit weightlifters and athletes, which is why so many gym-goers take these so-called smart pills. Staying focused in the gym helps to avoid any annoying plateaus in gains to ensure maximum results.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 is probably the best-known source of brainpower because of its importance in relation to mental health and cognitive function. There are three main kinds of omega-3:
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
The first two types are only found in fish oil and are imperative to brain health. If you don’t always eat the recommended two portions of oily fish per week, a daily omega-3 brain pill can keep your levels topped up.
ALA is derived from non-animal sources such as flaxseed oil and chia seeds and is, therefore, the kind that vegans and vegetarians tend to consume. However, ALA requires the body to convert it into EPA and DHA before it becomes useful. It’s estimated that as much as 90% of potential EPA and DHA are lost during this process, which means that it’s extremely difficult to hit the recommended daily intake without a vegan supplement containing microalgae.
There are eight B vitamins and they perform essential tasks for keeping the brain and body healthy. In particular, they fulfill important roles in brain mechanisms including boosting memory and concentration. There are three B vitamins in particular that are shown to make a difference to cognitive function:
This important vitamin is said to promote brain health and protect against cognitive impairment that might cause lower levels of concentration and memory. B6 is also a key ingredient for good mental health, as low levels have been shown to increase the likelihood of depression.
B6 doesn’t occur naturally in the body so a supplement can protect against a deficiency. Natural sources include:
- Brown rice
- Soya beans
Also known as folate, B9 is best-known as an important vitamin for healthy pregnancies. Folic acid is the synthetic form of B9 and is one of the most common supplements taken. It has some great benefits in addition to a healthy pregnancy, including boosting brain health.
B9 can be found in many plant-based foods including:
- Brussels sprouts
Liver is also a great source of B9, but pregnant people should avoid this.
B12 helps to prevent brain atrophy, which is the loss of neurons. As such, a deficiency in B12 is widely associated with memory loss and dementia. One study found that people with poor memory can see real improvements by adding a supplement to their diet.
B12 occurs naturally in animal products such as poultry, eggs, and milk, but supplements are especially useful if your diet is plant-based. Alternatively, look for breakfast cereals that are fortified with B12.
Vitamin C is vital for brain health and low levels are proven to be linked to an impaired ability to think and remember. It’s also thought that low levels are linked to dementia, so vitamin C could help protect brain function in older age.
Oranges are the best-known source of vitamin C and just one medium-sized orange will give you your full daily allowance. Other excellent sources include:
- Kiwi fruit
- Bell peppers
As well as cognitive function, vitamin C is imperative to general health thanks to its powerful antioxidant qualities. If in doubt that you’re getting enough in your diet, it’s wise to add a supplement.
Vitamin D3 is a powerhouse for boosting focus and concentration, and low levels have been closely linked to impaired cognitive function.
Vitamin D comes from sunlight but that’s not always readily available so a supplement may be necessary. D3 can also be found in mushrooms, cheese, salmon and shrimp.
Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and it’s involved in hundreds of reactions in the body. One of magnesium’s many jobs is to regulate neurotransmitters that send messages throughout the brain and nervous system. This aids clarity and focus.
Sources of magnesium include:
Despite magnesium being easily accessible, around half of all adults are thought not to get their recommended daily amount. So, supplements can be extremely beneficial.
Good brain function begins with a healthy balanced diet, and if you think you’re at risk of a deficiency in any of the vitamins and minerals on this list your cognition could benefit from a daily supplement.
If you’re adding brain pills to your diet, consult with your doctor first to ensure that it’s safe to do so. And, always take care to purchase supplements from a reputable brand like Iron Brothers. We are committed to label transparency and the purest ingredients so you’ll always know what you’re consuming.
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What’s your daily focus supplements routine? Let us know in the comments.