11 of the Best Research-Backed Supplements for Brain Fog

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If you find yourself frequently in a cloud of confusion and mental fatigue or feeling like your brain is too tired to focus or concentrate, no matter how much sleep you get, you may be experiencing symptoms of brain fog.

Luckily, there are ways to improve and treat cognitive impairment, or brain fog, using natural remedies.

Research has shown that certain supplements to reduce brain fog could significantly boost cognitive health. So, if coping with daily ‘brain drain’ sounds familiar, read on for more information about some of the best evidence-based supplements for alleviating brain fog symptoms.

What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is an umbrella term for mental cloudiness, memory problems or hindrances, difficulty concentrating, and a lack of focus or clarity in thought. Sleep deprivation, hormone changes, medications, and depression may cause it.

People who experience brain fog symptoms often report feeling scattered or disorganized when trying to complete tasks at hand – coupled with forgetfulness or other poor memory or orientation skills.

What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Brain Fog?

Signs and symptoms of brain fog include difficulty concentrating, problems with memory recall, disorientation, feeling overwhelmed by mundane tasks, difficulty focusing on tasks at hand, feeling sluggish or spaced out, and difficulty remembering things.

What Causes Brain Fog?

Brain fog can be caused by factors such as overworking, stress, hormone changes during menopause, or other hormone changes such as thyroid problems, depression, and an immune system creating an inflammatory response.

Brain fog can also be caused by medications or lifestyle choices such as poor diet, lack of exercise, and poor sleep patterns. Experts have hypothesized that an ongoing surge in sleep disturbances may be attributed to vitamin D deficiency [1]. Increasing evidence suggests that vitamin D deficiency may accelerate age-related cognitive decline.

To combat brain fog, getting adequate sleep and rest, managing stress levels, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly are essential.

What Makes Brain Fog Worse?

Missing necessary sleep can cause brain fog, create short-term focus issues, and impair non-habitual brain functioning.

For example, activities such as trying to comprehend complex topics in school or work and developing inventive ideas depend strongly on the frontal lobe area of our brains – which is particularly vulnerable when deprived of restful slumber [2].

As we age, our cognitive skills and mental processing can suffer. “Brain fog” days become increasingly common, and it can be harder to remember words and names or recollect memories. You may struggle with simple recall tasks.

How Can Diet Affect Brain Health?

When a healthy, nutrient-rich diet is consumed, it has been proven to spur better brain health and function.

Examples include the Mediterranean Diet, DASH, or MIND diets, which are associated with slowed cognitive decline & lesser chances of Alzheimer’s disease [3]. 

Eating healthy foods such as lean meats, vegetables and fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds, and fish can significantly reduce brain fog and boost brain health. On the other hand, diets consisting of saturated fat, sugar-laden items, or processed food can impede brain development.

What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics, sometimes called “smart drugs” or cognitive enhancers, can enhance brain function and improve overall mental health.

Drugs used to treat various neurological disorders may have nootropic effects — although those without a condition will only experience a slight improvement in certain aspects of cognition. With these medications, individuals struggling with ailments resulting in cognitive deficits such as ADHD can benefit from greater clarity and focus.[4] 

Dietary supplements generally deemed nootropics include L-tyrosine, Bacopa Monnieri, Alpha-GPC, and Ginkgo Biloba.

Studies suggest that these nutritional additions may boost cognitive function, but further research is required to determine the ideal dosages and supplementation duration.

Top Research-Backed Supplements That May Improve Brain Health And Alleviate Brain Fog

Research has shown that certain supplements can support brain health and alleviate the feeling of cognitive impairment, such as being foggy or unfocused. If you are deficient in any of the following, it’s best to supplement them. Those supplements include the following:

Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is a powerful nootropic herb used in traditional medicine for longevity and improving cognitive functioning. Taking this supplement can enhance short-term memory and provide some mental health benefits.

Blueberry

Packed with antioxidants and anthocyanins, blueberries are particularly beneficial for slowing cognitive decline. Not only have blueberries been found to help sharpen mental faculties in people experiencing this, but research on rodents has also shown that they can be beneficial for those with healthy cognition.

Therefore, they may serve as a nootropic supplement. In addition, they may be able to accelerate the development of nervous tissue and diminish neurological inflammation.

Caffeine

Caffeine is considered a nootropic because not only does it sensitize neurons, but it also provides cognitive enhancement. In addition to these benefits, research has shown that consistent caffeine consumption may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

Caffeine stimulates alertness and wakefulness by blocking the action of adenosine (known to produce a feeling of sleepiness and relaxation), which can affect the dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and adrenaline systems.

If you’re on amphetamines (e.g., Adderall), it’s important to be aware of atypical caffeine sources, such as guarana (Paullinia cupana) and yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis). Although they contain caffeine, these herbs possess unidentified bioactive ingredients that could interact with your medication.

While initial evidence indicates that cognitive improvements, above and beyond what caffeine alone would provide, can be achieved with either of these herbs, more research is needed to prove this conclusion.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola has extraordinary adaptogenic properties that present notable benefits, such as decreasing stress and exhaustion levels while boosting mental clarity under difficult circumstances. Rhodiola has been utilized for centuries to promote healing and alleviate stress, resulting in greater well-being.

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba, a tree whose leaves are renowned for their cognitive-boosting properties, is commonly utilized as an herbal dietary supplement to enhance brain function. These leaves contain different bioactive compounds, such as numerous flavonoids and terpenoids.

Extensive research suggests that Ginkgo biloba can heighten cognitive performance in people with dementia. Additionally, there are indications that the herb may likewise be a booster for normal cognition among healthy middle-aged and older adults.

Panax Ginseng

Some studies have indicated that Panax ginseng may enhance overall cognitive function. A few trials found an improvement in reaction time and accuracy when taking this herb. However, additional analysis must be conducted to validate such effects.

Theanine

L-theanine is known to promote relaxation by reducing stress and anxiety levels. While it is not a sedative, L-theanine may still help to improve your sleep quality by inducing a more tranquil mental state. In addition, taking L-theanine alongside caffeine has been proven to enhance cognitive performance, making it a beneficial supplement for improving mental alertness and focus.

Resveratrol

Resveratrol, a nutrient found in red grapes and peanuts, can positively impact the brain. Clinical studies showed that it reduces amyloid-beta levels in cerebrospinal fluid and improves cognitive function among people struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, a higher dosage of 500mg resveratrol can significantly boost cerebral blood flow.

Creatine

In addition to its benefits for muscle health, it also appears that creatine monohydrate helps the brain.

For example, Creatine has been found to reduce fatigue related to high mental demands and lack of sleep. It may also enhance working memory, especially for individuals with low creatine levels, like vegetarians or older adults. 

Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega-3s offer potent anti-inflammatory properties, vital for brain growth and cardiovascular wellness.

Through observational and experimental research, Omega−3 fatty acids positively affect our emotional state, mental health, and cognitive capacity.

Magnesium

In addition to being linked to diabetes and other health issues, long-term magnesium deficiency can manifest in symptoms such as muscle cramps, high blood pressure, and impaired insulin sensitivity.

Therefore, magnesium supplements are essential for keeping our neurons healthy and functioning optimally when not actively firing.

The Importance Of Optimal Nutrient Intake

Certain nutrients, such as iodine, zinc, copper, vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B12, and folic acid, are essential in battling cognitive impairment and keeping the brain healthy and functioning optimally. Good sources of these nutrients include seafood, dairy products, legumes, and fortified whole grains. However, if dietary intake is insufficient, supplementation with a brain fog vitamin may be recommended to reach the necessary daily levels of these essential vitamins and minerals.

Supplements For Brain Fog: In Closing

We hope these research-backed supplements for brain fog will offer some help. As with all supplements, it is best to speak with your doctor before adding any to your routine. In addition, look for quality labels and get insight from other users’ experiences. Be sure that the supplement you choose will address the issues associated with your particular cognitive symptoms. By researching, you’ll cultivate smarter supplement habits to achieve optimal mental well-being.

REFERENCES

[1] Gominak SC, Stumpf WE. The world epidemic of sleep disorders is linked to vitamin D deficiency. Med Hypotheses. 2012 Aug;79(2):132-5. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2012.03.031. Epub 2012 May 13. PMID: 22583560.

[2] Alhola P, Polo-Kantola P. Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007;3(5):553-67. PMID: 19300585; PMCID: PMC2656292.

[3] van den Brink AC, Brouwer-Brolsma EM, Berendsen AAM, van de Rest O. The Mediterranean, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay (MIND) Diets Are Associated with Less Cognitive Decline and a Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease-A Review. Adv Nutr. 2019 Nov 1;10(6):1040-1065. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmz054. PMID: 31209456; PMCID: PMC6855954.

[4] Roberts CA, Jones A, Sumnall H, Gage SH, Montgomery C. How effective are pharmaceuticals for cognitive enhancement in healthy adults? A series of meta-analyses of cognitive performance during acute administration of modafinil, methylphenidate and D-amphetamine. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2020 Sep;38:40-62. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.07.002. Epub 2020 Jul 21. PMID: 32709551.

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Dr. Linnea Passaler

Dr. Linnea Passaler

Dr. Linnea Passaler has dedicated 20+ years to serving patients, first to a small number of individuals as a successful surgeon and then to thousands of people worldwide as the CEO of a digital health startup. After overcoming her own struggles with a dysregulated nervous system, she created Heal Your Nervous System (HYNS) to empower others in their healing journey. Her combination of neuroscience and somatic work helps those struggling with overwhelm, trauma, burnout, and anxiety to heal their dysregulated nervous systems and thrive.