Top Research-Backed Brain Fog Supplements in 2023

If you’ve ever felt mentally foggy, fatigued, and unable to focus, you may have experienced brain fog. In an age where mental clarity is the cornerstone of productivity and well-being, battling brain fog is crucial.

Enter brain fog supplements – your potential secret weapon for improved cognitive function and mental clarity. This article will explore the benefits of top research-backed brain fog supplements and provide you with a better understanding of how to enhance cognitive performance.

What is brain fog?

Brain fog, the “cloudy-headed” sensation causing cognitive impairment and reduced mental clarity, can make daily tasks difficult. While not a medical condition, people with certain states, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, may experience symptoms and potential issues affecting thinking, information processing, and memory. Understanding brain fog opens doors to solutions like brain health supplements for boosting cognitive performance and clarity.

What are the signs and symptoms of brain fog?

Here are some common brain fog-related symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating or lack of focus
  • Feeling “spacy” or confused
  • Thinking more slowly than usual and needing more time to complete simple tasks
  • Mental fatigue

These symptoms can interfere with everyday activities, decreasing productivity and overall well-being. Stress, sleep changes, medications, and underlying health conditions can cause brain fog.

What causes brain fog?

Brain fog can be triggered by lifestyle habits such as insufficient sleep, high stress, low physical activity, poor diet, dehydration, and excessive sugar. Medical conditions like hormonal imbalances, chronic diseases, or medication side effects can also cause it. Recognizing these causes is crucial for managing and preventing brain fog.

What makes brain fog worse?

Sleep deprivation and stress can worsen brain fog, reducing productivity and complex thinking capabilities. [1] Aging may also impact cognitive abilities, affecting memory, focus, and medication management. Recognizing these factors is key to maintaining cognitive sharpness.

Does diet affect brain health?

Diet significantly affects the health of brain cells. Balanced, nutrient-rich diets like Mediterranean, DASH, and MIND can lower cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s risk by emphasizing brain-healthy foods. [2] Conversely, diets rich in saturated fats, sugar, and processed foods can harm brain health, potentially leading to brain fog.

What are Nootropics, and how can they help?

Nootropics or ‘smart drugs’ aim to support brain health & cognitive performance. They range from medications to supplements like L-tyrosine, Alpha-GPC, Bacopa Monnieri, and Ginkgo Biloba, which may improve cognitive function and alleviate brain fog. More research is needed for dosage and duration, but initial results are promising. [3]

Top research-backed supplements that enhance cognitive function:

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri, a traditional herb known for promoting longevity and cognitive health, has been found to enhance memory and mental well-being. Studies indicate its potential to improve various memory types, including working memory, in healthy individuals and those with cognitive decline. [4]

Blueberry

Blueberries, rich in antioxidant compounds known as anthocyanins, are celebrated for boosting cognitive function. These molecules support cardiovascular, liver, and brain health. Their high antioxidant and anthocyanin content has been shown to improve brain health, benefiting those with cognitive decline and potentially even healthy individuals. [5][6]

Caffeine

Caffeine, a well-known nootropic, boosts mental stimulation, enhances cognitive function, improves reaction time, and promotes alertness. It aids focus and concentration, and regular intake may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. [7]

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba has been found to improve cognitive functions in individuals with dementia [8]. Additionally, there are preliminary findings that indicate potential cognitive performance benefits for middle-aged and older individuals who are healthy.[9][10]

Ginseng

Research indicates Ginseng may boost cognition, with some studies suggesting potential enhancements in cognitive function. [11] However, the effects aren’t fully confirmed and require further research, particularly regarding reaction time and accuracy. [12]

Huperzine A

Huperzine-A is a cognitive enhancer that prevents the breakdown of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential for learning. Doing so increases the levels of this neurotransmitter in the brain. It is classified as a cholinergic compound and may help combat cognitive decline in older adults.

Oxiracetam

A 1,200mg or higher dosage of Oxiracetam has been shown to effectively reduce cognitive decline and related symptoms in dementia and other organic brain deterioration conditions, with a strong focus on improving verbal skills. [13][14]

Theanine

L-theanine offers several benefits. It promotes relaxation without causing drowsiness and can enhance cognitive function, especially when taken with caffeine. Additionally, it has been observed to improve performance on mentally demanding tasks when taken in concentrated doses. [15][16]

Resveratrol

Research has shown that resveratrol can lower amyloid-beta levels in cerebrospinal fluid and enhance cognitive function in individuals with Alzheimer’s. Taking a high dose of 500mg of resveratrol has been proven to improve cerebral blood flow. [17]

Creatine

Creatine decreases mental fatigue, particularly in high stress, lack of sleep, or extreme physical exertion. It may also enhance memory, especially for vegetarians and older individuals with lower creatine levels. [18][19]

Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are vital in promoting brain development and maintaining cardiovascular health due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Notably, in older individuals who are in good health, taking a higher dose of DHA (900 mg) could potentially help delay cognitive decline. [20]

Magnesium

A study on rats showed that a dose of 604mg/kg L-threonate with 50mg/kg elemental Magnesium positively affected spatial memory (both short and long-term), memory recall, and working memory (short-term) in older rats. Spatial memory also improved in young rats, although other parameters were unaffected. [21]

Vitamins & nutrients

Maintaining brain health also requires optimal nutrient intake. Essential nutrients such as iodine, zinc, copper, B vitamins B1, B3, B12, and folic acid are crucial. Supplementation may be necessary if your diet doesn’t supply adequate amounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can exercise reduce brain fog?

A: Regular physical activity can help reduce brain fog by improving blood flow to the brain and boosting cognitive function.

Q: How do you diagnose brain fog?

A: Brain fog is a symptom of various medical conditions, diagnosed through a thorough assessment of medical history, symptoms, and potentially additional tests to exclude underlying conditions.

Q: Is brain fog a sign of serious illness?

A: Brain fog can result from serious illnesses or less severe conditions like stress or lack of sleep. If you experience persistent brain fog, seek professional healthcare advice.

Q: How quickly can supplements reduce brain fog?

A: Supplement effectiveness in reducing brain fog varies per individual and supplement type. Always seek professional healthcare advice before starting a new supplement routine.

Conclusion

In conclusion, brain fog supplements can play a pivotal role in promoting optimal brain function and reducing cognitive impairments. However, it’s crucial to remember that while these supplements can offer benefits, they’re not a substitute for a balanced diet or medical treatment when necessary. As with any health regimen, it’s always advised to consult a healthcare professional before using these supplements. They can guide you on the appropriate dosage and duration to ensure safety and efficiency.

REFERENCES:

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[2] 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.

[3] Lorca C, Mulet M, Arévalo-Caro C, Sanchez MÁ, Perez A, Perrino M, Bach-Faig A, Aguilar-Martínez A, Vilella E, Gallart-Palau X, Serra A. Plant-derived nootropics and human cognition: A systematic review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2022 Jan 3:1-25. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2021.2021137. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34978226.

[4] Calabrese C, Gregory WL, Leo M, Kraemer D, Bone K, Oken B. Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jul;14(6):707-13. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0018. PMID: 18611150; PMCID: PMC3153866.

[5] Hein S, Whyte AR, Wood E, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Williams CM. Systematic Review of the Effects of Blueberry on Cognitive Performance as We Age. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Jun 18;74(7):984-995. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glz082. PMID: 30941401.

[6] Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, Kalt W, Vinqvist-Tymchuk MR, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14;58(7):3996-4000. doi: 10.1021/jf9029332. PMID: 20047325; PMCID: PMC2850944.

[7] Adan A, Serra-Grabulosa JM. Effects of caffeine and glucose, alone and combined, on cognitive performance. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2010 Jun-Jul;25(4):310-7. doi: 10.1002/hup.1115. PMID: 20521321.

[8] Hashiguchi M, Ohta Y, Shimizu M, Maruyama J, Mochizuki M. Meta-analysis of the efficacy and safety of Ginkgo biloba extract for the treatment of dementia. J Pharm Health Care Sci. 2015 Apr 10;1:14. doi: 10.1186/s40780-015-0014-7. PMID: 26819725; PMCID: PMC4729005.

[9] Kaschel R. Specific memory effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in middle-aged healthy volunteers. Phytomedicine. 2011 Nov 15;18(14):1202-7. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2011.06.021. Epub 2011 Jul 30. PMID: 21802920.

[10] Mix JA, Crews WD Jr. A double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 in a sample of cognitively intact older adults: neuropsychological findings. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2002 Aug;17(6):267-77. doi: 10.1002/hup.412. PMID: 12404671.

[11] Smith I, Williamson EM, Putnam S, Farrimond J, Whalley BJ. Effects and mechanisms of ginseng and ginsenosides on cognition. Nutr Rev. 2014 May;72(5):319-33. doi: 10.1111/nure.12099. Epub 2014 Mar 25. PMID: 24666107.

[12] Reay JL, Scholey AB, Kennedy DO. Panax ginseng (G115) improves aspects of working memory performance and subjective ratings of calmness in healthy young adults. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2010 Aug;25(6):462-71. doi: 10.1002/hup.1138. PMID: 20737519.

[13] Dysken MW, Katz R, Stallone F, Kuskowski M. Oxiracetam in the treatment of multi-infarct dementia and primary degenerative dementia. J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci. 1989 Summer;1(3):249-52. doi: 10.1176/jnp.1.3.249. PMID: 2521069.

[14] Baumel B, Eisner L, Karukin M, MacNamara R, Katz RJ, Deveaugh-Geiss J. Oxiracetam in the treatment of multi-infarct dementia. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 1989;13(5):673-82. doi: 10.1016/0278-5846(89)90054-7. PMID: 2781039.

[15] Kelly SP, Gomez-Ramirez M, Montesi JL, Foxe JJ. L-theanine and caffeine in combination affect human cognition as evidenced by oscillatory alpha-band activity and attention task performance. J Nutr. 2008 Aug;138(8):1572S-1577S. doi: 10.1093/jn/138.8.1572S. PMID: 18641209.

[16] Owen GN, Parnell H, De Bruin EA, Rycroft JA. The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Aug;11(4):193-8. doi: 10.1179/147683008X301513. PMID: 18681988.

[17] Kennedy DO, Wightman EL, Reay JL, Lietz G, Okello EJ, Wilde A, Haskell CF. Effects of resveratrol on cerebral blood flow variables and cognitive performance in humans: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover investigation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jun;91(6):1590-7. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2009.28641. Epub 2010 Mar 31. PMID: 20357044.

[18] Roschel H, Gualano B, Ostojic SM, Rawson ES. Creatine Supplementation and Brain Health. Nutrients. 2021 Feb 10;13(2):586. doi: 10.3390/nu13020586. PMID: 33578876; PMCID: PMC7916590.

[19] Avgerinos KI, Spyrou N, Bougioukas KI, Kapogiannis D. Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Exp Gerontol. 2018 Jul 15;108:166-173. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2018.04.013. Epub 2018 Apr 25. PMID: 29704637; PMCID: PMC6093191.

[20] Yurko-Mauro K, McCarthy D, Rom D, Nelson EB, Ryan AS, Blackwell A, Salem N Jr, Stedman M; MIDAS Investigators. Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimers Dement. 2010 Nov;6(6):456-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2010.01.013. PMID: 20434961.

[21] Slutsky I, Abumaria N, Wu LJ, Huang C, Zhang L, Li B, Zhao X, Govindarajan A, Zhao MG, Zhuo M, Tonegawa S, Liu G. Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron. 2010 Jan 28;65(2):165-77. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.12.026. PMID: 20152124.

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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.