Nootropics: Mental edge or placebo?
Regardless of age, you are probably interested in boosting your brain’s capacity to make it function at its peak.
If so, then you might have already heard about nootropics — one of the most popular nutritional brain supplements.
Research suggests nootropics are the way to go if you’re looking to improve concentration and memory. The so-called ‘smart drugs’ could give your brain an edge when faced with overwhelming amounts of work.
They also claim to reduce brain fatigue. Besides, nootropics are associated with the delay of age-related memory loss, so it’s perhaps wise to start them early.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics are cognitive enhancements — any chemical that positively impacts brainpower. The term covers a wide range of such substances, both natural and synthetic.
You can find an array to choose from depending on what you need them for. They range from dietary supplements to over-the-counter medication to prescription drugs meant for those who have a clear diagnosis.
People that suffer from ADHD or are in the early stages of dementia will get such prescriptions from their doctors.
Do Nootropics Work?
Most nootropics include some type of stimulant as their main substance, which means they are fast and short-acting.
You only need to think of caffeine and how useful it is in spiking alertness for a few hours. It is, however, still uncertain if nootropics will improve the brain’s capacity in the long run.
Studies suggest that some nootropics are efficient in attenuating Alzheimer’s symptoms, but these potent formulas are unsuitable for regular use.
Are Nootropics Safe?
The brain and its connections are extremely complex so any substance enhancement should be taken with caution.
A potential risk comes from the interactions with other medications you might be on, so consult a doctor or pharmacist. Although the easily-accessible nootropics are generally considered safe, it’s best to start with a low dose and notice its effect.
The most notable side effects associated with this type of chemical range from mild agitation and dizziness and blurred vision.
There are also cases where extreme insomnia and psychosis were reported. Other non-neurological symptoms such as dry mouth, gastrointestinal issues, and high blood pressure seem to be common.
As a cautionary measure, you should only buy supplements from trusted brands, thus ensuring you know what you are taking.
Best Supplement for Memory
According to recent studies, one of the best ways to improve working memory is by taking plant-based supplements.
Some of the best natural supplements for brain function are included below:
- Ginkgo Biloba is one of the most popular and promising natural substances in the fight against memory loss. Native to Japan and China, it is adaptable to other climates and has become a preferred herbal remedy. Along with Panax ginseng, it is believed to counteract diminishing brain functions associated with old age.
- Omega-3 Fatty acid is another cited source that contributes to healthy brain function. It is naturally found in cold-water fish such as salmon, or nuts, especially walnuts. However, you can opt for fish oil supplements to get it in sizable amounts. Alongside Vitamin E, Omega-3 helps in slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s disease.
Best Brain Supplements for Adults
Aging brains need extra TLC as their function decreases and becomes less nimble. To keep age-related decline at bay, stimulate your mind through exercise, both mental and physical.
Limiting stress and getting good-quality sleep is also good, but as you know, it is not always easy. This is where nootropic supplements come in — offering your brain a helping hand in functioning better.
Starting with natural supplements is advisable. Below are some of the ingredients you should look out for when choosing a supplement:
- Choline and Cytidine both prompt blood circulation in the brain and encourage brain cell regeneration. Additionally, they help protect against accelerated alteration of cells due to aging.
- Phosphatidylserine is an important phospholipid for the cell membrane as it is linked to better performance of short-term memory. It also enhances the overall clarity you might lack during a stressful day.
- L-Tyrosine is another substance that helps the body recover following a stressful period. Promoting dopamine production, it effectively functions as a performance enhancer.
Benefits of Nootropics
In short, nootropics are meant to optimize brain function, but in reality, this could mean a lot of different things. Their main benefits are:
- Improving brain performance. Better focus and memory as a result of keeping the mind agile and sharp.
- Enhancing cognitive function, particularly making you more alert to new information and learning.
- Improving the quality of sleep and overall mood.
- Fighting against brain fog and mental fatigue, especially on long days or during repetitive tasks.
- Obtaining faster reaction times; similar to a slight constant buzz that keeps you aware at all times.
Some contain adaptogenic properties, meaning they help the brain and body manage stress.
Some of the best and safest OTC nootropics may include one or more of the following ingredients:
- Caffeine is probably the most familiar substance on this list falling into the nootropics category. World-renowned for giving that morning surge of energy. Find it on your supermarket shelves or added in some health supplements.
- Creatine is an amino acid that creates protein and has an important role in brain cell development. It is most advisable as a supplement for vegans who might otherwise be lacking in it due to improper dieting.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine is another naturally-produced amino acid with proven benefits for those with mild dementia. It is believed to decrease memory-loss associated with aging.
- Rhodiola Rosea is said to help with mental fatigue and creates a sense of Zen by reducing tiredness.
- Bacopa Monnieri is an herb among the most popular nootropics, but its effect is milder than the rest on this list.
With its range of beneficial claims, it is no wonder nootropics are a highly sought after remedy.
However, finding one suitable for your needs is a personal matter, so study their effects beforehand.
If you still have questions regarding these supplements, consult a doctor or a pharmacist for details and recommendations.