The Skinny on Supplements (aka Nootropics)
Caffeine with Theanine
Caffeine and theanine combined, about 30 minutes before you want to improve focus and attention can work well. But these days we consume caffeine regularly, so the effectiveness can vary depending on your existing tolerance to it.
It’s worth remembering that caffeine can affect your sleep. Taking this combination within about 6 hours before bed may not be a good idea.
Another trick is to cycle on and off caffeine every few weeks. Cycling stops you becoming too dependent on it and also makes a lower dose more effective.
Creatine is a commonly used supplement. It has memory and focus benefits because it’s fuel for cells.The pill format is common, but it’s also in energy drinks and even tea and coffee.
Creatine is seen as essential for people looking to build muscle. It has been shown to increase power output, so you can lift more weight and increase anaerobic endurance in muscle.
Fish Oil / Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish oil and omega 3 are a well-known supplement for the brain.
Salmon, sardines, and cod are good sources, as are many shellfish. In supplement form, Krill Oil is seen as the best. Just be careful to avoid mercury as many fish now have this.
The mineral magnesium can be found naturally in foods like fish, nuts, green vegetables and many more. But you can also use magnesium supplements and if you’re deficient in it can impair your sleep.
On its own, Magnesium can actually make you sleepier, so taking it before bed can be a good idea too.
Melatonin is something you may have heard about, especially when trying to combat jet lag.
It’s a hormone that is part of your natural circadian rhythm. It helps regulate when you sleep and when you’re awake.
As you wake up melatonin levels drop. As you start to fall asleep they rise again. Taking it before you want to sleep can speed up the time it takes to fall asleep.
Lavender has a relaxing scent and is widely used as an aromatherapy oil. It can be put in a bath, burned in a candle, vaporized or put on your pillow. This can also taken in pill form.
Valerian is a root that has been used as a sleep aid for many years. It can be taken as a tablet, capsule or tea.
Garlic, as it’s a natural supplement improves the ability of your white blood cells to fight unwanted intruders in our body.
Taking this boosts our immune system and is a great preventative supplement, even if it doesn’t reduce the time symptoms remain if they take hold.
The other great thing is garlic is easy to take naturally in meals or as a supplement. Just make sure you brush your teeth well.
Vitamin C is a well-known vitamin but it only works well if you take it regularly – if you catch a cold then it’s too late for it to have a real impact.
You can take it naturally and as a supplement, so there’s no excuse for not taking it regularly and reducing the chance you’ll catch a cold.
The echinacea herb is a popular one for boosting the immune system. It’s said to reduce the chances of catching a cold, but it’s unlikely to reduce the effects if you do catch one.
Elderberry has been used for centuries. It can be taken naturally or as a juice, syrup, pastilles or capsules.
Peopel claim that elderberries have antiviral properties and if you start taking them as soon as you spot the first symptoms you can reduce the impact of an infection.
But a word of warming, if you have unprepared elderberries make sure you cook them correctly otherwise you could find that the cause nausea, sickness or worse.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
N-Acetyl Cysteine supplement is capable of reducing the thickness of mucus, so making it easier to cough up and this is especially helpful to people with respiratory problems like asthma.
Spirulina is an algae that has a number of anti-inflammatory properties and is therefore useful if you have a nasal infection or allergy. Whether your nose is dripping, blocked, itching or if you’re sneezing this could help.
You can also get spirulina in powder and tablet forms so it’s quick and easy to take.
Zinc is a dietary mineral that can boost the general immune system and you can also use it when you spot symptoms and it may be able to stop them form worsening.
Zinc’s available in tablet and gel form and also as a spray or lozenge and the latter tow are especially good as the zinc can quickly reach the throat tissues if you take them at the first signs of infection.
Yes that’s right chocolate – but we’re talking about the “real” stuff here where there’s a 75%+ cocoa content.
Cocoa can improve blood flow. It may also reduce blood pressure while having little to no effect on heart rate.
So go ahead, but avoid the milk and white chocolate because that’s not going to have the same effect.
Nitrates are best consumed through food, especially leafy vegetables and beetroot but these are also used in supplements, especially superfood and super green supplements.
They break down to become nitrites and these convert to nitric oxide as your body needs it – increased levels of these help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
CoenzymeQ10 – (CoQ10)
CoenzymeQ10 is a naturally formed antioxidant and similar to a vitamin so you’ll find it in animals and most bacteria, but taking a supplement can help, especially those who’ve had heart issues.
This is a sugar molecule and part of our DNA. It literally powers our cells and as such it’s suggested that it helps the heart pump and improves general heart function, especially for those people who have a lower than ideal blood flow.
This easy to eat naturally or in supplement form, fish oil’s here for a second time in this article because it can reduce inflammation and high blood pressure.
You’ll find a variety of grape seed extract capsules and tablets on the market, so they’re easy to take. Grape seed has been used for thousands of years and supports your nitric oxide levels, helping to lower blood pressure. It’s also used to help those with high cholesterol.
It’s claimed that taking olive leaf as a dietary supplement if you’re not lucky enough to follow a Mediterranean Diet, can reduce the bad cholesterol.
Olive Leaf can be used as an extract as well as on its own and is following the idea that a “Mediterranean Diet” that is good for your heart and one part of that diet is olives and olive oil.
There’s a group of compounds titled polyphenols and resveratrol is part of that. Becuase resveratrol acts like antioxidants do and are found in peanuts, berries, grapes and red wine and one of the claimed benefits is it can help reduce blood pressure.
This is an amino acid that’s found in the body, especially the heart, brain, eyes and blood and a great source of it is meat and fish if you want to take it , naturally You can also find supplements for Taurine too.
The main benefit of taurine is it helps maintain cell membranes and regulated the heartbeat too.
Vitamin K supports blood clotting and calcium regulation and so reduces cardiovascular risk. You’ll find vitamin K in green leafy vegetables, fish meat, and eggs and is widely available as a supplement tablet or capsule too.
5-Hydroxytryptophan – 5-HTP
5-HTP is a naturally occurring amino acid and it can reduce the cravings for carbs and it’s also readily available as a supplement too.
You may not be something you’ve heard about EGCGbut I’m sure you’ve heard of green tea. EGCG is a major component of it and that’s why certain fat burning supplements have green tea in them.
You can take this in green tea and other teas too like yellow or oolong tea. And to further enhance its effectiveness you can take it with caffeine too. You can also find EGCG in supplement forms too if you’re not a tea drinker.
Medium-chain triglycerides – MCTs
MCTs are known as the fat that can make you thin. You’ll find these in things like palm and coconut oil. The MCTs increase thermogenesis (heat) in the body. The other benefit of MCTs is in their makeup. They are less likely to be stored as fat in the body if not used.
The Ashwagandha plant is often used to help reduce mental and physical effects from stress, anxiety and fatigue. It also has its place in muscle and strength.
Ashwagandha has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for several thousand years. I
As a nootropic, Ashwagandha helps relieve stress, fatigue, restore energy and boosts concentration. As an adaptogen, it helps your entire body by normalizing blood sugar, boosts insulin sensitivity, works as an antioxidant, promotes breast, lung and colon health, and protects against inflammation.
The typical recommended dose of Ashwagandha is 250 – 500 mg per day.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids – BCAAs
The three BCAA amino acids are essential to the body.
But the main benefit of them seems to be based on cognitive fatigue in exercise lasting more than two hours. So if coordination is important in your sport this could be really helpful.
There are also suggestions BCAAs increase muscle growth by stimulating protein synthesis (the process used to make muscle).
BCAAs are credited with is decreased muscle soreness and fatigue post-workout. As well as supplements, BCAAs are found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, so you can get them naturally.
Many consider Bacopa Monnieri to be the best nootropic available today. The nootropic benefit of Bacopa Monnieri were first revealed in ancient Ayurvedic texts. In Ayurveda its used to help memorize long passages of text. And enhance cognition.
The ancient Hindis liked it so much they named it “Brahmi”, after the supreme god Brahma.
Bacopa Monnieri is an adaptogen. It helps prevent the chemical and physical effects of stress. Instead of just suppressing them like many modern antidepressants.
Bacopa Monnieri is used to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. It’ll boost memory, concentration and reaction time. And is used for neuroprotection, and to balance neurotransmitters.
The compound Bacoside A easily crosses the blood-brain barrier. And binds to receptor sites to increase cognition and memory. It has been shown effective in treating ADHD.
Dosage recommendations for Bacopa Monnieri with 45% bacosides is 450 mg.
Coconut & MCT Oil
Coconut oil is extracted from the seed or fruit of the coconut palm (Cocos nucifera). Virgin coconut oil is a potent antioxidant, anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal.
Coconut oil is 90% saturated fat. Nearly 60% of the fats are medium-chain fatty acids. Including caprylic acid C-8 (8%), capric acid, C-10 (7%), and lauric acid C-12 (49%).
Medium-chain fatty acids are also known as medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are produced by hydrolyzing coconut oil and esterifying the fatty acids shorter than lauric acid (C-12) with glycerol.
Both coconut and MCT oil provide some powerful nootropic properties. The MCTs in coconut oil bypass your normal digestive system and go directly to your liver where they are converted to ketones.
Ketones are carried throughout your body including your brain for use in the citric acid cycle to produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP fuels your mitochondria which improves alertness, cognition, memory and mood.
MCTs help increase antioxidant levels in your brain. And increase serotonin which provides an anti-stress effect.
And coconut oil decreases mitochondrial dysfunction that can be caused by Amyloid-β plaques which are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. And drug-resistant epilepsy patients have found that the ketones provided by coconut oil can help reduce seizure frequency.
Coconut & MCT oil are a helpful addition to any nootropic stack which contains fat-soluble supplements. Improving the bioavailability of those nootropics by delivering them directly into brain cells.
Recommended dosage of Coconut & MCT oil is 1 tablespoon 3-times per day.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from the Cannabis Sativa L. plant constituting around 40% of the plant’s active compounds.
CBD does not have the same psychotomimetic (mind-altering) effects as the main plant compound THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol). In fact, CBD is able to counter the mind-altering effects caused by THC.
CBD Oil is used as a nootropic for its antianxiety and antidepressant effects, helps alleviate pain, reduces oxidative stress and inflammation and is anti-tumor.
Research into CBD has rapidly gained traction in the last few years. And shows potential in the treatment of depression, neuroinflammation, epilepsy, oxidative stress, vomiting and nausea, anxiety, schizophrenia and other neurodegenerative problems.
Note that CBD Oil and hemp oil are not the same and should not be confused. You will not experience the same nootropic benefits with hemp oil as you will with CBD Oil.
Recommended starting dosage of CBD is 4 – 45 mg per day. Dosage of CBD Oil depends on the condition you are treating, your body weight, and how your body reacts to Cannabidiol. Dosages differ from one person to the next.
Choline is an essential nutrient needed by your body. And cannot make it on its own. Choline is arguably the most basic of nootropics.
It is a water soluble nutrient required for the health of cell membranes. Choline is also the precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Food sources of choline are egg yolks, liver, milk and other dairy products, certain grains like quinoa and amaranth, bacon, edamame and cruciferous vegetables.
Brain health is compromised by too little choline. And with our modern diet it is nearly impossible to get enough choline without supplementation.
Choline as a nootropic is used as an acetylcholine precursor. In other words, it’s the step before producing acetylcholine in your brain.
Common signs of choline deficiency can include; headaches, fatigue, memory problems, and muscle pain.
DHA (Omega 3)
Your brain is 60% fat. So it would be safe to say that to maintain and excel mentally, our brain needs a good supply of healthy fats.
The two most studied omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA makes up a large portion of brain gray matter. Brain fat forms cell membranes. And plays a vital role in how our cells function. Neurons are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. DHA is a main component of brain synapses. (A synapse is the part of a brain cell that causes a neuron to pass an electrical signal to another neuron).
Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids result in ADD, anxiety, depression, obesity, suicide, and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Diets rich in omega-3’s help balance emotions and boost mood because DHA is a main component of the brain’s synapses.
Eating fish helps cognitive performance because fish, krill, and other marine life are high in Omega-3’s. Other foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids include: anchovies, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, flaxseed, soybeans, walnuts, spinach, and tofu.
Ideal daily dosage for Omega-3’s should include a least 1,000 mg of DHA.