Can these Supplements make YOU Smarter?

A whole new world of supplements is emerging- and we've got to say, we're excited about it! 2018 is the year of the nootropic. If you are unfamiliar with this term, it is defined as a substance (in this context, supplement) which can increase cognitive function, the way our brain works, encompassing memory, focus, creativity and more!

These go far beyond just athletic performance. High level professionals and even gamers are fans of these new and exciting supplements.

Caffeine, the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, is likely the nootropic you are most familiar with. But caffeine comes with plenty of drawbacks, from the side effects of a 'come down', to jitters and addiction. Another, nicotine, is a fairly commonly used nootropic which we would consider even less healthy. But there's nothing to be afraid of. There are plenty of wonderful, completely safe and scientifically backed, nootropics out there!

Here we will delve into several ingredients to look out for to unlock your brain's full potential.

L-theanine

A naturally occurring amino acid that can be found in green tea, 200mg of L-theanine has been seen to give a calming effect, reducing stress and increasing attention, as well as potentially improving sleep. This is supported by a 2003 study conducted on human, male test subjects concluded that L-theanine containing tablets promote the release of alpha waves related to mental relaxation and concentration. Somewhat juxtaposingly, it actually compliments the effects of caffeine well. When combined caffeine, it's effects are increased as well as combating some of the negative effects of the caffeine.

Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC is recognised for treatment in conditions such as azheimer's dementia and stroke for its role in improving memory by increasing the release of the chemical acetylcholine in the brain and proving a notable decrease in the rate of cognitive decline (Ther, 2003).
A single study also reported, when taken prior to exercise, alpha GPC increases post-exercise serum GH and peak force (Ziegenfuss, Landis and Hofheins, 2008). This had led to increased interest from athletes, although more data is certainly needed to confirm.

Mushrooms

Don't fear. These aren't psychedelics! Chaga, Cordyceps, and Lion’s Mane. Three medicinal mushrooms that I predict we'll be seeing much more of as time goes on. To summarise:

Chaga- protection against antioxidants and free-radicals, can increase the effectiveness of caffeine so that a lower dosage is needed, to offset some of its negative effects.

Cordyceps- anti-aging and energy boosting.

Lion's Mane- a mood enhancer which works to improve immune function, the cognitive effects of Lion's mane are even greater when taken with caffeine.

Each of these deserves an article of its own, but if any of these points have caught your interest, I highly recommend that you do your own further research.

Bacopa Monnieri

An ancient herb for increasing brain function. It has been linked to speeding up information processing in the brain, reducing reaction times and improving memory. Like the above discussed mushrooms, they are adaptogens. Dosages of around 300mg are suggested, be mindful that benefits can take weeks to present themselves, so this is not one to use short term. A 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial by Stough et al (2008) found supportive evidence for cognitive enhancing effects in humans.

Rhodiola Rosea

Another adaptogenic herb, used in natural medicine for stress management.

Guarana

A natural source of slow release caffeine, guarana is included in a variety of supplements for its stimulatory effect on the CNS. As a slower releasing form of caffeine, the energy boost is less harsh and more sustained, leading to a more productive boost.

CDP-Choline

CDP-Choline is a memory enhancer associated with positive effects in both younger and older individuals.

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The Power of Me Mind Support

We would highly recommend The Power of Me Mind Support for anyone looking to delve into the world of mind support. I put this one to the test myself for a month to observe its effects!

Dosages: An intelligent formula of four naturally occurring ingredients that have been extensively studied, one capsule contains:

Two capsules, taken daily, is the recommended dosage.

Review

I have been using this supplement for the past few weeks so that I might be able to offer my own experience with it first hand. I take the recommended dosage every morning, with a coffee, before my first meal. I am especially conscious of taking it before long work days. As my job largely involves sitting at a desk, working on a computer, in the past I have found that my focus can begin to dwindle from mid-afternoon onwards, and once gone, I struggle to get it back. I've found that Mind Support really helps me zone in on the task at hand without getting distracted. I am also finding it helpful to assist me in the process of slowly reducing my coffee consumption, as I do not have to rely on it to get me through the day as much anymore.

Currently priced at £18.99

 

References
De Jesus Moreno Moreno, M. (2003). Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: A multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Clinical Therapeutics, 25(1), pp.178-193.
Song, C., Jung, J., Oh, J. and Kim, K. (2003). Effects of Theanine on the Release of Brain Alpha Wave in Adults Males. Korean Journal of Nutrition.
Stough, C., Downey, L., Lloyd, J., Silber, B., Redman, S., Hutchison, C., Wesnes, K. and Nathan, P. (2008). Examining the nootropic effects of a special extract ofBacopa monnieraon human cognitive functioning: 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Phytotherapy Research, 22(12), pp.1629-1634.
Ziegenfuss, T., Landis, J. and Hofheins, J. (2008). Acute supplementation with alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine augments growth hormone response to, and peak force production during, resistance exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 5(Suppl 1), p.P15.

About the Author

Savannah Westerby, BSc Sport and Exercise Nutrition. IG:@savannahwesterby
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