Top 4 Natural Nootropics To Improve Your Brain Health

BrainSmart Natural Nootropics

What Are Natural Nootropics?

Often called smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, nootropics come in many forms. Some of these nootropics are produced in laboratories, whilst others are naturally occurring and found in many common foods and natural brain supplement formulas.

What natural nootropics have in common with the laboratory produced nootropics is their ability to significantly improve brain function specifically in the areas of cognition, concentration and memory. Some natural nootropics have also been shown to to protect the brain if it is under chemical or physical attack as well as reducing recovery time from brain injury.

This article outlines the benefits of using natural nootropics to boost cognitive function and highlights four of the most effective.

Why Use Natural Nootropics?

We live in an increasingly non-stop, interconnected, go-go-go global world. This intensifying social dynamic creates a need to compete and a desire to be in the best physical and mental condition we can be.  When it comes to maintaining brain health throughout our busy competitive lives, the phrase ’use it or lose it’ is very relevant.

Our cognitive abilities and overall mental energy naturally decline as we age and for this reason many tens of thousands of individuals around the globe are using natural nootropics to improve their brain’s processing ability and to increase mental energy.

Top 4 Natural Nootropics to Improve Brain Health

1. Cordyceps Sinensis

Also known as Chinese Caterpillar Mushroom, this naturally occurring nootropic has a number of brain health benefits.  Cordyceps Sinesis has been used for centuries as a brain boosting tonic in Tibet, China and India.   Its ability to deliver increased mental energy and focus has only become known more recently in the west. 

The use of Cordyceps as a natural nootropic came to world attention in 1993, when two female Chinese athletes both beat the world records for all their middle distance races in the track and field competition at the Stuttgart World Championships. Their coach attributed the increased focus and mental energy that contributed to their world beating performances to the use of Cordyceps supplementation as part of their daily training regime.

2. Chlorella (from Green Algae)

Chlorella

This natural nootropic is derived from a green micro-algae naturally high in choline, a phospholipid metabolite found concentrated in the membranes of the brain.  The choline from Chlorella has been shown to be well absorbed, easily crossing the blood brain barrier.

Choline helps support brain function and learning processes by increasing the creation and processing of acetylcholine – essential for neurotransmitter activity and ultimately improved brain health.  Chlorella is also an excellent source of antioxidants. 

Recent Swiss research shows that Chlorella (from Green Algae) may deliver significant long term improvements in an individual’s attention span as well as improvements in their overall mental drive and memory recall.

3. Coenzyme Q10

CoQ10

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a very effective antioxidant and natural nootropic for brain health.  It plays an important role in creating energy in the mitochondria, which in turn deliver this increased energy supply to other parts of the body and brain.

CoQ10 is produced naturally in the human body, but the production of CoQ10 decreases with age.  Doctors prescribe it for their older patients to help them regenerate cells and increase their mental energy.

4. Niacin

Niacin Vitamin B3

Niacin, vitamin B3, is crucial for the metabolism of food in the body, turning it efficiently into energy. 

It acts as a catalyst in the formation of neurotransmitters in the brain, assisting in their creation and making them work more efficiently. Like many other natural nootopics, niacin is crucial to producing much needed energy for the brain.

Vitamin B3 has an important role in transforming the proteins, fats and carbohydrates found in the modern diet into usable energy. Niacin also synthesizes the glycogen held in the muscles and liver of the human body for use as energy. This process is not only vital for producing energy, but also protects the human brain against excessive age-related tissue damage.

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About the Author

Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviors and the science of happiness.You can find him at Google+

Brain Vitamins 101 – Ginkgo Biloba

What Is Ginkgo Biloba?ginkgo-branch1

Standardized extracts of the Ginkgo Biloba leaf (also known as GBE), are not only some of the most widely studied brain vitamins derived from natural plants to be used in modern medicine today, but also some of the oldest.

The Ginkgo Biloba leaf, from which the extract is derived, has been shown by botanists to be from one of the first tree species on the planet – the ancient Ginkgo tree – which has proven to be extremely resilient over the centuries with many examples having been found and dated to be over 1000 years old.

In fact, the National Centre for Complimentary Medicine mentions that some of the first recorded uses of ginkgo as a herbal medicine were recorded in writings found in China and across Cambodia from as long as 1000 years ago, which implies that from its very beginning the leaf from the Ginkgo tree was being used as a herbal medicine in some parts of the Far East.

These ancient texts found in China and Cambodia show that it was not only the leaves but also the seeds from the ginkgo tree that were ground together and applied in the form of a paste or taken orally with water.

Ginkgo Biloba & Modern Medicine

Modern medicine however has moved away from using Ginkgo derived from the leaves and seeds of the tree to using a more standardised extract (GBE), which is also made from leaves but they are dried first to make the end result more concentrated.

The resulting extracted formula (GBE) is highly efficacious and subsequent comparison research has shown it to be more effective in treating standard ailments like memory loss or blood circulation problems than the non-standardized leaf alone.

The standardisation of Ginkgo to a more potent form has meant that brain vitamins for memory supplements containing extracts of Ginkgo are now widely used across the world and are consistently ranked amongst the most popular herbal remedies both in the United States and across mainland Europe.

Although Ginkgo has been used to treat a wide number of ailments and disorders over the centuries including protection from blood thinning and development of blood clots, today it is most commonly used to improve memory and prevent dementia or mild to moderate memory loss.

There have been a range of animal and human research studies, both formal and informal into the efficacy of extract of Ginkgo as a brain vitamin for memory and although the sheer number of studies makes contradictory results inevitable, the general conclusion amongst the wider scientific community is that extracts of ginkgo biloba may be extremely useful in treating mild to moderate forms of dementia that would include the early onset of Alzheimer’s.

How Does Ginkgo Biloba Work?

Ginkgo Biloba

These research studies as described by the Mayo Clinic have shown that the two main essential elements found in ginkgo extract (known as terpenoids and flavonoids) work to eliminate free radicals and thereby help protect cells, nerves and DNA in the human body. It is the antioxidant properties that Ginkgo biloba possesses that helps protect memory in humans, particularly as we get older.

Specifically these research studies appear to demonstrate the following memory related benefits associated with Ginkgo Biloba:

  • Improves overall cognitive performance
  • Improves quality of thinking
  • Improves memory recall
  • Improvement in overall positivity
  • Improvement in mood balance
  • Improvement in social functioning

In fact, a large amount of scientific research studies have concluded that extract of ginkgo may work as well as doctor prescribed medications for Dementia and Alzheimer’s and the considerable body of anecdotal evidence gathered over many centuries of use appear to back up the overriding scientific conclusions as to the efficacy of Ginkgo Biloba in helping protect memory.

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About the Author

Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviours and the science of happiness. You can find him at Google+

How Depression Supplements Can Break the Link Between Depression and Anxiety

depression supplements

The events that happen in our lives play a great role in moulding our personality and our moods and to a great degree we are all essentially the products of our environment. What we think is how we feel is how we act.  When we achieve something we feel happy, when we lose we feel depressed and when we fear something feel anxious Having said this, from a medical point of view, the terms depression and anxiety are typically used to describe a range of more moderate to severe mood disturbances – many of which are connected together. More than half the people seeking help for depression in the US also have anxiety. Both of them together are harder to diagnose, harder to treat and hardest to live with.

Depression causes people to feel lonely, helpless and hopeless. Anxiety makes them agitated and overwhelmed by physical symptoms. It is a surprising fact that the ratio of women and men seeking help for depression and anxiety disorders in the US has increased dramatically since 2008 and is currently 2:1. Today many women and men are facing depression but don’t even realize it. They accept their out of kilter mental state as being normal without understanding the triggers.

Coupled with this increase in cases of depression and anxiety since 2008 (when the global recession began)  has been a corresponding rise in the rejection of many doctor prescribed anti-depressant medications and an increase in the use of more natural mood stabilizers, depression supplements, mood enhancers and vitamins for depression.

Depression and Anxiety Have Similar Triggers

One of the main reasons depression and anxiety often go hand in hand is because they both tend to have similar triggers. These triggers can be extremely mundane and common.

  • Situations – Having conflicts at work or school, or strained relationships with family and friends.
  • Major changes in life – for example, divorce, death of a dear one, losing a job etc.
  • Trauma – Surviving an accident or being a victim or some crime, natural disaster can also lead to depression and anxiety.
  • Chemical Imbalances – Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can especially lead to this.
  • Family History – People with anxiety and depression running in the family are more likely to suffer from them as well.
  • Physical illness – long term illness – e.g. HIV Aids, or Cancer, or being physically impaired.
  • Pre/Post Natal -  many women suffer from anxiety and depression during and after pregnancy.

There are a number of signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety and they are remarkably similar. Of course there are differences, but in order to break the connection and tackle each on its own demerits it is important to understand the commonalities.

Common elements of depression and anxiety can include feelings of self-loathing, changes in appetite or weight, insomnia, restlessness, fatigue, loss of interest in daily life, feelings of apprehension and dread. People who have major anxiety problems often imagine the worst case situations. Many of them are scared of going out in public places, they feel people are watching them and become increasingly self-conscious. Many of the more effective depression vitamin formulas will ease both anxiety and depression.

Breaking the Link between Depression and Anxiety Lies in Understanding Their Connections

Even though it is argued that depression and anxiety are not preventable, there are many things you can do to keep them both at bay and there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence that shows how the use of natural depression supplements can help .

Unfortunately, we cannot be happy all of the time, but there is something we can do about it. I have worked with a number of clients over the years, and seen how exercise and yoga continues to change their mood states for the better. Endorphins produced from a variety of exercise routines reduce stress and enhance good moods. Besides this, exercise helps counter a number of other health problems as well. Bring changes into your lifestyle. Research which of the vitamins for depression are best for you. Eat and sleep on time. Have the required eight hours sleep and eat healthy foods.

How Natural Depression Supplements Can Help Break the Link between Depression and Anxiety

The right types of depression supplements can often make up for a lack of serotonin production in the brain. Many reputable natural mood stabilisers contain amino acids that allow for the healthy activity of neurons or neurotransmitters in the brain.

These neurotransmitters are essentially the brain’s chemical messengers and activities like stress, smoking or drinking too much or having a diet lacking in essential nutrients can lead to fluctuations in mood and to feelings of anxiety and depression.

A lack of folic acid, an essential depression vitamin also known as Vitamin B9, or Vitamin B12, or Vitamin B6 in the diet may be linked to depression. Oranges, beets, turkey, asparagus, soybeans and green leafy vegetables like spinach are good sources of folic acid. Fermented soy products and root vegetables as well as fish, shellfish, dairy and meat products are good sources of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B6 is found in beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish and whole grains.

In addition to concentrating on diet and supplementing with the appropriate natural depression supplements also try keeping yourself busy.  It may sound like a cliché but participate in social activities, support groups, senior centres or local activities. Meeting new people will keep you fresh. Most importantly, don’t give up.  Even though you can’t get rid of depression and anxiety over night, these simple things are relatively easy to adopt into a normal day schedule.

With the right kind of depression supplements and subtle changes in your routine, you will find your mood lifting and the world (and yourself) feeling a better place to be.

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Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviours and the science of happiness. You can find him at Google+

Which Brain Supplements? – Some Essential Ingredients (Part 2)

which brain supplementsIn the first part of this article we examined some of the more specialised, but none the less essential ingredients to look out for when considering which brain supplements to use to improve your overall brain health.

Specifically we looked at the roles Ginkgo Biloba, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, L-Methionine and L-Theanine can play in any effective brain fitness regime.

In this second part of the same article, we will examine some of the more commonly found brain supporting vitamins to be found in the most effective brain supplements, in order to understand the role they can play in protecting your brain as you get older and specifically the role these brain vitamins can play in maintaining the health of your central nervous system.

central nervous systemWhat is the central nervous system?

In the human body, the central nervous system plays a crucial role in maintaining the balance and function we need to perform at even the most basic level every day. The central nervous system essentially acts as the ’coordinator in chief’ for the body and works with the brain by gathering, ordering, regulating and assimilating all the information that comes in from the brain and body cells, making the necessary adjustments to ensure the behaviour and temperament of the whole organism is correct all day, every day.

This complex collection of cells and tissues are therefore essential to most aspects of human performance and in the same way the brain needs the correct balance of nutrients so too does the central nervous system.

Omega 3 fatty acidsOmega-3 – Eat More Oily Fish

Over the years there is been a great amount of conflicting debate as to the true value of omega-3 fatty acids and the role they play in overall brain and central nervous system health. What is clear however is that omega-3 is essential for maintaining memory as we age. Recent research has shown that individuals whose diets do not deliver the right amount of omega-3 fatty acids may be more prone to not only memory loss but also failing vision, schizophrenia and depression.

Omega-3 comes in several different forms and the most relevant ones to brain and central nervous system health – DHA and EPA – are typically found in oily fish like mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies and trout.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B12 is an essential brain nutrient found in nearly all brain supplements and it works to maintain the health of not only the central nervous system but also the blood cells that move around the human body delivering essential oxygen to the brain. Research studies have shown that individuals whose diets are lacking in vitamin B12 may develop weak limbs (which can lead to motor problems), mild forms of psychosis, memory loss and/or issues with their bowels and urinary function.

Foods that are high in vitamin B12 include eggs, most types of fish, liver, chicken and other poultry as well as dairy and some types of yeasts like Marmite or Vegemite.

vitamin b5Vitamin B-5 (Pantothenic Acid)

This essential brain supporting vitamin is essential for the synthesis of energy in the body and also assists in the correct functioning of the central nervous system. It also helps in the healing of wounds and the production of keratin which is important for nails and hair.

Vitamin B-5 is commonly found in eggs, avocados, red meat and some dairy products like yoghurt.

Vitamin B-6

Vitamin B6 is a very important brain and nerve supporting nutrient that is commonly found in a wide variety of foods. It works by helping protect the immune functions of the human body and researchers have found that it is also essential in producing both serotonin and dopamine (essential neurotransmitters that control and regulate mood). It is therefore believed that vitamin B6 supplementation can help prevent depression, anxiety and other types of mood imbalances and disorders. Recent research makes tentative links between vitamin B6 deficiency and the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Typically the best sources for vitamin B6 are vegetables that contain starch like potatoes, non-citrus fruit like bananas, some types of fish and most types of red meat.

Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)Vitamin B-9 (Folic Acid)

Folic acid (also known as Vitamin B9) plays a crucial role in cell development and growth and as a result it is often prescribed as a supplement to expectant mothers. Research from the 1970′s and 80′s has demonstrated quite clearly that expectant mothers whose diets were deficient in folic acid were more likely to have children with brain and spine related developmental diseases like spina bifida or other kinds of birth defects. For expectant mothers the advice is to take folic acid at least one month before pregnancy and to continue for the duration of the term.

In addition to potential birth defects some other common disorders associated with folic acid deficiency include memory loss, depression, damage to nerves, mouth ulcers, anxiety, irritability and other types of mental impairment.

The most valuable sources of vitamin B9 (folic acid) are leafy green vegetables, however since modern diets contain insufficient amounts of these vegetables, most folic acid in current diets is delivered through cereals and bread which have been fortified with folic acid. 

Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviors and the science of happiness.You can find him at Google+

Which Brain Supplements for Children? – Omega-3 & Antioxidants

brain supplements for childrenOne of the sad but true facts of modern life is that our children often do not have enough time to eat the right kinds of food that deliver the right kinds of nutrients they need to function at their best every day.

As more and more stories appear in newspapers and on TV about how our kids are going to school with nothing more than a sugary carbonated drink, a packet of potato chips and chocolate bar in their lunch boxes it is little wonder that there has been a dramatic rise in attention deficit disorders and other behavioural issues often associated with diets that have too much sugar and too many artificial processed E numbers.

It is for this reason that in many countries, the advice from the relevant leading national health advisory services is that using natural brain supplements is not only desirable but also critical in order to maintain a growing child’s health and attention during the school day.

In light of this almost unanimous advice, this article therefore attempts to examine the benefits of two of the more essential vitamins found in leading brain supplements for kids – Omega 3 and Anti-Oxidants  - with a view to helping you understand the importance of additional supplementation as your kids grow older.

Brain Booster Supplements for Kids – Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Perhaps one of the most widely researched vitamins for brain health is the family of Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients are widely considered to be essential for correct metabolic functioning in the human body.Omega 3 and children

Commonly found in oily fish and some plants, Omega-3 fatty acids are now widely thought of as being an important first stage treatment for symptoms of autism and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There are now a number of recent research studies showing medium to high positive results in treating both these disorders in children successfully for the long-term.

Having said this, use of Omega-3 fatty acids in helping reduce instances of cancer and heart disease for example  has proved controversial as the positive results have been mainly anecdotal and there is a lack of rigorous scientific research to support the claims.

What is clear however, is that the available research studies point very clearly to the nerve protecting properties of Omega-3 and corresponding increases in attentiveness and productivity amongst children who take brain supplements which contain these types of fish oils.

Brain Supplements for Children – Antioxidants

antioxidants for kidsAlong with Omega-3 fatty acids perhaps the most widely research substances that have been shown to protect and improve brain health in children are antioxidants. These essential brain nutrients work by effectively protecting the cells of the body and brain against the harmful effects of molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals work against the body and damage cells and nerve endings and researchers show that excessive free radical activity may increase an individual’s chances of getting cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Antioxidants are found in a large variety of foods including most fruits and vegetables some nuts and most types of fish and red meat. However, as stated before many children’s diets do not deliver the right balance consistently and many parents have found that using brain supplements containing selenium and beta-carotene as well as vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C can help improve a child’s responsiveness in the classroom.

Unlike Omega-3 fatty acids, where the research has tended to the contradictory and evidence supporting its benefits have been mainly anecdotal, the research has almost unilaterally supported the benefits of using antioxidants to help keep a child’s immune system vibrant and strong. Since free radicals interfere and damage the body’s immune system, antioxidants work in a very practical way to help the body fight common immune affecting illnesses like colds and flu in children.

The Importance of Brain Nutrition for Children

There is little doubt that proper diet and an understanding of brain nutrition can play an important role in your child’s ability to develop and learn as he or she grows older. However faced with an overwhelming choice of multivitamins and vitamin supplement varieties many parents simply shut off and do nothing. As we can see from the above important examples of brain supplements for children, simply by supplementing with Omega-3 and a number of antioxidants you will ensure your child’s development and learning continues at its best for the long-term.

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About the Author

Sam Jansen is a leading brain scientist, lawyer and author, studying neuroscience, social behaviors and the science of happiness.You can find him at Google+


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