Have you ever realized that most of us spend several hours every day accomplishing absolutely nothing? Yes, as shocking as this may sound, this is not a direct result of laziness or ineptitude, but rather the inability of our brain to work at a high capacity for several hours on end.
If you are an athlete, you have probably heard the mantra that you must train your brain as much as you do your body, as this organ is essentially the determining factor in how much progress you make.
But how does this apply to you if you’re not an athlete in the traditional sense? In exactly the same manner. Regardless of your particular discipline, whether that be as a competitive esports gamer, or high-performing executive that needs to be on top of his game all the time, you need to start optimizing your brain to get the most of it.
And one of the fastest and most effective ways to go about doing this? Taking advantage of well-established supplements that can help turn your computing power up several notches. Wondering what the best supplements to use are? Let’s check them out now.
The Base Supplements
While it is normal to get over excited like a kid in a candy store when discovering the near “limitless” (yes, shameless reference to that legendary movie) potential of your brain, it is important to not get ahead of yourself. What does this mean? You shouldn’t equip your car with high tech performance boosters if you can’t even deliver basic fuel to the engine. This is exactly what we mean. So, starting out you need to ensure your brain has a solid nutrition base to rely on. Start with these:
There is a reason you will find a wide array of B vitamins included in brain performance supplements, since they work very well, especially considering the fact that many people don’t even consider the increased requirements necessary to power your brain. They help to promote mental clarity, and coupled with their ability to support metabolism and energy production, means that mental fog is less likely to occur since your brain will be getting more glucose to function.
Diets lower in B vitamins are also more likely to be associated with outcomes such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which take a major hit on your brain.
Found abundantly in leafy vegetables and many animal-based products, especially eggs, choline is the unofficial adopted brother of the B vitamin siblings. What makes it especially important to brain performance is the fact that it is one of the precursors necessary for the synthesis of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter involved in memory, executive thinking, along with overall mood and ability to quickly recall data.
In terms of a single supplement that can yield the greatest dividends for your brain in terms of performance, that accolade would have to go to choline.
Omega Three Fats
While Omega three fats can be obtained from either animal or plant sources, the best source of this fatty acid you can use is the animal-based one obtained from fish. While this is great, the fact of the matter is most people do not routinely eat fish, and more importantly the deep water fatty fish that are abundant in Omega three fats. As such, consumption of an Omega-3 fish oil supplement is of critical importance. Omega three fats play critical roles in forming cell membranes around brain, help to reduce inflammatory and oxidative stress that can accelerate neurodegeneration(commonly associated with aging and loss of mental faculties), and even helps to support memory and cognition.
While you may not notice significant differences in brain performance from supplementing with Omega three fats, they should be viewed as important insurance policies that can help keep your brain firing on all cylinders, especially when actively trying to improve your brain performance.
Intermediate Level Supplements
Once you have got your bases covered, it’s time to take things to the next level. Using the supplements included in this category will make a significant difference, and are the ones most people stay at for day-to-day use.
L-Theanine And Caffeine
Caffeine’s ability to increase alertness, energy and processing speed is unquestionable, just ask the most devout of coffee drinkers. However, there is one big limitation with caffeine’s usage, and that is the fact that it does not significantly improve focus. What this means is that your brain is firing faster, but it does not lend itself to technical processes that require a deep level of concentration. If you only need to perform basic level tasks, you will see a significant improvement in speed, but you will notice absolutely no difference if trying to write the next bestseller novel.
This is where adding l-theanine to the mix comes in. In fact, the synergistic combination of caffeine and l-theanine are considered entry-level nootropic supplements, as theanine enhances focus and concentration, evening out caffeine’s haphazard way of doing so, and also reduces the likelihood of a sharp crash as caffeine starts being cleared from the body.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid that serves as the precursor for several important brain neurotransmitters, including dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. While you can improve the amount of L-tyrosine made available to your brain via consumption of solid food, it is a much better option to opt for a supplement containing L tyrosine so that your brain has plenty to turn to when it needs it.
An even more effective, though controversial option, is to supplement with L-dopa (from Velvet Bean Extract), a direct metabolite of L-tyrosine that is said to be more effective in converting to the neurotransmitters you want elevated to coincide with higher brain performance. L-tyrosine suffers from poor conversion into L-dopa, which explains why it would make more sense to go directly with L-dopa. However, the incidence of adverse effects is also greater, so perhaps a better middle ground is to consume a supplement which contains a moderate amount of both of these amino acids.
Best known for its ability to support fat loss, the way it improves brain performance comprises the same mechanism, in part. Not only does it help support nutrients getting into the mitochondria of cells (in particular fatty acids getting to the brain to be used as fuel), it is also very important in supporting the synthesis of acetylcholine, which makes it synergistic when combined with a choline supplement, as mentioned above.
The Next Level
These supplements take brain performance to the absolute pinnacle. You should only try these after an introduction to the entry and intermediate level options, and if you still desire more.
While nootropics can be considered anything that increases brain performance, we are referring to a class of supplements with the name in question. Popular options include:
One of the most popular nootropics available today, it is very effective in improving focus and concentration, along with reducing anxiety, fear and stress. It can also significantly benefit memory and the ability to recall important facts as it can literally unlock the switch (enzyme, more specifically) on acetylcholine production, increasing synthesis rates by a factor of two to three times as much.
This is why these supplements are considered next level!
Closely related to the Racetam family of nootropics (such as Aniracetam, Piracetam), Noopept is a unique supplement commonly recruited by executives that need to think out the box often. Not only does it improve cognition, focus and memory, but it also enhances creativity, mental plasticity and logical thinking – traits that any person who needs to think things through require.
In addition to doing all this, it also reduces the impact of cortisol and stimulatory neurotransmitters can have on anxiety, and can support repair of neurons that may have become damaged.
While these supplements can individually be put into one of the categories referenced above, they may or may not be suitable for everyone, and best serve as adjuvants. These include:
Known to promote blood flow to the brain, especially improving microvascular perfusion, chances are you probably used this supplement during your college days when studying for finals. Even though it improves blood flow to the brain and capillaries, it is a bit troublesome to persons with hypertension.
Ginseng And Bacopa Monnieri
Both of these are adaptogenic herbs with a storied history of usage throughout parts of East Asia and India. They are very good for modulating the activity of cortisol, which can adversely impair brain performance, and lend themselves to improving focus, memory and reducing the oxidative load the brain may shoulder.
Putting It Together: Gaming Supplements
Hardcore gamers need to have lots of working memory (think of a gaming PC) to quickly make decisions based on outcomes and do so in a coordinated manner. This makes a supplement such as pure caffeine unsuitable, as your focus will be all over the place.
A great combination includes the nootropic supplement Aniracetam along with acetyl-l-carnitine and choline. Such a combination will provide a clean stream of energy and focus to truly level up your skills.
What field of work are you in? If your job requires a lot of mundane tasks (such as data entry) simple no-frills caffeine does the job amazingly. If, however, your job requires greater creativity and unorthodox ways of doing things, instead opt for the big guns in Noopept, and Bacopa Monnieri with Ginseng. If your work has you feeling down in the dumps, fortify your mental fortitude with L-tyrosine/ L-dopa, since depressive illness as a result of workplace stress is more common than you would like to believe and something you should definitely try to avoid.
Regardless of your discipline, most people stand to benefit handsomely from consumption of a supplement designed to promote brain function. There are even many more supplements that can help to improve your focus, energy levels and concentration that we have not covered. Consider this a great jumping off point, but one that you can surely customize to fit your needs.
Just be sure you have your bases covered before jumping into the deep end of the supplement pool, and you will be amazed at how much potential your brain truly has.