To naturally support concentration and cognition, focus on regular exercise, a healthy diet, sufficient sleep, stress management, mental stimulation, hydration, and minimising distractions. These strategies can potentially enhance brain function and improve overall cognitive abilities.
Fish oil supplements are a rich source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), two types of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids possess many health benefits, including supporting brain health [i]. DHA plays a vital role in maintaining the structure and function of your brain [ii] [iii]. EPA has been associated with benefits such as improved mood, which can, in turn, enhance concentration and productivity [iv]. Also ensure you get the recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids is by eating two portions of oily fish per week. This includes salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines.
Phosphatidylserine supplements could improve your thinking skills and memory. It is commonly used by students preparing for exams. Phosphatidylserine is found in your brain, and is a type of fat compound called a phospholipid. Phosphatidylserine supplements could preserve brain health [v] [vi].
Resveratrol is an antioxidant that occurs naturally in the skin of purple and red fruits like grapes, raspberries and blueberries. It’s also found in red wine, chocolate and peanuts. However, it is difficult to obtain high amounts from food, therefore supplementing is recommended.
Resveratrol supplementation could prevent the deterioration of the hippocampus, an important part of the brain associated with memory [viii]. Animal studies have also shown that resveratrol can improve memory and brain function and may slow brain ageing [ix] [x]. Results from a study on a small group of healthy older adults showed that taking 200 mg of resveratrol per day for 26 weeks improved memory.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino acid produced naturally in your body. It plays an important role in your metabolism and in energy production. It has been shown to improve memory and alertness [xi]. Studies show this supplement may also help to prevent age-related decline in brain function [xii]
Ginkgo Biloba is a very popular supplement for boosting brain power. It is derived from the Ginkgo biloba tree. It works to increase blood flow to the brain in order to improve brain functions like focus and memory[xiii]. It can help reduce age-related decline in brain function [xiv], and improve memory and thinking skills [xv].
Bacopa Monnieri originates from traditional medicine practices like Ayurveda for improving brain function. Studies have shown to improve thinking skills and memory, both in healthy adults and in elderly people suffering from a decline in brain function [xvi] [xvii]. Repeated use of Bacopa Monnieri has been shown to be most effective.
S-Adenosyl methionine, involved in reactions throughout the body, most SAM is produced and consumed in the liver, where it breaks down important compounds like proteins, fats and hormones. It has shown promise in reducing the decline in brain function seen in people who have depression [xx].
Cinnamon has impressive effects on the brain and neurological function [xxi]. Animal studies such as one in Mice fed cinnamon showed memory and switched from being poor learners to good learners [xxii].
Polyphenols improve blood flow to your brain and brain function [xxiii].
Blueberries and other deeply colored berries deliver anthocyanins, a group of plant compounds with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects [xxiv] [xxv]. According to one review of 11 studies, blueberries could help improve memory and certain cognitive processes in children and older adults [xxvi].
Turmeric / Curcumin
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can benefit neurons in the brain[xxvii]. Read more about turmeric here.
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc, and copper, each of these nutrients is important for brain health[xxx]
Eggs are a good source of several nutrients tied to brain health, including vitamins B6 and B12, folate, and choline. Choline is an important micronutrient that your body uses to create acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and memory [xxxi].They also contain vitamin B12, which is vital for the immune system.
Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that can cross the blood-brain barrier and increase the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA, which helps reduce anxiety [xxxii]. Green tea in general has been found to improve alertness, performance, memory, and focus [xxxiii]
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[ii] Chang CY, Ke DS, Chen JY. Essential fatty acids and human brain. Acta Neurol Taiwan. 2009 Dec;18(4):231-41. PMID: 20329590.
[iii] Weiser MJ, Butt CM, Mohajeri MH. Docosahexaenoic Acid and Cognition throughout the Lifespan. Nutrients. 2016 Feb 17;8(2):99. doi: 10.3390/nu8020099. PMID: 26901223; PMCID: PMC4772061.
[iv] Martins JG. EPA but not DHA appears to be responsible for the efficacy of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in depression: evidence from a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Nutr. 2009 Oct;28(5):525-42.
[v] Parker AG, Gordon J, Thornton A, Byars A, Lubker J, Bartlett M, Byrd M, Oliver J, Simbo S, Rasmussen C, Greenwood M, Kreider RB. The effects of IQPLUS Focus on cognitive function, mood and endocrine response before and following acute exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2011 Oct 21;8:16.
[vi] Kato-Kataoka A, Sakai M, Ebina R, Nonaka C, Asano T, Miyamori T. Soybean-derived phosphatidylserine improves memory function of the elderly Japanese subjects with memory complaints. J Clin Biochem Nutr. 2010 Nov;47(3):246-55.
[vii] Benton D, Donohoe R. The influence of creatine supplementation on the cognitive functioning of vegetarians and omnivores. Br J Nutr. 2011 Apr;105(7):1100-5.
[viii] Kodali M, Parihar VK, Hattiangady B, Mishra V, Shuai B, Shetty AK. Resveratrol prevents age-related memory and mood dysfunction with increased hippocampal neurogenesis and microvasculature, and reduced glial activation. Sci Rep. 2015 Jan 28;5:8075
[ix] Dal-Pan A, Pifferi F, Marchal J, Picq JL, Aujard F; RESTRIKAL Consortium. Cognitive performances are selectively enhanced during chronic caloric restriction or resveratrol supplementation in a primate. PLoS One. 2011 Jan 31;6(1):e16581.
[x] Park HR, Kong KH, Yu BP, Mattson MP, Lee J. Resveratrol inhibits the proliferation of neural progenitor cells and hippocampal neurogenesis. J Biol Chem. 2012 Dec 14;287(51):42588-600.
[xi] Malaguarnera M. Carnitine derivatives: clinical usefulness. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2012 Mar;28(2):166-76.
[xii] Ando S, Tadenuma T, Tanaka Y, Fukui F, Kobayashi S, Ohashi Y, Kawabata T. Enhancement of learning capacity and cholinergic synaptic function by carnitine in aging rats. J Neurosci Res. 2001 Oct 15;66(2):266-71.
[xiii] Mashayekh A, Pham DL, Yousem DM, Dizon M, Barker PB, Lin DD. Effects of Ginkgo biloba on cerebral blood flow assessed by quantitative MR perfusion imaging: a pilot study. Neuroradiology. 2011 Mar;53(3):185-91
[xiv] Santos RF, Galduróz JC, Barbieri A, Castiglioni ML, Ytaya LY, Bueno OF. Cognitive performance, SPECT, and blood viscosity in elderly non-demented people using Ginkgo biloba. Pharmacopsychiatry. 2003 Jul;36(4):127-33
[xv] Kennedy DO, Haskell CF, Mauri PL, Scholey AB. Acute cognitive effects of standardised Ginkgo biloba extract complexed with phosphatidylserine. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2007 Jun;22(4):199-210
[xvi] Raghav S, Singh H, Dalal PK, Srivastava JS, Asthana OP. Randomized controlled trial of standardized Bacopa monniera extract in age-associated memory impairment. Indian J Psychiatry. 2006 Oct;48(4):238-42.
[xvii] Stough C, Downey LA, Lloyd J, Silber B, Redman S, Hutchison C, Wesnes K, Nathan PJ. Examining the nootropic effects of a special extract of Bacopa monniera on human cognitive functioning: 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Phytother Res. 2008 Dec;22(12):1629-34.
[xviii] Darbinyan V, Kteyan A, Panossian A, Gabrielian E, Wikman G, Wagner H. Rhodiola rosea in stress induced fatigue--a double blind cross-over study of a standardized extract SHR-5 with a repeated low-dose regimen on the mental performance of healthy physicians during night duty. Phytomedicine. 2000 Oct;7(5):365-71.
[xix] Spasov AA, Wikman GK, Mandrikov VB, Mironova IA, Neumoin VV. A double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of the stimulating and adaptogenic effect of Rhodiola rosea SHR-5 extract on the fatigue of students caused by stress during an examination period with a repeated low-dose regimen. Phytomedicine. 2000 Apr;7(2):85-9.
[xx] Di Pierro F, Orsi R, Settembre R. Role of betaine in improving the antidepressant effect of S-adenosyl-methionine in patients with mild-to-moderate depression. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2015 Jan 16;8:39-45.
[xxi] Modi KK, Rangasamy SB, Dasarathi S, Roy A, Pahan K. Cinnamon Converts Poor Learning Mice to Good Learners: Implications for Memory Improvement. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2016 Dec;11(4):693-707
[xxii] Modi KK, Rangasamy SB, Dasarathi S, Roy A, Pahan K. Cinnamon Converts Poor Learning Mice to Good Learners: Implications for Memory Improvement. J Neuroimmune Pharmacol. 2016 Dec;11(4):693-707.
[xxiii] Vauzour D. Dietary polyphenols as modulators of brain functions: biological actions and molecular mechanisms underpinning their beneficial effects. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:914273.
[xxiv] Kalt W, Cassidy A, Howard LR, Krikorian R, Stull AJ, Tremblay F, Zamora-Ros R. Recent Research on the Health Benefits of Blueberries and Their Anthocyanins. Adv Nutr. 2020 Mar 1;11(2):224-236.
[xxv] Ali SS, Ahsan H, Zia MK, Siddiqui T, Khan FH. Understanding oxidants and antioxidants: Classical team with new players. J Food Biochem. 2020 Mar;44(3):e13145.
[xxvi] Hein S, Whyte AR, Wood E, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Williams CM. Systematic Review of the Effects of Blueberry on Cognitive Performance as We Age. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 Jun 18;74(7):984-995.
[xxvii] Reddy PH, Manczak M, Yin X, Grady MC, Mitchell A, Tonk S, Kuruva CS, Bhatti JS, Kandimalla R, Vijayan M, Kumar S, Wang R, Pradeepkiran JA, Ogunmokun G, Thamarai K, Quesada K, Boles A, Reddy AP. Protective Effects of Indian Spice Curcumin Against Amyloid-β in Alzheimer's Disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;61(3):843-866.
[xxviii] Li Z, Lee HW, Liang X, Liang D, Wang Q, Huang D, Ong CN. Profiling of Phenolic Compounds and Antioxidant Activity of 12 Cruciferous Vegetables. Molecules. 2018 May 10;23(5):1139
[xxix] Alisi L, Cao R, De Angelis C, Cafolla A, Caramia F, Cartocci G, Librando A, Fiorelli M. The Relationships Between Vitamin K and Cognition: A Review of Current Evidence. Front Neurol. 2019 Mar 19;10:239.
[xxxi] Dulawa SC, Janowsky DS. Cholinergic regulation of mood: from basic and clinical studies to emerging therapeutics. Mol Psychiatry. 2019 May;24(5):694-709
[xxxii] Williams JL, Everett JM, D'Cunha NM, Sergi D, Georgousopoulou EN, Keegan RJ, McKune AJ, Mellor DD, Anstice N, Naumovski N. The Effects of Green Tea Amino Acid L-Theanine Consumption on the Ability to Manage Stress and Anxiety Levels: a Systematic Review. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2020 Mar;75(1):12-23.
[xxxiii] Dietz C, Dekker M. Effect of Green Tea Phytochemicals on Mood and Cognition. Curr Pharm Des. 2017;23(19):2876-2905
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.