What are nootropics? Their role as brain boosters

In today's modern society we are pushed to our limits. With the hectic lifestyles we lead it is ever more important to make sure that we are getting the right nutrients from our diets and also to choose foods and herbs that enhance are brain power and energy levels. Even though brain boosting herbs and compounds have been around for thousands of years they have now been categorised as Nootropics. 

Table of contents

  1. What is the definition of a nootropic?
  2. How do nootropics work and what are their effects on the brain?
  3. What are the benefits of nootropics on the brain?
  4. What are the best nootropics available?
  5. Memoraid – The Complete Nootropic
  6. Summary of nootropics and their role as brain boosters.

What is the definition of a nootropic?

A nootropic is a compound or a supplement that enhances cognitive performance; nootropics can be synthetic so made in a lab or can be found in nature e.g. in the form of a brain boosting herbs like Sage and Ginkgo. Their benefits include increasing memory, creativity, motivation, concentration and attention. Nootropics show evidence of being beneficial for both short and long-term memory. There are many simple ways to describe a nootropic and are often referred to as ‘smart drugs’, ‘brain boosters’ and ‘memory enhancing drugs’ (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5021479/).

How do nootropics work and what are their effects on the brain?

Nootropics work in several different ways and have varying mechanisms of action. The below will focus on how natural nootropics work. There are four key areas of brain health and performance that nootropics improve, underneath each area we will discuss how they work to improve this area.

1. Brain Memory

One of the main way’s nootropics work on the brain is by increasing the amount of certain types of neurotransmitters within the brain. One neurotransmitter that nootropics increase within the brain is named acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is involved in the process of communication between brain cells. It plays an important role in mood, wakefulness, learning and short-term memory. Certain types of nootropics work by inhibiting an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase, this enzyme breaks down acetylcholine. Therefore, inhibiting it means that there is more acetylcholine available within the brain enhancing communication between cells and ultimately improving memory, concentration and mood (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2659740/).  Another way is to increase the amount of the micronutrient choline, choline can be purchased in supplement form and is considered a nootropic in this sense. Choline is the precursor to acetylcholine, so increasing the amount of choline intake in your diet also increases the amount of acetylcholine available to your brain cells hence improving memory and concentration. It is believed that adequate amounts of choline in the brain can protect against diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/94/6/1584/4598197).

2. Brain Energy

One way that nootropics can increase brain energy is by increasing blood flow to the brain. Increasing blood flow to the brain has the direct result of increased amounts of nutrients, glucose and oxygen reaching brain cells. Nutrients, glucose and oxygen are required for the biological processes involved within the brain hence increasing the availability of them means that brain cells can perform at their best resulting in increased brain performance and energy. The mechanism of action is sometimes compared to increased concentration and focus after exercise which is a direct result of increased blood flow to the brain.

3. Brain Focus/Concentration

Nootropics increase concentration and focus by a combination of the above two points. Increasing the amount of acetylcholine within the brain cells helps improve communication between cells helping your brain to focus and concentrate more effectively. Increasing the amount of bloody flow to the brain in turn increases the amount of nutrients, glucose and oxygen made available hence increasing concentration and focus. Nootropics can also have adaptogen properties, this means that they help your brain and body perform better in stressful situation. Studies have soon that adaptogens have neuroprotective, anti-fatigue and nootropic properties (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3991026/).

4. Brain Protection

Many nootropics have potent antioxidant properties. This means that they protect the brain and body against free radical damage which can cause brain cells to be damage and even cause cell death. Antioxidants play an important role in protecting brain cells from this damage helping to protect the brain against damage and ultimately reducing the chance of developing brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5021479/).

 What are the benefits of nootropics on the brain?

In summary of the above, nootropics have many positive effects on the brain including improving both short and long-term memory, increasing the ability to learn and focus, providing an energy boost and reducing stress.

 What are the best types of nootropics available?

Below is a list of 5 of the best nootropics put into their relevant subcategories:

Herb nootropics

Sage

Sage as a nootropic acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor increasing the amount of acetylcholine available to the brain helping to improve communication between brain cells and ultimately improve memory, focus and concentration. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5318325/)

Ginkgo

Ginkgo as a nootropic acts by increasing the amount of blood flow to the brain, this in turn increases the amount of nutrients, glucose and oxygen for brain cells to utilise which leads to an increase in short term memory, focus, concentration and energy. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166615/)

Ginseng

Ginseng as a nootropic acts as an adaptogen. Adaptogens help the body cope in stressful situations, an example could be in tiredness. It provides a balanced energy release without the crashes other sources of energy can cause. Ginseng has shown in studies to increase alertness and mood. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3575939/)

Antioxidant nootropics

Blueberries

Blueberry extract as a nootropic acts as a potent antioxidant helping to reduce the damage done to brain cells by harmful free-radicals. This can help to reduce ‘mental fog’ and help protect brain health for the future. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29882843)

Amino acids nootropics

L-tyrosine

L-tyrosine also known as tyrosine is a nootropic supplement that has positive effects on boosting energy and mood. It is an amino acid that we can get in our diet by eating foods like avocados and it is also available in supplement form. It is the precursor to three essential neurotransmitters within the brain:

  1. Adrenaline which is the neurotransmitter responsible for focus and drive
  2. Norepinephrine, which is the neurotransmitter involved with muscle recovery and blood flow
  3. Dopamine, which is the neurotransmitter essential to mood and motivation

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6084775/)

L-tyrosine has many studies backing up its effects on alleviating stress with several coming from US and Dutch military sources. One of its major benefits is that it has been reported to prevent decline in cognitive function in response to physical stress, helping to improve focus. It is particularly useful in people who have had to have extended periods of wakefulness, again shown through the studies in the military (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1863555/).

 Memoraid – The Complete Nootropic

Memoraid – The Complete Memory Supplement Formula

Memoraid® Formulation - is a 15 Ingredient brain nootropic supplement focusing on memory improvement, focus increase, increase in concentration, energy boost and immune increase. It contains 15 nootropic brain foods and nutrients in one capsule. Total Serving in TWO Capsules. Also available at Holland and Barrett.

Sage (Salvia Officinalis) Extract (20:1) – 166.5mg (Equivalent to 3330mg of Sage)

Korean Ginseng Extract (10:1) – 38mg (Equivalent to 380mg of Ginseng)

Ginkgo Biloba Extract (50:1) – 100mg (Equivalent to 5000mg of Ginkgo)

Blueberry Extract (40:1) – 150mg (Equivalent to 6000mg of Blueberry)

L-Tyrosine (Vegan) - 160mg

Vitamin D3 Vitashine® (Vegan) - 25mcg

Vitamin E (Natural) - 14mg

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine HCl) - 30mg

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) - 3mg

Vitamin B3 (Nicotinamide) - 35mg

Vitamin B5 (Calcium Pantothenate) - 20mg

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine HCl) - 10mg

Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) - 200mcg

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin acid) - 1mg

Summary of nootropics and their role as brain boosters

Nootropics play a key role in cognitive performance and brain health. They have several different mechanisms of actions including increasing neurotransmitters, increasing blood flow to the brain and acting as antioxidants. These qualities lead to improved short-term memory, increased concentration, energy and overall brain boosting properties. Nootropics have also shown evidence of protecting future brain health, reducing the risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s. There have been many studies performed on these brain boosting supplements reinforcing their mode of action and justify their use as nootropics.

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