Top Nutrients that Boost Brain Health – The 8 Best Researched

Learn about the benefits, recommended dosages, and how these powerful supplements that boost brain health.

Aging can bring many changes to your body and changes in the brain are no exception. Our brain needs to be constantly nurtured and fed to bring about its functions. So, just like our muscles, they also need to be boosted to perform their activities.  Find out how to keep your brain strong and healthy so that your older years are full of mental clarity, creativity, and resilience.

Not only this, we’ll also explore the top ingredients shown to boost brain health and how they can help you maintain a sharp mind as you age.

Why is Brain Boosting Necessary in Old Age?

Our brains are the control centers that allow us to navigate the world, learn and grow, and experience the richness of human emotion. Yet, as we grow older, the natural aging process can take a toll, causing our once-sharp cognitive capacities to decline gradually. This is where the brain-boosting nutrients come into play. These substances can also be called nootropics, and they are also termed “smart drugs” or cognition enhancers. they work by nourishing our gray matter with a bounty of targeted vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, we can help protect our mental acuity, preserving the ability to stay focused, solve problems, and continue expanding our knowledge and skills, no matter our age.

Indeed, it is appealing to think that one might just take a pill to enhance one’s cognitive abilities. So it’s no surprise that almost 20% of those over 50 have bought a supplement for their brain.

These nutrients, in addition to meditation and other mindful brain exercises, can be potent aids for preserving mental acuity and memory beyond old age.

Keep in mind that there is a lack of comprehensive research on several brain supplements. Although there is some evidence that some substances may improve brain health and function, it is important to remember that the vast majority of supplements aimed at enhancing mental performance have not been well investigated.

What you do or don’t eat can affect your brain and mental health. 

The Top 8 Nutrients to Boost Brain Health

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While it’s true that leading a healthy lifestyle and eating well are the two most essential things you can do for your brain, there is some evidence that some supplements might assist, too, particularly for those dealing with medical issues, limited diets, or advancing years.

1. Ginkgo biloba

The use of the ginkgo tree’s fan-shaped leaves to cure a wide range of illnesses has been used I traditional Chinese medicine. The high concentration of antioxidants in this extract suggests that it may help protect cells from free radical damage. Ginkgo biloba has been used for a long time to treat headaches and migraines, especially ones that are caused by stress.

According to some research, Ginkgo biloba may also improve cognitive performance in dementia patients. According to an analysis of four studies, Using ginkgo for 22–24 weeks significantly reduced a spectrum of dementia symptoms.

It has also found its use in the reduction of Alzheimer’s as an extract of ginkgo biloba called EGb 761 was clinically useful in treating Alzheimer’s disease in one study. Other studies, also published in JAMA, came to the same conclusion: EGb 761 was safe to use and might help stabilize and possibly improve the cognitive and social functioning of dementia patients for 6 to 12 months.

Ginkgo is accessible in the form of capsules, pills, liquid extracts, and dried leaves for making teas. Dosage recommendations for ginkgo biloba are not yet available. Considerations such as age, sex, and medical history, in addition to the formulation, determine the appropriate dosage. However, research has demonstrated that it is usually safe to take 120 to 160 mg twice a day, 40 mg thrice a day, or 80 mg twice a day.

2. Creatine

Creatine is an amino acid that the brain and muscles produce naturally. It comes to its best performance when metabolic demand is high. While we all know creatine for its muscle maintenance and boosting properties, new evidence shows it may also have beneficial effects on cognitive functioning.

Researchers have shown that oral creatine supplementation improves cognitive capacities like thinking, intellect, and short-term memory.  As per another study review published in the journal Nutrients in 2022, Creatine may help with recovery from mild traumatic brain injury and concussions, alleviate depressive symptoms, enhance cognition, and protect against neurodegenerative illnesses. Not only this, but it also helped to enhance memory performance in the elderly.

According to the ISSN, if you want to use creatine supplements, you should begin with a dosage of about 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight (20 grams for a 150-pound individual) for five to seven days, and then reduce it to 3 to 5 grams per day after that. It is important to adhere to the prescribed quantities, as excess can harm the kidneys and liver.

3. Magnesium

An increased risk of cognitive impairment and dementia has been linked to insufficient magnesium consumption. Another long-term study indicated that the risk of dementia was related to low levels of magnesium in middle age.  This shows that to maintain a healthy brain over time, magnesium supplements are important.

It has been found that for cerebral function, magnesium prevents cell death in the brain. A very large scale of more than 2,500 adults aged 60 and over conducted in 2022 proved that those who got the most magnesium from diet and supplements performed better on cognitive tests than those who got the least.

Magnesium, like other supplements, works best when taken regularly over an extended period of time. In order to keep adverse effects like cramps, nausea, and diarrhea at bay, experts advise not exceeding 350 mg of the supplement daily.

The kidneys remove excess magnesium from the body, so healthy individuals don’t have to worry about consuming too much of it through diet. However, if you take magnesium supplements in large quantities, you may experience gastrointestinal side effects, including nausea, diarrhoea, or even poisoning.

4. Caffeine

Cheers to all coffee lovers! Researchers found that caffeine had a number of positive effects, including improving alertness and well-being, enhancing focus and mood, and lowering the risk of cognitive decline.

According to a 2016 study published in the Practical Neurology journal, caffeine may assist with depressive symptoms, boost focus and mood and make one feel more energized. It’s even linked to a lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or memory loss.

According to experts, one shouldn’t drink more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is about five cups of coffee, based on how strong the coffee is. They also say that one shouldn’t drink more than 200 milligrams at a time. Also, it is best to avoid caffeine 8 hours before bedtime.

5. L-Theanine

L-theanine is an amino acid. Even though there isn’t a lot of study on its benefits, what there is shows that it can help people sleep better, lower reaction time, and do better on short-term memory tasks.

A study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that middle-aged Japanese people who took a single amount of L-theanine had better brain function. In particular, L-theanine improved the speed and accuracy of mental retention. In another study published in the Neuropharmacology journal, researchers found that people who took 100 mg of L-theanine before a two-hour task period were more concentrated on the task assigned than those who got a placebo.

Apart from this, taking L-theanine along with caffeine has been shown to help healthy people focus for a longer duration of time.

Natural sources of the amino acid L-theanine include some mushrooms and both green and black teas.

While there is no fixed recommendation offered for L-theanine, many pieces of research suggest that a daily dosage of 100–250 milligrams of L-theanine is safe. One can get almost 10–30 of them from a cup of green tea.

6. Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Natural nootropic lion’s mane has become as popular as the mushroom itself, which is among the most often used medicinally. The incredible capacity of the mushroom to assist cognitive functioning is the reason for this surge in global interest. Research has shown that lion’s mane supplement users outperformed placebo users in terms of cognitive performance and reduced instances of short-term memory loss.

Start with 250–500 milligrams and work your way up to about 1 gram per day. In the same way that resveratrol may affect blood coagulation, lion’s mane mushrooms can do the same. For certain individuals, it may also induce a rash.

7. Ashwagandha

Traditional Ayurvedic medicine makes use of the herb ashwagandha to alleviate stress and improve memory. New evidence reveals that ashwagandha may enhance brain function.

In an 8-week randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 50 adults with mild cognitive impairment were given either 300 mg of ashwagandha root extract twice daily or a placebo. Impressive improvements in memory, attention, executive function, and processing speed were noted in the Ashwagandha group as compared to the placebo group.

In another 90-day study, healthy adults taking 300 mg of sustained-release ashwagandha extract daily for 90 days improved their memory, focus, psychological well-being, sleep quality, and stress levels compared to the placebo group.

The intake of ashwagandha for 12 weeks at a dosage of 1,000 milligrams is reasonable. The long-term safety of ashwagandha is unknown, and it may cause gastrointestinal distress or, in rare cases, liver issues if taken in excessive quantities. However, it may be used safely in the short term.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) cautions that ashwagandha may interact with certain prescription medications, including:

  • Antidiabetes drugs
  • Antihypertensive (blood pressure) drugs
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Benzodiazepines and other sedative medications
  • Thyroid hormone medications

Because of these possible interactions, it is important to talk to your doctor before using Ashwagandha supplements. They may assist you in finding an appropriate dose and making sure it won’t conflict with any other drugs you’re taking.

Along with this, ashwagandha’s safety for pregnant and nursing women has not been proven. Hence, the National Institutes of Health warns against its use during these times.

8. Phosphatidylserine (PS)

A very well-known nutrient to boost brain health is phosphatidylserine. It is naturally found in the membranes of brain cells and is a phospholipid. Phosphatidylserine (PS) is also present in Soy, salmon, and eggs are some of the foods that naturally contain it. It controls neurotransmitter release and opens important nerve pathways to aid nervous system communication.

Because the amount of phosphatidylserine in your body drops with age, taking this supplement to raise it might help your brain work better. Many researchers have studied the importance of Phosphatidylserine for many neuroprotective effects, such as

  • It may reduce the likelihood of developing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by shielding the brain from harm.
  • PS can enhance cognitive performance by reducing inflammation in the brain.
  • Evidence suggests that PS supplementation improves memory, concentration, and other cognitive functions.  Research, including 131 people who complained of memory problems, found that taking 300 mg of phosphatidylserine daily for 15 weeks considerably enhanced attention and memory when compared to the placebo group.

Another study also boasted the same benefits. The research published in the Korean Journal of Food Science, supplementing with 300 milligrams of phosphatidylserine daily may enhance cognitive performance and memory without adverse effects.

While there is no official PS dosage at this time, research indicates that daily dosages of 300–500 mg are safe and have no negative effects.

Here is the table with the recommended dosages for each nutrient:

Nutrient Recommended Dosage
1. Ginkgo biloba 120 to 160 mg twice a day
2. Creatine 0.3 grams/kg of body weight for 5-7 days, then 3-5 grams/day
3. Magnesium Up to 350 mg/day
4. Caffeine Not more than 400 mg/day, up to 200 mg at a time
5. L-Theanine 100–250 mg/day
6. Lion’s Mane Mushrooms 250–500 mg/day, up to 1 gram/day
7. Ashwagandha 300 mg twice daily or 1,000 mg/day
8. Phosphatidylserine (PS) 300–500 mg/day

Buying Guide for Choosing the Best Supplements for Brain

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The first thing to consider before starting a supplement, it is always the best idea to consult a doctor or nutritionist who is knowledgeable about supplements if you want to take one for brain health.

And for buying, and finding out which supplements might be of superior quality, there are a few things to check for.

  • It is important to get high-quality supplements from a trustworthy source, as supplements are not regulated like medications by the Food and Drug Administration. Supplements should be tested by independent laboratories and have good manufacturing practices (GMP) certification.
  • The strongest evidence for the effectiveness of supplements comes from clinical trials and peer-reviewed studies.  Focus on products that have ingredients that are mentioned above or have been shown in clinical studies to boost brain health.
  • Make sure that the supplement has the right amount of the main active ingredients for therapeutic purposes, as suggested by studies. Don’t go overboard with the dosage, the optimal, the better.
  • Read over any possible drug interactions or safety issues, If you have a medical condition or take some medications.

If you are interested in reading about how these supplements work, we have an insightful article to read.

We all know that we can just reverse time and aging, but we can also take steps to ensure the continued vitality of our body’s most important organ. So, adding the nutrients and supplements that boost brain health into our daily routines is a wonderful approach to guaranteeing our mental, emotional, and intellectual well-being for many years to come.

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Dr Aimen

Being a Doctor by profession, Aimen is passionate about helping people get better health in their lives. Aimen enjoys her research on Prime With Time subjects and strives to create better awareness of the problems and changes related to women's health.
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