Nootropics are a class of supplements that help increase cognitive performance and support brain health.[i]
The term ‘nootropic’ was coined in the 1970s by Romanian scientist Corneliu Giurgea. It originated from combining the Greek words for ‘mind’ and ‘bending.’
Today there are more than 80 different substances classified as nootropics. These include specific vitamins, herbs, phospholipids, choline sources, and amino acids.
Benefits of Nootropics
Nootropics can support our brain in many ways, with a growing body of research demonstrating their benefit in fending off age-related cognitive decline. Key cognitive benefits include:
- Memory and learning: Nootropics can impact on various aspects of memory, improving memory recall, and our ability to learn and process new information.
- Focus and motivation: Nootropics can enhance our attention, improving focus, motivation, and productivity.
- Stress resilience: Nootropics can help improve our resilience to both mental and physical stress, enabling us to perform at our best in stressful situations. Nootropics may also help reduce nervous energy and help us better deal with our anxieties.
- Mood and creativity: Nootropics can support our mental wellbeing, helping to balance our mood and promote mental states of creativity.
How Nootropics Work
Nootropics work in a variety of ways to improve our brain health and cognitive performance. These mechanisms can include:
- Brain regeneration: Nootropics can help promote neurogenesis; the process in which new brain cells (neurons) are created. Some nootropics can also help boost neurotrophic factors such as BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), which help support the survival of our existing neurons and promote the growth of new neurons and synapses. Supporting neuronal and synapse health can help improve our brain plasticity, which impacts learning ability and how we engage with new experiences.
- Brain blood supply: Nootropics can help increase blood flow to and throughout our brain by dilating blood vessels and improving circulation of oxygen, glucose, and other vital neuro-nutrients.
- Brain energy: The brain consumes approximately 20 percent of our body’s energy. Brain fog and mental fatigue can occur if the brain isn’t getting enough energy. Consistently low brain energy is linked to cognitive decline and brain degeneration. Nootropics can support cellular energy production by improving our mitochondrial efficiency, the powerhouses of our brain cells.
- Neurochemical modulation: Neurotransmitters send chemical messages between neurons. Effective cell-to-cell communication is critical to a highly optimized brain, with imbalances impacting our health. Nootropics are known to modulate neurotransmitter levels in our brain, such as serotonin, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters play a vital role in sleep, mood, motivation, memory, learning, and focus.
- Brain protection: Nootropics can help reduce brain inflammation and oxidative stress by increasing antioxidant activity and eliminating neurotoxins. Some nootropics have even been shown to help fight the formation of irregular protein clusters called amyloids, associated with degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
- Brain waves: We have five brain wave frequencies that correspond to different mental states. Some nootropics can modulate our brain waves to achieve specific states of mind to better suit a task.
Why Nootropics are so Important
The modern lifestyle, characterized by an increasingly competitive and 24/7 globalized marketplace, and high demand to always be at our best, means optimizing cognitive performance and mental wellbeing is more critical today than ever before.
The workforce of tomorrow will principally be focussed on intellectual and creative activities, a trend already visible today, as many jobs traditionally associated with manual labor are automated through technological advancement. Nootropics may help us rewire our minds, allowing us to tap into our creativity and thrive in the marketplace of tomorrow.
Many of our lives revolve around digital connectivity. While this offers many benefits, there is now an onslaught of external stimuli competing for our attention, with evidence of growing social isolation. Research has shown this ‘always-on’ state of mind is associated with increased levels of stress, anxiety, and mood-related disorders. Nootropics may help us better deal with this new age of connectivity by promoting focus, supporting mental wellbeing, and improving stress resilience.
As we grow older, we face an increased risk of cognitive decline, and of developing neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Neurodegenerative disorders are characterized by the breaking down of neurons responsible for mental function and movement. Genetic and environmental factors are considered the cause of most neurodegenerative disorders, but there is growing research to suggest that these conditions can be prevented. Nootropics, in conjunction with other nutritional and lifestyle interventions, represent an exciting possibility in helping to prevent the continued rise of these conditions. Many nootropics have already been clinically shown to help prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Bacopa Monnieri – BacoMind®
Some of the most effective and widely researched nootropics are herbs, roots, and plants. One such example is Bacopa monnieri, a herb traditionally used to boost memory and cognitive performance in Ayurvedic medicine.
BacoMind® is a unique, clinically validated, premium extract of Bacopa monnieri. It has been shown to significantly improve cognition, such as memory function and focus, in both younger and older age groups.
Ashwagandha – KSM-66®
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, is another herbal nootropic. Ashwagandha is the flagship herb of traditional Ayurvedic medicine, traditionally used as an adaptogen to help the body better adapt to stress both physically and mentally.
KSM-66® is a premium branded extract form of Ashwagandha, produced using proprietary green chemistry and supported by extensive clinical studies. KSM-66® contains the highest concentration of active constituents of all major Ashwagandha root extracts available on the market today. KSM-66® is a powerful nootropic, shown to help repair damaged brain cell synapses caused by chronic stress, and boost memory through modulation of the vital neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Phosphatidylserine – Sharp PS®
The phospholipid, phosphatidylserine (PS), is arguably the most evidence-backed nootropic for supporting cognition and brain health currently available. Numerous clinical studies, especially on premium branded material Sharp PS®, have demonstrated its ability to improve memory, concentration, learning, and vocabulary in just six weeks. Results have been replicated across multiple age groups spanning from children to older adults with age-associated memory impairment.
Phosphatidylserine is a major structural component of all our cells, with the highest concentrations found in our brains. It is essential for the healthy formation and function of our brain cell membranes and myelin, as well as supporting cell-to-cell communications and synaptic neurotransmission of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, serotonin, and dopamine.
For our central nervous system to function properly, it requires a good supply of amino acids, sourced from the protein foods we ingest. Amino acids, such as tyrosine, are used by our brain to synthesize various neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.
Tyrosine is a precursor to thyroid hormones and is also used to synthesize the catecholamine neurotransmitters, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Dopamine plays a crucial role in your brain’s reward system and is associated with movement, motivation, mood, memory, and healthy cognition.
B vitamins are a group of organic compounds essential for normal physiological functioning. B vitamins are crucial co-factors in many metabolic processes and are necessary for the conversion of food into cellular ATP energy and in the synthesis of key neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, serotonin, and dopamine.
Vitamin B12 – Methylcobalamin
Vitamin B12 plays a crucial role in helping to maintain proper neurological structure and function, as well as supporting brain energy metabolism and reducing homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine is a recognized biomarker associated with an increased risk of certain neurodegenerative disorders. Methylcobalamin is a superior bio-activated form of vitamin B12, allowing for immediate utilization in the body, and the ability to bypass absorption issues extending from common genetic mutations.
Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is critical for focus, learning, energy, and memory. Thiamine is a component of the enzyme Thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP), a vital molecule for proper nerve cell function, neurotransmission, and conduction. Vitamin B1 also assists with the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, can boost focus, memory, learning, and help reduce brain fog. It is required by our bodies to synthesize the hugely important coenzyme-A (CoA). CoA converts choline into neurotransmitter acetylcholine, associated with learning, memory, and focus.
Folate (Vitamin B9) – Quatrefolic®
Common genetic mutations to our MTHFR gene can interfere with our body’s ability to convert food sourced folate into its biologically active state, resulting in folate deficiency. Folate deficiency is a recognized factor in cognitive decline and is associated with an increased risk of neurodegenerative and mood disorders. Research shows a prevalence of folate deficiency in older populations.
Quatrefolic® is the most advanced bio-activated and stable form of folate available on the market, capable of bypassing any absorption issues extending from MTHFR genetic mutations. It achieves superior bioavailability over dietary folate, common supplement form folic acid and the bio-active calcium salt form of 5-MTFH known as Metafolin.
Sharpen Your Mind, Maximize Your Potential
If you’re looking to sharpen your mind, and maximize your potential, myBrainCo.’s research-backed nootropic SHARP MIND, features all the above-mentioned powerful ingredients, at a clinically-validated therapeutic dose.
[i] Lanni C., Lenzken S. C., Pascale A., et al. Cognition enhancers between treating and doping the mind. Pharmacological Research. 2008;57(3):196–213. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2008.02.004.
[ii] Kessler J., Thiel A., Karbe H., Heiss W. D. Piracetam improves activated blood flow and facilitates rehabilitation of poststroke aphasic patients. Stroke. 2000;31(9):2112–2116. doi: 10.1161/01.STR.31.9.2112.