It’s natural to go through phases in life where our brains just aren’t as sharp as we’d like. Perhaps you’re a student with an important exam coming up, or you need to put in overtime on a project at work but find your mind wandering.
Maybe you just want to be a little more alert when carrying out day-to-day tasks. The good news is, there are supplements out there to help.
If you’re feeling a bit mentally fuzzy to begin with, navigating the world of brain supplements is simply overwhelming. Luckily, I’ve done the research for you. Read on to learn what to look for in this type of supplement and what are the best brain supplements to focus.
Why Can’t I Focus?
Firstly, let’s look at what we really mean when we say we want to improve brain focus. There are several aspects to cognitive function, as follows:
- Executive functions: Includes ability to reason, problem solve and plan. Attention span also falls into this category.
- Memory: The process by which information is stored and retrieved.
- Creativity: Forming new and valuable ideas.
- Motivation: Desire to behave a certain way and follow through.
In an ideal world, we’d be operating at 100% power on all of these aspects all of the time. If that was the case, the world would be full of Leonardo Da Vincis and Albert Einsteins. Pretty cool, huh? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
There are are many reasons why we feel that we just can’t focus – we become forgetful, our attention span dwindles and we just can’t seem to do anything productive. Reasons include inadequate sleep, distraction, stress, depression and some medical conditions.
What Are Nootropics?
If you’ve started Googling around for brain supplements, chances are you’ve encountered the word “nootropic”. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds like a type of illicit drug! Don’t let the word put you off. While many recreational drugs are considered nootropic, all it really means is “a substance that improves cognitive function”.
So this class doesn’t just apply to the type of “supplements” you’d only buy on a street corner – many brain vitamins, foods and herbals can be nootropic too. You can read more about it here.
When to Take a Brain Supplement
If you’re having major problems with focus to the point where you’re considering supplementation, the first thing to do is get checked out by your doctor. He/she can do bloodworks and other tests to rule out something serious.
Once that’s done, it’s time to look at lifestyle factors such as sleep patterns, diet and mood. If you think all of this is in tip-top shape, or at least the best that it can be at the moment, you can start looking into the best brain supplements to focus. There are quite a few factors to consider – I’ll explain each one individually.
Results won’t be immediate when taking a brain supplement. It can take around 2-3 months to see an effect, unless your product of choice contains an ingredient which I consider cheating – caffeine. This means that if you know you have an exam or project coming up, start taking it well in advance.
How to Choose the Best Brain Supplement to Focus
From ingredients to dosage, there are lots of factors to consider when choosing a brain supplement.
1. Vitamins for Focus
There are many vitamins which promote brain health and focus. The main ones to look out for are vitamin E, vitamin B and folate. Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties protect brain cells. B vitamins improve mood and fatigue. Folate is crucial for mental and emotional health.
2. Herbs for Focus
Plants have long been used for their medicinal properties. Mental performance is no exception. Some herbs commonly used in brain supplements to focus are Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Bacopa Monnieri, Huperzia Serrata, Periwinkle (Vinpocetine), Siberian Ginseng (Eleuthero).
These plants can be quite potent so it’s important to check with a healthcare professional before taking them in a supplement. St. John’s Wort in particular has some serious interactions with prescription medicines, for example, it can render the contraceptive pill ineffective!
Ginseng is not suitable for people with high blood pressure. You definitely need to be careful with these type of supplements.
3. Essential Fatty Acids
Fatty acids, in particular omega-3 fatty acids such as alpha-linoleic acid and DHA will help your brain over the long term. Essential fatty acids “are required for maintenance of optimal health but they can not synthesized by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources”.
They are involved in building brain structure and creation of neurotransmitters.
4. Neurotransmitters and Precursors
The final type of supplement you’ll find in products for focus are neurotransmitters and precursors. Without getting too deep into brain science, neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that facilitate every aspect of brain function.
Examples of ingredients that are either neurotransmitters themselves or facilitate the production of neurotransmitters are GABA, phosphatidyl choline, DMAE, glutamine, dimethylaminoethanol, acetyl-l carnitine and choline.
It’s uncertain whether these type of ingredients have any effect on your brain – or if they can even reach it. It’s very difficult for most nutrients taken orally to penetrate your protective “blood-brain barrier”, many claim that this type of product is simply unable to do so.
This probably seems obvious, but if you’re having trouble focussing, you’re not going to remember to take a supplement four times a day. Look for a product with once daily dosing. Take it in the morning and then forget about it until the next day.
The nootropic effect of dietary supplements for focus can be mild in many cases. If they were super powerful, they’d probably be banned as performance-enhancing drugs, right?
Don’t let this put you off though. Sometimes the mere act of buying a pill and taking it every morning is enough to sharpen your mind. The placebo effect is scientifically proven so if you expect results, you’ll see them.
How to Use Bran Supplements to Focus
The best person to advise you on brain supplements is your pharmacist or doctor. Especially if you have an ongoing health condition or take a prescription medicine, it’s important to make sure that the product you choose is suitable for you.
Along with your supplement, there are lots of other ways to improve focus. This video gives three great ideas to start with.
The clear winner for me is Nootropics Brain Function Booster. It has everything you need in a brain supplement to focus – vitamins, fatty acids, neurotransmitters and herbs. I think covering all bases like this gives you the best chance of a positive result. It also avoids troublesome ingredients like caffeine and St. John’s Wort.
Whatever supplement you choose, I hope you have luck with increasing your ability to focus. Don’t forget to take care of yourself – get lots of rest and take some time out for yourself now and then. If you have any questions about brain supplements, or want to share your experience, please write me a comment – I’d love to hear from you.