Supplements For Brain Fog

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Do you have any supplements for brain fog?

What are the best supplements for brain fog?  What is brain fog, anyway?  Wait a minute, what did I just ask you?  Well, I will remember to tell you about the excellent supplements that may help get some sunshine into your noggin, but first let's get a sense about what brain fog suggests about our cognitive capabilities.

Most people from time to time experience some form of brain fog.  But 'brain fog' isn't a technical or medical term.  At least I didn't think it was an officially recognized term.  A quick search on WebMD presented eight articles that address brain fog, mostly associated with specific illnesses like lupus, MS, menopause, cancer, chronic pain, and chronic fatigue.  However, they do offer this statement as a sort of disclaimer:


"Brain fog" isn't a medical condition. It's a term used for certain symptoms that can affect your ability to think. You may feel confused or disorganized or find it hard to focus or put your thoughts into words." [1]


Another medical site, called SteadyMD, offers this explanation:


"Brain fog may not be a medical condition but its symptoms can prevent you from concentrating, recalling memories, and can lead to mental fatigue…It's when you have fuzzy thinking or feel like you're unable to feel sharp in your thoughts anymore…Brain fog is the inability to have a sharp focus…you're unable to think clearly." [2]


Out of curiosity, I decided to dig deeper into the scientific hierarchy.  I searched for 'brain fog' on the PubMed site and found nothing.  Okay, so it's a colloquial term.  Medical doctors have to communicate with patients who are everyday people, who use everyday language to describe what's going on with them.  Patients don't communicate in medical or scientific terms.  To their credit, WebMD and SteadyMD have embraced some common terminology here for the benefit of everyday people, like us.

Why Do I Have Brain Fog?

Brain fog is a breakdown in our cognitive abilities, caused by a variety of health issues.  If and when we experience brain fog, it's probably time to pay a visit to our health professional to find out what is causing it.  Fortunately, In addition to seeking professional help, we can also address the issue with dietary supplementation.  As you'll soon see, ProHealth Longevity has a collection of products formulated to support brain health.

Ask your health professional what caused your brain fog in the first place.

Food supplements that enhance cognitive function are known as nootropics.  Nootropics can include herbs, vitamins, amino acids, foods, and other biological molecules.  Products in this category are offered either as a single ingredient, or formulated into combinations of ingredients.  There is also a group of pharmaceutical drugs which fall under the nootropic classification.

There has been a good bit of research done on natural nootropics, and their safety and efficacy has been well-documented [3] [4] .  You can find links to a sampling of this research at the end of this article.

So, what are the best supplements for brain fog?  Let's take a look at some of these nootropics.

Nootropic Supplements for Brain Fog

There are ten nootropic supplements worthy of your attention that could help clear away the fog.

1. NMN -  A good place to start is with the anti-aging and NAD precursor, NMN (Nicotinamide mononucleotide).  Purchase-verified customer reviews of NMN on Amazon contain many testimonials to the cognitive benefits associated with using NMN.   In fact, one out of three (positive reviewers) reported benefits which they described as enhanced clarity, focus, mood, memory, cognitive abilities, and alertness.  Eighty percent of reviewers reported experiencing increased energy, but their description of this energy experience was a smooth experience, which combined mental and physical energy together, unlike the typical, jittery energy boosts attributed to stimulants like coffee (caffeine).

Scientific research conducted on NMN supports the brain fog-busting properties reported by users.  One study demonstrated that NMN helped repair blood vessels in the brain and improved circulation and cerebral blood supply [5] .  Another study of aged mice demonstrated NMN's ability to improve brain neuron activity and blood circulation, resulting in improved memory and physical (gait) coordination [6] . 

A review study documented the role of NAD, and its precursors (NMN), to the improvement of several age-associated physiological break-downs associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington diseases, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS disease) [7] .  Other studies reported similar findings, including NMN and NAD's ability to repair DNA associated with cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative disorders [8] [9] .

2.  NAD+ - Another good choice for boosting NAD levels is to take NAD+ powder sublingually.

3. Krill Oil - A krill is a small crustacean that feeds on plankton.  Krill oil contains DHA (docosahexanoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) which are omega-3 fatty acids that are building blocks of the brain.  One study reported on krill oil's ability to activate cognitive function in elderly subjects [10] .

4.  GABA - GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a neurotransmitter that blocks erratic impulses between nerve cells in the brain, and is used for its calming and relaxing effect, especially during times of stress.  One study demonstrated its ability to enhance focus and concentration, especially within rapidly changing time frames [11] .

5. Glutathione - Glutathione protects against brain cell oxidation and oxidative stress associated with aging and neurodegeneration.   Cysteine, a precursor to glutathione, is found in milk and other dairy products.  One PubMed study reviewed the practical aspects involved in glutathione supplementation [12] .

6. Methyl B12 - Methylcobalamin is a form of vitamin B12 found in the brain.  One research study looked at the importance of B12 in psychiatry [13] . Another study looked at methyl-B12's role in protecting against neurodegeneration and cognitive decline [14] .

7. Selenium - Selenium is an element, known for its powerful anti-oxidant properties.  Oxidative stress in the brain has been linked to neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.  Selenium is found in a variety of foods, especially Brazil nuts, where it appears in a fairly high concentration.  One research study used Brazil nuts as a source of selenium to demonstrate selenium's beneficial effects on cognitive function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment [15] .

8.  Phosphatidyl Serine - Phosphatidyl serine is a type of fat compound, called a phospholipid, found in the brain.  One study of healthy adults who took a phosphatidyl serine supplement of up to 400 mg per day, reported results of improved thinking skills and memory [16] .  Another study of older people with mild memory complaints, showed significant improvement after phosphatidyl serine supplementation [17] .

9.  Alpha GPC ( (Glycerylphosphorycholine) - Alpha GPC is a compound found in many food sources.  It is an excellent supplemental source of choline, a vital brain chemical.  Alpha GPC is generally considered an effective nootropic, appearing to slow the rate of cognitive decline in the elderly, including patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease [18] .  It is also favored by athletes and bodybuilders, who use it in pre-workout formulas for increased focus and for strength enhancement [19] .

10. Choline - Choline is an important chemical produced by the human brain.  It is classified as a nootropic and psychostimulant when used as a dietary supplement.  When Japanese researchers discovered its role in brain physiology, its biochemical formula was identified and subsequently reproduced as a pharmaceutical.  In Europe, it is still available only as a prescribed drug.  Here in the U.S., it has been cleared by the FDA to be sold as a food supplement due to its safety.  Choline, when used as a natural supplement, is often combined with cytidine, and known as citicoline, or CDP choline.  In Europe and Japan it is prescribed for:
 
A.     Alzheimer's Disease
B.     Vascular-associated Dementia
C.    Bi-Polar Disorder
D.    Cocaine Addiction
E.     Glaucoma
F.     Vision loss related to the optic nerve
G.    As a memory booster
H.    Parkinson's Disease
I.       ADHD (attention deficit disorder)
J.      "Lazy-Eye Syndrome"

One research study supports the 'neuroprotective' activity of citicoline, saying that it 'appears to be a promising agent to improve cognitive impairment, especially of vascular origin…with the ability to promote "safe" neuroprotection' [20] .  Another study reported on citicoline's role in improving cognitive ability in Alzheimer's patients [21] .

Herbal Supplements for Brain Fog

In addition to the above list of ten 'brain fog' supplements, there are also some excellent herbal supplements for brain fog as well.

1. Ginkgo Biloba - The leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree have for centuries been widely associated with their brain-boosting qualities, both in India's Ayurvedic medical system, and in traditional Chinese Medicine.  Ginkgo biloba has been clinically studied for many conditions including dementia, peripheral vascular disease, claudication, cerebral insufficiency, tinnitus, memory impairment, ischemic stroke, asthma, and vertigo.  The PubMed database includes over four-thousand references to Ginkgo [22] .

The leaves of the Ginkgo biloba tree have long been associated with enhanced cognition

One study showed it to be effective in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit disorder) [23] . Another study documented its anti-psychotic properties [24] .  In controlled studies, Ginkgo biloba extract was found to be effective in the treatment of behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) [25] .

2. Curcumin - Curcumin is a phytochemical (polyphenol) found in turmeric, a primary component of curry, a mainstay of the Indian diet.  Curcumin has long been recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, which is supported by scientific research [26] [27] .

Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, a component of curry. 

It has been shown to target multiple signaling molecules while also working at the cellular level, which helps account for its many health benefits [28] . It has been shown to benefit metabolic syndrome [28] , and pain [29] . In addition, it has been shown to benefit the kidneys [30] . While there appear to be many therapeutic benefits to supplementation with curcumin, most of these benefits are believed to be due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects [31,32] .

A recent controlled study, conducted by U.C.L.A. researchers, published online Jan. 19, 2019, in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, demonstrates curcumin's memory-boosting ability in healthy older adults, and its ability to protect against age-related neurodegenerative disorders (dementia). [33]

3. Ashwagandha - Ashwagandha is an 'adaptogen', meaning that it facilitates a person's ability to adapt to stress and the ups and downs of everyday life.  Here in the West, we might refer to ashwagandha as a 'tonic', because it affords a broad spectrum of health benefits, including the homeostasis of physiological systems and the stabilization of physiological processes.  Ashwagandha is one of the most studied herbs with over two thousand references to it listed in the PubMed PMC database [34] .

Ashwagandha lowers cortisol, the hormone secreted during times of stress.

Its cognitive benefits have been well-documented, including one study showing it lowering levels of cortisol, the hormone secreted during times of stress [36] .  Other studies have shown ashwagandha to improve cognitive function, to be bioprotective of brain cells exposed to HIV and Alzheimer's, and protective against neurodegeneration [37] [38] [39] .

Ashwagandha's primary active components include saponins and the lactones withanolides and withaferins.  The Sitoindosides and acyl steryl glucosides in Ashwagandha are anti-stress agents [35] .

4. Bacopa monnieri - Bacopa has recently been referred to as the new 'smart pill'.  But there isn't anything new about Bacopa.  Indians have been using this remarkable herb for thousands of years.  Bacopa monnieri is an important component in Ayurveda, India's traditional medical system.  The earliest descriptions of Bacopa are found in some sixth century C.E. texts, which claim the herb's ability to sharpen the intellect and to boost cognitive abilities.  It was allegedly used by ancient Vedic scholars to help them memorize lengthy passages of scriptures and hymns.  It has been traditionally given to Indian school children to promote alertness and learning ability.

Bacopa monnieri was used for centuries by Vedic scholars to help memorize lengthy scriptures.

Like Ashwagandha, Bacopa affords an array of cognitive health benefits, which include:

  • Brain (cognitive) enhancement - Human studies on adults over 60 have demonstrated improved speed of processing information, learning rate, and enhanced memory compared to placebo [40] .  Animal studies have shown improved learning and information retention, and an increase in the length and branching in dendrites, nerve cells closely linked to learning and memory [41] . Two human studies found that bacopa significantly reduced depression and anxiety compared to placebo [42] .  Another study showed a lowering the body's stress hormone cortisol.

  • Antioxidant - Bacopa contains bacosides, saponins which have been shown to neutralize free radicals.  The damage caused by free radicals in the brain has been linked to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders [43] .

Conquering Brain Fog with Supplementation

Nature has provided us with a plethora of natural, effective, beneficial substances to enhance our brain and its processes.  If we experience brain fog, we should seek a professional opinion regarding its cause.  We can also supplement our dietary intake with an array of effective products to help keep our brains healthy and strong, and thereby, hopefully avoid that trip to the doctor in the first place.

This article has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  Its purpose is to provide information and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Show references

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