Supplement Guide for Memory, Focus and Cognition
When it comes to our health, we most often think about our physical health. We think about how we look, how our bodies feel, what we weigh, etc. However, something that is equally important but often overlooked is our mental health and wellbeing! The reality is that our mental state of mind, ability to focus and the health of our memory can have a profound affect on our overall wellbeing.
Two of the most important aspects when it comes to our mind is our ability to focus, and our ability to retain memory. Unlike our physical health, it can be difficult to know how to improve the health of our mind. It’s not like we can just go to the gym and train our brains for a few hours. At the same time, our mental health is very important and we owe it to ourselves to do what we can. Luckily, there are some things we can do to improve memory and focus. One thing to start taking good supplements for focus and memory.
What Are Brain Supplements?
There is a whole category of health supplements that are designed to improve focus, memory, and cognitive function. This category includes a broad range of products, ranging from herbal supplements to amino acids to vitamins and minerals – and beyond. In this guide, we’ll go over the best supplements for cognition and let you know they can help you.
There are many good supplements in this category, and each tends to target a different aspect of mental health. We’ll be focusing on the best supplements for memory and focus, but we’ll also cover general good supplements for brain power and cognition. This guide will serve as an overview of your various options.
How Can Supplements Help Your Memory and Focus?
Just like fitness supplements can help your body stay fit, good supplements for cognition can help keep your mind fit and healthy. Some aim to provide vitamins and nutrients that are essential for proper brain health, while others provide herbal ingredients designed to increase brain power. Each supplement works in a slightly different way, which we’ll explain in detail in this guide. Some benefits of this class of supplements include:
- Improved focus
- Improved memory
- Slowed age-related cognitive decreases
- Protection against cell damage
- Reduced risk of dementia, alzheimer’s and other conditions
- Increased productivity
- Improved mood and mental state
- Increased bloodflow to the brain
- Better brain health
- Better overall health
There are some normal nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are important for the health of our minds. So, naturally, some good supplements for brain power simply provide these vital nutrients. Some examples include vitamin E, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are naturally absorbed through the diet (and from sunlight, in the case of vitamin D), but we often do not get enough of them for optimal brain health.
Other effective supplements for brain power include herbal blends and health products such as nootropics. Some examples include ginkgo biloba, choline and nootropic blends. These products take a unique approach, aiming to use the brain power-boosting properties of various herbal and natural ingredients to increase our ability to focus and maintain good memory.
Why Should You Take Mental Boosting Supplements?
There are various reasons why you may want to take top supplements for memory and focus. Perhaps you’re a student who needs a helping hand in studying for that final. Maybe you’re a busy professional, trying to juggle the responsibilities of your job and home life. Or maybe you’re worried about your brain function’s natural tendency to slow down over time. Here are some of the main reasons you may want to consider taking good supplements for cognition:
They can increase your focus – the best supplements for focus can help improve your natural ability to focus and be productive. Being able to focus intently on the matter at hand – whatever that matter may be – is a very important ability to have. With the ability to focus well, we are able to fully devote our attention to a single project or task – which leads to better productivity and often to more free time.
They can increase your productivity – top supplements for focus can also help to improve your productivity, allowing you to work smarter! Increased productivity can improve your work life as well as your home life, and can have a significant impact on your overall success and happiness in life.
They can improve your memory – memory naturally slows over time, making it harder for older folks to recall specific events, names and other important information. There are no magic pills that can give you perfect memory, but there are various effective supplements for memory that can help support brain health and function, allowing you to maintain good memory health for longer. This can prove to be especially useful later in life.
They can reduce the risk of depression and improve your mood – some good supplements for brain power can also help to improve your mood, and even reduce the risk of depression. Take vitamin D, for example. Vitamin D has been shown to have a positive impact on depression in some patients, and is particularly effective for reducing the effects of seasonal affective disorder, a condition that is prevalent in winter time.
They can help lead to happier, healthier lives – the importance of a healthy mind is something that is often underestimated. While our physical health is obviously important, our mental health is equally so. By improving focus and productivity, we are able to have a better work life. By improving memory and cognition, we are able to better enjoy and recall all our defining experiences. By allowing our brains to function at their optimal levels, we are better able to fully experience and enjoy life.
10 Most Effective Memory and Focus Boosting Supplements
Now that you know more about these products, it’s time to learn about the best supplements for brain power! Each of these products offer unique benefits, which you can learn more about in detail in the guide below.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics are a class of supplements designed to boost cognitive function. This is a broad category of supplements that can contain stimulants such as caffeine, herbal blends, and other brain-boosting ingredients. Their main goal is to improve your brain’s ability to focus by enhancing cognitive function and awareness. Nootropics are widely considered to be some of the best supplements for cognition.
How Nootropics Help Your Mind
Nootropics are designed to be overall brain-boosters. They can sharpen memory, increase focus, improve motivation, and much more. The benefits vary from product to product and person to person, but generally you can expect to experience the following nootropics benefits:
- Enhances cognitive function
- Improves memory
- Sharpens focus
- Increases productivity
- Helps keep mindstate positive and balanced
- Supports optimal brain health
- Improves ability to problem solve
- Improves learning ability
- Slows age-related cognitive decline
- The best supplement for focus
Nootropics are generally blends of several ingredients. Some common ingredients include rhodiola, which helps to reduce brain fog, caffeine, which sharpens focus and energy, L-carnitine, which helps prevent age-related cognitive decline, and more. By using a blend of useful ingredients, the best nootropics are able to produce impressive results.
How to Take Nootropics
Nootropics come in pill/capsule form, so it’s easy enough to fit them into your supplement routine. Because of the properties of some commonly included ingredients, it’s important to take no more than the recommended amount. Taking larger doses than recommended can result in unwanted side effects.
It’s also a good idea to check the product you’re using for caffeine content. Caffeine is an excellent brain-booster, but it does cause trouble sleeping if it’s taken in the evening or late afternoon. Be aware of the caffeine content of the nootropic you choose, and if it does contain caffeine, avoid taking it at night.
Nootropics Side Effects
Nootropics do sometimes cause side effects, although it really varies from person to person, as well as from product to product depending on which one you choose. Nootropics that contain caffeine can cause caffeine-related side effects, such as jitteriness, trouble sleeping, etc. Some ingredients included in these products can cause gastrointestinal issues and/or headaches for some people, although these effects are rare.
Go To: Top 10 Nootropic Supplements
2.) Acetyl L-Carnitine
What is Acetyl L-Carnitine?
Acetyl L-Carnitine is a naturally derived supplement that is made from the amino acid L-Carnitine, which is a popular athletic supplement. Acetyl L-Carnitine, also known as ALCAR, has been shown in clinical trials to have significant benefits to brain health. It can help improve mental energy levels, while also slowing age-related cognitive decline. This supplement is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, which allows it to deliver helpful nutrients directly to the brain.
How Acetyl L-Carnitine Helps Your Mind
As a modified version of L-Carnitine, Acetyl L-Carnitine is highly bioavailable and absorbs easily. In the body, it works as an antioxidant, helping to prevent cell damage – particularly in brain cells. Since Acetyl L-Carnitine is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, these benefits extend directly to the brain. This supplement can help slow the affects of aging on the brain, keeping us sharp and focused. Here are some of the key benefits of Acetyl L-Carnitine:
- Improves mental energy levels
- Reduces age-related cognitive decline
- Prevents cell damage
- Improves alertness
- Prevents mental fatigue
- Increases mitochondrial energy production
- Improves focus
- Provides antioxidant protection
- May help to improve circulation
Since Acetyl L-Carnitine can also help to improve mitochondrial energy levels, many take it as a way to boost brain power and focus. It has been proven to be quite effective for these benefits. In fact, Acetyl L-Carnitine is one of the most effective supplements for cognition, focus, and memory. It’s a powerful overall brain-booster, although the one downside is that it doesn’t appear to have any positive effects on your mood.
How to Take Acetyl L-Carnitine
Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR) comes in capsule form, and should be taken with food when possible (although this is not strictly necessary). Dosages range from 500-1000mg typically, and it is typically safe to take several doses throughout the day.
Acetyl L-Carnitine Side Effects
Although side effects are relatively rare, some people have reported stomach issues (nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, etc.), as well as headaches and difficulty sleeping. If you notice any side effects, try lowering your dosage and/or taking your dose with a meal.
What is Choline?
Choline is a common micronutrient that is found naturally in some foods that contain certain fats. Choline is structurally and functionally similar to B-vitamins, and it offers many similar benefits. Primarily, choline is important for brain development, supporting brain function, and regulating energy metabolism. Choline is one of the best supplements for brain power.
How Choline Helps Your Mind
In the stages of fetal development and early childhood, choline plays an important role in brain development. During the early stages of life, choline helps in the normal development of brain tissues, and some studies have lead researchers to believe that the nutrient is also beneficial for the ongoing health of our brains. Here are some benefits of choline:
- Helps with brain development
- Helps with brain maintenance
- Important for cellular function
- Used by hundreds of processes in the body
- Improves memory function
- Improves brain function
- Fights brain fog
- Supports healthy cognitive function
Choline may not be a supplement that you’ve heard of before, but it’s definitely one of the good supplements for cognition that we recommend. Several studies have been conducted proving the key link between choline and brain health. Choline is also included in many nootropic and brain support blends, as well as available on its own in separate supplements.
How to Take Choline
Choline typically comes in capsule form, typically offering around 500mg per serving. It’s best to take the supplement with food, although this is not strictly necessary. If you’re pregnant, you should speak to your doctor before beginning any new supplement, including choline.
Choline Side Effects
The most common side effect of choline is headache. This is typically caused by taking large doses at once, so if you notice a headache after taking this product, consider lowering your dose or taking two smaller doses throughout the day. Other than that, choline does not generally cause many side effects, although there are some concerns with long-term use.
4.) Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
What Are Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Omega 3 fatty acids are a class of natural fats that can have profound health benefits. They are found in various foods and supplements, but the best sources include fish (and fish oil), and certain seeds, such as flaxseed (and flaxseed oil). These fats are important for the proper function of our body, and are therefore considered essential fats. Omega 3’s have beneficial effects on our muscles, skin, hair and more, but they can also have significant benefits in regards to the health of our minds.
How Omega 3 Fatty Acids Help Your Mind
Omega 3 fatty acid supplements, including fish oil and other forms, are good supplements for memory, for cell regeneration, and for general brain health. They help to build brain cell membranes, promote new brain cell formation, reduce inflammation, and much more. They can also help improve your mood, and support memory. Here are some key benefits of omega 3 fatty acids:
- Help reduce inflammation
- Helps reduce the effects of “brain fog” and lack of focus
- Improves ability to focus
- Improves memory function
- Helps prevent depression
- Increases brain volume
- Slows the effects of neurological aging
- Contributes to brain development and maintenance
- Helps prevent cognitive decline and alzheimer’s disease
- Especially important for pregnant women
- Supports overall health
Omega-3 fatty acids have many positive effects on the brain. They are one of the top supplements for memory, and can also be effective supplements for focus. Plus, they are also a great overall health booster with a wide range of benefits. With few side effects, there is little reason not to take omega-3’s, unless you eat a lot of fish naturally in your diet.
How to Take Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements come in a variety of forms. The most popular are fish oil and flaxseed oil. Fish oil is perhaps the best source, but flaxseed and other forms are useful as well. Typically these supplements come in capsule form, so they are easy to take. You’ll want to take your dose with food to increase absorption. Beyond that, simply follow the written instructions on the product you’re using.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Side Effects
The side effects are typically mild, but they depend on the form of supplement you take. Since fish oil is the most common, we’ll focus on fish oil side effects. These supplements can cause various gastrointestinal issues for some folks, such as nausea and diarrhea. Additionally, some people report fishy breath after taking a dose. These effects can be reduced or eliminated by taking the supplement with food. You can also try freezing the capsules to prevent fishy breath/aftertaste.
Go To: Top 10 Fish Oil Supplements
5.) Vitamin E
What is Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a common vitamin that consists of a class of 8 molecules, which are divided into the tocopherol and tocotrienol categories. Your multivitamin likely contains vitamin E, although probably in small doses. You can also obtain vitamin E through certain foods, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, etc. Vitamin E supplementation can have a number of benefits, ranging from immune support to slowed age-related cognitive decline. It’s important to note that most of vitamin E’s benefits come from preventing a vitamin E deficiency – so, in other words, if you already get enough of this vitamin, you may not notice much effect from adding a vitamin E supplement to your diet.
How Vitamin E Helps Your Mind
Vitamin E has antioxidant properties, which means that it can help your body’s cells defend themselves from damage caused by free radicals. This applies to most cells in the body, including brain cells. This is part of the reason that vitamin E can help prevent cognitive decline in the elderly. Here are some of the main benefits of vitamin E:
- Helps prevent age-related cognitive decline
- Prevents vitamin E deficiency
- Antioxidant properties
- Helps protect cells from damage
- Supports immune health
- Supports the brain
- One of the more effective supplements for memory
As mentioned, most of vitamin E’s effects are already enjoyed by many people, excepting those with a vitamin E deficiency. Vitamin E deficiencies are fairly common in developing countries, but less so in developed countries. There is evidence to suggest that a vitamin E deficiency can damage brain health, and conversely, fixing that deficiency can help support brain health. With that said, if you eat a balanced diet and take a multivitamin, you are unlikely to have a vitamin E deficiency.
How to Take Vitamin E
Vitamin E comes in capsule form, and should be taken with food. Adequate levels of vitamin E in your body can be maintained through very low daily intakes, so many people will get enough from their diet alone. If you suspect you may be deficient, doses of around 400 I.U. (268 mg) are typical.
Vitamin E Side Effects
Common vitamin E side effects include headache, nausea, tired feeling and mild rash. Serious side effects are rare, but some people have reported issues.
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are a class of substance that help prevent cell damage in the body and mind. There are many substances and supplements that fall into the antioxidant category, including vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, selenium and more. You can get a good amount of antioxidants from your diet if you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, but antioxidant supplements can also be very beneficial to your health.
How Antioxidants Help Your Mind
Antioxidants protect from damage caused by free radicals. Essentially, this means that they help keep the cells in your body healthy and whole. As we age, our cells become damaged – and this includes brain cells. Antioxidants can help slow this damage down, helping our brains stay sharper, faster, and healthier. Here are some main benefits of antioxidants:
- Prevents cell damage
- Fights free radicals
- Helps keep cells healthy
- Supports brain health
- Slows age-related cognitive decline
- Supports better memory, focus and cognition
- Prevents oxidative stress
- Supports overall health
- One of the top supplements for focus and memory
Antioxidants can be beneficial to overall health, not just brain health. And although you likely get some from your diet, chances are you’re not getting optimal amounts. Consider adding an antioxidant supplement to your diet for improved brain health and cognitive function!
How to Take Antioxidants
Antioxidants are available in various shapes and sizes. In foods, the best sources are fruits and vegetables. In supplement form, you’ll find products that consist of a blend of antioxidants, as well as individual ingredients such as vitamin E. If you go the supplement route, follow the dosage instructions on the product you’re using.
Antioxidant Side Effects
Since antioxidants are a class of products and not a specific substance, it’s difficult to tell you specific side effects. It’s possible to have negative reactions to specific ingredients found in antioxidant supplements – if you’re curious, speak with your doctor.
7.) Ginkgo Biloba
What is Ginkgo Biloba?
Ginkgo biloba is a species of tree, originally found in Asia. In fact, it’s the oldest living tree species on earth! Ginkgo biloba is also a very popular supplement, particularly so here in the U.S. and in Europe. It’s often toted as one of the strong supplements for memory that can help keep your mind sharp and your memories rich. In supplement form, ginkgo biloba comes from an extract made primarily from the leaves of the tree. It’s packed full of flavonoids and terpenoids, which are both powerful antioxidants. It’s one of the best supplements for memory, and can also have some great positive effects on your overall health.
How Ginkgo Biloba Helps Your Mind
As mentioned, ginkgo biloba is packed with antioxidants which help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. In addition, there is significant evidence to suggest that ginkgo can help strengthen our memories (although some studies have shown conflicting results). Here are some of the main benefits of ginkgo biloba:
- Powerful antioxidant properties
- Prevents cell damage
- Strengthens memory
- Reduces age-related memory decline
- Improves blood flow
- May be useful for fighting dementia and alzheimer’s
- May improve mood
- May be useful for treating ADHD
- One of the top supplements for memory
Most studies on ginkgo biloba’s effects on memory health have been conducted on patients with dementia, and overall have produced impressive results. For healthy individuals, the effects are more disputed, with many studies showing that ginkgo improves memory function even in healthy people, with others stating that it has no effect. Regardless, ginkgo biloba is a good supplement for focus and memory, and is safe to take for most people.
How to Take Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba typically comes in capsule form, and is usually just the powdered herb inside a capsule. It can be taken with or without food, but it tends to absorb better with a meal. If preferred, you can also brew a tea by emptying the capsule into hot water and stirring. Typically, ginkgo biloba supplements offer around 120mg per serving. This amount can be taken 1-3 times per day, as needed.
Ginkgo Biloba Side Effects
Being a natural plant extract, ginkgo biloba generally does not cause side effects so long as it’s taken as directed. With that said, some people have reported headache, dizziness, stomach issues and other minor side effects.
8.) Vitamin D
What is Vitamin D?
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is often called “the sunshine vitamin” because it is primarily gained through direct exposure to sunlight. Our bodies cannot make vitamin D, so we must absorb it through our diet and through exposure to sunlight. Because we get a large percentage of our vitamin D from sun exposure, it’s easy to become vitamin D deficient in the winter time, especially for people who live in colder climates. Vitamin D is widely known for its ability to support bone health, but there is also evidence to suggest that it may be helpful for improving brain function.
How Vitamin D Helps Your Mind
Vitamin D is one of the 24 micronutrients that are critical for human survival. It plays many roles in the body, including strengthening bones, supporting the immune system, and increasing cognition. Many people do not get enough vitamin D, particularly in winter time when sun exposure is low. Here are some of the benefits of vitamin D:
- Improves brain function
- Increases cognitive power
- Supports the immune system
- Prevents vitamin D deficiency
- May help to prevent/treat dementia and alzheimer’s
- Supports bone health and strength
- May help prevent depression and seasonal affective disorder
- One of the top supplements for focus and cognition
Several recent studies which have looked at vitamin D levels in patients compared to their cognitive function have shown that generally higher levels of vitamin D equate to higher cognitive function. These preliminary results are quite promising, but vitamin D still needs to undergo more clinical research before we can definitively say that adding a vitamin D supplement to your diet will increase your cognitive function. With that said, if you are deficient of vitamin D, adding a supplement will certainly help.
How to Take Vitamin D
Vitamin D comes in capsule form, and generally should be taken with a meal (and ideally a source of fat, such as fish oil). Some vitamin D supplements come pre-mixed in fatty oils, such as olive oil or fish oil. If this is the case, taking it with a meal is not necessary, but still generally recommended. Doses typically hover around the 4,000 IU level, which is technically the upper safe limit for the vitamin. So, it’s unwise to take more than one dose per day, unless otherwise instructed by a medical professional.
Vitamin D Side Effects
In most people, the recommended dose of vitamin D will not cause side effects. There are some potential interactions with medications to be aware of. If you take too much, you may experience side effects like fatigue, sleepiness, dry mouth, headache, and stomach issues.
Go To: Top 10 Vitamin D Supplements
9.) Huperzine A
What is Huperzine A?
Huperzine A is a compound that comes from the Huperziceae family of herbs. It’s extracted from the raw plant material and put in capsules for the supplement form. Huperzine A is considered a nootropic, and has shown impressive potential in preventing age-related cognitive decline. It’s being studied for its potential ability to treat alzheimer’s, and it’s regularly regarded as an effective supplement for brain power.
How Huperzine A Helps Your Mind
Huperzine A is a acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, which essentially means that it helps to prevent enzymatic breakdown of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is often referred to as a “learning neurotransmitter”, because it is intimately involved in the way the human mind learns and grows. Here are some benefits of Huperzine A:
- Prevents breakdown of acetylcholine
- Increases acetylcholine
- Increases “learning neurotransmitter” levels
- Improves ability to learn and remember
- Sharpens focus
- Powerful nootropic
- Safe to take
- Useful for long-term brain health
- May be useful for treating alzheimer’s disease
- One of the top supplements for cognition
Basically, this compound helps maintain optimal levels of acetylcholine in your brain, which in turn leads to better cognitive function. More research needs to be conducted on this compound, but initial research has shown very positive results.
How to Take Huperzine A
Huperzine A comes in capsule form. The typical dosage is somewhere between 50mcg and 200mcg. In clinical trials, these dosages have been proven both effective and safe. The supplement can be taken with or without food.
Huperzine A Side Effects
Huperzine A causes side effects in some people, such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, etc. However, most people do not experience any side effects, so long as proper dosage limits are respected. Speak with your doctor before taking this supplement if you are currently taking cholinergic/anticholinergic drugs, or acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
10.) Vitamin B-12
What is Vitamin B-12?
Vitamin B-12 is one of the several B-vitamins that can be beneficial for healthy brain function. The vitamin is important for energy production, red blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, and more. In healthy individuals, B-12 may not do much to boost brain function; however, in those with B-12 deficiency, the effects can be substantial.
How Vitamin B-12 Helps Your Mind
Vitamin B-12 is unique in that it won’t necessarily help you improve focus or memory if you’re already healthy, but if you have a B-12 deficiency, you can greatly benefit from adding a B-12 supplement. Here are some benefits of B-12:
- Helps prevent vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Helps prevent brain fog and memory loss
- Improves energy production
- Improves focus and memory
- Important for DNA synthesis
- Improves overall health
B-12 deficiency is quite common, affecting up to 40% of the U.S. population. The effects of B-12 deficiency are no laughing matter, with brain fog, memory loss, anxiety, depression, loss of appetite and more being reported. If you do have a B-12 deficiency, you can significantly reduce these effects of brain fog by adding a B-12 vitamin supplement to your diet.
How to Take Vitamin B-12
B-12 supplements typically come in pill/capsule form, and are very easy to take. 500mcg is a typical dosage, although this varies. You can take B-12 with or without food.
Vitamin B-12 Side Effects
While most people won’t notice any side effects from these vitamins, some people have reported headache, itching, swelling and other related issues.
Now that you’ve read all about the best supplements for focus and memory, we hope you feel more knowledgeable about your options. If you’re ready to make a purchase, we recommend trying one of our recommended products. You may want to try multiple products for best results, although this is not strictly necessary.
Finally, we’d like to recommend that you explore the rest of this site. We have detailed guides on almost every type of supplement out there. If you’re curious about any other health products, chances are we have the information you’re looking for!