Maintaining and optimising brain health is essential for overall well-being and cognitive function. Leading a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, adequate sleep, and a balanced diet is essential for optimal brain health. On top of these key lifestyle choices, brain supplements can also provide support to cognitive function. In this blog, we'll explore the effectiveness of brain supplements, who should take them, which supplements, and vitamins are best for the brain, and other ways to support brain health.
Brain Supplements: Do They Work?
The effectiveness of brain supplements is a controversial topic, and research has shown mixed results. Some studies have suggested that certain supplements and vitamins can improve cognitive function and support brain health, while others have found no significant benefits. Therefore, it is important to do your research and seek guidance from a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.
Who Should Take Brain Supplements?
While brain supplements are not necessary for everyone, certain individuals may benefit from taking them. Older adults, students or those looking to enhance brain performance, individuals with a nutrient deficiency, and those with cognitive decline may see the benefit of brain supplements.
Which Supplements and Vitamins are Best for the Brain?
Several supplements and vitamins have been shown to improve cognitive function and support brain health. Here are some of the most effective ones:
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health and the benefits of omega-3 are numerous. Studies have shown omega-3 supplementation can improve cognitive function, memory, and mood. Omega-3 is a key component of brain cells, in particular the specific omega 3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). A study found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids improved memory and reaction time in healthy young adults . Omega-3 for the brain has also shown particular importance in the brain development of the foetus during pregnancy and of breastfed children.
- Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 is essential for brain function and has been linked to cognitive decline when there is a deficiency present as shown in blood results. A study showed a vitamin B12 deficiency was associated with neurocognitive disorders . A review of several studies also showed that supplementing with vitamin B12 can help reduce brain cell degeneration (3).
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important for overall health and has been shown to play a role in cognitive function. Interestingly, a study in over 12,000 people found that vitamin D exposure was associated with a 40% reduction in the chance of developing dementia compared to no vitamin D exposure. . Vitamin D daily supplementation is also recommended by several health authorities including the department of health in the UK. It is of particular importance in low light countries, vitamin D is synthesised by the body in the presence of UV light. Vitamin D3 is considered the most well absorbed form of vitamin D.
- Ginkgo Biloba: Ginkgo biloba is an herbal supplement that has been shown to improve cognitive function and memory in healthy individuals and those with cognitive decline . Ginkgo Biloba is thought to work by increasing blood flow to the brain.
- Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can improve cognitive function, mood, and alertness. A study found that caffeine consumption improved cognitive performance and mood in healthy adults .
Other Ways to Support Brain Health
While brain supplements have shown evidence to support brain health, they are not the only way to improve cognitive function. A healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet including specific foods for the brain, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management is imperative for maintaining good brain health. Regular exercise has been linked to improved brain function, as it can increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, promote the growth of new brain cells, and protect against age-related cognitive decline [7, 8]. It is recommended to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day.
Getting enough sleep is also essential for brain health. Sleep is crucial for consolidating memories, repairing brain cells, and clearing out toxins that can build up in the brain during waking hours [9, 10].
It is recommended to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Managing stress is another important aspect of maintaining good brain health. Chronic stress has been linked to cognitive decline, depression, and anxiety . Some effective stress-reducing techniques include meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and spending time in nature.