We spend a lot of time talking about keeping our physical health in check, but brain health and function is important, too. A healthy brain allows us to learn and remember, communicate, solve problems, and make decisions.
The brain, however, may start showing cognitive decline as early as your 20s. For this reason, practicing standard healthy behaviors — like eating a balanced diet, getting regular physical activity, and not smoking — are key to maintaining your brain health.
But what about supplements?
Many people swear by them to boost their cognitive abilities — after all, ancient cultures have been using herbs like gingko biloba to prevent brain decline for centuries.
Despite this, there’s little to no definitive research that proves supplements have a direct effect on brain health.
If, however, you’re feeling like your brain could use a little TLC and you’re still interested in giving supplements a try, you’re in luck. We’ve rounded up a number of supplements that claim to boost brain health and function.
As with any new supplement or medication, talk to your doctor if you have any concerns before starting something new.
- Suggested benefit: Mental performance and brain health
- Price: $89 first shipment, $119 thereafter
Qualia Mind claims to support mental performance and brain health, helping you to focus, have more energy, mental clarity, memory, and creativity. Instructions are to take seven capsules with water first thing in the morning before eating, or, if this upsets your stomach, take with breakfast. This supplement was designed for regular use with cycling: five days on and two days off each week. This process is meant to maximize the benefits while preventing desensitization. You can find it here.
Banyan Botanicals: Focus
- Suggested benefit: Mental support specifically for focus
- Price: $12.99
This liquid supplement is an herbal blend of brahmi (gotu kola) leaf, bacopa herb, and gingko. Focus liquid extract is touted as promoting calmness and concentrated mental activity and awareness, and supporting cognitive function during stressful situations. Put 30 drops into water and take one to three times daily — or as directed by your health practitioner — to focus “without the jitters.” You can find it here.
Four Sigmatic Reishi Elixir
- Suggested benefit: Healthy sleep cycles
- Price: $38 for a one-time purchase
This tea — which contains 1,500 milligrams of reishi mushroom — is said to promote a good night’s sleep. The Ganoderma lucidum family of fungus, to which the reishi belongs, has been recommended as a suggested cure for insomnia in some cultures for more than 2,000 years. Take one packet of Four Sigmatic Reishi Mushroom Elixir Mix before bed, mix with hot water and add nut milk or sweetener if your taste prefers, and prepare to zen. The company says that while it’s slightly bitter, it doesn’t taste like mushrooms. You can buy it here.
Nature’s Answer: American Ginseng
- Suggested benefit: Energy and healthy cognitive function
- Price: $20.99
This American Ginseng liquid supplement by Nature’s Answer is gluten- and alcohol-free. Ginseng may help fight fatigue and promote energy. It may even be helpful in reducing the risk of certain cancers. According to the manufacturer, take 28-56 drops in water three times daily. You can buy it here.
Moon Juice: SuperYou
- Suggested benefit: Daily stress management
- Price: $49
SuperYou is an herbal supplement by Moon Juice made of ingredients like Shatavari root extract, and Ashwagandha root and leaf extract. This product suggests it can help your body cope with stress, reduce physical, mental, and emotional fatigue, boost energy and mood, preserve collagen, and control stress-related weight gain. The suggested serving size is two capsules a day. You can buy it here.
Gaia Herbs Eleuthero Root
- Suggested benefit: Stress relief
- Price: $13.99
This liquid extract is made from harvested Eleuthero root, which is said to help enhance the body’s natural ability to adapt to stress, while supporting mental endurance and metabolic efficiency. According to Gaia Herbs, you should take 30 to 40 drops in a small amount of water, three times daily between meals for maximum benefit. You can buy it here.
Nordic Naturals Omega-3
- Suggested benefit: Heart and brain health
- Price: $15.26
Made from 100 percent wild-caught sardines and anchovies with a lemon taste, these Nordic Naturals omega-3 softgel capsules make for a good option for those looking to add fish oil to their diets. Omega-3 fats are integral to cell function. These fats have been shown to help prevent a number of conditions, including heart disease and stroke, and may help control lupus, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis. Take two capsules daily with food for the best results. You can buy it here.
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Nicole Davis is a Boston-based writer, ACE-certified personal trainer, and health enthusiast who works to help women live stronger, healthier, happier lives. Her philosophy is to embrace your curves and create your fit — whatever that may be! She was featured in Oxygen magazine’s “Future of Fitness” in the June 2016 issue. Follow her on Instagram.