When describing the brain, many psychologists compare it to a computer. One could say that associating one of the most intriguing organs in our body with a machine that sees everything in zeros and ones is not appropriate.
But, when you look closer, you will see that this analogy actually makes sense.
Just like a computer, your brain is an impressively sophisticated, pattern-matching machine. Everything we do and every idea we have comes from our brains. And, to work well, all its elements and wires need to be connected properly. These wires are called neurons and there are 100 billion of them in our brains. These are nerve cells that receive, process, and send the information from one part of the body to another through electrochemical signals.
Most importantly, similarly to a computer, your brain needs to be maintained properly. When loaded with a bunch of complex tasks and processes, your computer starts overheating. And, if you don’t react promptly, it may keep having errors, or even completely shut down. As for a human brain, when it’s too tired, it will let you know. It will cause mental fatigue and exhaustion, heavily affecting your normal, everyday activities.
So, how to prevent a burnout and give your brain a boost it needs? Here are a few groups of energy supplements that may help you.
I. Brain-Boosting Foods
Some say that you are what you eat. That’s true. Everything you eat impacts the structure and function of every cell in your body, from your immune system to your bones. The same goes for your brain. To boost the communication between your brain cells and enable them to regenerate and rebuild faster, you need to mind what you put on your plate.
Here is a brief list of foods that may serve as a fuel for the brain.
1. Red Fruits
Raspberries and other deeply coloured fruits contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that improves hippocampal neurogenesis, preventing age-related cognitive impairment. Some studies conducted so far also highlight that this substance can boost the overall brain function and significantly improve memory.
Red and purple fruits also produce anthocyanins, plant compounds with vital anti-inflammatory and antioxidant characteristics. Gathering in the brain, they enhance the communication between brain cells, improve memory, delay brain aging, and can even prevent short-term memory loss.
Whether you love it or not, broccoli is good for your health. Together with cabbage and cauliflower, it belongs to cruciferous vegetables that contain high concentrations of glycosylates, phenolics, antioxidant vitamins, and various dietary minerals. Broccoli is packed with vitamin K and it produces over 100% of the recommended daily intake of this vital substance. It also has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and can significantly improve the cell cycle.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds serve as amazing natural supplements for energy. They consist of various antioxidants that protect our brain from free radical damage. Most importantly, pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, copper, zinc, and iron, which boost our energy levels and improve our cognitive abilities. On the other hand, failure to consume them may cause numerous memory-related problems. The lack of copper and zinc triggers neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, while the deficiency of iron causes anaemia and brain fog.
4. Oily Fish
Oily fish like salmon or sardines are one of the major sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for cognitive development and maintaining optimal brain function throughout all stages of our lives. Omega-3 fish acids also help with improving reaction time, curing mild memory loss, and reducing the symptoms of depression. They minimize the risk of mental decline, preventing the development of age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s.
5. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a notable source of various brain-boosting substances, like caffeine. It is also rich with flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that accumulate in the areas of the brain used for learning and memory. Researchers claim that flavonoids can be very useful when it comes to boosting memory and preventing age-related cognitive decline. Some link chocolate with significant mood boosts. According to a recent study, people who consumed chocolate were happier than those who ate crackers. As if crackers could even compare to chocolate!
Did you know that consuming nuts can improve your heart and mental health? Nuts are one of the most important sources of healthy fats, antioxidants, and vitamin E, all which serve as powerful brain-boosting components. Vitamin E, for instance, protects brain cell membranes from getting damaged.
Given all these facts, it’s not surprising to hear there is a research which proves that women who eat nuts regularly over several years had a far sharper memory than those who didn’t consume them at all. Moreover, nuts are also an invaluable asset in preventing neurodegenerative diseases.
For more information on awesome brain-boosting foods, take a look at the ultimate list we created.
II. Herbs for Energy and Focus
These herbs have been used for centuries in traditional medicine. Extensive research has been done on all of them to assess their safety and impact on human health. Most of the natural herbs for energy can also have a positive effect on our cognition, here are some of them.
1. Panax Ginseng
This is a traditional Chinese herb, also called the “elixir of life”. For thousands of years, it had been believed to be one of the best herbs for energy and brain health. Even though American ginseng may have outshined it over the past few decades, it is Panax ginseng that improves the quality of life by improving blood flow, sharpening mental clarity, and boosting well-being.
2. Rhodiola Rosea
Also called arctic root or golden root, it is famous for its adaptogenic properties, meaning that it boosts our ability to deal with stress and prevents burnouts. It boosts the levels of “happiness” neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, too. Finally, it has proven to be incredibly effective in improving cognition, subjective well-being, processing accuracy, as well as minimizing depression and mental fatigue.
3. Bacopa Monnieri
Just like artic root, Bacopa Monnieri belongs to the herbs for energy with adaptogenic characteristics. For thousands of years, it has been used in the Ayurvedic medicine as one of the most significant mental enhancers. It can give your brain a boost in several ways:
- It sharpens focus and improves memory.
- It increases brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and Gaba, reducing cortisol (the stress hormone), as a result making us happy.
- It prevents age-related mental decline.
This is one of the most significant herbs in Ayurveda medicine. Ashwagandha is believed to boost energy by enhancing resistance to physical and mental stress. According to some recent studies, this plant significantly reduces the levels of cortisol, levelling our ability to handle mental fatigue, stress, and anxiety. Ashwagandha can also reduce fatigue during a workout. Most importantly, it is one of the safest natural energy supplements, as it has a low risk of side effects.
III. Herbal Supplements for Energy
These are natural components that are either extracted from plants or are synthesized from some naturally occurring substances. Here are a few most significant nootropics that belong to this group.
Recently, we’ve been hearing and reading a lot about the benefits of turmeric and curcumin. Even though these terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they’re not the same. Namely, turmeric is a domesticated plant, with an exotic aroma, which is why it is used as a culinary spice. Curcumin, on the other hand, is the active ingredient of turmeric. It is used in a form of a supplement and is as such a stronger brain booster. Of course, to get the most out of their use, you can combine them through your nutrition and supplementation. Here is how curcumin supplements can give your brain an edge.
- Treating depression. Curcumin improves the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, serving as an organic antidepressant.
- Delaying brain aging. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and can prevent the age-related cognitive problems.
- Boosting brain functions. Research shows that curcumin boosts our attention span, sharpens our focus, and improves working memory.
- Easing stress and anxiety levels.
Are you one of those who cannot start their day without a gigantic cup of coffee in the morning? Then you’ll be happy to hear that it is scientifically proven that this beverage is good for your health. Namely, its major component, caffeine, is a natural stimulant. Apart from eliminating the state of wakefulness and boosting adrenaline and power output, it also serves as a powerful source of energy for the brain.
- It blocks adenosine, a chemical substance that makes you tired and sleepy.
- It boosts neurotransmitters like serotonin that boost our mood.
- It sharpens concentration and reaction time.
- The lifelong consumption of coffee can prevent cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
This powerful brain energy supplement comes from Huperzia serrata, or simply Chinese club moss. It is considered a nootropic because it enhances the levels of acetylcholine and improves the formation of new brain cells. According to the recent research, Huperzine-A can improve memory and learning processes in different stages of our lives, even in people with neurodegenerative diseases.
Phosphatidylserine is one of the major components of our brain cell membranes. There are several sources, but the phosphatidylserine extracted from sunflower lecithin is among the most effective energy supplements. This is a type of phospholipid that regulates the transmission of nutrients in brain cells and the removal of waste products from them. This way, it protects our cells from various dangerous toxins and preserves their health. It can also minimize stress levels, boost working memory and concentration, as well as help with ADHD and related attention problems.
IV. Crucial Energy Supplements You Need to Take
These are the supplements usually missing from our dietary habits and need to be compensated somehow. Otherwise, they may heavily affect both your physical health and mental abilities. We’ve already discussed Omega-3 essential fatty acids in the first section of the article. Apart from it, here are a few top energy supplements that may make or break your brain health.
1. Vitamin B12
The B vitamin complex is critical for the proper functioning of our metabolism. These vitamins transform the food you consume into energy for your cells. And, when it comes to brain health, vitamin B12 is the most important one. It boosts the health of your nerve and blood cells and prevents anaemia. It can be found in various animal proteins, fish, fortified cereal, nutritional yeast, and milk and dairy products.
Nevertheless, a B12 deficiency is very common. It usually appears in older adults, vegans, and those with gastrointestinal diseases. This is why B12 vitamin is added to the numerous energy drinks, brain tonics, and vitamin supplements for energy and cognition. Still, according to a recent research, there is no actual evidence that B12 can boost energy in people who have optimal levels of this vitamin.
It is also referred to as a master mineral, as it impacts more than 600 different metabolic functions. Given this fact, it’s not surprising at all that its deficiency may make you feel exhausted and stressed all the time. Some of the symptoms you may come across are the lack of focus, poor sleep, and leg cramps at night.
To boost magnesium levels, you can start consuming magnesium-rich foods, including:
- whole grains
- leafy greens
If your magnesium deficiency cannot be compensated this way, you can always consider taking a magnesium supplement. Magnesium l-threonate is, for example, involved in more than 300 metabolic processes and is considered one of the most effective supplements for energy and mood.
Iron creates a haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that moves oxygen from the lungs to other organs. By not having the optimal levels of iron, your red blood cells cannot do their job effectively, which leads to numerous health problems such as fatigue, weakness, and anaemia. The deficiency of iron is most commonly a consequence of poor nutrition, especially for vegans (meat is its greatest source). Some other reasons may be pregnancy or blood loss.
This is where adequate iron supplementation can help. When consuming iron-based supplements for energy and focus, you need to be careful, as the excessive iron consumption can lead to numerous health problems. For this reason, we advise you to always consult your doctor first.
Creatine has a fundamental role as our organism’s energy source. Being present in our muscles and brain, this natural substance boosts our power output and gives us the energy needed for short-duration exercises, including short sprints, jumping, or weightlifting. Apart from being one of the best supplements for energy, creatine supplements also improve your cognitive abilities. They can minimize fatigue, as well as improve memory and cognitive abilities in vegetarians.
Over to You
In our fast-paced lives, proper sleep, healthy dietary habits, and workouts are usually not enough to boost our brain function. This is where the nootropics for energy listed here come to shine. Unlike aggressive pharmaceuticals, these naturally-occurring substances serve as powerful brain boosters and will enhance your cognition, focus, and mood in a safe way.
Sure, don’t expect to see the results overnight. The most amazing thing about these natural supplements is that they don’t address just a particular issue you have, but strengthen your metabolism and improve your overall health, too.
To learn more about powerful brain boosters, make sure you check out our latest blog post on memory vitamins and supplements!