Are brain health supplements the secret to keeping your mind forever young?
Or are they just like weight loss pills: placebos promising an easy fix in lieu of healthy dietary and lifestyle changes?
Skyrocketing rates of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are proof that sometimes our brains can’t keep up with our centenarian goals (i.e., to celebrate our 100th birthday).
But scientists say up to 40% of neurodegenerative cases can be delayed if not completely prevented.[*]
Cue brain health supplements. These natural compounds, herbs, vitamins, minerals, and synthetic substances claim to protect our noggins from cognitive decline as we creep toward our golden years.
So let’s explore the science behind the labels to discuss their potential health benefits for your long-term mental wellness.
What are Brain Health Supplements?
Brain health supplements are dietary supplements designed to support cognitive function and provide neuroprotection as we journey through life. Short-term benefits include boosts for our concentration, energy levels, moods, and mental well-being.
According to a recent survey, 25% of adults over 50 take a supplement to support memory, attention, focus, and cognitive health.[*]
But here’s the tricky part: since the FDA doesn’t oversee supplement testing, it’s difficult to know whether these over-the-counter miracle cures actually work.
Like memory supplements, some may contain scientifically-proven brain boosters, while others are a total dud.
So Is It Better To Boost Your Brain Health with a Healthy Diet?
We know diet affects mental health, and anti-inflammatory diets like the keto diet are also fantastic for clearing brain fog. The MIND Diet was even specifically developed with foods for dementia prevention.
So following these eating plans will naturally support the needs of your brain and nervous system as you age.
So What Brain Health Supplements Really Work?
Can’t validate the science behind the latest memory loss preventers or mental clarity supplements to hit the market?
Swap the hype on the label for actual scientific evidence by focusing on the ingredients.
These cognitive health boosters are supported by years of research, clinical trials, and peer-reviewed studies. You can supplement with them directly or get them from whole foods in your diet:
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Your body converts small amounts of plant-based omega-3s (like extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds) into the highly beneficial omega-3s known as EPA and DHA.[*] You’ll find these in fatty fish like tuna, salmon, sardines, and mackerel (and fish oil supplements).
- Maintain cognitive function and prevent mental decline[*][*]
- Lower your risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s[*][*][*]
- Prevent neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s[*][*]
- Repair damaged nerves and neural circuits[*]
Scientists discovered that omega-3s may even reduce the formation and accumulation of amyloid plaques, a marker of Alzheimer’s disease that cause brain cell death.[*]
Sneak more omega-3s in your diet, and you may improve your memory, learning abilities, and overall well-being.[*] Fail to reach your omega-3 goals, and you may suffer from brain fog, depression, anxiety, irritability, and poor concentration.[*]
🌱 Fish not on your menu? Score omega-3-rich flaxseeds in every clean, vegan IQBAR.
2. Lion’s Mane
Adaptogens are active compounds in plants and mushrooms that help us manage stress. Lions’ mane specifically reduces depression, stress, and anxiety.[*][*] This is stellar news since research shows long-term chronic stress speeds up cognitive decline.[*]
Nootropics are natural cognitive enhancers that improve memory, focus, learning, creativity, and mental performance.[*][*] They help boost blood flow to the brain, which delivers more oxygen and nutrients to ignite our cognitive prowess.
When it comes to brain health, lion’s mane and other nootropics:
- Protect brain cells from oxidative damage[*]
- Support the growth and maintenance of new brain cells[*][*]
- Improve mild cognitive impairment[*]
3. Bacopa Monnieri
Magnesium is an essential mineral and key electrolyte involved in over 300 bodily processes — many of which benefit your brain.[*]
Scientists say chronically low magnesium levels increase your risk of cognitive impairment and dementia.[*] But meeting your magnesium goal offers neuroprotection and improved cognitive performance and memory support.[*]
💦 Drink to better brain health and optimal hydration with sugar-free IQMIX! Each packet supercharges your water with 750 mg of Magtein® (and 250 mg of lion’s mane!).
5. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba has been a top player in the brain health game, evolving from a traditional Chinese medicine staple to one of the most popular supplements on the planet.[*]
One meta-analysis of 14 clinical trials showed that Ginkgo biloba increases blood flow in the brain and improves oxidative stress and inflammation biomarkers.[*]
That may be why researchers say this nootropic may improve memory, speed up information processing, and boost cognitive performance.[*] It may even slow cognitive impairment in older adults and people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.[*][*]
The active components in these leaves are anti-inflammatory and mimic antioxidants. So scientists believe they may help prevent or treat neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.[*][*]
Over 90% of Americans do not meet their recommended daily choline intake, and that’s a huge mistake.[*] Your body uses this compound to synthesize the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is linked to your memory, brain power, and better moods.[*]
🧠 Make your life easy (and your brain happy!) by getting your daily choline boost from your favorite IQBAR flavor.
8. B Vitamins
- Vitamin B1 supports nerve and brain function.[*]
- Vitamin B6 helps maintain neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and noradrenaline.[*][*]
- Vitamin B9 lowers the risk of dementia and spinal cord degeneration.[*]
- Vitamin B12 prevents brain atrophy which may contribute to cognitive impairment.[*]
Deficiencies in B vitamins are so harmful to your mental and physical health that experts recommend supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin if you can’t get them from whole food sources like nuts, leafy greens, meat, eggs, or dairy products.[*]
Ashwagandha is a nootropic and adaptogen with a long history in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.[*]
Research shows this stress-reducing herb may improve executive function, attention, information processing speed, and overall mental performance. It may even enhance focus and memory in people with mild cognitive impairment.[*]
10. Green Tea
Green tea is considered one of the best drinks for your mental health and physical wellness. It contains a small amount of caffeine, so many brain health supplements add green tea extract for a quick pick-me-up.
But it’s also loaded with catechins — potent antioxidants that combat oxidative stress to:[*]
- Prevent brain cells from damage
- Delay the decline of healthy brain function
- Inhibit the formation of amyloid plaques
- Delay or prevent neurodegenerative diseases
So How Can I Increase My Brain Power?
Brain health supplements containing these adaptogens, nootropics, vitamins, and nutrients may strengthen and support your intellectual prowess now and well into retirement.
Though they’re considered well-tolerated and free of major side effects, speak with a healthcare professional before supplementing with them, just to be safe.
No magic pill can replace a healthy lifestyle when it comes to long-term neuroprotection. But you can nourish your noggin with gluten-free, brain-boosting IQBAR products — many of which contain several key brain nutrients on this list!
Written by Lauren Ciccarelli, a writer and research geek passionate about low-carb nutrition, mental health, and meditation. Her 2,500+ articles empower doers with science-backed tips for leveled-up living.