Nootropics is the latest buzzword on the health scene, but what are they? Harley Street nutritionist Kim Pearson explains…
Nootropics can be natural supplements or synthetic drugs that support brain health and function. Natural nootropics, which include herbs, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, have effects on the brain that support cognitive function.
While these nutrients occur naturally in day-to-day foods, it is now possible to enhance various brain functions by supplementing specific nootropics in higher doses.
The most common reason many people take nootropics is to boost a specific area of the brain, such as increased alertness, memory, mood, motivation or general cognitive function.
Each of these areas require our mental state to be altered in a different way, so it’s important to understand which natural nootropic can support us and how.
As well as focusing on increasing your dietary intake of certain nutrients, it is also worth considering a supplement to provide therapeutic doses.
If you struggle with mental alertness, consider vitamin B12. B12 is involved in energy production and supplementing can help reduce tiredness and fatigue.
As B12 is a vitamin that is difficult to absorb in our gut, supplementing might be a good idea if you often feel tired, or have difficulty focusing.
Curcumin is the compound behind turmeric’s health benefits. It has been used in India for its anti-inflammatory properties for decades.
Alongside its physical benefits, are many mental benefits too. It enhances neurogenesis – the production of new nervous system cells – for example. Curcumin is also a powerful anti-inflammatory shown to help prevent brain inflammation.
Turmeric is poorly absorbed through traditional digestive routes, however, so it needs to be taken in a form that’s easily absorbed by the body – such as a spray.
If you kick start your day with a strong cup of coffee, you’re already dabbling in nootropics. Caffeine enhances alertness and has been shown to boost memory and cognition.
Increasing sympathetic nerve activity, caffeine enhances dopamine signalling in the brain, contributing to the stimulant effect experienced when consuming it.
But while there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good quality coffee in the morning, it’s worth make sure you’re getting all the energy you need from a healthy, balanced diet and not relying solely on caffeine.
This ancient medicinal herb is classified as an adaptogen because it can help your body manage stress, as well as enhancing concentration and focus.
Studies have shown that ashwagandha supplementation can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol by an average of 30%.
Ultimately, these brain-boosting nutrients can help to improve cognitive performance when taken alongside a healthy and balanced diet. A holistic view is important when looking at any aspect of our physical and mental health, so seek advice if you are unsure about your nutritional intakes.
Give your brain boost
Here are three of our favourite natural nootropics…
London Nootropics Adaptogenic Coffee Blends
They do good and taste good too. Shop here
Neubria Shine Nootropic Multivitamins
A great supplement for boosting your mood and overall brain power. Shop here
Nature’s Way Ashwagandha
Perfect for fighting anxiety and stress. Shop here