With the constant distractions of daily life and our never-ending to-do lists, it’s no wonder we’re all looking for ways to boost our brains. While diet and lifestyle are clearly vital on this front, there’s a growing body of evidence that supplements may also play a role. Today, we’ve rounded up our top four picks, based on the latest science. If you’re looking for ways to keep your brain in tip top shape, they may be worth a look.
Omega-3, a type of unsaturated fatty acid, comes with a host of health benefits—one of which is keeping your mind sharp. Why do we believe this? Because higher levels of omega-3 in the blood have been linked to a higher volume of gray matter in the brain1, the region where mental processing happens. More gray matter means more capacity for executive functions, the more complex tasks your brain carries out day to day (like reading this blog!). Surprisingly—and despite the plethora of Chia seed pudding recipes on the internet—68% of adults aren’t getting enough of this essential nutrient.2 Smarten up your diet by eating fish, nuts or seed oils like flax. If fish and nuts aren’t your thing, a supplement can help fill the gaps.
As you age, it gets harder for your brain to store and recall memories. Ginkgo, a plant that has long been used for its anti-aging properties, may help combat this natural decline by supporting concentration, working memory and executive functioning.3 It’s thought to do this in two ways: by boosting blood flow to your brain and by acting as an antioxidant, combatting free radicals that can damage your brain cells. If you’re shopping for a Ginkgo supplement, look for Ginkgo Biloba extract as the main ingredient.
Probiotics are typically associated with gut health, but certain strains might play a role in your mental health as well. As your brain ages, your neuropathways decline. To put it in non-sciencey terms: Learning new things gets harder. Probiotics might help you resist this process4. But before you start scarfing down kimchi and kombucha, make sure you’re eating the right thing. Different strains of probiotics have different benefits—and only some support mental functioning. Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 is one that shows promise, but more research is needed. So stay tuned!
Phosphatidlyserine (PS) is an ingredient that’s as brainy as it sounds. It’s a type of fatty acid that occurs naturally in your brain cells, and is associated with cognitive function. You can find PS in foods like soy and chicken liver, but your body may not absorb it well. Since PS supplements are easier for your body to process, they may do more to support your memory and fend of age-related cognitive decline5.
Allie has a master’s in nutrition science from Framingham State University. She has worked as a Health Educator and Personal Trainer, and has a passion for helping people lead happier, healthier lives.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
This information is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. Do not use the information from this article for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing medication or other treatment. Always speak with your physician or other healthcare professional before taking any medication or nutritional, herbal, or homeopathic supplement, or using any treatment for a health problem. If you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, contact your health care provider promptly. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking professional advice because of something you have read in this article.