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In our digitally connected, fast-paced society, we are prone to multitask, checking Facebook, sending emails and watching TV, all while walking on the treadmill. This overstimulation is a big cause of brain fog with symptoms including pervasive absent-mindedness, muddled thought processes, poor memory recall, difficulty processing information and fatigue.
Research out of Stanford University found that not only is multitasking less productive than doing one thing at a time, but another study in the U.K. also found that multitasking has negative effects on the brain. Researchers at the University of Sussex found that high multitaskers had less brain density in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region responsible for empathy as well as cognitive and emotional control. Even if it doesn’t cause brain damage, multitasking too often will fuel any existing difficulties you have with concentration, organization and attention to detail.
Lack of sleep and stress are also common causes of brain fog. If you’re frantically trying to meet a big deadline at work or school, you know that stress can wreak havoc on your ability to concentrate. Stress also can impair basic functions in the body, including growth, reproduction, energy and metabolism. Considering the hurried lifestyles of our modern world, it is no wonder why people are looking for ways to increase their performance, attention, and energy.
Can Smart Pills Benefit You?
Brain fog is caused by burnout so what can you do to combat this? Enter nootropics, a new kind of supplements designed to clear brain fog and enhance focus. Using supplements to enhance cognitive performance is nothing new though. Majority of us regularly consume massive amounts of caffeine (hello, coffee!) to boost alertness and retention. We even use coffee to boost performance in the gym.
However, coffee drinks are loaded with calories and actually burns your brain fuel off faster. But what if I told you that there was something smarter? These brain vitamins are designed to refuel your brain and enhance performance with long-lasting energy. “Nootropics” means “turning the mind,” and much of these supplements come pre-formulated in stacks (blend of nootropic compounds) for specific functions. Most are intended to stay focused, motivated, and improve memory.
In our fast-paced, multitasking world, these supplements are quickly gaining popularity in place of the coffee cup. Makers of the popular nootropic, OptiMind, offer their customers a subscription service for total convenience. AlternaScript CEO, Lucas Siegel, remarks, “Over 20,000 people across the country take OptiMind daily, including executives, athletes, stay-at-home mothers, students, you name it… They take OptiMind because it gives them long-lasting energy and is full of brain vitamins.”
Sustained energy is something everyone could benefit from but how do you know if it’s right for you? Many supplements work great for some but do nothing for others. That's why Lucas Siegel at AlternaScript sets his product apart by offering a free trial for people to test OptiMind’s effectiveness. He explains, “Everyone’s brain is wired differently, so…we actually take a loss in order to let people try it for free, which I think is really important.”
Just like supplementing with creatine and protein won’t turn you into Nicole Wilkins overnight, nootropics aren’t going to make you an instant genius. They do, however, boost your existing performance in terms of clarity, motivation and memory. Unlike coffee, nootropics are designed to give you energy without the jitteriness or crash.
In fact, countless nootropic fans use their supplements to get “in the zone” for maximizing workouts. One trainer out of Philadelphia recommends OptiMind to his clients before workout sessions. Meanwhile, adventure athlete, JJ Yosh credits the nootropic for giving him motivation in a time where he had none.
How Do They Work?
Nootropics work by altering availability of the brain’s supply of neurotransmitters, hormones, and enzymes. Some ingredients stimulate nerve growth for increased neural connections while others are vitamins for brain health and function. Pre-formulated stacks tend to have the most success though because they’re designed with complimenting ingredients.
While there are different types of nootropics, the ones that contain the following ingredients help get more energy, heighten motivation and improve concentration to amplify cognition.
Your body can combat stress through the release of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that prevents over-excitement to maintain focus. Other supplements, like L-Theanine, benefit your brain’s health by increasing GABA production.
Vinpocetine benefits the brain by improving blood flow through dilating blood vessels. Essentially, increases brain oxygenation and glucose utilization, making it a powerful memory enhancer. As mental strain increases, so too does the brain’s demand for energy in the form of oxygen and glucose. A lack of oxygen can cause muscle fatigue and poor performance.
Huperzine A is thought to be beneficial for problems with memory, loss of mental abilities (dementia) and the muscular disorder myasthenia gravis because it causes an increase in the levels of acetylcholine, which is one of the chemicals that our nerves use to communicate in the brain, muscles and other areas. Huperzine A may also benefit the mind with increased lucid dreaming.
Choline is a chemical precursor, or “building block,” of acetylcholine, a crucial neurotransmitter vital to nerve and muscle function. Research suggests that acetylcholine metabolism in the brain boosts memory, intelligence and mood.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble nutrient that helps support adrenal function, helps calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and is necessary for key metabolic processes. It plays a role in the biosynthesis of five neurotransmitters: dopamine, epinephrine, serotonin, norepinephrine and GABA. Some research has shown that B6 supplementation can improve memory loss.
Vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin with a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, and for blood formation. It is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the body, with a particularly significant role in DNA synthesis and regulation as well as fatty-acid synthesis and energy production.
Nootropics are still relatively new, but in recent years, they’ve gained popularity as people are constantly looking for ways to reach beyond their maximum mental potential. Many researchers claim that these brain vitamins are not only beneficial to enhance cognitive function, but they also can include other health benefits. Whether it’s for a career, workout, or lifestyle, countless people seem to be using nootropics for their advantage.
Written by The Oxygen Team for Oxygen Magazine and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.