Cognitive Enhancers and Brain Supplements
Cognitive Enhancers and Brain Supplements
Being smart is usually the key to success in almost any aspect of life. But while it is true that genetic factors affect the quality of the brains, there are also substances that can empower the brains to perform well. Cognitive enhancers and brain supplements are said to make a person who does not have smart parents to become mentally acute.
Cognitive enhancers are substances that improve mental functions such as memory, concentration, attention, cognition, and intelligence. Brain boosters or nootropics belong to the category of cognitive enhancers. On the other hand, cognitive enhancers may not necessarily be a nootropic.
The word nootropic was derived from the Greek word nous, which means mind, and trepein, which means to bend. Nootropics supplements are also known as smart drugs, memory enhancers, and intelligence boosters. These are available over the counter and may be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Brain boosters have very few side effects and extremely low toxicity, and therefore are safe for consumption.
How Do Cognitive Enhancers Work?
The ability of the brains declines steadily with age. It can also be impaired by unhealthy lifestyle, drinking too much alcohol, stress, and lack of sleep. Cognitive enhancers, particularly nootropics, help restore the normal brain function through the following:
- Regulating the availability of neurotransmitters. The brain is an integral part of the nervous system. It consists of billions of cells, the neurons and glial cells that connect to each other and spread electricity among each other. This spread of electricity is facilitated by chemicals called neurotransmitters. Cognitive enhancers are able to affect the levels of neurotransmitters that are essential for memory and alertness.
- Improving the supply of oxygen in the brain. The brain consumes more than 20 percent of the total oxygen used by the body. More oxygen is consumed during studying and sustained concentration. In order to continue to function effectively, your brain must have enough levels of oxygen delivered through your bloodstream. Cognitive enhancers work by increasing the supply of oxygen in the brain. Cognitive enhancers increase blood flow to the brain, resulting in the transport of more oxygen to the brain. This results in improved learning and study habits.
- Enhancing neural connections. When neurons connect to one another, they allow the brain to function better. There are nootropics that can directly facilitate synaptogenesis, which is the formation of neural pathways and connections within the central nervous system. Synaptogenesis occurs naturally and is believed to be almost entirely responsible for learning and reinforcement of skills and memories.
- Treat neural degeneration. Cognitive enhancers affect brain function by preventing or even reversing damage to neurons. These substances promote metabolism in the brain tissues. Nootropics contain active amino acids and peptides that regulate intracellular exchange and improve synaptic transmissions. These also help protect the neurons from the effects of hypoxia and toxins. Mental conditions such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s are also prevented.
Types of Cognitive Enhancers
There are several types of cognitive enhancers, and these are either naturally synthesized by the body or absorbed from foods. Cognitive enhancer supplements may also be prescribed for immediate results. Below are the most popular varieties of cognitive enhancers. These are some of the best nootropic supplements on the market.
- Piracetam. A smart drug that helps stimulate the central nervous system. Piracetam works by increasing communication between the two hemispheres of the brain, and increasing activity of the corpus callosum. Expected result is improved learning and creativity.
- L-Alpha GPC. L-Alpha Glycerylphosphorylcholine or simply L-Alpha GPC triggers the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurochemical that enables learning and memory. The two primary sources of L-Alpha GPC are milk and soy. This substance promotes mental clarity. It is also believed that L-Alpha GPC helps fight against dementia, senility, and other brain disorders.
- L-Huperzine. This is a natural plant alkaloid which has been proven to boost memory, learning, and concentration. L-huperzine helps raise the level of acetylcholine, strengthen the brain receptors, and stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor.
- L-Theanine. This is an amino acid found in the leaves of the tea plant. The primary effect of L-theanine is increased alertness. L-theanine helps fuel the alpha waves in the brain responsible for alertness.
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine. This is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body. It is used to treat several types of mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s, age-related memory loss, concentration problems, and poor circulation in the brain. A single dose of acetyl l-carnitine by IV can result in short-term improvements in blood flow in the brain.
- Vinpocetine. Vinpocetine is an extract from the seeds of the periwinkle plant, a common evergreen ground cover. It is a derivative of the alkaloid vincamine. Vinpocetine is found to improve cerebral circulation, memory, and other brain functions. A powerful memory enhancer, vinpocetine promotes cerebral metabolism and improves blood flow in the brain. Vinpocetine works by causing mild dilation of the blood vessels, thereby allowing for increased cerebral blood flow.
- Hydergine. Hydergine is a cognitive enhancer derived from rye. It has the ability to improve peripheral circulation and cerebral function. Hydergine is an effective treatment for senile dementias. Hydergine can also increase blood flow and oxygen levels in the brain. It boosts metabolism of brain cells and increases the volume of mitochondria for more energy.
- Vitamin B. This refers to all known essential water-soluble vitamins except for vitamin C. Thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, folic acid, pyridoxine, and cobalamins are all included in the Vitamin B group. Vitamin B helps improve brain function, and in the synthesis of neurochemicals. It also allows the body to convert carbohydrates into glucose, which is the primary source of energy by the brain.
- Lecithin. Lecithin is the generic term for a group of fatty substances occurring in animal and plant tissues such as phosphoric acid, glycerol, choline, and phospholipids. Lecithin produces the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which allows communication and transmission of signals among brain cells. It is speculated that an increase in lecithin will induce brain cells to produce more acetylcholine, thus improving memory.
- Fish oil. Fish oil is obtained from the tissue of fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids that are good for mental health. Research shows that fish oil can help improve memory and concentration, and is also effective in treating bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenia.
- Alpha lipoic acid. It is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in the body. Alpha lipoic acid can cross the blood-brain barrier, and pass easily into the brain. Because it is a potent antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid helps protect the brain and nerve tissue by preventing free radical damage.
- 5-HTP. 5-Hydroxytryptophan is a chemical produced in the body from the amino acid tryptophan. 5-HTP is converted into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for producing positive emotions. It is used by the brain to transfer nerve impulses form one neuron to another.
- CoQ10. Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone or coenzyme Q, is an enzyme produced naturally in the body, and is found in every cell. According to studies, an increased level of CoQ10 in the body helps increase levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps in the transmission of signals in the brain and other vital areas. It is also suggested that CoQ10 can help protect the neurons from free radical damages.