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Neurohacking. Biohacking. Performance enhancement. Competitive edge. Call it what you will—most of us would gladly take a brain with faster processing speed, enhanced recall, and improved vocabulary.  

Fortunately for anyone trying to maximize their brain power, the category of nootropics has been getting positive attention, and a lot of research is being done to help find the specific ingredients and nutrients that are most effective at improving mental abilities. Nootropics are substances that protect the brain, enhance its natural abilities, and help to improve mental function, learning, memory, and the longevity of the brain… all without stimulating or depressing the brain artificially. Read on to learn more about potent ingredients that you may want to consider. 

Phosphatidylserine 

The first nootropic ingredient worth considering is phosphatidylserine, which is a phospholipid (a special type of fat) that plays important roles in the brain, particularly in the production and maintenance of cell membranes and in cell cycle signaling. Phosphatidylserine is derived from plant fats and can provide essential support for your brain’s functions. 

Studies and research back its role as a supplement that improves memory, stress, and mood. It can provide memory support for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, improve mood and memory in the elderly population, improve cognitive abilities in healthy adults, decrease chronic stress, and even improve ADHD symptoms. 

Ginkgo Biloba 

Another natural nootropic ingredient that can benefit that brain of yours is ginkgo biloba, which has been used for thousands of years for various medicinal purposes. More recently, extract from the leaves has been shown to have positive effects on various degenerative diseases (including cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and macroangiopathy). It has beneficial antioxidant properties and helps to prevent damage to the mitochondria as well as cell death. It enhances healthy blood flow to the brain, and improves cognition and the speed at which your brain processes different kinds of information, so when you’re having one of those moments where your brain doesn’t seem to be able to keep up with what you’re doing, ginkgo biloba has you covered. 

L-Theanine 

When it comes to brain health, you can’t leave out l-theanine. Studies show that it can have positive effects on cognitive function, verbal fluency, executive function, sleep, anxiety, and depression. It is also shown to improve focus and reaction time while supporting alpha brain waves, giving you that sense of calm alertness we all covet. It has a synergistic effect with caffeine, and using the two ingredients together promotes heightened focus, awareness, and energy without the jitteriness and elevated blood pressure associated with using caffeine on its own. Overall, it’s an excellent choice for people who want to minimize stress and anxiety while improving focus and mental endurance. 

Huperzine A 

Next on the list of brain-boosting ingredients is huperzine A (HupA). This herb-based alkaloid is a cognitive enhancer, and it helps to prevent mental decline by inhibiting a damaging enzyme in the body. This makes acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter essential for learning) more available, which promotes better communication within the brain.  

HupA is also used to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s fight against mental decline. Studies show that HupA serves as a protector of the brain, preventing damage and disease that can worsen mental function, all while supporting memory and concentration. 

Vinpocetine 

Finally, vinpocetine (which was originally sourced from from the seeds of the periwinkle plant) is used to increase blood flow and metabolism in the brain, improving memory and cognitive function. Studies have shown significant improvement in concentration and memory in subjects on vinpocetine therapy. It is often used in patients with dementia or epilepsy to improve brain health, memory, and concentration, and it is an excellent tool to add to your arsenal. 

The Bottom Line 

Whether you’re a college student looking to enhance retention as you study for finals, a 20-something hoping to excel at work, a busy parent hoping to keep track of a household, someone in middle age wanting to retain an edge in the office, or a senior beginning to feel the reality of “Senior Moments, there are nourishing, supportive natural ingredients that can help.  

We’ve all had those days where our brains just can’t seem to keep up with the demands placed on them, and having healthy, natural ingredients to turn to in order to enhance brain function can be a lifesaver. In addition to getting enough sleep, eating well, getting enough exercise, and adopting healthy stress management techniques, you can find formulas with nootropic ingredients here to help boost your brain health when you need it most.