In my last post, I mentioned that I have been taking a brain supplement along with my Optimum Nutrition fish oil. I no longer take that fish oil, but I have still been using the brain supplements. For reference, and I will probably do a review on this later on when I have sufficient results to report, those focus-enhancing pills are Neuro Clarity. I have heard of many brands before, but I was able to receive this one for free in exchange for my feedback. I still have yet to review the product on Amazon like I promised, but then again I also haven’t used it long enough to truly review it.
What are “brain supplements”?
Well, they could be as broad as you imagine, since there are many pills that do different things. In this specific scenario, I am talking only about natural or herbal supplements that:
- Support mental clarity and reduces brain fog
- Helps with concentration and cognitive function
- Helps with memory recovery
- Work over the long term
These 4 are the basics I am looking for in nootropics, which is just another smart word for cognitive enhancers. I also want to emphasize the last point on that list, which is that they work over the long term. There are certain brain drugs that you can take that are designed to boost your brain power immediately. I don’t believe those are safe, since they work almost immediately and are probably made of highly unnatural ingredients. Brain supplements, on the other hand, use natural ingredients that your body produces on its own, just more of it. I am not saying that these are completely natural for you, but so far there have been zero side effects, and that I can attribute to the fact that I do not consider these “drugs” in the way that they completely change how you function. I call them “supplements” because they enhance your brain, not change it.
Brain supplementation contents
Again, I have been fairly vocal about looking closely at the stuff I put in my body. I did it for my glucosamine supply and I did it for my current fish oil supply. I may trust the safety guidelines and regulations, but I still find examining every bit of the ingredient list to be an important part of my responsibility as a consumer. So I looked through the ingredient list prior to purchasing, and went to Examine.com for each of them. I vouch for Examine because it is an easy way for me to find out what exactly a certain ingredient does, where it originates from, and what doses of it are typically taken for maximum effect and safety. For easiness of our readers, I have compiled some of the results for one Neuro Clarity capsule specifically below.
St. John’s Wort: 250mg
The first mentioned ingredient was St. John’s Wort. I couldn’t find anything on Examine so naturally I hit up Google for a search. A quick overview showed that the ingredient was used most commonly to treat depression. It is a natural herb and is typically consumed as herbal powder. Don’t cite me on this, but I do think I see some of it in the capsule of Neuro Clarity, since you can open that sucker up and the insides is mostly powder-looking.
Glutamine is one (of 20) of the natural amino acids your body produces. You usually see it most in those amino acids products from GNC and other workout-related sellers. Since glutamine is an amino acid, you would see its contents commonly in whey protein and casein protein products as well. It says that glutamine can get rid of sugar cravings and is effective in securing muscle in events of physical trauma, like burns or wounds to the muscles. I am unsure of any relation to the brain for glutamine, other than it being a natural resource for the body.
Phosphatidylserine is another amino acid, but is more directly related to improvements in cognitive function. Examine says supplementation from older individuals typically results in improvements toward cognitive capacity and memory.
A dose of 300mg daily (one capsule has 125mg) is effective in reducing memory decline in adults. For children and younger consumers, a dose of 200mg was recommended for improvements in attention span and retention.
Bacopa monnieri: 100mg
Bacopa monnieri is an herb that is shown to reduce anxiety. Through this effect, it has shown to improve cognitive ability and improving memory formation. Bacopa monnieri is also very common not only in natural ingredient brain supplements but in nootropics designed for a younger audience, like Adderall.
One of the interesting parts I found on Examine is that it “promotes neuron communication within your brain”, doing so by increasing the growth of neuron endings (dendrites). This results in faster communication in the neural system. Also of note is that taking this herb in supplements on an empty stomach can result in diarrhea, cramping, and/or nausea, which is something that commonly popped up while researching the reviews prior to purchasing.
Acetyl-L Carnitine: 50mg
L-Carnitine is a compound that directly works with the mitochondria, most notably able to increase the mitochondria’s ability to burn fat and increase its capacity. The compound also is used to increase alertness as well as slow down the aging process, things like the decline in neurological awareness and mental fatigue.
It says the standard doses of L-Carnitine are 500mg daily to get maximum benefit. One capsule of Neuro Clarity only has 50mg of Acetyl-L Carnitine, and even if you take two, the most recommended in a 24 hour period, that is still only 100mg of the compound. I am not a professional or anything, so I wouldn’t know the effects of increasing contents in the capsule, etc. I am just pointing out the facts the way I see them as a consumer.
DMAE Bitartrate: 50mg
A quick search revealed that DMAE Bitartrate is just the powdered form of the compound Dimethylaminoethanol, or DMAE. So I searched that on Examine and found better results. DMAE is used to reduce buildup of the aging pigment, which impairs cognitive ability and can lead to a decline in overall cognitive capacity. The way I read it is that DMAE is mostly for the prevention of mental decline.
Gingko Biloba: 50mg
Leaves from the gingko biloba trees have been used in medicine for a long time. Its main purpose is again cognitive enhancement and/or the prevention of cognitive decline. Research states that the normal dosage is around 40mg-120mg taken three times a day. Brain supplements like NC recommend only taking 2 a day.
Vinpocetine is the last ingredient on the list, only taking up 2mg of the entire capsule. It is a very popular compound from a plant, used as cognitive decline prevention and as an agent against aging. It also enhances blood flow and is used to increase memory.
A typical dose of Vinpocetine is 5mg, and is usually taken three times a day. One capsule only has 2mg for a maximum daily dosage of 4mg.