Supplements have completely taken over the fitness, performance, health, and wellness industries over the past few decades. They all promise to help you get the most out of your day- to-day activities, but many people remain skeptical of their benefits.
To be honest, that’s what’s wrong with the supplement industry today. It’s not that there aren’t any effective formulas and it’s not that you can’t find trustworthy brands. It does, however, mean all the effective ones are overshadowed by the ones fueled by smoke and mirrors. Since the average consumer won’t know how to tell the difference, they lose hope in the supplement industry altogether. Despite the amazing benefits supplements provide, most people never give them a chance.
Well, nootropics and other memory-boosters are no different. Although they’re one of the most sought-after supplements on the market today, there are so many brands that shopping becomes frustrating.
That’s why we’re going to break down everything you need to know about memory supplements — including some background on how memory works, what ingredients promote memory, and what the best supplements to improve memory really are. No smoke, no mirrors, just the truth.
Understanding How Memory Works
Our brains work in mysterious ways and our ability to remember things is just one of those many ways. While there’s still a lot researchers need to learn about the brain, they’ve uncovered a great deal about where our memory comes from — or at least what influences it.
Memory is necessary for survival. It’s what allows us to learn and develop over time, it’s what
helps us operate in the present, and what helps us prepare for the future. Without our ability to
process the information we come across daily, we’re not left with much.
Researchers have narrowed this ability to process information into three different stages of memory — encoding, storage, and retrieval.
Encoding is where our brains receive the information and convert it into a form or ‘code’ that we can remember easily. Our brains do this in three different ways — visually, acoustically (sound), or through semantics (meaning). Short-term memory is mostly associated with visual and acoustic coding, while long-term memory mostly relates to semantic coding.
During the ‘storage’ stage of the process, our memory is tasked with controlling where the information is stored, how much of the information is stored at once, how long the information needs to be stored for, and what kind of information is being stored. Short-term memory can hold information for 0-30 seconds, but long-term memory can last a lifetime.
The final stage in the memory process is retrieval. This is when the information comes out of storage and is made available to the individual again. Short-term memory is retrieved sequentially, while long-term memory is retrieved through association.
Not being able to remember something could be a result of damage to any of the three stages. For example, you could be forgetting things due to difficulty encoding the information, a hard time storing the information, or struggle to retrieve the information.
What Areas Of The Brain Are Responsible For Memory?
It was once believed that the entire brain plays a role in our memory and that might be true. Over the years, however, researchers have started to zero-in on several different regions of the brain that are believed to contribute to the memory process.
Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent parts of the brain:
1. Amygdala – plays a role in creating and recalling implicit or explicit memories, regulating emotions (fear, aggression, etc.), storing memories, memory consolidation (transfer of new learning to long-term memory), and memory encoding (on a deep level).
2. Hippocampus – plays a role in the formation of long-term memories, normal recognition memory, spatial memory, memory consolidation, giving memories meaning, and connecting information from one memory to information from another.
3. Prefrontal Cortex – plays a role in semantic memory, working memory, and transferring information from short-term memory to long-term memory. Some researchers believe the left frontal region is responsible for encoding, while the right is responsible for retrieval.
4. Cerebellum – plays a role in managing implicit memories, conditional responses (blinking when someone blows in your face), fine motor movements (picking items up with your hands), posture, and coordination.
Researchers are able to determine this due to brain activity from functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), or electroencephalography (EEG).
They’ve also studied lesions to these parts of the brain in rats. The rat’s behavior after suffering a lesion to the brain helps us understand more about what that area of the brain is responsible for.
What Neurotransmitters Are Involved In Memory?
Anytime you talk about the brain’s function, you have to mention neurotransmitters. They’re the chemicals that control everything our brain does — which means they’re responsible for the way we act, feel, speak, move, remember things, and much more.
These neurotransmitters (chemicals) travel through the hundreds of billions of neurons in the brain. When they reach the end of the neuron (axon), they’re released into the synapse and eventually bind to a receptor on the end of another neuron — sparking a reaction.
For example, a dopamine reaction sparks the feeling of pleasure, while epinephrine reactions make you alert or focused.
Researchers have uncovered many different neurotransmitters involved in the memory process. The most important one is acetylcholine, which is converted in the body from choline. It plays a major role in both learning and memory.
Other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine play a role in memory, though it’s not as strong of a role as acetylcholine. Even low levels of glutamate or GABA can result in impaired learning and memory.
Does Blood Supply Affect Memory?
Blood is what delivers the required oxygen, nutrients, and more to the vital organs throughout the body — including the brain. That’s why blood flow and blood circulation is critical for any body function or process.
Unfortunately, many people have a hard time getting the necessary amount of blood to the brain, which leads to a wide range of functional, developmental, mental, and emotional issues.
There are two main areas where supplements can help improve our blood flow. First, they help thin the blood so it easily flows through the blood vessels. Second, it widens the blood vessels so they’re not as crowded, giving the blood more room to flow freely.
Does Brain Power Deteriorate Over Time?
It’s not a coincidence that brain function seems to decrease as we grow older, more specifically as we become elders. It’s called cognitive decline and it’s the ‘normal wear and tear’ our brains experience throughout the years. Much like your car ages, so do our bodies and brains.
Cognitive decline can be credited to a wide variety of changes inside the body. For example, decreased blood flow to the brain is one factor that causes this. A limited amount of hormones and proteins that protect the brain is another.
Either way, brain cells start to die and repairing them becomes more difficult as we age. Eventually, oxidative stress starts to take over the cell and free radicals ‘rain’ on your memory’s ‘parade.’
Nutrients And Ingredients To Help Improve Memory
When most people look at a supplement, they don’t understand what it is and how it works. To be honest, it’s just a bunch of different ingredients — most of which you can find at the store or outside — combined into a formula that’s offered as a capsule or powder.
That’s why the key to finding the right supplements is always found on the ingredient label located on the back of the bottle or jug. Once you can start to understand the ingredient label, you’ll have a better understanding of what to expect from the supplement.
While there are so many nutrients and ingredients out there you should avoid when trying to improve your memory, there are also a wide range that are proven to work in most people.
Vitamins are everywhere. They’re in the food we eat, the beverages we drink, and the supplements we take. Since they’re responsible for hundreds of functions and processes inside the body, they are classified as essential nutrients we must consume daily.
In terms of brain health, nerve health, and blood flow, there are three vitamins that stand out — Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D.
a. B-Complex – there are eight different vitamins included in the B-complex and they’re largely responsible for converting food into energy. When it comes to memory and nerve health, you should focus on B1, B2, B6, B9. and B12.
b. Vitamin D – our bodies produce Vitamin D when our skin is exposed to the sun. For the brain, it plays a role in maintaining nerve health and regulating blood. pressure. It’s also necessary for bone health.
c. Vitamin C – this vitamin is most-known for its immune system benefits, but it also plays a role in collagen production, reducing inflammation, and improving blood pressure.
When adding vitamins to your supplement regimen, the dosage is extremely important. For example, the recommended daily allowance for Vitamins B1 and B2 is 1.1-1.3mg per day. Vitamin B6 is 1.3-1.7mg per day, Vitamin B9 is 400mcg, and Vitamin B12 is 2.4mcg.
The recommended daily allowance for Vitamin C is 75-90mg per day and the RDA for Vitamin D is 600-800IU.
When talking about vitamins, it’s hard to not mention a few minerals to go along with it. In fact, there are several minerals that could be beneficial to brain and heart health. Magnesium and Zinc are raising the most eyebrows right now.
Let’s take a look at each one a little more closely:
a. Magnesium – promotes healthy bones and energy levels, but also helps regulate blood pressure and supports a healthy nervous system.
b. Zinc – helps create new cells, enzymes, and proteins, needed for Vitamin A release, necessary for eye health and the immune system, and has antioxidant properties that reduce oxidative stress in the cell.
Much like vitamins, minerals are found in pretty much everything we eat, drink, and supplement with. They also come with recommended daily allowances that we must follow when eating a healthy and balanced diet.
For Magnesium, aim for 350-420mg per day. For Zinc, aim for 8-11mg per day.
Nootropics are a special line of supplements designed to improve the way the brain works. They do so in a majority of ways, including mental energy, mood, brain health, focus, and memory.
While there are a lot of different nootropics that are proven to work in most people, we’re going to share with you our top-six in regards to improving memory.
a. Citicoline – one of the most effective choline boosters, which eventually converts into acetylcholine in the brain. You could also use Alpha-GPC, but we recommend Citicoline because it also delivers cytidine to the brain (which converts into uridine).
b. Bacopa Monnieri – a staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, this ancient herb helps improve memory and reduce stress or anxiety. It does this by increasing the connection between neurons, increasing the dendritic length, and increasing the dendritic branching.
c. Lion’s Mane Mushroom – a functional mushroom that resembles a white weeping willow tree (or a lion’s mane, hence the name). It helps release Nerve Growth Factor and improves the growth, repair, and maturity of nerves.
d. Phosphatidylserine – phosphatidylserine is found in the brain and helps protectbrain cells by notifying immune cells when a cell membrane is dying. The immune cells come in and repair the cell or form new ones. Since phosphatidylserine levels decrease as we age, supplementation is important.
e. Ginkgo Biloba – helps blood flow to the brain by thinning the blood and widening the blood vessels due to the glycosides and terpenes found in it. As a result, the brain receives enough oxygen to achieve peak performance. It also increases energy, improves mood, and increases attention.
f. Glutamine – the most abundant amino acid in the brain, glutamine is a precursor to the neurotransmitters GABA and glutamate. Both neurotransmitters assist with alertness, concentration, focus, memory and mood.
Nootropics continue to gain popularity with supplement users today. When using the ingredients above, they’re generally regarded as safe and are effective for most people. Many of them have been used for hundreds and even thousands of years.
As nootropics receive more attention in different studies and research, this list will continue to
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Most of us have heard of Omega-3 fatty acids, but most of us have no idea what they are. They’re classified as an essential nutrient and are needed for optimal brain health. Since our body can’t produce it, we must get it through food (and supplements).
There are three different types of Omega-3s. ALA (α-Linolenic acid) comes from plants, while EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) are found in oily fish. When it comes to the brain, DHA and EPA are the major players.
In fact, DHA and EPA play a major role in improving signaling systems in the brain, memory, neurotransmitter activity, focus, attention, and information processing. It also improves neuroplasticity and neuroprotection in the brain.
It doesn’t matter what supplement you take, you should always aim for at least 1,000mg.
Best Supplements To Improve Memory
Now that we’ve discovered how memory works and what ingredients are known to improve memory, it’s time to discover the supplement brands you can trust when shopping for a memory-booster.
I know what you’re thinking. No, these aren’t like the pills in the movie Limitless with Bradley Cooper. They’re not going to turn you into a genius, won’t give you a photographic memory, and won’t allow you to learn 5 new languages in a week.
They are, however, designed to improve the way your memory works and optimize your brain’s function to make it more effective. There’s no magic here, but science is science and it’s always worth a shot — especially when most people find a use for it.
We’re going to take a look at four of our favorite memory-boosting supplements below, including Mind Lab Pro, Performance Lab Mind, HVMN Rise, and Lion’s Mane Elixir.
Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro is one of the most popular and most effective nootropics available today. It only utilizes ingredients backed by scientific evidence and utilizes the right dosages for each ingredient. They’ve certainly set the bar for memory-boosters in the supplement industry.
It contains 250mg of Citicoline, 150mg of Bacopa Monnieri, 500mg of Lion’s Mane Mushroom, 100mg of Phosphatidylserine, 175 mg of L-Tyrosine, 100mg of L-Theanine, 50mg of Rhodiola Rosea, and 75mg of Maritime Pine Bark Extract. There will also be Vitamins B12, B6, and B9.
In addition to memory, Mind Lab Pro also targets the four other main functions of the brain — mood, energy, focus, and health. It costs $65 for a one-month supply, but you can also purchase a 4-month supply for $200 ($50/bottle).GET THE BEST PRICE ON MIND LAB PRO
Performance Lab Mind
If you liked what Mind Lab Pro was packing, but were hoping for something a little less expensive, then Performance Lab Mind is a great choice. It won’t contain as many ingredients, but the ones it does have are the same as Mind Lab Pro.
Performance Lab Mind includes 250mg of Citicoline, 100mg of Phosphatidylserine, 250mg of L- Tyrosine, and 75mg of Maritime Pine Bark Extract. It takes a majority of the stress-relieving ingredients and vitamins out, but keeps the main memory-boosters in.
Performance Lab Mind costs $49 per bottle (one-month supply), which is $15 less than Mind Lab Pro. To make it even cheaper, you can buy a four-month supply for $147 instead of $200.GET THE BEST PRICE ON PERFORMANCE LAB MIND
With HVMN Rise, we’re getting even cheaper. Of course, the ingredient list continues to shrink with this formula, but it utilizes three of the most effective nootropic ingredients — two of which we’ve already discussed.
HVMN Rise packs Bacopa Monnieri and Citicoline into their capsule, both of which improve memory and focus. In addition to that, they include Ashwagandha, a staple in traditional Ayurvedic medicine that helps relieve stress and anxiety.
A one-month supply of HVMN Rise costs $35 for a one-month supply. There are also three other ‘sister’ formulas that can be stacked along with it. Together, they’re called the Nootrobox and improve the other areas of brain function.GET THE BEST PRICE ON HVMN RISE
Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixir Mix With Lion’s Mane
We don’t talk about the best memory-boosters without throwing Lion’s Mane Elixir into the mix. It’s brought to you by Four Sigmatic, the leading supplement supplier of functional mushrooms.
As we discussed previously, the Lion’s Mane mushroom is one of the most effective memory- boosting ingredients. And Four Sigmatic Mushroom Elixir is extremely generous with the dosage, giving you a whopping 1,500mg per serving. For comparison, Mind Lab Pro only had 500mg.
Mushroom Elixir With Lion’s Mane also contains Rhodiola Rosea (adaptogen), Organic Field Mint, and Organic Rose Hips (Vitamin C). It’s available in powder form and can be added to virtually any beverage or smoothie. It’s the perfect way to start your day!GET THE BEST PRICE ON FOUR SIGMATIC MUSHROOM ELIXIR WITH LION’S MANE