13 Best Nootropics for Focus & Concentration
The focus is more than being awake. It includes being aware of what you’re doing and utilizing your mind to its fullest. No supplement will offset the negative effects of insufficient sleep, poor diet or certain health conditions. However, our memory and concentration both declines with age, and everyone can suffer from poor mental focus. Improved focus can improve your productivity at work and performance at school. But what can you do? It turns out that there are supplements that can increase function in the appropriate parts of the brain and counter negative physical effects that make it hard to concentrate. Here are
13 Best Nootropics for Improving Focus and Concentration:
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid or type of fat found in the brain. Some studies suggest taking this supplement can maintain brain health over time. Those who got the most significant benefits were people with minor cognitive impairment. Younger users have been found to have improved thinking ability, focus and working memory.
L-Tyrosine doesn’t increase your focus per itself. Instead, it provides a biochemical buffer as your body uses up certain neurotransmitters when you’re focused. As your brain grows tired of paying attention, L-Tyrosine helps your mind remain focused. This has been demonstrated scientifically in studies, and the most significant benefit was seen during task switching. The end result was people who get back on track faster and return to peak productivity after interruptions.
We recommend L-Tyrosine over the similar L-DOPA because there isn’t as much information on L-DOPA improving attention and mental processing in the average person. For those with Parkinson’s disease, L-DOPA and Carbidopa are routinely prescribed as a treatment.
Yes, caffeine can be considered one of the top nootropics for motivation and focus. It gives you a sense of energy that could be what you need to keep going. It can help you fight off fatigue for a little while, though you can’t rely on caffeine to maintain focus when your body desperately needs sleep. If you’re consuming caffeine, know that it has been proven to enhance reaction times, memory and overall brain function.
Why do some people drink coffee or caffeine-loaded energy drinks for an emotional boost? It turns out that caffeine increases your levels of dopamine and adrenaline. This means that your morning beverage may not only wake you up but genuinely get you going in the morning. If you can’t stand the taste of coffee and shouldn’t be drinking caffeinated soda, then caffeine supplements may be in order. It is undoubtedly better than indulging in too much dark chocolate to try to improve your energy level.
You do need to be careful not to over-do it. Caffeine consumed afternoon makes it hard to sleep at night, and taking too much overall can trigger anxiety and nausea. Your body can become tolerant of caffeine. Then it goes from a stimulant that causes greater awareness of stimuli and enhanced reaction time to a little pick-me-up. If you haven’t hit this threshold, then caffeine is truly one of the best nootropics for focus.
B-vitamins have a known impact on the brain. A lack of these vitamins indeed weakens one’s memory. This means that if you’re suffering from chronic fatigue, pins and needles sensations, dizziness or brain fog, B-complex vitamins could be what you need to clear your head and regain your focus.
However, high doses of B-vitamins does not cause the brain to work better than it did when you’ve consumed the necessary amount of the vitamins. Instead, it is the intake of B-vitamins like folate that help people to end the tiredness and mental fog that prevent them from focusing during the day.
If you’ve recently become a vegetarian or vegan and you’ve lost your ability to concentrate, then these vitamins may be what you need to treat your fatigue, brain fog and inability to focus. This is because you’ve stopped eating the meat and dairy that are among the top sources of vitamin B-12. Interestingly, those taking antacid drugs or drugs that absorb extra sugar in the blood can interfere with the absorption of these vitamins into the body even when you otherwise consume enough of it. These individuals would benefit from B-vitamins as well. Its ability to reduce cholesterol and improve heart function are bonuses.
If you want to take a single B vitamin, then aim for B-3, also called niacin, since it seems to have the most significant impact on mental focus. However, if you’re suffering from memory loss and confusion from a lack of vitamin B compounds, vitamin B6 would be a better choice. It naturally increases serotonin levels.
CDP-choline is a supplement that breaks down into choline and cytidine in the body. It is also called Citicoline, CDPC, and Cytidine 5-Diphosphocholine. The substance is found naturally in the body. People suffering from age-related memory loss, Parkinson’s and dementia may be given it as a supplement to improve memory and general mental function. It is also provided when someone has suffered brain damage, whether due to an accident or a stroke. It works by increasing the level of phosphatidylcholine. Studies have shown that it improves overall circulation in the brain, stroke recovery, and age-related memory decline. This makes CDP-choline the best nootropic for memory and focus if you’ve suffered from a stroke, concussion, or health condition that adversely affects one’s ability to pay attention.
Less clear is the data proving that it improves mental processing speeds and executive function, the fancy term for one’s problem-solving ability. Ignore the idiotic advice, though, that this supplement can somehow raise one’s IQ.
ALCAR is the standard abbreviation for Acetyl-L–Carnitine. It is an amino acid created by the body and used to produce energy. Animal studies have demonstrated that it increases learning capacity, memory and age-related declines in mental function. Human studies have backed the statement that it improves brain function in those with moderate dementia, modest age-related memory decline, and Alzheimer’s disease. Some people say that taking this supplement improves their mental alertness and working memory. The only caveat here is that it has not been proven to boost brain function for those who are in good health.
Resveratrol is what gives purple and red fruits like grapes, blueberries, raspberries and red wine their color. There is evidence that consumption of resveratrol, whether via a periodic glass of red wine or supplements, prevents deterioration of the hippocampus. Note that the hippocampus is tied to memory. If you’re consistently losing your focus because you can’t remember everything you were supposed to do, resveratrol is one of the better nootropics for concentration to take. The anti-inflammatory properties of this compound could reduce one’s risk of developing heart disease, as well.
8. Gingko Biloba
Gingko Biloba is derived from the leaf of the Gingko tree. It is one of the oldest herbal remedies for boosting brain function. It accomplishes this by improving oxygen flow in the brain. Studies have found that it mildly increases cerebral brain flow through MRIs. It is thought to enhance focus and memory. Multiple studies have found that it can reduce age-related decline in brain function. The benefits were seen as early as in middle-age, improving both memory and thinking skills.
SAMe is the commonly used abbreviation for S-Adenosyl methionine. S-Adenosyl methionine is used by the body to make a variety of proteins, and it is required for the efficient metabolizing of others. Notably, this supplement seems to offset the decline in brain function seen in those who suffer from depression.
This isn’t to say that SAMe is a treatment for depression. Instead, it should be considered an option by those whose depression makes it hard to focus. One study found that the combination of anti-depressants and SAMe increased the odds of “remission” by 14%. However, it hasn’t been determined to improve brain function in those who don’t suffer from depression.
10. Vitamin C
Most people know that vitamin C is necessary to maintain your immune system and the body’s ability to heal. Its anti-oxidant effect can reduce one’s risk of developing cancer and other conditions. It aids the body in absorbing iron, so those who are still tired despite taking iron supplements may want to add vitamin C supplements to their regimen.
There’s another benefit to taking vitamin C – it boosts your serotonin levels. This makes vitamin C a natural antidepressant. This was demonstrated in studies of hospitalized patients whose moods markedly improved after they started taking vitamin C supplements.
What can you do if the reason you can’t concentrate is attention deficit disorder? Then vitamin C is still a solution. Those with ADHD taking vitamin C have been found to focus better and concentrate longer. This is probably because vitamin C is essential to make the neurotransmitter norepinephrine; that, in turn, is utilized by the part of the brain devoted to attention.
11. Vitamin D
Modern society, on average, suffers from a lack of vitamin D. We spend so much time indoors as people that having a tan is seen as a status symbol. Fear of skin-cancer causes many to layer on the sun-screen, interfering with their ability to get vitamin-D even though they’re outside.
Most people know that vitamin D is needed to process correctly calcium and build healthy bones. What we didn’t realize until now as its impact on brain function. There are receptors for vitamin D throughout the brain and central nervous system. It turns on and off enzymes in the brain and is used to make neurotransmitters. Consumption of vitamin D seems to protect neurons, as well. This explains why those with the lowest level of vitamin D had the slowest information processing speeds. Studies have begun to determine if Vitamin D supplements taken in middle age will affect their incidents of Alzheimer’s disease over the long term.
If you don’t consume enough vitamin-D fortified milk or spend enough time outside, Vitamin D supplements may be just what you need to clear your head. And you may experience the natural mood lift that people typically feel when they walk outside in the sunshine.
If you’re having trouble focusing because of chronic headaches, you’ll want to take supplements that contain both vitamin D and magnesium. If you have depression, this combination would be beneficial because more than 90% of diagnosed depression patients have a deficit of one or both of these minerals.
Creatine is well known to bodybuilders in aiding in the creation of muscles. It allows people to work out longer and harder before they collapse in exhaustion. What many people don’t know is that it is also utilized in the brain. Creatine can improve problem-solving skills and memory, especially among those who don’t eat meat. Vegetarians had a 25% to 50% improvement in memory and IQ tests. (We’re talking about solving math problems and memory challenges faster, not literally increasing IQ.)
Creatine did not improve verbal ability or vigilance. Researchers discovered that it decreased the variability in reaction time tasks, as well. It didn’t make everyone respond faster to stimuli, but those who had slow reaction times improved.
13. Fish Oils
Fish oils supplements provide two primary omega-3 fatty acids: DHA and EPA. You may have seen DHA on cans of baby food advertising the fact they’d added it to facilitate your child’s brain development. DHA, in particular, is critical to the brain. It accounts for about 90% of the omega-3 fat found in your brain cells. The fatty acid EPA is thought to protect the brain against damage, especially as we age.
Consuming DHA supplements has improved memory, reaction time and clarity of thought for those who are lacking in these critical nutrients. More importantly, these supplements have benefited those experiencing mild declines in brain function. EPA is scientifically linked to improved mood but only indirectly to improved general mental performance. However, if you’re chronically scatterbrained because of anxiety or depression, EPA may be able to help.
Fish oil supplements are an excellent way to get enough of these nutrients, whether you’re vegetarian or can’t manage to eat multiple portions of fish oil each week.