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Brainfoods – what you need to know!

Brainfoods are mood and cognitive enhancers that improve brain functioning and may help prevent age-related decline.

Brainfoods are mood and cognitive enhancers that improve brain functioning and may help prevent age-related decline.

Brainfood supplements are also known as Nootropics or Smart Drugs, because they have the ability to enhance mental performance and give you the opportunity to excel during mentally challenging times. From learning to attention and memory recall, brainfood supplements can supercharge your brain to work more efficiently and more effectively.

Brainfood health benefits

Brain activating botanical extracts, amino acids, vitamins and minerals have many health benefits, including:

  • boost brain power
  • speed up thinking
  • promote sleep
  • reduce stress
  • promote happiness
  • enhance mood
  • reduce anxiety
  • reduce depressive symptoms
  • enhance concentration and decision

Brainfood No. 1 – Lecithin

Lecithin is a group of natural fats that contain high amounts of phospholipids. First identified by a french chemist in 1845, the name lecithin is from the Greek word lekithos, which means egg yolk. Lecithin is found in higher quantities in egg yolks, but also in milk, fish, soybeans and seeds.

Lecithin is a major dietary source of choline, which is physiologically important for many types of brain signaling processes, e.g. cholinergic neurotransmission. Research suggests that dietary choline can improve brain functioning and even help prevent cognitive decline associated with ageing.

Lecithin has also been shown to improve fat metabolism and is currently used as a natural therapy to help decrease high blood fat (hyperlipidemia) levels. Research suggests that dietary choline can help protect people from cardiovascular risk factors through the regulation of blood lipid levels.

Lecithin is a smart drug that has many health benefits:

  • Promotes inner calm
  • Enhances memory formation
  • Promotes attention and focus
  • Improves energy levels

Brainfood No. 2 – Amino Acids

Amino acids such as tyrosine, phenylalanine, theanine, and tryptophan are precursors for many types of neurotransmitters that are important for optimal brain functioning. Supplementation with these specific amino acids can naturally assist the production of these neurotransmitters.

The monoamine neurotransmitters include dopamine, melatonin, noradrenaline and serotonin which all play a role in mental processes, such as cognition, emotion, memory formation and mood. These monoamine neurotransmitters also help maintain brain integrity and plasticity, which is important to help healthy brain ageing.

Precursors of dopamine and noradrenaline are the amino acids phenyalanine and tyrosine, whereas the precursor for serotonin and melatonin is tryptophan. Supplementation with these precursor amino acids has the following health benefits:

  • Boosts cognition and intelligence
  • Enhances attention span and focus
  • Improves memory formation
  • Encourages healthy brain ageing
  • Stabilizes mood and emotions

Brainfood No. 3 – 5-HTP

The compound 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan and is a precursor for the hormones serotonin and melatonin. These hormones are responsible for the regulation of sleep patterns, quality of sleep and promote inner peace and happiness.

  • Supports natural sleeping patterns
  • Relaxes the mind and body
  • Calms the mind and eases stressful tensions

Brainfood No. 4 – Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a flowering plant found at high altitude across Europe, Asia and Russia and has been used for many centuries to naturally increase endurance and physical strength. Recent scientific studies on Rhodiola show that it has potent therapeutic properties that enhance mental strength during physical performance.

The biologically active components of Rhodolia are the compounds rosavin and salidroside, both of which are associated with its nootopic influence. As well as physical and mental enhancement, these compounds are suggested to reduce fatigue and alleviate depressive symptoms. Studies suggest the following benefits:

  • Increases vitality and wellbeing
  • Improves mood and mental health
  • Protects against stress-related fatigue
  • Can help to prevent erectile dysfunction

Brainfood No. 5 – Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fats required for the healthy functioning of your heart, brain and joints. Omega-3 fatty acids primarily include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which have been scientifically proven to be of benefit to help maintain optimum health and vitality.

Omega-3 fatty acids are a natural supplement that have been shown to reduce blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels thus improving the health of your blood vessels as well as decreasing the risk factors associated with type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Omega-3 supplementation has the following health benefits:

  • Reduces blood triglyceride levels
  • Decreases high blood pressure
  • Helps decrease LDL cholesterol
  • Have anti-inflammatory properties
  • Reduces the stress hormone cortisol
  • Helps reduce cognitive decline in the elderly

Brainfood No. 6 – Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), also know as Indian Ginseng, is a traditional Ayurvedic herb that has been used in Indian medicine for centuries as a tonic for many illnesses of the mind. Ashwagandha is mainly used as a natural therapy to reduce stress and anxiety and improve mental performance and mental stamina.

Clinical trails on Ashwagandha root extracts have proven its safety and efficacy to notably improve resistance to stress and thereby improve general wellbeing and vitality.

Ashwagandha has been shown to contain several active chemical constituents that have potent antioxidant and regenerative activity that are protective in stress-related disorders.

  • Enhances inner peace and strength
  • Promotes general health and wellbeing
  • Harmonizes body and mind
  • Protects against unhealthy ageing
  • Suppresses cravings and improves metabolism
  • Promotes sleep quality
  • Acts as a natural herbal aphrodisiac

Brainfood No. 7 – Bacopa Monnieri

The traditional Ayurvedic herb Bacopa monnieri, also known as water hyssop, has been used for centuries as a natural herb for its cognitive enhancing effects. In Indian cultures, Bacopa monnieri is known to help improve working memory accuracy as well as enhancing attention and focus.

Clinical research shows that as a natural nootropic, Bacopa monnieri interacts with the dopamine and serotonin systems in the brain, enhancing brain cell communication. It has been reported to significantly improve spatial working memory as well as speed of learning and memory capacity. Supplementation with the smart drug, Bacopa Monnieri, can help with the following:

  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Improves memory capacity
  • Improves memory recall ability
  • Protects the body and mind from ageing related oxidative damage
  • Improves forgetfulness
  • May relieve minor depressive mood symptoms

Brainfood No. 8 – Citicoline

Citicoline, otherwise known as CDP-choline, is a nootropic supplement that can enhance cognitive processing, including: enhanced learning, attention-promotion, and help reduce forgetfulness particularly when associated with brain ageing.

Following supplementation with citicoline, it is metabolized into choline and cytidine. These compounds are essential for the biosynthesis of structural phospholipids that make up cell membranes. These components of citicoline have also been shown to have neuroprotective effects under ischemic conditions (stroke).

  • Enhances learning
  • Promotes attention
  • Improves memory recall
  • Acts neuroprotective after a stroke

Brainfood No. 9 – NADH

The molecule NADH, also known as co-enzyme 1, is a necessary part of every cell's energy metabolism. The brain, muscles, heart and lungs all have a high-energy demand so that they can function at an optimal level and therefore have a high requirement for this molecule.

NADH is a brainfood, because it provides the body with more NADH that allows cells and tissue the ability to produce more energy and therefore function better. In one clinical trial, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome were supplemented with NADH and Co-Q10 resulting in significant decreases in fatigue parameters.

  • Increases energy levels
  • Enhances vitality and vigor
  • Improves positive mood
  • Alleviates fatigue

Brainfood No. 10 – Ginkgo Biloba

The Ginkgo biloba tree is native to China and has been revered for centuries as a symbol of strength and hope. Ginkgo biloba has been used as a nootropic in Western medicine since the 1960's to help memory impairment, reduce attention deficits and enhance cognition.

The active constituents of the Ginkgo biloba tree leaves are flavonoids and terpenes, both of which are potent antioxidants. They have scientifically been shown to be a natural therapeutic to prevent age-related cognitive decline as well as significant cognitive enhancements in short-term memory and subjective wellbeing.

  • Reduces age-related cognitive impairment
  • Reduces cognitive impairment in cases of Alzheimer's disease
  • Improves memory recall
  • Has vasodilatory effects that improve blood flow
  • Reduces ADHD symptoms in children
  • Reduces feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Reduces atherosclerotic buildup in high-risk populations
  • Has potent anti-oxidant properties

Brainfood No. 11 – Brain Vitamins

The B-vitamins are an essential group of compounds that play important roles in the healthy functioning of the brain. The brain is by far the most metabolically active organ in the body and B-vitamins are required to help the brain generate energy, perform physiological functions, synthesize neurochemicals, and remain malleable (neuroplasticity).

B-vitamins are water-soluble organic compounds that are not synthesized in the body and therefore need to be supplied in the diet. They include B1 (thiamine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, B9 (folate), and B12 and many of these are consumed at sub-optimal levels even in developed countries.

Supplementation with B-vitamins gives the brain the opportunity to function effectively, as well as they can prevent age-related mental decline.

  • Supports optimal brain functioning
  • Enhances cognition including memory, learning and attention
  • Prevents vitamin deficiencies and the serious ill health associated with this
  • Protects the nerves
  • Reduces stress symptoms

In which case should you use brainfoods?

  • If you are suffering from stress and anxiety at work or everyday life
  • To optimize mental performance at any given time
  • To enhance creativity and motivation
  • To improve mood and emotions
  • If you are concerned with age-related cognitive decline
  • If you are concerned with age-related memory recall issues

Brain Food Side Effects and Risks

Most brainfoods are considered to have very few possible side effects if taken in the recommended dose. However, caution is advised if you suffer from any mood or behavioural disorder, such as depressions, anxiety disorder or schizophrenia. In these instances, talk to your health care professional before taking brainfood supplements.

Brain Food Interactions

Bacopa monnieri is a potent inhibitor of several intestinal enzymes, which are often necessary for the absorption and activity of certain aromatase drugs.

Ginkgo biloba can interact with anti-seizure medications, such as Carbamazepine, Gabapentin, and Phenytoin. Ginkgo biloba can interact with blood thinners, such as Warfarin, Aspirin and Heparin as well as anti-platelet drugs, such as Clopidogrel and Ticlopidine.

Brainfood Combinations

Many brainfoods come as a combination of botanical extracts that are naturally fortified with vitamins and minerals. Combinations can for example include:

  • Amino acids, Ginkgo biloba, Rhodiola rosea, vitamins, minerals
  • Ashwagandha, and Rhodiola rosea
  • Bacopa Monnieri, Citicoline, Ginkgo biloba, vitamins and minerals
  • Ginkgo biloba, Omega-3, vitamins and minerals

Why Take Brainfoods?

Brainfood supplements are smart drugs that offer natural enhancements that give you the ability to

  • feel happy and optimistic
  • think more positively
  • reduce mood swings
  • reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress
  • increase energy levels
  • reduce sense of fatigue
  • improve various cognition parameters
  • promote attention and enhanced learning ability
  • support memory recall with fewer mistakes and clearer thinking
  • harmonize body and mind
  • improve sleep quality and reduce sleep latency


1. Alvarez X, Laredo M, Corzo D, et al. Citicoline improves memory performance in elderly subjects. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 1997;

2. Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology. 2001; 156(4): 481-484

3. Stough C, Downey L, Lloyd J, et al. Examining the nootropic effects of a special extract of Bacopa monniera on human cognitive functioning: 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Phytother Res. 2008; 22(12): 1629-1634

4. Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of Ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Ind J Psychol Med. 2012; 34(3): 255-262

5. Jump D, Depner C, Tripathy S. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and cardiovascular disease. J Lipid Res. 2012; 53(12): 2525-2545

6. Noreen E, Buckley J, Lewis S, et al. The effects of an acute dose of Rhodiola rosea on endurance exercise performance. J Stren Cond Res. 2013; 27(3): 839-847

7. Castro-Marrero J, Cordero M, Segundo M, et al. Does oral coenzyme Q10 plus NADH supplementation improve fatigue and biochemical parameters in chronic fatigue syndrome?. Antioxid Redox Signal. 2015; 22(8): 679-685

8. Kumar N, Abichandani L, Thawani V, et al. Efficacy of standardized extract of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize) on cognitive functions of medical students: a six-week, randomized placebo-controlled trial. Evid Based Comp Altern Med. 2016; 2016: 4103423

9. Kennedy D. B-Vitamins and the brain: mechanisms, dose and efficacy - a review. Nutrients. 2016; 8(2): 68

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