The best brain supplement is a healthy diet, but there are a number of supplements that are particularly effective at reducing the stress and inflammation that lead to brain diseases. As a side bonus, virtually all of these supplements also benefit normal brain function, so taking them will help all of us stay sharp and support healthy mood, regardless of age or disease.
In looking for brain supplements, we’re primarily interested in effective antioxidants and antiinflammatories, particularly those that are good at crossing the blood-brain barrier. We’re also interested in anything that’s been shown to have a “neuroprotective” effect – drugs and supplements that have been demonstrated to prevent damage from extreme stress such as hypoxia or concussion.
Here’s the brief list, with detail on particular supplements below. Cost is a very rough rating – $ is 25 cents per day or less, $$ is up to a dollar, $$$ is more than a dollar a day.
|Dark Roast Coffee||Antioxidant||$$|
|Lion’s Mane Mushrooms||Supports Brain Growth;|
|Carbon60 in Olive Oil||Antioxidant||$$$|
|Unfair Advantage™||Antioxidant, supports|
|Aniracetam, and the other|
Dark Roast Coffee
This one’s a cross between a food and a supplement, but I’m including it here because it’s such a powerful antioxidant. Coffee contains a set of antioxidants called phenylindanes, which have been shown to be especially effective at preventing neurological damage. Phenylindanes seem to be present in equal quantities in caffeinated and decaf coffee, but they’re found in much greater concentrations in Dark Roast.
Coffee’s one of those things that medical science has had different opinions on over the years – sometimes it’s been out of favor because it can increase stress. But the overall consensus is very clear these days – not only is it not harmful, it has definite benefits for the brain, and actually protects against some forms of cancer. (Just make sure to drink it in the morning, not late in the day, so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.)
University Health Network article about a study establishing the effectiveness of coffee, and dark roast in particular:
Bulletproof Article summarizing the results, and helping understand other factors in choosing the right coffee:
When to take: First thing in the morning. Avoid caffeine after noon, and avoid even decaf (which still has a little caffeine) after 4.
One good source: Amazon – Equal Exchange “Love Buzz”
Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
“Studies show that lion’s mane mushroom supports brain health, alleviates the symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and boosts your mood and focus.” It’s also been shown to improve cognitive function in older adults generally. I take this every day, and I definitely feel the benefits in my work as a software engineer.
Study showing that it reduces cognitive impairment:
When to take: One capsule each morning. You may also be interested in having a capsule before bed – for some people, it seems to improve sleep quality.
One good source: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BD3DHZG/
Here’s a brief description of just how powerful Molecular Hydrogen is for Parkinson’s Disease specifically. This is an excerpt from an interview on Bulletproof Radio with Tyler LeBaron, a hydrogen researcher.
“…For example, you mentioned Parkinson’s disease at the beginning of this podcast, well one of the very first diseases that hydrogen was shown to be effective was in Parkinson’s disease in an animal model. In fact, that is how Dr. Kinji Ohno, one of our advisors on Molecular Hydrogen Foundation Institute, got started was because he saw the effects of hydrogen gas in Parkinson’s disease.
“Let me tell you what happened. He was approached about this idea of hydrogen gas being therapeutic, and you could dissolve it in water, and it could be therapeutic. Of course, Nagoya University is the fifth most prestigious University throughout Japan, so it’s very reputable. He was very skeptical of the biologist about this, but he wanted to try it, and so he did a study and he found, and then published in 2012, that ingestion of hydrogen-rich water prevented the development of Parkinson’s disease. This was also found by Dr. Noda, also one of our advisors. She found and published, actually in 2009, as she induced a Parkinson’s disease in an animal model using a toxin, 6- hydroxydopamine, and the benefits of the hydrogen are very clear. Ingestion of hydrogen-rich water completely prevented the development of Parkinson’s disease in this animal model, and this was a powerful article. She’s a great researcher at Kyushu University. She used to research at Rockefeller University, for example.
“These animal studies, and several others then spawned a pilot study. It was a small study, about 100 patients. It was double-blinded, placebo-controlled, randomized trial, and similarly they found those patients who were drinking hydrogen-rich water had a lower disease rating of the Parkinson’s disease. They showed improvements, and they didn’t decrease as much as those in control. Now they are finalizing nearly a three-year clinical trial with a few hundred patients on Parkinson’s disease, and looking at the effects of drinking hydrogen-rich water in that study, as well. The clinical studies are really starting to catch up and show that what we see in these animal studies really is showing promise in humans, as well. That’s just a few of the diseases that have been shown so far to be effective in clinical studies.”
Here’s a link to Dr. Noda’s paper on that work:
When to take: In the morning – dissolve one tablet in a glass or bottle of water, and drink quickly so you get the whole wave of hydrogen at once.
One good source: http://amazon.com/gp/product/B07D7RD7VT
This is a fascinating compound – there are a few standard arrangements of carbon atoms we’re commonly aware of, like graphite or diamond, but this is a molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms in a geodesic sphere. Wild! When it was discovered, it was named “Buckminster Fullerene”, after the architect associated with geodesic domes. There are other similar arrangements such as C20 (an icosahedron) and higher numbers as well.
Like molecular hydrogen, C60 is proving to be an especially powerful antioxidant, good for cleaning up the byproducts of cellular metabolism and preventing cell damage, in the brain and elsewhere in the body. (C360 Health, a company working with applications of this compound, actually introduced a hair restorer for their first product – it rejuvenates dormant follicles.)
C60 generally comes dissolved in oil, usually olive oil. You can either drink the oil directly or put it on food or in your coffee.
When to take: with breakfast
One good source: https://c360health.com/carbon60-plus/
Turmeric, the common spice, has many compounds called “curcuminoids” that are medically beneficial. The most common one is called “curcumin”. There’s only a little bit in regular turmeric, though, so when you buy a supplement, it’s usually refined to be mostly curcumin. It also includes a touch of black pepper (“bioperine”), which help your body absorb it.
Curcumin’s main action is that it’s antiinflammatory, which helps with a host of age-related conditions, from brain issues to sore joints to digestion. It’s good for younger people as well, in staying healthy, feeling good, and reducing the cumulative damage that will one day show up as aging. Reducing inflammation even helps maintain healthy weight.
General article on the many benefits of curcumin: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric
Study specifically examining curcumin and Parkinson’s:
“The ability of curcumin and naringenin to exhibit neuroprotection in the 6-OHDA model of PD may be related to their antioxidant capabilities and their capability to penetrate into the brain.”
When to take: With a meal, ideally one with significant fat content
One good source: http://amazon.com/gp/product/B01M757ALK/
Next: Nutrition and Diet