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Upgrade Your Neural Software: The Top 12 Supplements for Peak Brain Performance

Updated: Feb 13

The human brain is incredibly complex and maintaining its health is essential as we age. Recent research demonstrates how proper nutrition can enhance cognitive abilities like memory, focus, processing speed, and even mood. Key vitamins and nutrients play crucial roles in supporting brain function by regulating inflammation, aiding neurotransmitter synthesis, and facilitating optimal energy metabolism in our nervous system.

Here is a list of 12 vitamins for nourishing your mind, supercharging your brainpower, and defending against decline:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: Essential omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA promote optimal brain function and cognitive health by supporting memory, learning, mood, and focus.

  • If you do not eat animal products, plant-based sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and algae-based supplements also provide ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), a precursor to EPA and DHA.

  • Usage: Can be taken with meals for better absorption.


2. Vitamin B Complex

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: B vitamins support nervous system health by assisting key functions like neurotransmitter synthesis, nerve conduction and DNA repair for peak cognitive performance.

  • Usage: Best taken with food to enhance absorption.


3. Vitamin D

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: Vitamin D facilitates crucial processes like neurotransmitter activity, nerve growth, and inflammation reduction to maintain healthy brain cell communication.

  • Usage: Best absorbed with dietary fats, so take with meals containing healthy fats. Avoid taking with magnesium as it can decrease absorption


4. Magnesium

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: Magnesium aids over 600 critical enzymatic reactions that influence cognition by enabling neurotransmitter flow, neural connections and brain energy metabolism.

  • Usage: Best absorbed on an empty stomach or with a small amount of food. Avoid taking with calcium.


5. Zinc

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: Zinc facilitates enzymatic cognitive functions like neurotransmitter production, nerve signaling, and neural regeneration that govern learning recall and neuroplasticity.

  • Usage: Best absorbed with food.


6. Curcumin

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: Curcumin’s potent anti-inflammatory antioxidant activity protects the brain against degeneration, supporting sustained cognitive health and performance.

  • Usage: Best absorbed with fats or black pepper (piperine). Can be taken with or without food.


7. NMN (Nicotinamide Mononucleotide)

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: NMN restores cellular NAD+ levels, powering metabolic processes that preserve brain cell integrity, energy, DNA repair, and optimal mitochondrial activity.

  • Usage: Best absorbed on an empty stomach or with water.


8. L-Theanine

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: L-Theanine increases alpha brain waves improving relaxation, attention and mental focus while reducing distracting stress and anxiety.

  • Usage: Can be taken with or without food.


9. Phosphatidylserine (PS)

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: Phosphatidylserine maintains the structural integrity of brain cell membranes, supporting memory formation, knowledge recall, and cognitive processing capabilities.

  • Usage: Best taken with meals.


10. L-Tyrosine

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: The amino acid L-tyrosine enables catecholamine neurotransmitter synthesis, regulating cognition, working memory, stress response, and mood.

  • Usage: Generally taken on an empty stomach or between meals for optimal absorption.

11. Rhodiola

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: Rhodiola minimizes fatigue, anxiety, and depressed mood while enhancing energy, attention, and cognitive performance through stress-adaptogenic mechanisms.

  • Usage: Best taken in the morning or early afternoon to avoid interference with sleep.

  • Interaction: Can interact with certain medications; consult a healthcare professional before use.

12. Choline

  • Neuroscience/Benefits: Choline is an essential precursor for acetylcholine synthesis required for neurotransmission, enabling optimal memory encoding, storage, and learning.

  • Usage: Can be taken with meals.

Supporting your brain function with essential vitamins and nutrients can have profound effects on cognition, memory, stress resilience, and neurological health. Implementing a few essential supplements can optimize your mental performance.

Note: While many of these vitamins show promise for cognitive benefits, some require further study to reach a definitive scientific consensus.

This article provides general information about nutritional strategies for supporting brain health and is not medical advice. Please consult a healthcare provider before beginning any new vitamin regimen, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or take any medications.

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