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While supplements are typically taken to enhance physical adaptations and health, there is evidence that some products can improve brain functioning.

So here, Built for Athletes has compiled a list of five of them with a little explanation of what they can do.

Unfortunately, nothing in this article will give you the kind of benefits Bradley Cooper enjoyed in the film Limitless, but you may find some of them improve memory or alertness.

B Vitamins

Deficiency in B vitamins, and in particular vitamin B12, has been linked with poor brain functioning. [Hyperlink: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3874776/]

This is thought to be related to the role B vitamins play in regulating levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can contribute to poor health.

Omega-3 Or Fish Oils

The fatty acids found in Omega-3 from fish oils make up about 25 per cent of fat content in your brain cells.

In addition, some studies have found that the anti-inflammatory properties from fish oils can reduce ageing effects on the brain, although that point is disputed by some scientists.


Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug. It stimulates the central nervous system, boosting brain functioning by blocking adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that causes drowsiness. 

So simply brewing up will improve brain functioning in the short term.


The amino acid L-Carnitine has been shown to improve alertness and slow down memory loss that comes with age. [Hyperlink: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22333562].

It’s widely sold in the UK, and has been recommended to assist cognitive functioning among elderly people who suffer from dementia.


Creatine is a popular substance for boosting workout gains, but it’s also been found to improve memory and thinking skills in non-meat eaters. [Hyperlink: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21118604]

But the cognitive results have not been seen in people who eat an omnivorous diet, likely because they get enough creatine from meat.

Hold The Phone

While the above information is based on valid research, it is important to note some scientists have claimed dietary supplements don’t improve cognitive abilities.

A report released in 2019 by the Global Council in Brain Health [hyperlink: https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/health/brain_health/2019/06/gcbh-supplements-report-english.doi.10.26419-2Fpia.00094.001.pdf] that was prompted by the huge surge in the sales of brain supplements over the last few years said: “There is no convincing evidence to recommend dietary supplements for brain health in healthy older adults.”

So while some people believe wholeheartedly in the effects of brain supplements, it’s a contentious issue for sure.

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