17 Evidence-Based Supplements to Reduce Brain Fog and Enhance Cognitive Ability & FAQs
What is Brain Fog?
Table of Contents
What is Brain Fog?
What Causes Brain Fog?
What are the Symptoms of Brain Fog?
How to Treat Brain Fog
17 Evidence-Based Supplements to Reduce Brain Fog and Enhance Cognitive Ability
Brain fog is not a medical condition, but it’s a term used for symptoms that affect one’s ability to think clearly. It is usually characterised by forgetfulness, lack of focus and mental clarity, confusion, or finding it hard to put your thoughts into words.
Some also describe it as mental fatigue.
Brain fog can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. When you’re experiencing brain fog, it can affect your focus and make it difficult for you to remember things. This can often interfere with school or work.According to Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist in New York City:
“Ultimately, brain fog can impact the way you feel about yourself. Individuals often do not feel like themselves as the loss of mental sharpness feels foreign to them.”
What Causes Brain Fog?
Brain fog can be caused by a lifestyle that promotes imbalanced hormones and high levels of inflammation. It is not uncommon for it to be caused by two or three of these factors. For example, depression often leads to lack of sleep or vice versa.
Here are some of the common causes of brain fog:
- Stress reduces the blood flow in the brain which causes poor memory.
- Electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones, computers, and tablets.
- Lack of exercise and sleep.
- Poor diet
- Pollution, insecticides, chemical substances, and toxins.
- Hormonal conditions
- Chronic health conditions
- Viral infections
- Cancer treatments
What are the symptoms of Brain Fog?
- Low energy
- Mood swings
- Impaired cognitive function
- Excessive absences
- Low motivation
- Trouble concentrating
How To Treat Brain Fog
Do you have symptoms of brain fog? Don’t lose hope. Brain fog is often temporary and can be treated. Once left untreated, it can affect the quality of your life.
Treatments for brain fog depend on the cause. For instance, anaemic patients are recommended to take iron supplements to help increase red blood cells, thus, reducing brain fog.
But, these lifestyle changes can help:
- Reduce stress
- Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep
- Don’t go to bed after than midnight
- Spend less time on mobile devices and computers
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Don’t drink coffee in the afternoon
- Do fun activities to reduce stress
- Have a healthy balanced diet
- Activities like singing and playing music cah help
- Solve brain puzzles to strengthen thinking abilities
- Exercise aerobically regularly - exercises that raise heart rate like brisk walking
- Strength Exercise - like weight lifting or squats is thought to have profound brain benefits
17 Evidence-Based Supplements to Reduce Brain Fog and Enhance Cognitive Ability
- Riboflavin - master brain energy provider
- Magnesium - king of bodily reactions
- l-Tryptophan - amino acid happiness booster
- l-Theanine - improves mental function
- Choline and Inositol - healthy cell growth and function
- NAC or N-AcetylCysteine - replenishes glutathione and helps with brain health
- Ginkgo Biloba - improves cognitive function
- Vitamin C - boosts immune system
- Omega-3 fatty acids - maintains brain and heart health
- Vitamin D with K2 - supports healthy bones and brain function
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid - converts glucose into energy
- Astaxanthin - protects brain cells from damage
- Charcoal - has toxin-absorbing properties
- Prebiotics Fibre - strengthens and nourishes good bacteria
- Rosemary Oil - calms and energises the mind
- Vitamin B12 - helps in the development of brain and nerve cells
- Methylfolate - treats or prevents low levels of folate
Riboflavin is an essential part of Adenosine Triphosphate or ATP production in mitochondria. ATP contributes to the improvement of brain function and performance. As you age, ATP production declines and the blood flow to the brain decreases. Cells that don’t have adequate ATP die. This can affect cognitive function.
Studies show that low levels of certain B vitamins, including vitamin B2, can lead to brain fog symptoms. Consuming vitamin B2 or riboflavin helps in guarding against brain fog and keeps the nervous system functioning properly.
A cohort study of 1,385 elderly and middle-aged groups was conducted from January 2014 to December 2017. Studies showed that increasing the intake of riboflavin the multi-dimensional cognitive function was improved.
The best food sources of vitamin B2 are cheese, meat, organ meat, green leafy vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, and beans. Riboflavin is usually included in B-Complex vitamins and multivitamins. The recommended dose for adults is 400 mg per day.
It is considered safe and doesn’t have serious effects even if taken at high doses. Extremely high doses of riboflavin can cause numbness, itching, yellow urine, and sensitivity to light.
For certain brain related conditions like headache especially migraine, tremors, PE etc neurologists and the NHS prescribe high dose riboflavin (400mg per day, or about over 300 times the dose you will find in an average multivitamin).
Forms of Riboflavin Supplements from Bespoke Biotics
- Migrasoothe-Pro - contains 400 mg of Riboflavin Vitamin B2 and 220 mg of L-Tryptophan. Enhanced with B6, B12 and Folic Acid. We include tryptophan to support serotonin levels which are lower in Migraineurs. There is also evidence indicating that B6, B12 and folic acid can be prophylactic for migraine auras.
- Migrasoothe-B - contains 400 mg of Riboflavin Vitamin B2. Recommended for migraines, fatigue, and brain energy.
Magnesium is an essential mineral that contributes to over 300 body functions such as nerve function, energy production, blood pressure regulation, and enzymatic reactions. Most people in western countries like the United States Europe and Great Britain are also chronically lacking in magnesium in their diet.
If you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet, it can impact brain health and lead to brain fog symptoms. Stress is the most common reason why some people have low magnesium levels. Stress causes poor concentration, memory impairment, and anxiety symptoms.
Therefore, taking magnesium supplements may help reduce brain fog symptoms and stress-related cognitive impairment. Some research suggests that taking magnesium supplements may also help in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety—which also improves brain fog symptoms.
Magnesium Supplements by Bespoke Biotics
Bespoke Biotics offer a Mag-Shield PRO Magnesium Citrate 500 mg supplement which is easier and faster to absorb compared to other magnesium supplements. One 500 mg capsule provides 150 mg active magnesium in a highly bioavailable form.
Magnesium Citrate is one of the easiest forms of magnesium that the body can absorb so it is more effective than some higher dosed alternatives.
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid building block that helps the body produce proteins and brain-signalling chemicals. Serotonin is the brain chemical produced by your body from L-tryptophan.
Serotonin helps control sleep and mood. It is also often referred to as the “happiness molecule”. Low levels of tryptophan is believed to be associated with brain fog and depression. It can also cause long-term memory loss and affect other cognitive functions.
L-tryptophan can be found in eggs, meat, bananas, fish, oats, soy, and milk. Taking L-tryptophan supplements helps in improving mental clarity, mood, and sleep. It is also used for ADHD, anxiety, insomnia, eating disorders, depression, and memory loss.
Here are some side effects of L-tryptophan include if you have very large doses like 10x normal e.g. 2000 mg (note maximum dose in the UK is 220MG):
- Blurred vision
- Muscle stiffness
L-theanine is an amino acid found in green tea which experts believe can reduce stress, improve sleep, mental alertness, memory, and reaction time - which also relieves some symptoms of brain fog. It works by promoting relaxation and increases levels of serotonin, GABA, and dopamine.
In a study of 69 adults ages 50-69, experts found that a dose of 100.6 mg of L-theanine helped in improving working memory and reaction time on cognitive tasks. Another study found that taking 200 mg of L-theanine daily helped improve sleep, reduce stress-related symptoms, and improved cognitive health.
5. Choline & Inositol
Choline is a nutrient responsible for developing red blood cells and maintaining normal brain and nerve functions. It plays a role in brain functions and affects brain cells directly. Getting enough choline helps in reducing the effects of brain fog. MRI scans also show that choline-rich diets result in healthier brain tissue.
The recommended dosage for choline supplements is between 425 and 550 mg per day. You can also add choline-rich foods such as:
Inositol is referred to as vitamin B8 and can be found in grains, fruits, nuts, and beans. The body is also capable of producing inositol from the carbohydrates we consume. Taking inositol supplements is believed to have numerous benefits such as helping balance the chemicals in the brain such as serotonin and dopamine.
A study found that people who suffer from anxiety and depression have low levels of inositol in their brain.
6. NAC or N-AcetylCysteine (precursor to Glutathione)
N-acetylcysteine helps restore the body’s natural antioxidant glutathione, which is responsible for maintaining oxidative balance in your cells. Taking glutathione supplements does not adequately restore GSH levels in the brain because it cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier.
On the other hand, NAC can easily penetrate the blood-brain and helps increase glutathione levels in your brain. It also boosts dopamine levels, reduces anxiety and depression, improves memory and mood, and clears up brain fog.
According to experts, NAC is a useful agent in treating several psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The therapeutic potential of NAC is beginning to emerge in psychiatric research.
In a controlled trial, NAC or placebo was administered to patients with probable Alzheimer’s disease. After 3-6 months of treatment, significant differences were obtained for a subset of cognitive tasks.
Ginkgo biloba is often referred to as the memory tree. It is one of the oldest botanical species known to humankind. For centuries, ginkgo biloba acts as an antioxidant and has been used to improve memory and thinking. It also helps improve blood flow to the brain and treat conditions of the brain including memory loss, depression, brain fog, and cognitive decline.
Ginkgo biloba extracts from the leaves of the tree are highly valued in Chinese and Eastern dietary supplements because it contains beneficial components. It is often used to prevent brain fog and other conditions related to the brain, lungs, and heart. Studies found that ginkgo biloba is effective in slowing down cognitive decline for people with cognitive impairment and neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Studies have found that ginkgo biloba increases blood flow to the brain and promotes healthy circulation in and around the brain. It is also proven that ginkgo biloba extract can slow down cognitive decline among people with neuropsychiatric symptoms such as cognitive impairment and dementia.
Another study has suggested that ginkgo biloba may help increase cognitive function of people with Alzheimer’s disease and mild impairment.
Turns out, the human body doesn’t need a lot of ginkgo biloba to help maintain a healthy brain function. The recommended daily dose for ginkgo biloba supplements is 120 mg to 240 mg. It is recommended to take ginkgo biloba supplements after meals and an extra glass of water to help the body absorb it properly.
On average, it takes about eight weeks to see notable changes in brain function when taking ginkgo biloba.
Probably the most famous vitamin in the world as it was advocated since the 1960s by Professor Linus Pauling as there were chronic deficiencies in many populations at that time.
Vitamin C or Calcium Ascorbate is known as an antioxidant and essential for maintaining healthy skin, teeth, bones, cartilage, and blood vessels. It also protects your cells from damage.
It plays a crucial role in cognitive performance because it helps in the maturation and differentiation of neurons and the formation of the myelin sheath that protects and speeds impulse transmission.
In a review of 50 studies of vitamin C levels and cognitive function, researchers found that people who are cognitively intact have significantly higher levels of vitamin C compared with those who were cognitively impaired.
It ‘s also excellent in fighting brain fog by helping regulate hormone production. Adequate amounts of vitamin C improves memory, focus, attention, and concentration. Low levels may contribute to depression, which can be associated with brain fog.
You can also get additional vitamin C from:
- Brussels sprouts
9. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats found in many varieties of fish. It promotes a healthy heart and supports brain function. DHA is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that plays a vital role in brain function and may help improve memory and learning.
If you’re not eating fish on a regular basis, you can take omega-3 supplements. Studies show that omega-3 supplements improve cognitive function in older adults. It also improves attention, mood, and memory.
In a study, 176 adults with low intake of omega-3 were supplemented with 1.16 grams of DHA daily for six months. This led to significant improvements in working and episodic memory compared to those who took placebo.
In another study, people who are experiencing loneliness are given 1.25 grams or 2.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids daily for four months. The results showed a decrease in memory decline, it also helps improve symptoms of depression and boosts mood—which helps alleviate brain fog symptoms.
Vitamin D (in Vitamin D3 format) and K2 play a vital role in brain function. Vitamin K2 can be found in foods such as butter, beef, eggs, and cheese. Low levels of vitamin K2 can increase the chances of developing neurodegenerative conditions.
Research found that people with low levels of vitamin D are linked to a higher risk of depression, which can cause brain fog and memory problems. A new study conducted in rats showed evidence that vitamin K may help protect against ageing-related cognitive declines associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
According to the study’s senior author, Mohamed El-Sherbiny, PhD
“Vitamin K2 demonstrated very promising impact in hindering aging-related behavioral, functional, biochemical and histopathological changes in the senile aging brain. Vitamin K2 can be proposed to be a promising approach to attenuate age-related disorders and preserve cognitive functions in ageing individuals.”
If you have low levels of vitamin D and K2, it is recommended to take vitamin D with K2 supplements. Adding fortified foods and regular sun exposure can also help.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid or ALA is an antioxidant sulphur-containing fatty acid found in the body. You can get small amounts of lipoic acid from broccoli, spinach, organ meats, and beef.
As we age, lipoic acid in the body declines. Taking Alpha-Lipoic Acid will help achieve the levels of lipoic acid that your body needs. ALA has benefits against neurological and cognitive diseases such as depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
ALA is both fat- and water-soluble, making it easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier right after you take it. It also helps regenerate antioxidants including CoQ10, Vitamins E and E, and glutathione.
It boosts acetylcholine and reduces inflammation and heavy metals in your brain to boost thinking and cognitive processes in all age groups.
Astaxanthin is produced by some marine and freshwater microorganisms including yeast, bacteria, microalgae, and fungi. It is a powerful antioxidant because of its unique molecular structure.
Because of this, it can easily cross the blood-brain barrier making it a potent nootropic supplement. It helps improve mood, reduce brain fog, and boost energy levels.
In a place-controlled study in Japan, healthy adults with mild forgetfulness were divided into two groups. 22 people were asked to take astaxanthin and while the placebo group took safflower oil pills.
After 12 weeks, those who took astaxanthin showed significant improvement on two tests for memory and cognitive function. Composite memory showed an increase by 22.3% and reasoning increase by 48.2.
It is recommended to take ALA supplements an hour before eating. For cognitive benefits, the recommended dosage is 2-600 mg daily.
Activated charcoal is produced through the process called pyrolysis to burn off everything except for the carbon.The activated charcoal is able to “absorb” certain ios, molecules, and substances.
Activated charcoal has incredible health benefits that are often overlooked. It is a fine black powder and completely non-toxic. It may be hard to believe that it’s being used to treat excess gas and drug overdose.It turns out, if you’re experiencing chronic fatigue or brain fog, activated charcoal can help alleviate the symptoms.
But how does it work?
The research on charcoal is evolving. However, it is known in rat studies that charcoal helps with longevity which is an unexpected result. It is believed that certain substances that emanate from modern living environments that may directly or indirectly affect your brain function such as mycotoxins, alcohol, and lipopolysaccharide are cleansed by Charcoal and therefore symptoms of brain fog or cognitive decline are alleviated.
14. Prebiotics Fibre
Fructo-oligosaccharides is a fermentable dietary fibre acting as a prebiotic in the gut that controls the secretion of brain-derived neurotrophic factors that facilitates learning, long-term and short-term memories.
Turns out, there is a fascinating connection between the gut and the brain. According to Dr. Vicente Pedre, a healthy gut expert, “You need a happy gut to have a healthy brain.”
Balancing gut microbes helps break down complex sugar and fight off pathogens. If there's no diversity, unfettered bacterial species can affect the mucus lining the gut. When this happens, bacteria and toxins may enter the bloodstream and affect the organs in the body, including the brain.
This is also called “leaky gut” which can lead to systemic inflammation. This can lead to anxiety and depression. Experts found out that a large percentage of people who suffer from depression have gut issues.This may sound strange but addressing and treating gut issues may help alleviate mental illness.
Based on a recent report, children with a high dietary fibre diet show greater ability in remaining focused on a task.That being said, prebiotic fibre is an important addition to this list.
Based on a study, prebiotics were found to improve symptoms associated with Alzheirmer’s disease such as mood, memory, anxiety, and cognitive disorders. Although studies are still limited, there is strong evidence that probiotics fibre modulates emotional processes and neuroendocrine stress response.
15. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary is a herb from the Mediterranean region. Its leaf and oil are commonly used in food and medicine.
Sounds odd but one simple way to enhance concentration and memory is by inhaling the scent of a pure and high-quality Rosemary essential oil. It works by letting the terpene levels in the Rosemary EO enter the bloodstream, which directly affect the body and can easily pass the blood-brain barrier.
Amazingly, the result is instant. Memory is enhanced by up to 75% by simply inhaling Rosemary EO.
A study was published in the International Journal of neuroscience where 144 participants were evaluated when using rosemary essential oil for aromatherapy. Results showed that rosemary enhanced mental alertness and memory.
In another study, the effect of rosemary essential oil on 28 elderly with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was tested. They found out that the properties of the rosemary essential oil can help slow down and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B12 or cobalamin, plays an important role in the processes in the body—from producing amino acids, to synthesising DNA. Not getting enough can lead to tiredness, mood changes, and brain fog. In short, it affects the ability of the brain to function properly.
Low levels of vitamin B12 can be associated with depression, memory problems, balance, confusion, and dementia. It can also worsen symptoms of brain fog.
According to Prof Martin Warren, who leads a research about Vitamin B12 at the Quadrum Institute:
“Vitamin B12 plays two key roles in metabolism, and one of those roles is to help produce agents in the brain that we use as neurotransmitters, and it also affects the nerve endings and the way that those are put together,”
“The effect there is that if you don’t have enough B12, some of those things don’t work properly, and that’s what gives rise to the neurological issues.”
A study in 202 people with cognitive impairment showed low vitamin B12 levels. Taking vitamin B12 supplements showed improvement in cognition in 84% of the participants. While 78% of the participants showed improvement on memory and attention test scores.
You probably heard about folic acid, but most people don't know what methylfolate is. To keep it simple, methylfolate is the natural form of folate. It’s more active compared to folic acid.
Methylfolate is also known as Vitamin B9—an essential substance but our body cannot produce it. Although it can be found in leafy green vegetables like kale or spinach, we don’t get enough folate in our diet alone. This means taking methylfolate supplements are necessary.
It helps the production of RNA and DNA, which is extremely important for pregnant women. With a combination of Vitamin B12 and B6, methylfolate helps produce red blood cells to keep a healthy iron level in our bodies and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Experts also point out the importance of methylfolate for brain function too because it showed a direct impact on the production of serotonin, dopamine, adrenaline and noradrenaline—which all affects the neurotransmitters that influence mood.
Low levels of methylfolate are mostly experienced by people who suffer with cognitive problems such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Low energy is another symptom of low levels of methylfolate.
FAQsShould I see a physician if I experience brain fog?
Occasional brain fog is normal, especially when a person is having a cold, tired, or stressed. However, you should see a physician if:
- It interferes with one’s ability to do or complete daily tasks
- It severely affects daily functioning
- Worsening of cognitive dysfunction
- Intense anxiety
- It does not get better with treatments
Mitochondria produces energy or ATP to help our body function properly. If you often feel exhausted, your mitochondria might need support. Lack of sleep, poor diet, and high levels of stress are the possible reasons why the mitochondria is not producing enough energy for you.
Do you have poor mitochondria health?
Supplements like magnesium, CoQ10, fish oil, and L-carnitine are some that can help in improving your mitochondria health.
Is brain fog the same as ME/CFS?
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or ME/CFS is a neurological disease. People with this ME/CFS often experience fatigue, chronic muscle pain, and cognitive problems known as “brain fog”. ME/CFS has a variety of causes including stress, poor sleep, medications, over-stimulation, overexertion, and multi-tasking.
On the other hand, brain fog is NOT a medical condition. Rather, it’s a term used by patients to describe the symptoms they feel. Brain fog can also be linked to other illnesses such as depression, EDS, Lyme disease, and more.
Is brain fog more prevalent today?
Yes, The obvious reason is that people are living longer and therefore as we get older experiencing more cognitive dysfunction. But above and beyond that situation appears to be exacerbated as we live in built-up environments where natural nutrition is lacking in the raw ingredients and pollution adds to a heady mix causing challenges.
Is cognitive dysfunction the same as brain fog?
Cognitive dysfunction refers to deficits in verbal and nonverbal learning, attention, motor functioning, memory, visual and auditory processing, and problem solving.
Brain fog is a type of cognitive dysfunction that involves memory problems, poor concentration, inability to focus, and lack of mental clarity.
Is brain fog associated with migraines?
Yes, people with migraines often experience cognitive symptoms and brain fog is one of the most common one. It usually occurs before, during, or after the headache phase. Brain fog associated with migraine is often characterised by difficulty speaking clearly, inability to concentrate, and forgetfulness.
The good news is that brain fog is temporary and doesn’t result in permanent cumulative mental decline.
Is brain fog associated with Alzheimer’s disease?
What you experience with brain fog is very different from the cognitive problems that people with Alzheimer’s disease experience.
Alzheimer’s disease does not only affect memory, rather, it greatly affects one’s ability to function in their daily life.
Information provided by this article and our company is not a substitute for direct, individual medical treatment or advice. It is the responsibility of you and your healthcare providers to make all decisions regarding your health.