5 Smart Supplements to Improve your Memory & Learning
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Tue 25 September 2018
Medical Review by Gerardo Sison, PharmD
There's endless sources of information about supplements for bodybuilding, overall health, and various ailments, but one thing that doesn't get the attention it deserves are supplements for the brain...
Some of these nootropics have been proven to improve memory and learning, and they can even have an acumulative, long-term effects that last even after the supplementation is stopped. Let's face it, who wouldn't benefit from improved learning and memory in their daily lives?
Here's five of the best nootropics for memory and learning:
It's synthetically made, and doesn't occur naturally in any foods or plants, but it serves as a pro-drug to the natural brain neurotransmitter cycloprolylglycine.
Although synthetically made, Noopept is neuroprotective, non-toxic, and virtually side-effect free according to scientific literature.
How does Noopept work to increase memory and learning?
Noopept is known to improve the transportation of the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh), as well as making the ACh-receptors more sensitive towards the neurotransmitter (cholinergic signaling is extremely important for memory and learning).
Another way Noopept can improve memory is its ability to increase the protein BDNF (brain-derived neurothropic factor), which is associated with long-term memory improvements.
#4. Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa Monnieri is a naturally occurring herb commonly used in the Indian herbal medicine; Ayurveda.
It's one of the most studied herbs in terms of memory, and has certainly deserved to be called a memory booster.
It's main mechanisms of action seem to be an increase in the brain enzymes related to memory formation, as well as increased growth of neurons.
Similarly to Noopept, Aniracetam is also a modified version of the original synthetic nootropic; Piracetam.
What makes it different from the "grandfather of racetams" is that it's fat-soluble, has better ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier, and is more potent at improving learning and memory than the other racetam compounds.
Aniracetam is synthetic and doesn't occur in foods. Still, it's considered extremely safe.
How does Aniracetam work?
Aniracetam has a stimulatory effect, as it excites the AMPA and kainate-receptors of the brain. It also increases the activity of the hippocampal neurons and improves the signaling of cholinergic systems.
Like Noopept, Aniracetam also increases the levels of BDNF and can thus increase brain plasticity, promoting memory and learning.
In rodents Aniracetam has reliably increased memory and learning parameters mainly through improving memory consodilation. In a human-trial lasting 6 months, Aniracetam was found to significantly improve cognitive abilities when compared to placebo.
Choline is a water-soluble vitamin that is commonly referred to being part of the vitamin B-complex.
Choline deficiency is getting increasingly common around the globe, with only few foods (eggs and liver mainly) being decent sources of the vitamin.
Without sufficient choline in the body, you can't produce acetylcholine, and without acetylcholine, your ability to learn and retain stored memories is going to be significantly impaired.
Common forms of choline include;
- Choline bitartrate - for overall replenishment of bodily choline, this salt-bound form of choline is commonly used.
- Alpha-GPC - Alpha-glycerophosphocholine is phospholipid that contains choline. Being fat-soluble it is easily able to cross the blood-brain barrier.
- CDP-Choline - Citicholine as its often called, is choline and uridine bound together by two phosphate groups. Has similar actions as alpha-GPC.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a lipid with the amino acid serine and phosphatic acid bound to its structure.
It's one of the main signaling lipids in all of the bodily cells, and resides naturally in the human body, with more than 50% of it being in neural tissues.
PS supplements used to be derived from cow brains, but ever after the "mad cow's" disease panic, manufacturers have switched over to isolating it from soy lechitin.
Why is phosphatidylserine so great?
Well, for starters, PS is one of the few natural compounds that have been granted a qualified health claim in treatment of cognitive deficit by the FDA.
Mounting pile of scientific literature in both animals and humans shows how it reliably improves memory and learning and prevents cognitive decline...
...And that's not all PS is good for, research on athletes has shown that PS supplementation before and after exercise can reduce oxidative damage, lower stress hormones, and even increase testosterone levels.