Study Supplements aim to improve concentration, alertness and reduce mental fatigue, among other cognitive abilities
Supplements for Students
For those of you who have to study, either because an exam is coming up or because we are competing, sometimes time is thrown at us and not for lack of it. Sometimes it’s because of the economy and efficiency of cognitive abilities.
It would be great to be able to study, render, process and retrieve information faster, wouldn’t it?
You may not know it, but there are extremely powerful pharmacological products available that are used to treat neurodegenerative diseases and/or neurobiological disorders such as ADHD, conditions such as Asperger’s, etc…
Which we will not treat as they require a doctor’s prescription from a neurologist or specialist.
But, what if I told you that…
- There are supplements for this purpose, for neuromodulation
- Although of lesser magnitude, the effect is significant, openly sold and without the undesirable effects of psychostimulant substances such as those mentioned in the previous paragraph
- Do you want to increase your cognitive performance?
Read on to discover which study supplements can help you
Supplements to improve brain function
There are an infinite number of products that can improve cognitive performance by secondary routes such as products rich in PUFAS omega-3 for reduction off inflammation, group B vitamins, or vitamin C for its antioxidant function or adaptogens for its anxiolytic action.
In this case we are going to talk about nootropic substances, which you can find on the Internet, cited as “cognitive enhancers drugs”, are substances that through different mechanisms enhance the ability to process information, apply knowledge and choose preferences.
In other words, they are just: supplements to study
These substances can act by various routes, among which the action on receptors, enzymes, ionic channels, nerve growth factors, transporters, metal chelators…
In general they increase brain functionality by generally altering the neurotransmitters in the brain
Caffeine is possibly the most effective substance for improving cognitive functioning because of its psychostimulant effect
Caffeine has the ability to non-selectively agonise adenosine receptors (A1, A2A, A3 and A2B) preventing their coupling and thus avoiding the central sedation effects generally induced by this neurotransmitter.
In this way, caffeine has a marked stimulating action at a central level, significantly increasing the waking state
Improvement of cerebral blood flow
400mg of caffeine have shown, through transcranial Doppler sonography studies, how it increases blood flow through the anterior and middle cerebral arteries, favouring blood circulation, something that can be translated as an acute increase in the functional efficiency of the neuronal relationships of the cerebral cortex (extracted from Glade, 2010).
Its effectiveness will be conditioned by the expression of the CYP1A2 polymorphism that conditions xanthine metabolism and influences its ergogenic effects. It is effective in the AA genotype and to a lesser or no extent can have undesirable effects on CA/CC expression. (Guest et al. 2018)
Caffeine to Study
Caffeine is one of the best supplements to study as it increases:
- Mental clarity.
And from doses as low as 32-50mg. (Glade, 2010) even though the most effective dose is higher.
This effect is especially useful in moments of “brain fog” after extensive periods of mental effort, partial sleep restriction or cognitively demanding activities
Its effectiveness on mood and speed of reaction is conditioned by the degree of tolerance developed because of its chronic consumption. Meanwhile, other effects such as the enhancement of selective attention and memory do not.
This is why, depending on the characteristics of the activity to be carried out, restricting its consumption for a certain period may or may not be a useful strategy
Caffeine is the “base” compound. However, it is easy to experience side effects when using it, mainly due to excessive activation of the nervous system.
There is a substance known as L-Theanine, an amino acid that can be found in tea. It has relaxing properties thanks to the boost in GABA production. We could say that L-Theanine is a precursor amino acid of the inhibitory neurotransmitter of the central nervous system.
But can this help or hinder us?
The fact is that, while its isolated use presents contradictory results on the enhancement of cognitive capacity, its use in combination with caffeine seems to exert a synergistic action improving markers such as alertness.
Thus, the net positive result is higher than caffeine consumption in isolation, than the values presented in the study. Its priority effect is to prevent the degeneration of the state of alert rather than to increase it per se.
As achieved with the combination of caffeine + L-Theanine
Memory and Mental Fatigue Delay
It is also interesting to see how the use of caffeine + theanine significantly increased (compared to the use of caffeine alone) the speed of delayed word recognition.
One manifestation of lexical memory, while other manifestations such as graphic or numerical recognition did not show significant improvement with respect to the isolated use of caffeine although they did with respect to placebo.
What Dosage of Caffeine and Theanine?
In this case the doses used to obtain the previous results of Haskell et al (2008) are, perhaps, excessive amounts for an average user, having used the caffeine group 150mg, theanine group 250mg. and the combined group the same amount of both (150mg.+250mg.)
There are studies such as Owen et al (2008), where with doses of 50mg of caffeine + 100mg of L-Theanine they managed to improve the speed and precision in the development of a task of attentional change after 60′ of its ingestion and reducing the susceptibility to distraction during the activity both 60 and 90 minutes after its intake.
The authors conclude that:
“In particular, L-Theanine and caffeine in combination appear to significantly improve aspects of memory and attention to a greater extent than caffeine alone” (Owen et al. 2008).
Continuous Consumption for Results
After the basic combo of “caffeine + theanine”, which can be the pillars of a stack aimed at improving cognitive capacity, the rest of the compounds lack acute effects of a similar magnitude to the previous ones.
Other alkaloids, cousins of caffeine, such as theobromine present in cocoa, theophylline in tea or nicotine, can be used. These act in synergy with each other by similar routes.
However, the fact that they do not have acute effects does not mean that they are useless. On the contrary, they are very effective compounds but require long-term consumption in order to notice their effects.
This is because the substances I am going to name are based on stimulating biogenesis and nerve repair to the brain layer
This is a slow and sustained process that ends up increasing cognitive capacity in the long term
In this respect, Choline is the king of substances to increase the concentrations of acetylcholine in the brain. It is a neurotransmitter involved in the synapse, and can have either excitatory or inhibitory activity depending on the receptor used.
Effects of Acetylcholine
The effects of acetylcholine can increase the different types of coding of new memory episodes in different cortical structures.
The role of acetylcholine on attention has been repeatedly demonstrated in a multitude of tasks. Acetylcholine is related to accuracy of response, willingness and reflective attention as well as speed of response. (NCBI, 2018)
Increase Acetylcholine concentrations
To increase the concentrations of acetylcholine at brain level, several ways can be used. The most usual is by increasing the concentrations of the neurotransmitter by increasing the concentrations of choline through exogenous administration.
However, choline in its base form, shows less effectiveness in raising serum choline values than other forms such as Alpha-GPC.
which due to its molecular weight results in a more significant increase than other forms of choline
There is little literature on this subject. However, there is a test in rodent models that having received a dose of 0.75mg/kg of Scopolamine (an acetylcholine receptor antagonist substance that generates acetylcholine degradation in brain tissue), the administration of Alpha-GPC did not increase acetylcholine concentrations at brain level.
ALCAR (Acetyl L-Carnitine)
The base substance, L-Carnitine, has no effect on the production of acetylcholine. Like its D-isomer it is highly ineffective because of its limitation to cross the blood-brain barrier.
It has a molecular structure similar to acetylcholine, which improves cholinergic transmission by donating the acetyl group to the choline molecules present.
It can increase the production of acetylcholine, both in the striatum and in the hippocampus. Through an exocytosis sensitive to a Ca2+ dependent mechanism.
Which is strongly related to the integrity of the impulse flow of cholinergic neurons (Imperato, Ramacci, Angelucci, 1989)
Stack recommended to improve cognitive ability
In short, the “basic stack” (or supplements to study) to improve cognitive capacity in broad terms would be:
- At least 50mg of caffeine + 100mg of L-Theanine before the study period (100mg + 250mg being “optimal”)
- During the previous weeks at least 1000mg of choline (preferably ALPHA-GPC) + 2000mg of ALCAR daily (based on evidence presented in Vermeulen & Scholte, 2004)
This is our guide to the best Study Supplements so far, I hope you liked it and if you have any questions leave it in comments.
- Gatti, G., Barzaghi, N., Acuto, G., Abbiati, G., Fossati, T., & Perucca, E. (1992). A comparative study of free plasma choline levels following intramuscular administration of L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine and citicoline in normal volunteers. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Therapy, and Toxicology, 30(9), 331–335.
- Haskell, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Milne, A. L., Wesnes, K. A., & Scholey, A. B. (2008). The effects of L-theanine, caffeine and their combination on cognition and mood. Biological Psychology, 77(2), 113–122.
- Lopez, C. M., Govoni, S., Battaini, F., Bergamaschi, S., Longoni, A., Giaroni, C., & Trabucchi, M. (1991). Effect of a new cognition enhancer, alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine, on scopolamine-induced amnesia and brain acetylcholine. Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior, 39(4), 835–840.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database; CID=187, (accessed Nov. 15, 2018).
- Owen, G. N., Parnell, H., De Bruin, E. A., & Rycroft, J. A. (2008). The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutritional Neuroscience, 11(4), 193–198.
- Vermeulen, R. C. W., & Scholte, H. R. (2004). Exploratory open label, randomized study of acetyl- and propionylcarnitine in chronic fatigue syndrome. Psychosomatic Medicine, 66(2), 276–282.
- Do you know which are the most important Nootropics? To discover click here.
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- Alpha-GPC is able to improve sports and cognitive performance before training. More information at this link.