Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on
December 3, 2021
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on:

Mental clarity pills are an interesting topic of discussion. There are so many different types on the market, with various purported side effects. Some people seem to swear by them, while others claim that they are entirely useless. So what is the truth? Read on to find out more about the different types and possible side effects of natural supplements for improving mental function.

What are mental clarity pills?

Mental clarity pills are usually what we refer to as nootropics or natural supplements taken to boost your cognitive performance. Many hope to boost their concentration and memory by taking one of these. There are natural kinds of mental clarity pills, and synthetic ones. In this article we will focus on the natural kinds. If you want to know more about other nootropics, we will refer you to this article.

Do mental focus pills work for better brain function?

Mental focus pills for better brain function could potentially work. The effects of these pills could sometimes be explained by the placebo effect. Certain supplements might also work by resolving your deficiency of vitamins or minerals. What makes it so difficult to make a clear conclusion on supplements is that many of these are tested only on animals in high concentrations. These tests are difficult to replicate with healthy adults sometimes. 

The only way to know if you profit from them, is giving it a try.

Side Effects of Mental Clarity Supplements

As with everything, too much of something might have a price. Most of these natural supplements have little to no side effects, still it is recommended to follow the guidelines of your doctor or the packaging.

Some of the following supplements could possibly interact with certain medications, so it would be best to avoid overconsumption. 

Best Supplements for Focus and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Anyone who has ever experienced the frustration of not being able to focus on anything for more than a few minutes at a time knows how devastating it can be. It can make even small tasks seem insurmountable, and leaves you feeling frustrated, exhausted, and defeated. But if you are one of the many people with attention problems, there is hope! There are some great supplements out there that have been shown to help make our mind less tired. Below we will discuss some safe supplements that have the potential to support your body and brain. 

Caffeine

Caffeine is an example of a natural nootropic. Most people drink a cup of coffee to fight mental fatigue and to boost their mental focus.  Caffeine is the active ingredient in coffee. This is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world, and is also a nootropic.

Green Tea Extract for mental health

L-theanine occurs naturally as an amino acid derived in (green) tea. Historically we use tea for relaxation. It doesn’t cause drowsiness or negative side effects like strong sleeping pills.

Tea is also anatural stimulant, in some bags they also infuse some caffeine to stimulate a little extra. Side-effects of l-theanine are usually less than for coffee. People report less headaches than with coffee. More research is still needed to confirm these effects.

Creatine

Creatine is mostly derived from animal products but can be made by our kidneys, liver, and pancreas. Synthetic supplements can your values.  

Creatine could strengthen muscle size and performance. It can also improve your working memory. These results are found for younger and older adults. Older adults, vegetarians and vegans might find more effects.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa monnieri, or brahmi is used in ayurverdic medicine to treat memory loss and epilepsy. It is an anti-inflammatory and a derivation is also used for neurodegenerative diseases. Bacopa could improve energy levels by increasing dopamine, testosterone, GABA and serotonin.

Omega-3 fatty Acids

Omega-three fatty acids could improve cognitive performance, mood and cardiovascular function. The best way to get enough omega-three is to eat fat fish. Fish oil supplements could also do the trick. Effects of fish oil supplements is small and as such, inconclusive.

Fish oil supplements are safe. The worst side effects are bad breath/ taste, smelly sweat. Headaches or gastrointestinal issues are possible but not often reported. Don’t take these if you are allergic to seafood or taking blood clothing medication.

Rhodiola

King’s crown or Rhodiola is an Arctic/ European root that helps your body adapt to stress. This adaptogen is used in alternative medicine to improve endurance, performance and altitude sickness. Theoretically you could expect less fatigue and weakness. Now it is known for similar. We use it for mental performance, memory, and to manage stress and mental health.

Ginkgo Biloba

Maidenhair tree or ginkgo biloba could improve blood circulation to the brain. It could increase oxygen and glucose in the cells, which gives us more energy to use our cognitive functions.

This possible antioxidant might fight oxidative stress and aging. Ginkgo is used to improve memory in those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Healthy adults can also have positive effects, but they aren’t longterm.

There are no reportedshort-term side-effects, the long-term impact is unkown. 

Resveratrol

Resveratrol could improve memory and reduce risk of neurodegenartive diseases. It is found in grape skins, red wine or supplements. The effects of supplements are not clear yet, and drinking excessive wine is not advisable either. Excess alcohol is associated with cancers and neuronal death.

Acetyl-L-carnitine

Acetyl-L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the brain. You can obtain more by taking a supplement. There are many studies that suggest that acetyl-L-carnitine could positively affect the brain. It could possibly slow down cognitive decline for those with dementia. Acetyl-L-carnitine might 

  • restore of cell membranes and synaptic functioning, 
  • enhance cholinergic activity, 
  • promote mitochondrial energy metabolism, 
  • protect against toxins, 
  • and exert neurotrophic effects. 

Still, a recent review of the literature showed that still more research is needed to understand the mechanisms and effects better.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is another adaptogen, used to handle stress. Possible cognitive benefits could be improved memory, mental clarity and focus. Mice also experienced 20% more stamina in a swimming test.

More research is needed on its effectiveness. Ask a doctor for advice if you take any medications to prevent negative side effects.

Tyrosine

Tyrosine is a known precursor of dopamine and norepinephrine. These two neurotransmitters are essential for cognitive performance. Tyrosine already showed potential in 1998. A group of military cadets scored significantly better on memory and tracking tasks. Researchers concluded it might reduce stress and fatigue during these tasks. While there are more studies that confirm these results, other don’t. This study explains the lack of positive results by questioning the integrity of the biological structure of the participants. If participants have enough dopamine or norepinephrine, the excess tyrosine won’t lead to better cognition. Also, there won’t be any use for the tyrosine if the neurotransmitters don’t function anymore, (due to age f.e.). 

Brain Vitamins for Adults

We all know the feeling of losing focus and getting distracted by anything and everything. It’s not uncommon to feel scattered at times, but some people struggle with this more than others. Some of these vitamins might be interesting to supplement if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Vitamin E

The antioxidant Vitamin E could fight off free radicals and improve blood flow to the brain. The possible benefits are better mental clarity, memory, and concentration. At a certain point it was promoted to protect us from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, proof is still lacking for this claim.

Vitamin E is mostly found in nuts and seeds and a variety of vegatbles or fruits. If you eat a complete and balanced diet you should get enough. You can also supplement if needed.

B Vitamins

B vitamins usually refer to a complex of taking the multiple B vitamins. These work in sync with each other and are the key to proper brain function. These vitamins work to support the growth and development and functioning of cells. Some also work to get rid of oxidative stress. In general a lack of B vitamins brings us trouble. It could be associated with a disbalance of certain neurotransmitters. We could also feel fatigued, stressed and have difficulties with short term memory. We can’t make these ourselves but need to take them through food (or supplements if needed).  

Magnesium

The mineral magnesium is like a gatekeeper between our brain and body. It contributes to thinking skills, mental performance and mental clarity. Magnesium is taken from seeds, legumes, nuts or leafy greens. You can also supplement if needed.

Iron

Iron is responsible for oxygen transportation and production. Without it we feel fatigue and concentration problems. Iron comes mostly from meat. Losing blood or absorption problems could also cause a deficiency.

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C levels seem higher for people with intact cognition in comparison to those with impaired cognition. For older people it might be good to take some preventive vitamin C, a deficiency that is shown to play a role in accelerating amyloid plaques. This is a key symptom for those developing Alzheimer’s disease. Further if you believe that your mental fatigue is due to a chronic illness (like cancer or due to chemotherapy), then taking vitamin C could potentially decrease some of that. Ask your doctor for advice on this topic.

How can I improve my mental clarity?

The above supplements and vitamins already refer to it. Usually, the best way to improve your clarity, is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Below we will suggest some easy implications that you can add to your daily routine.

Get your inflammation levels tested

Feeling constant fatigue or experiencing memory loss is a sign that something is going on. The best and easiest way to handle a problem is by getting to the cause. Sometimes it could be as simple as testing your inflammation levels and confirming a lack of certain vitamins. Ask your doctor what the underlying cause of your lack of mental clarity could be.

Get enough sleep

Without eight hours of sleep you might feel foggy and stressed. Take action and get enough sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, you can figure out with a healthcare professional what is going on.

Sniff some rosemary essential oil

A small amount of rosemary essential oil may speed up/ enhance memory and improve mood. This might be more effective for the older generation than healthy adults. Possibly it has to do with the link between the olfactory senses and the brain, it might also be placebo. Give it a try, worse case scenario is having a tasty dish.

Give your gut some love

There is a direct connection from the gut to the brain. An infection of the gut could cause bad concentration. Research is mostly clear on high fat diets, they seem especially bad for our brain health.

Check your nutrition

Nutrient deficiency can ruin cognitive performance. The best way to improve brain function is by eating a complete diet full of lean protein, healthy fats, and whole grains.

Practice mindfulness

Stress has a negative effect on your brain function. Mindfulness can help you relieve the stress. Other potential benefits are more control over your attention and over mental health conditions.

Take short breaks

Taking a break can refuel your energy. You might be able to go back with fresh eyes. It can also help your motivation to step away for a while.

Exercise regularly 

Exercise releases endorphins. Exercise is really a cure-all. It’s great for the immune system, keeps the blood flowing and makes you feel energetic. It can even lower stress. Usually it is one of the first things prescribed to manage mental health conditions.

On top of all that, it could protect and improve brain function.

Concluding Thoughts

A healthy diet, exercising and being conscious of what we consume are great ways to support our brain function and mental health.

If you need another boost, than the above natural smart drugs could boost brain function.   More research however is needed for to conclude the potential benefits. In comparison to other medications the most common side effects are minimal, and there are little health risks associated. In short, improving brain function is possible, give a dietary supplement.    If you are taking medications, a healthcare professional can provide more information.

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