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Last modified on January 22nd, 2023
Brain fog is not a medical condition, but rather a symptom of other medical conditions. Brain fog can include a lack of mental clarity, inability to remember, trouble focusing, and poor concentration. Brain fog affects many different people for a wide variety of reasons.
In this article, we will explore the causes and symptoms of brain fog, as well as supplements and other natural treatments that may help minimize the frustrating effects of brain fog on your well-being and brain cells.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog can be a symptom of many different disorders and mental health conditions
Some of the conditions linked to brain fog are very severe. Others are rather mild. Brain fog is typically described as a lack of mental clarity, confusion, and inability to remember, and general cognitive dysfunctions.
Increasingly, we also see that it’s one of the potential COVID-19 symptoms. In particular, brain fog may be a long-haul COVID symptom in addition to more obvious ones, like shortness of breath. Researchers are increasingly looking at COVID-19 brain fog implications.
Brain fog is a frustrating condition for those who are trying to work, go to school, or interact with others. Brain fog makes it difficult to complete even basic tasks.
The causes of brain fog are not always well understood, but it can be linked to some conditions.
Speak with your medical provider or primary care physician if you experience brain fog, as it may be a sign of a more serious condition.
Many different causes of brain fog range from easily treatable conditions to chronic diseases, and even hormone production.
- Brain fog may also be a side effect of treatments such as chemotherapy.
- Some of the causes of brain fog include lack of sleep, chronic stress, medication, medical conditions (such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, diabetes, and migraines).
- Some causes of brain fog are less severe and temporary, such as lack of sleep.
If you experience brain fog, it is a good idea to speak with your medical provider to determine the cause.
Lack of Sleep and Stress
Stress and lack of sleep can cause temporary mild cognitive impairment.
Both stress and lack of sleep can cause mental fatigue which reduces your brain’s ability to process and recall thoughts and stimuli.
In general, mental fatigue has an impact on healthy brain function and can influence the severity of brain fog.
Solutions to these two causes of brain fog are fairly simple: try to get 8-9 hours of sleep per night and also try some stress-relieving and relaxation techniques such as meditation and regular exercise.
Creating a healthy routine before bed can help avoid poor sleep quality, sleep deprivation, and sleep disturbance.
Some medications may cause brain fog and cognitive symptoms in certain patients.
- If you experience brain fog while taking a medication or supplement, speak with your medical provider to find a solution.
- The most notable medications that cause brain fog are those used in chemotherapy for cancer patients.
- “Chemo Brain” is a symptom of chemotherapy in some cancer patients.
- This is a form of brain fog that may occur during or after cancer treatments.
- The risk factors of “chemo brain” are not very well known, but it is believed that there may be an inherited risk; it is also thought that age may play a role.
A person’s diet may cause them to develop brain fog and cause other long-term effects on memory function.
- Eating too much of certain foods and food additives may cause an increased risk of brain fog.
- Another cause of brain fog may be a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
- Vitamin B-12 is an essential nutrient in the synthesis and production of red blood cells, nerve cells, and even DNA.
It is very important that you consume enough vitamin B-12 per day as a deficiency can cause many different symptoms:
- Difficulty Walking
- Brain Fog
Speak with your medical provider if you feel your diet may be responsible for your brain fog. Before taking any medication or supplement, please consult your doctor to ensure the safety and efficacy of the treatment.
A healthy diet combined with aerobic exercise can significantly improve mental function and mood overall.
Water is highly important for keeping all bodily functions regulated as it is one of the most essential components of life.
- The average person is approximately 50-75% water and the average brain is almost 70% water.
- The high volumes of water in the body regulate everything from chemical processes to temperature regulation.
- When a person is even mildly dehydrated their thoughts will become slower and cloudier.
- This becomes more severe as the dehydration progresses.
To avoid dehydration make sure to drink enough water to suit your needs.
This varies from person to person, but a general guideline is to drink enough water to keep your urine at a light yellow color.
The hormonal causes during pregnancy can cause symptoms similar to brain fog, except it is dubbed “pregnancy brain.”
Some studies suggest that pregnant women do not function as well at cognitive tasks as non-pregnant women.
Diabetes is a disease that reduces the body’s ability to process food that is consumed. People with diabetes do not effectively process glucose(sugar) within their blood.
- This can cause a number of symptoms and increase risks for other conditions.
- More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
- Studies suggest that if diabetes is left untreated there are many conditions that may develop.
- Diabetes may have certain effects on cognitive functions such as memory and clarity of thoughts.
- Diabetes can be managed and treated with certain medicines as well as diet changes, and exercise.
Arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes joint pain, inflammation, stiffness, and swelling.
- Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system attacks other cells within the body.
- This causes inflammation as the cells become damaged and irritated.
- The inflammation caused by arthritis can affect more than just the joints. It is also known to cause mild cognitive impairments such as memory loss, and inability to focus.
- The onset of these brain fog symptoms is typically frustrating and concerning as arthritis is typically only associated with joint pain and damage.
Migraines are more than just simple headaches.
- They can be caused by a variety of stimuli or “triggers” that vary from person to person.
- Brain fog symptoms can occur during any of the three migraine phases (aura, attack, postdrome).
- The aura phase of migraines can cause visual symptoms as well as slurring of words and confusion.
- The attack phase of migraine occurs when the pain begins to occur until the pain subsides.
- This part of the migraine can cause tiredness and irritability.
The phase that typically causes the most brain fog in migraine sufferers is known as the postdrome stage.
This is after the attack subsided, leaving the sufferer fatigued and reducing mental clarity and concentration.
Multiple Sclerosis(MS) is an autoimmune disease where the body’s immune cells attack the protective covering of nerve cells.
- This disease causes a decline in mental connections which can be potentially disabling and cause difficulty with vision, coordination, and even cognitive function.
- MS-related brain fog is known as “cog fog” to those that suffer from it.
- The symptoms of cog fog include slurred speech, inability to focus, irritability, and memory loss.
- There are currently no cures for MS; however, there are treatments and medications that may reduce the severity of and relieve the symptoms of attacks.
Fibromyalgia is a disease that causes intense musculoskeletal pain, fatigue, and a form of brain fog called “fibro fog.”
- Fibromyalgia typically occurs after some sort of physical trauma, surgery, infection, or intense psychological trauma.
- Fibromyalgia causes nerves to overreact to little or no stimuli causing pain throughout the body.
- This condition can come with many other painful disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraines, and bladder and joint disorders.
Depression is a mental health condition that causes people to become isolated, lose interest in daily activities, and stay in depressed moods.
Depression can also cause brain fog symptoms, this can reduce mental clarity, reaction time, and executive functioning skills.
There are many other conditions that can cause brain fog.
- Some of these are autoimmune diseases that occur when immune cells do not function properly and attack tissues within the body.
- Some of these are hormonal or even cognitive diseases.
- Hypothyroidism (this occurs when the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones; it can cause dizziness, weight gain, and lethargy, as well as brain fog).
- Sjögren’s Syndrome (this condition often occurs with other autoimmune conditions. Sjögren’s Syndrome reduces the moisture production of the salivary and lacrimal glands: this causes dry mouth and eyes).
- Anemia (anemia is the lack of adequate amounts of red blood cells in the body. This can be caused by a number of vitamin deficiencies. Reduced red blood cell counts can cause dizziness, fatigue, and brain fog).
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Typical treatments for cloudy thinking and trouble with memory vary by the specific causes of brain fog.
- The symptoms of brain fog are usually reduced by treating the underlying condition.
- Treatments that are similar for some conditions include changes to diet and exercise habits.
- Another treatment for brain fog includes getting more sleep and learning how to control your stress and anxiety.
Brain fog may be a sign of a serious condition, so it is always a good idea to consult your medical provider if you experience brain fog or any cognitive disorders.
Supplements for Brain Fog
Supplements are naturally derived vitamins, minerals, or compounds that may improve symptoms of certain conditions. Sometimes supplements may be used in addition to, or as an alternative to medication. Always consult your doctor before beginning supplements or stopping medications, as it may cause harmful reactions.
Supplements can help treat the symptoms of brain fog by targeting the different elements that cause them. There are many different types of these supplements that are thought to have an impact on improving brain health.
There are many types of supplements that may boost cognitive performance and reduce brain fog:
How To Take Supplements
Supplements can be great natural ways to alleviate certain conditions without so many potential side effects.
You must speak with your medical professional before beginning or stopping any supplement or medication.
Listen to your doctor’s advice as they can create plans to perfectly match your needs.
If you decide to take a supplement of any kind, it is a very good idea to read the label. Supplement labels can give you a lot of information on ingredients, origins, and certifications that the supplement has earned.
If you are shopping online, it is a good idea to read the reviews to assess the quality of the product further.
Read labels carefully to ensure there aren’t unnecessary dyes, fillers, flavorings, or other additives. Look closely to ensure they conform to your dietary restrictions, also read for certifications and points of manufacture. Certifications are the most important aspect to look for when researching supplements. These certifications are especially notable:
- FDA, this ensures your supplement is inspected by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure quality and purity
- GMP certifies that the production facility follows Good Management Practices and follows safety and purity standards.
- Non-GMO certifications prove the product is made without genetically modified organisms.
- Organic, particularly USDA Organic certifications prove that the product is made from farmed sustainable organisms without harmful pesticides or hormones.
- Testing, be it in a lab or by a Third Party, is an important certification for the safety of the product.
Top 9 Best Supplements for Brain Fog
Many different types of supplements can assist with cognitive decline and even promote emotional well-being. Here are the 10 best supplements for reducing brain fog from our research:
Resveratrol is a natural non-flavonoid compound found in grapes, mulberries, peanuts, and other plants such as rhubarb.
This compound and products containing this compound such as wine have long been touted for health benefits. Resveratrol helps to reduce inflammation and inhibit damage from free radicals.
Inflammation is a major side effect of many disorders, it can cause other symptoms as well. Inflammation is typically a natural immune system reaction to injury, this helps the body to prevent infection and further damage; however, inflammation sometimes occurs without injury, and the immune system begins randomly attacking cells in the body.
This attack can cause many adverse reactions and conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.
Free radicals are atoms which contain an unpaired electron; this makes them very reactive and unstable. This reactivity has the potential to damage cells, but antioxidants can reduce and slow the ill-effects of these free radicals through electron donation which neutralizes the radical.
Antioxidants are very important in reducing the risk of oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Due to its anti-inflammatory and free radical neutralizing effects, resveratrol is a very good supplement to use in the fight against the symptoms of brain fog.
This brand of resveratrol is produced in a US-Based, GMP-certified facility without GMOs or animal ingredients.
This product contains a 1-month supply of resveratrol capsules that are third party tested and free from most major allergens. Reviews praise this best supplement for reducing brain fog for its purity, potency, and effectiveness.
Creatine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the muscles and brain.
It is most easily obtained by consuming seafood and red meat; however, the kidneys and liver also produce it.
Athletes typically use creatine supplements to increase lean muscle mass.
Creatine has a hidden cognitive benefit; studies suggest creatine may improve short-term memory and reasoning skills.
Creatine deficiencies or insufficiencies affect vegetarians and vegans more often than those that consume red meat and other animal products. Creatine can react with caffeine and ephedra; it is a good idea to speak with your medical provider to avoid any ill-effects.
This creatine supplement is vegan-friendly and free from many common allergens. This supplement is also lab tested for quality and purity. It is in the form of a micronized powder for increased solubility and ease of swallowing.
There are approximately 40 servings per package. The reviews on this product suggest that it is a great quality for a great price. These reviews say it can increase energy and even boost physical strength.
This supplement has many different brain-boosting ingredients: Ginkgo Biloba, Bacopa Monnieri, St. John’s Wort, Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), Phosphatidylserine, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Huperzine A. This supplement offers cognitive and mood support.
Ginkgo Biloba and Bacopa Monnieri may help to improve cognitive function in differing ways. Bacopa Monnieri has been used to relieve stress and boost mood as well as reducing oxidative stress. Ginkgo Biloba has been shown to improve working memory and improve blood flow to the brain.
St. John’s Wort has been used for thousands of years for a variety of mental conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Studies suggest it may be as effective as antidepressants in boosting mood; however, St. John’s Wort can react with some medications, so it is crucial that you speak with your medical provider before taking anything containing St. John’s Wort.
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) is a precursor to the production of choline in the body.
Choline is an essential nutrient that may boost cognitive function. Studies on DMAE suggest that it may be beneficial for increasing focus and cognitive function, it may also scavenge free radicals.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid; phospholipids are responsible for maintaining cell membranes that control what comes into and out of the cell. Maintaining cell membranes is very important to ward off infections and damage from free radicals. It may serve as a brain-boosting compound as well as prevent age-related memory loss.
Acetyl L-Carnitine is a short-chain ester of carnitine, a compound that is extremely important in metabolizing fatty acids. Carnitine assists with energy production and may even reduce fatigue caused by MS. Acetyl L-Carnitine may have reactions with blood thinners, but it is generally recognized as safe.
Huperzine A is an alkaloid compound that can be derived from species of firmoss. Traditional Chinese medicine has used this compoundtraditional Chinese medicine for various ailments ranging from bruising to schizophrenia. Studies have shown that Huperzine A may improve memory and quality of life in Alzheimer’s patients.
This supplement contains all of the powerful ingredients mentioned above, there are many benefits that these ingredients can provide: mood support, energy production, and memory support. This product is formulated in the USA in an FDA and GMP certified facility. It is third-party tested and contains no caffeine for those sensitive to caffeine.
Each package contains a 1-month supply of capsules. The reviews on this best supplement for brain fog suggest that it is a quality product for boosting brain function, including cognitive ability and memory.
This product contains caffeine and L-Theanine to boost mood, energy, and cognitive function. This supplement is also made with Multiple Chain Triglyceride (MCT) oil derived from coconuts; this provides an energy source for the brain.
Caffeine is a stimulant that can boost nervous system and neuron activity. It can also cause an increase in the hormone dopamine. Caffeine can assist with increased focus, but it is a good idea to take it in moderation as too much caffeine can negatively affect sleep and anxiety.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that is found in green tea. Green tea has been used historically for its relaxing qualities. In recent years, L-Theanine has been shown to improve learning and memory and be a neuroprotective agent.
This supplement contains up to a 2-month supply with 60 capsules. It is gluten-free, non-GMO, and third-party tested.
The reviews on this supplement suggest that it is very effective in providing mood support and increased focus, memory retention, and cognitive speed.
This best supplement for brain fog is a B-Vitamin complex containing many different b-vitamins: Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), Folate (B9), Methylcobalamin (B12). B-vitamins are necessary for cellular processes and metabolism, as many of the b-vitamins act as coenzymes to catalyze reactions within cells.
B-vitamins may be used to promote cognitive function and memory health. These vitamins also have many other benefits: cardiovascular, hair, skin, and nail health.
There are many different types of b-vitamin supplements, but b-vitamin complexes offer a single supplement that contains most of the essential b-vitamins. This supplement is in the form of a liquid for maximum ease of swallowing.
This supplement is organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, and free from most major allergens. There is a 2-month supply of servings per container. The reviews on this supplement suggest that it has a great flavor and that it has given reviewers increased cognition and overall health.
This supplement contains Vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid, rose hips, and derivatives of citrus.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin that has important functions in brain health, and immune health, and serves as an antioxidant to protect from free radicals.
Vitamin C is important for communication within the nervous system and functioning as an antioxidant.
Vitamin C is also important in synthesizing other brain-boosting compounds such as Carnitine. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce stress in some animal studies.
Deficiency of Vitamin C can cause dangerous side-effects such as scurvy. Scurvy is a disease that causes bleeding, malaise, and a number of other symptoms. Vitamin C supplements can cure this disease. Most people do not experience such a deficiency, but vitamin C supplements may still assist in protecting neurons, and improving connections in the brain.
This supplement is non-GMO and third-party tested. It is made in Europe and is meant to be taken once-daily because it contains 1,000 mg of Vitamin C. There are 250 servings per container, providing an 8-month supply. Reviews on this supplement suggest that it is very effective, and a great quality supplement.
Vitamin D and K2 are both essential to bodily function.
Together they work in this supplement to increase bone and muscle health as well as increase energy.
Both of these vitamins help regulate calcium in the body, which is necessary to prevent certain neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin D helps to promote healthy brain activity and serves as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.
Vitamin K2 is a nutrient which plays a major part in blood coagulation. This vitamin is also important to brain function, and a deficiency of Vitamin K2 may cause cognitive impairments. It is also thought that Vitamin K2 can assist in preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s.
This supplement contains two necessary vitamins. If getting enough of these is an issue, supplements can help. This supplement is non-GMO, vegan, gluten-free, and clinically tested.
There is a 2-month supply of the supplement per package.
Phosphatidylcholine is a form of the essential nutrient Choline.
This nutrient is important for cell membrane health. Choline also supports cognitive function and memory. Choline works closely with folate (Vitamin B9) to promote overall health.
Choline synthesizes acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that regulates important functions such as memory, muscle control, and mood.
Choline is important for gene expression, cell structural support, lipid transportation, and lipid transportation and metabolism.
This USA-made phosphatidylcholine supplement is in the form of an easy to swallow soft gel. It is non-GMO, vegetarian, third-party tested, and gluten-free.
This supplement contains 420mg of bioavailable choline.
This contains a 210-day supply of choline, as it is suggested that you take one per day.
Vitamin E is another essential vitamin that serves many functions within the body.
There are many benefits provided by Vitamin E: cardiovascular and immune support, and antioxidant properties to protect from free radicals.
In many studies, higher blood Vitamin E levels led to increased cognitive performance in aging individuals.
Vitamin E prevents oxidative stress caused by free radicals due to cellular reactions in the brain.
Vitamin E changes free radicals into less reactive compounds before they can cause damage to cells.
This supplement is all natural, gluten-free, and made in the USA. There are 200 servings of 670 mg of Vitamin E. Reviews on this best supplement for brain fog suggest that it is easy to take, and is very effective for boosting cognitive and overall health.
Brain fog may be a symptom of many different conditions. It can be frustrating and even disabling when it is severe.
Memory loss and a lack of mental clarity may reduce one’s quality of life.
These supplements may help serve as a treatment for your brain fog, but as always speak with your medical provider before beginning any supplement or medication, as this guide is no replacement for their advice.
Please feel free to ask questions and tell us about your experiences with brain fog or any of these supplements. We would love to hear from you!