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Last modified on November 17th, 2022
It seems that a new supplement for focus and concentration is hitting the market every day.
Once you read the reviews, you often quickly see they don’t work. One big issue with many concentration and focus supplements is that they’re proprietary blends.
They tend to have small amounts of several ingredients, and the dosages of each ingredient aren’t necessarily enough to be effective or get results.
In the following guide to the best supplements for focus and concentration, we put more attention on individual products and ingredients than combos. The benefits of using individual ingredients are that they are often less expensive, and you get more bang for your buck.
1. Bacopa Monnieri
- What Is it? Bacopa monnieri is used in traditional medicine, such as Ayurveda, to improve brain function.
- The Benefits: Bacopa monnieri may improve thinking skills and memory, and it may also help older people dealing with declines in brain function.
- How much should you take? You should take around 300 mg daily and give it at least four to six weeks to see the full effects.
- Are there side effects? Bacopa monnieri is a safe supplement for most people, but some experience upset stomach and diarrhea. Taking it with food can help.
Bacopa monnieri is also called Brahmi. It grows in wet and tropical environments; for centuries, it’s been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurvedic practitioners use it for reducing anxiety, improving memory, and treating epilepsy.
According to research, bacopa monnieri may alleviate anxiety and stress and boost brain function.
Specific benefits of this supplement for focus and concentration include:
- According to research, it’s high in antioxidants. Many of the compounds in bacopa monnieri may neutralize free radicals, and this can help reverse signs of memory impairment. One type of compound, in particular, bacosides, may have antioxidant effects on the brain.
- In test-tube and animal studies, bacopa monnieri has been found to reduce inflammation.
- In one study, people who supplemented with bacopa monnieri had improved spatial learning and a better ability to retain information. The same study also found the supplement helped increase dendritic branching and length. Dendrites are part of the nerve cells in our brain that are linked to memory and learning.
- In a 12-week study of healthy adults, taking 300 mg of Bacopa daily helped with learning rate, memory, and visual information processing.
- There’s evidence that bacopa monnieri may reduce attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD symptoms. In a study of children between 6 and 12, taking 225 mg daily for six months significantly reduced ADHD symptoms, including poor self-control, impulsivity, and inattention.
- Dopamine Supplement may help reduce stress and anxiety, both of which negatively affect your ability to focus and concentrate. Bacopa is an adaptogenic herb that increases your body’s resistance to stress, and research shows it may elevate your mood and reduce cortisol levels. In one study in animals, bacopa had anti-anxiety benefits that were comparable to lorazepam, which Is a prescription benzodiazepine.
Bacopa monnieri can be purchased from health food stores and online. There are different forms, including powders and capsules. Typical dosages in human studies are usually between 300 and 450 mg daily, but you should follow the instructions for the product you buy.
Bacopa monnieri products to try include:
- Himalaya Organic Bacopa Monnieri, 750 mg
- NOW Supplements Bacopa Extract, 450 mg
- Double Wood Supplements Bacopa Monnieri, 450 mg
- What Is it? DMAE is a compound that the body naturally produces, and DMAE is also found in fatty fish like salmon.
- The Benefits: Research points to the ability of DMAE to improve memory, mood, and brain function. It also helps improve the skin’s health, reducing aging effects.
- How much should you take? In studies, participants have taken anywhere from 300-2000 mg of DMAE daily.
- Are there side effects? Not much is known about the safety and side effects of DMAE. Side effects are possible, including headaches, increased blood pressure, stomach upset, irritability, and muscle tension. Pregnant or nursing women shouldn’t take DMAE, and people with epilepsy or bipolar disorder shouldn’t take DMAE.
DMAE is a compound with benefits that may include improving memory, mood, and overall brain function. There’s some evidence that DMAE may benefit depression, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and ADHD.
Our bodies naturally produce DMAE, and it’s found in fatty fish. DMAE may be one of the best supplements for focus and concentration because it increases the production of acetylcholine or Ach, and this neurotransmitter helps nerve cells with signaling.
DMAE may prevent beta-amyloid buildup in the brain, which is linked to memory loss.
At one point, DMAE was sold as a prescription medication for children with behavioral and learning problems. It was available under Deanol, but now it’s marketed as a dietary supplement.
There’s evidence that DMAE supplementation may improve depression and irritability and help with initiative and motivation. It may reduce hyperactivity, and some feel that DMAE helps enhance athletic performance.
DMAE may be safe when used as a supplement, but not at very high doses. It shouldn’t be used by people with schizophrenia, epilepsy, or bipolar disorder.
Top DMAE products for focus and concentration include:
- NOW Supplements DMAE 250 mg
- NOW Supplements True Focus with DMAE, Gingko, Amino Acids, CoQ10, and Grape Seed Extract
- Life Extension DMAE Bitartrate
3. Mucuna Pruriens
- What Is it? Mucuna pruriens is an herbal Ayurveda herbal drug for conditions like Parkinson’s. Also known as velvet bean, it’s thought to raise dopamine, a source of L-Dopa supplement, which the body uses to make dopamine.
- The Benefits: Possible benefits of mucuna pruriens include helping with symptoms of ADHD. Dopamine is important for focus, and mucuna pruriens can raise the level of dopamine. Low dopamine can also cause low mood and depression, and in animal studies, mucuna pruriens extract improves symptoms of depression.
- How much should you take? You can take a dose of anywhere from 200 to 500 mg of mucuna pruriens a day or up to 1,000 mg a day. Don’t take more than one gram daily because you can experience side effects.
- Are there side effects? Overall the side effects of mucuna pruriens are thought to be minimal, but if you take more than 1,000 mg a day, you could experience side effects like heart palpitations, sweating, nausea, or high blood pressure.
Mucuna pruriens is an adaptogen used in Ayurvedic medicine to help improve libido, lower stress, increase focus and elevate mood. The supplement has high levels of natural L-dopa, a precursor to dopamine.
As an adaptogen, mucuna pruriens can help regulate hormones and allow your body to handle stress better.
High L-dopa concentrations can help with Parkinson’s disease and other conditions.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter important for:
- Mental functions
- Calming the nervous system
When you take the dopa bean supplement, you’re supporting your body’s natural production of dopamine, and it can cross the blood-brain barrier. Proper dopamine levels promote a healthy sense of motivation, sex drive, and appetite.
Dopamine regulates the release of hormones and plays a significant role in your mental function, mood and emotions. Mucuna is increasingly showing promise in helping with depression and stress.
If you have difficulty focusing, mucuna pruriens can boost learning and reaction time. The way that prescription Adderall works is by blocking the reuptake of dopamine, so you have more in your nervous system. Because of mucuna prurien’s effects on dopamine, it’s often referred to as natural Adderall.
In some studies, the dopa bean also helps with male infertility and increases libido.
If you try a mucuna pruriens supplement, you should cycle on and off of it. You don’t want to become tolerant of the effects or dependent and try to take the supplement only four or five days a week to avoid tolerance.
Brands of mucuna pruriens that I like for improving focus and concentration include:
- Himalaya Organic Mucuna Pruriens
- NOW Supplements DOPA Mucuna
- DoubleWood Supplements Mucuna Pruriens Extract
4. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
- What Is it? Lion’s mane is a mushroom used medically and for culinary purposes in Asian countries. The mushroom has bioactive substances with health benefits, especially for the brain, gut, and heart.
- The Benefits: Lion’s mane mushrooms can help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and reduce memory loss symptoms. The mushroom may help with focus and mood too.
- How much should you take? As far as we know, lion’s mane is a safe supplement. In animal studies, rats have been given doses as high as 2.3 grams per pound per day with no adverse effects. A good recommended dose is usually 250 to 750 mg of lion’s mane daily, but some people take more. It’s best not to take more than 4 mg of lion’s mane.
- Are there side effects? No research has found any major side effects of lion’s mane outside of in people with an allergy. People allergic to lion’s mane may experience breathing problems or skin rashes.
I love mushrooms for dogs, and if I had to pick a favorite, I would choose lion’s mane. Lion’s mane is a supplement that, in my opinion, gives me noticeable benefits in terms of not only focus and concentration but also my mood and sense of well-being.
Lion’s mane is a supplement that can take some time to figure out the correct dosage for your needs, so be patient with it. I also start noticing the most benefits after a few weeks of taking it consistently.
Regarding natural nootropics, lion’s mane is one of the best. It’s full of bioactive compounds, including nerve growth factor synthesis or NGF, which helps with the growth of neural cells in your brain and central nervous system.
Along with mental energy, it can help improve your physical energy without the crash that comes with caffeine.
In people who are older with mild cognitive impairment, three grams of lion’s mane mushrooms taken once a day over four months significantly improved mental functioning. In this study, when supplementation stopped, so did the benefits. Lion’s mane mushrooms can stimulate brain cell growth that can protect against Alzheimer’s damage.
Lion’s mane may reduce anxiety and depression symptoms as well. In animal studies, the anti-inflammatory effects of the mushroom helped with mental health. In other animal studies, lion’s mane helped with the regeneration of brain cells and the function of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for processing memories and our emotional responses. Researchers think improving hippocampus functioning could be responsible for reducing anxious and depressive behaviors in animal studies.
In some research, lion’s mane mushroom helped speed up recovery from nervous system injuries to the brain and spinal cord. It may reduce the severity of brain damage someone experiences after a stroke.
There are other health benefits of lion’s mane besides the brain benefits. For example, it may help reduce the risk of heart disease, and it can improve gut health. It’s one of my all-time favorite supplements.
My favorite brands of lion’s mane mushroom include:
- What Is it? L-tyrosine is a nonessential amino acid needed to produce brain chemicals and neurotransmitters.
- The Benefits: L-tyrosine helps your brain create neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. L-tyrosine helps make and regulate adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary hormones. It can help improve attention, focus, and alertness as a supplement.
- How much should you take? As a supplement, tyrosine doses are usually between 500 and 2000 mg. If you were in an especially stressful situation and needed to improve your mental performance, you might take anywhere from 45 to 68 mg per pound, which, if you were 150 pounds, would be around 7 to 10 grams.
- Are there side effects? Tyrosine is safe for most people, although it can potentially interact with some medicines. If you take MAOIs, thyroid hormone, or L-dopa, you should talk to your healthcare provider before supplementing with tyrosine. The Food and Drug Administration says tyrosine is generally considered safe or GRAS.
L-tyrosine, also called just tyrosine, is a nonessential amino acid, and the body makes it from another amino acid—phenylamine. L-tyrosine can be used as a dietary supplement and is often used for improving attention, focus, and alertness.
The benefits of supplementing with tyrosine include that it produces brain chemicals that allow nerve cells to communicate with one another. L-tyrosine can also be beneficial for regulating mood.
Tyrosine helps to make the following:
- Dopamine is responsible for reward, and it regulates your pleasure center. The brain chemical is also necessary for motor skills and memory.
- Adrenaline and noradrenaline are hormones that help initiate the fight-or-flight response we experience in stressful situations.
- Thyroid hormones help regulate energy and metabolism.
- Melanin is the pigment that colors your skin, eyes, and hair; tyrosine helps make it.
Supplementing with tyrosine may improve your mental performance, especially if you’re in a stressful situation. Stress can have a negative effect on memory, knowledge, attention, and reasoning because it decreases neurotransmitters.
Tyrosine supplementation can help reduce a decline in neurotransmitters.
There’s mixed evidence about the effects and benefits of tyrosine for depression. Since it increases neurotransmitter production, it may help with depression or work as an antidepressant. Dopamine-dependent depression has symptoms, including a lack of motivation and low energy.
Some people take tyrosine as a pre-workout, having doses of anywhere from 500 to 2000 mg around 30 to 60 minutes before exercising.
The best doses for anti-stress and mental health effects are thought to be between 45 and 68 mg per pound of body weight around 60 minutes before a stressful event.
Brands of tyrosine I recommend if it’s something you want to supplement with include:
Final Thoughts—The Best Supplements for Focus and Concentration
There are times when most of us could use a boost to our focus, concentration, and also things like our mood and sense of motivation. The supplements above are largely considered safe for most people and can help give your brain a boost. Please talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about anything.