8 Peptides & Supplements That Improve Cognitive Function

Sharpening the clarity and efficiency of our thinking can lead to positive results in many areas of life. Performance in work, school, creative projects, and interpersonal relationships will tend to be enhanced if we can improve our cognitive function.

There are many ways to do this. Lifestyle choices such as sleeping well, eating a healthy diet, exercising, reading, writing, and getting into nature tend to improve our ability to think clearly. A generally healthy life will improve our chances of having a clear, optimally functioning brain.

But apart from healthy lifestyle choices, there are also several peptides and supplements we can utilize that may help to optimize our cognitive functioning. An exciting body of research points to the effectiveness of several peptides and supplements in improving brain health and functionality, memory, and focus. Several peptides and supplements also appear to slow age-related decline in brain function.

Read on to discover more about various peptides and supplements that improve cognitive function.

What are peptides?

Peptides are substances that participate in the metabolic functions of living organisms. They are structurally the same as proteins – made of amino acid molecules – but peptides are smaller than proteins. Generally, peptides contain between two and 50 amino acids, while proteins contain 50 or more amino acids. Peptides are present in food and can also be created synthetically. Several types of peptides can have positive effects on various aspects of health when supplemented.

Peptides are contained in plant and animal foods such as:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Meat
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Beans and lentils
  • Oats
  • Flaxseed
  • Hemp seeds
model of brain
Image by Milad Fakurian on Unsplash: What peptides are good for the brain?

Benefits of peptides

Research suggests that various bioactive peptides may have some of the following benefits:

  • Improving immune function
  • Slowing aging of the skin
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Preventing formation of blood clots
  • Lowering high blood pressure
  • Killing microbes
  • Antioxidant properties
  • Improving memory
  • Increasing muscle mass
  • Improving athletic performance

Are peptides good for memory?

Many studies are showing that peptides might be good for memory. Recent research has found that short amylin receptor antagonist peptides improve memory in Alzheimer’s disease mouse models.

What is a supplement?

A dietary supplement refers to any product that is designed to provide extra nutrients in addition to the diet. Supplements typically come in the form of pills, capsules, powders, or liquids. Some of the most widely used supplements are:

  • Multivitamins
  • Protein powders
  • Vitamin B-12 tablets
  • Vitamin D

What vitamins improve cognitive performance?

B vitamins such as B6, B12, and B9 (folic acid) play a role in brain health. Research suggests that vitamins E, A, and C may stave off cognitive decline as people age. Vitamin E has been shown to have beneficial effects in moderately severe Alzheimer disease.

Are there supplements to improve brain function?

Yes, there is quite a wide variety of supplements available that claim to improve brain function. Most supplements have multiple effects and improved brain function appears to be one effect of several options, including:

  • Multivitamins
  • B vitamin complex
  • Vitamin E
  • Fish oils
  • Caffeine tablets
  • Creatine
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Bacopa monnieri
  • Resveratrol

What peptides and supplements are good for the brain?

Here are eight top peptides and supplements that improve cognitive function.

1. AC253 peptide

Research has discovered that the AC253 peptide, in studies on mice, can lead to a significant improvement in Alzheimer’s symptoms. Daily injections of this peptide improved the mice’s memory, lowered brain inflammation, and resulted in less accumulation of beta-amyloid, the harmful protein that characterizes Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Selank peptide

Research indicates that Selank, which is a synthetic nootropic peptide, can reduce anxiety, as well as improve learning, memory, and cognition, and reducing depression.

3. Delta Sleep Inducing peptide

Research suggests that Delta Sleep Inducing peptide can improve sleep quality by causing higher sleep efficiency and shorter sleep latency. Sleep is very important for cognitive functioning, which suggests that Delta Sleep Inducing peptide may be beneficial for this purpose, especially in people who have problems getting enough sleep.

person looking at papers
Image by Pexels on Pixabay: Are peptides good for memory?

4. Fish oils

Fish oil supplements are rich in omega-3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Both of these fatty acids are essential for brain health. DHA accounts for around 90% of the omega-3 fat found in brain cells, and EPA has anti-inflammatory effects that may protect the brain against damage. Research suggests supplementing with these fatty acids can improve brain health.

5. Ginkgo biloba

Dietary supplementation with ginkgo biloba appears to increase blood flow to the brain and to have the effect of improving memory and focus.

6. Creatine peptide

Research has indicated that creatine supplementation can improve memory and cognitive function in vegetarians.

7. Bacopa monnieri

Research suggests that supplementation with bacopa monnieri, which is typically used in traditional medicine practices such as Ayurveda, has the potential to improve cognition, particularly speed of attention.

8. Resveratrol

Research indicates that resveratrol improves learning, memory, and mood function in rats. This appears to occur through modulation of hippocampus plasticity and suppression of chronic low-level inflammation. Further research suggests resveratrol can improve memory performance in humans.

Other ways to improve cognitive function

As well as taking supplements, there are several lifestyle changes you can make to improve your cognitive function. These changes include:

  • Eating a nutritious diet
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Regular aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, soccer
  • Yoga
  • Weight training
  • Meditation
  • Conversation with friends
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Journaling
  • Reading
  • Getting into nature
  • Sudoku
  • Getting lots of good-quality sleep

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What Are Nootropics & Are They Safe?

The health of the brain is arguably the most important aspect of health in the human body. From being able to think, remember, and learn new things, to sending signals to the rest of the body to complete cellular processes, the brain is the machine that drives the body. There are certain things that can hinder how healthy the brain is, such as mental health disorders, kidney and liver problems, sleep issues, and lack of proper nutrients.

Cognition refers to how people experience, learn, and understand the world through their senses. Cognitive impairment can lead to trouble with memory, learning, concentration, and decision-making. Whether mild or severe, cognitive impairment can hinder daily life. There are some supplemental products on the market that are specifically designed to improve cognitive impairment – but what are they, do they work, and are they safe?

What are nootropics?

In the simplest terms, nootropics are drugs that are designed to enhance cognitive performance. Also referred to as “smart drugs”, they promise to improve how well a person performs when it comes to cognitive tasks. There are three specific types of nootropics: dietary supplements, synthetic compounds, and prescription drugs.

Typically, prescription nootropics are used to help those who have cognitive impairment due to a health condition. For example, those who have ADHD take stimulating nootropics such as Adderall or Ritalin, whereas those with Alzheimer’s will likely be prescribed a medication known as donepezil. These are designed to help restore some of the cognition that has been lost or misdirected. Dietary supplements and synthetic nootropics are most often used in generally healthy people who want to improve their brain power, so to speak.

Vital RX - cognitive function
Image by kaboompics on Pixabay: Are nootropics good for you? 

What do nootropics do?

The well-known compounds that make up nootropics are said to have cognitive enhancing benefits. They work by encouraging a better level of mental function. Those who are looking to take nootropics will likely do so to help boost their memory, creativity, motivation, or attention span.

There are a few different mechanisms outlined in one particular research paper that explore the reasoning behind why nootropics are able to improve cognitive function. The first is glutaminergic signaling, which is a type of synaptic plasticity (the strengthening or weakening of synapses over time). It works on a neurotransmitter known as glutamate. Glutamate plays a vital role in cognitive processes, and when it is released, it can activate certain receptors that are used in learning and memory.

Another proposed mechanism is the manipulation of the cholinergic system. This is essentially a group of nerve cells that use the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. When this system is working, it can stimulate the release of glutamate, thus encouraging better cognitive function.

Dysfunction of this system in accompaniment of the amyloid protein has also been shown to be a driver of cognitive decline and health issues associated with reduced cognition, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Nootropics also play a role in influencing the amyloid protein, which leads to an increased performance when it comes to both learning and memory.

What products are considered to be nootropics?

There are many products (natural, synthetic, and prescribed) that could be considered a nootropic. The nootropics that can be found over the counter are typically regarded as safe, and some may even be in your cupboard right now. They include:

  • Caffeine. Caffeine is used by many people as a way to wake themselves up. This enhanced alertness is why the substance is considered a nootropic.
  • L-theanine. This substance is naturally occurring and can be found in teas; however, many companies use it as an add-in to specific supplements or as a supplement on its own. It is designed to provide a calming, non-drowsy effect.
  • Creatine. The amino acid is widely used in fitness circles, but is also considered to be a nootropic because of its ability to provide energy to brain cells that use it for short-term memory and reasoning.
  • Rhodiola Rosea. This herb is used to help cope with high levels of stress. It has also been shown to improve mood and prevent burnout in those who experience high stress or anxiety on a regular basis.
  • Gingko Bilboa. Extracts from the leaves of the ginkgo biloba plant are used to create supplements that promise to help boost memory and mental processing. This nootropic has also been shown to decrease overall levels of cortisol within the body.
Vital RX - brain
Image by Jesse Martini on Unsplash: Do nootropics work?

Are nootropics safe?

Nootropics are generally considered safe, but there are a few caveats that need to be considered. There are certain risks and side effects that can go along with taking any new drug or medication, and nootropics are no different; they come with a few edge case side effects that people should be aware of. Edge case side effects are typically only present when the drugs are taken in high amounts, but they can be dangerous.

Nootropics side effects may include:

  • Headaches
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Tumors
  • Dizziness
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Memory loss
  • Motor function impairment
  • Vertigo
  • Agitation
  • Spatial memory impairment
  • Dysphoria

The risk of these side effects is greater when the drug is misused or overused. There is also the risk that nootropics may not work as intended.   

When it comes to your body and brain health, knowing all that you can about nootropics is the best way to decide if they are right for you. Although some have been shown to have positive effects, taking them in high amounts can also present some health risks. By choosing the right nootropic, you may be able to improve cognition, but the best way to keep your brain healthy is to live a healthy lifestyle.

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