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8 Best Supplements for Brain Health, New Research Shows

Improve memory and cognition with these brain-boosting supplements.

To boost brain health, many people turn to supplements that they believe can help improve cognitive function. However, competing research results often send mixed messages about which supplements are most worthwhile. A new study, published in the medical journal CNS Drugs, looked at 18 popular supplement ingredients that are purported to benefit the brain and concluded that just eight of them met their marketing claims.

Even more surprisingly, some popular supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B-12, didn't make the cut by this study's standards. Wondering which eight supplements can actually help your brain health? Read on to learn the best of the bunch when it comes to improving memory and improving cognition.

RELATED: 7 Surprising Benefits of Taking Magnesium Every Day.


ashwagandha medicine, feel younger

Popping up everywhere you look lately, Ashwagandha is an evergreen shrub that many believe can relieve anxiety, improve sleep, and even improve blood sugar and heart health. The study also found that its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties may make it effective in helping to improve memory.


Female nutritionist advising patient on vitamin intake during consultation

Choline helps the brain and nervous system to regulate important functions such as memory, mood, and muscle control. All plant and animal cells need choline to maintain their structural integrity, explains the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

While the study focused on the effectiveness of taking choline in the form of supplements, it is also naturally found in a wide range of foods including red meat, egg yolks, liver, salmon, legumes, and dairy.


woman hand taking turmeric pill, girl hand holding turmeric powder in capsule or curcumin herb medicine with a glass of water, treatment for acid reflux problem

Taking curcumin, the main bioactive ingredient found in turmeric, can also help boost memory and improve cognition, the study authors wrote.

In fact, this corroborates a separate study conducted by UCLA researchers and published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. That study found that people who took 90 mg of curcumin twice daily saw a 28 percent improvement in memory over 18 months.

RELATED: 7 Daily Ways to Keep Your Brain Young.


Ginger Root

Eating ginger or taking it in the form of a supplement can benefit your gastrointestinal system, improve cellular health, and reduce inflammation. The CNS Drugs study found it was also an effective brain-boosting supplement when taken regularly.

This echoes a 2012 study published in Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The researchers behind that study concluded that middle-aged women taking 800 mg of ginger extract daily saw improvements in their working memory and attention.

Lion's mane mushroom

Shot of a cheerful mature man seated on his bed and about to drink medication with water in the bedroom at home during the day

Supplements containing lion's mane mushrooms were also found to improve memory, the study found.

Separate research including a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience has noted that the bioactive ingredient can also stimulate neuron growth in nerve cells and may even improve outcomes for people living with mild symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.


mature asian woman taking supplements
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Polyphenols are antioxidants found in a wide range of foods, including berries, fruits, olives, black tea, coffee, nuts, and certain spices. They can also be taken in supplement form.

One study published in Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy says that polyphenols "protect the body's tissues against oxidative stress and associated pathologies such as cancers, coronary heart disease and inflammation." This newer study adds cognitive health to the list of benefits.

RELATED: 21 Surprising Signs You Have a Vitamin Deficiency.


A closeup of a hand holding a supplement pill out of the bottle
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Another supplement that was found to effectively boost brain health was phosphatidylserine.

"Phosphatidylserine is a fatty substance that protects nerve cells in your brain and enables them to communicate with each other. The nutritional supplement phosphatidylserine promotes cognitive function and memory, especially as you age to better support how your cells communicate and enhance your glucose metabolism," the Cleveland Clinic explains.


Curcumin supplement capsules, turmeric powder in glass bowl and curcuma root in background.
Microgen / Shutterstock

Turmeric supplements are closely related to curcumin, but the researchers made a point of testing them separately for their brain-boosting effects. It may come as no surprise to learn that, like its distilled, active ingredient, turmeric was also helpful in improving memory and cognition.

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Lauren Gray
Lauren Gray is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant. Read more
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