Would You Rather…
- A. Be paralyzed from the neck down but have your mind function brilliantly, or…
- B. Have a fully functional body but be severely impaired mentally?
Most people choose A. Luckily, you don’t have to make that choice. In fact, you can build an athletic body AND mind.
Wait, an athletic mind? If by “mind” we mean a healthy brain and a healthy mental/emotional state, then yes.
Just as we can optimize our bodies with the right supplementation, so too can we help optimize our minds with the right substances. Here are five mind-pumping supps.
1. Fish Oil (EPA/DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acids)
Do a massive meta-study of all the fish oil research and you’ll notice a trend when it comes to mental health: fish oils help on various fronts, from depression to cognitive decline. (1)
Many progressive mental health professionals are even “prescribing” diets high in fish or fish oil supplements to their patients, either as an adjunct to prescription meds or as a pre-drug intervention. While we can’t say fish oil is the “cure” for anything, we can certainly say it helps minimize existing symptoms and perhaps prevent future problems.
A recent study also looked at omega-3s and the effects of stress. (2) Stress and the associated inflammation and cortisol spike it causes are obviously not good for physical or mental health.
In the study, those taking 2.5 grams of omega-3s were able to suppress the damage caused by a stressful event, decreasing cortisol and a certain pro-inflammatory protein by 19% and 33%, respectively. We can’t stop stress from happening, but fish oil does seem to reduce the negative effects of that stress.
Along with the anti-inflammatory benefits, omega-3 fatty acids may help with cognitive disorders by increasing cell permeability. That’s good news because this permeability allows serotonin – the “feel good” chemical that carries messages around your brain – to more easily pass through brain cell membranes.
Finally, low-T is associated with depressive symptoms, and omega-3 fatty acids can help keep your testosterone levels optimized. (3)
What To Take
Most benefits are seen with a relatively hefty dose of omega-3s, so you need a highly concentrated fish oil supplement. One serving per day (4 softgels) of Flameout® takes care of it. I’d suggest taking all four softgels at night to tamp down surplus cortisol before sleep.
2. The Right Sleep Aid
A sleepy or anxious mind is not a happy mind. And here’s the crazy part: recognized anxiety disorders interfere with sleep, but lack of sleep itself also exacerbates general anxiety.
The classic sign of an anxiety disorder is when your level of worry doesn’t match up to the situation at hand – you freak out, freeze, overreact, or get hammer-fisted by apprehension. Sound like someone who hasn’t been sleeping well? Yep.
Sleep is closely related to mental and emotional health, and lack of it has been linked to depression and bipolar disorder. Poor sleep is even associated with faster cognitive decline and dementia. (4)
Most people these days have trouble sleeping because of stress, worry, racing thoughts, and knowing that vegan cheese exists. The problem with most sleep aids? They work (some of the time) on the body but do nothing to “chill out” your frazzled mind. You need a sleep supp that takes both into consideration. You need a relaxing, stress-squashing chill pill.
What To Take
The best choice is Z-12™. The combination of ingredients initiates deep, restful, dream-filled sleep within 15 minutes of taking a serving. And you’ll wake up energized, not hungover. You can even take a single capsule during the day to take the edge off.
3. Creatine Monohydrate
Not only has science recently discovered how beneficial it is for heart health (even if you don’t work out), creatine may also be helpful for mood. It might even deter Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
New studies show that creatine seems to help with depression or “depressed mood.” While most studies have been done on those with major depressive disorders and even meth addiction (people with altered brain bioenergetics), it’s not a leap to say that regular creatine usage could play a role in improving or preserving brain health.
Creatine supplementation has even been shown to increase mental sharpness and brain efficiency when performing strenuous mental tasks, at least in people who initially had low levels of creatine, like vegans.
What To Take
Most studies are using 3 to 10 grams of creatine per day. Five grams should do the trick for most of us. Use a micronized version – which has a 20 times smaller particle size than standard creatine – like Biotest’s Creatine Monohydrate for better, faster absorption and no tummy troubles.
4. Micellar Curcumin
Recent research has found that curcumin may help with depression, both mild depression and major depressive disorder (MDD). (6)
How does it do that? Well, chronic inflammation has been unequivocally linked to depression and other mental issues. In fancy PhD-speak, inflammation is a critical mediatory in the pathophysiology of mood disorders. Curcumin helps keep excess inflammation at bay by scavenging the free radicals that create it.
Other research is looking into treating schizophrenia with curcumin. And curcumin has even been shown to improve your working memory.
What To Take
You can’t eat enough turmeric from spicy Indian food to get all the varied benefits of curcumin (dammit). In fact, even most curcumin supplements have terrible bioavailability issues. We improved that problem by adding piperine, but now there’s something better: solid lipid curcumin particles.
The result? A 95-times increase in free-curcumin blood concentration, along with a much longer activity. All you need is a single 400-mg capsule daily. It keeps working for 24 hours. Biotest’s Micellar Curcumin™ is the top choice. Heck, I’ll just say it: all other curcumin supplements are dead. If you’re not taking Micellar Curcumin, you’re really not taking curcumin.
5. Sex-Enhancing Formulations
This one may seem like a stretch, but the relationship between sex and emotional well-being is pretty clear. Lack of sex or the inability to perform can cause anxiety, stress, depressive symptoms, insecurity, and the desire to post nasty Instagram comments.
Male sexual performance can be hampered by prostate issues and blood flow problems (think: puny erections). A formulation that promotes a healthy prostate size and function – and better blood flow to the penis – can help prevent those issues.
What To Take
The cheekily named P-Well™ supplement is packed with all the potent natural substances a man needs to pump up his vascular sexual health.
On the flip, sexual health and desire can also be affected by testosterone production, as you’d expect.
Eurycoma longifolia, aka tongkat ali, can help direct the testes to crank out more testosterone. But there’s a less obvious benefit: it inhibits rho kinases, which can lead to bigger, firmer boners. (Here’s all the sexy science.)
What To Take
A supplement like Alpha Male® contains everything needed to naturally pump up T levels and pump up… other things. Take 1-2 capsules in the morning on an empty stomach and repeat in the evening.
- Mansoor Burhani and Mark Rasenick, “Fish oil and depression: The skinny on fats,” J Integr Neurosci, 2017, 16(Supp 1): S115-124.
- Madison, A.A., Belury, M.A., Andridge, R. et al. Omega-3 supplementation and stress reactivity of cellular aging biomarkers: an ancillary substudy of a randomized, controlled trial in midlife adults. Mol Psychiatry (2021).
- Tina Kold Jensen, et al. “Associations of Fish Oil Supplement Use With Testicular Function in Young Men,” JAMA Netw Open, January 17th, 2020.
- Spira, et al. “Impact of sleep on the risk of cognitive decline and dementia”
Current Opinion in Psychiatry: November 2014 – Volume 27 – Issue 6 – p 478-483 doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000106
- Kious, et al. “Creatine for the Treatment of Depression” Biomolecules. 2019 Sep; 9(9): 406. doi: 10.3390/biom9090406
- Ng, et al. “Clinical Use of Curcumin in Depression: A Meta-Analysis” J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2017. DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2016.12.071