BDNF supplements are designed to improve cell to cell communication in your brain and as such are excellent cognition enhancers. Our nootropic expert Alex Whybrow examines the best BDNF supplements and has shortlisted his top 5 for you here…
BNDF, or Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor, is a protein that is involved in the function of the central nervous system. It plays a vital role in encouraging the growth of new brain cells – hence the name neurotrophic (“neuro” meaning of the nervous system and “trophic” meaning “to encourage growth”).
It is responsible for far more than just the growth of brain cells though, they also help to maintain and nurture these neurons to keep our brains healthy. The cell-to-cell communication in our brains is crucial for our brain performance like how quickly and clearly we think.
BDNF is also key to increasing brain plasticity, which is the ability of the brain and nervous system to alter its activity in response to external stimuli – in short, it helps us react quicker to circumstances. It also helps to suppress brain inflammation, which can be life threatening, as well as acting as a natural anti-depressant and working to offset the impact of stress in the brain.
In short, BDNF is vital to brain function and health, and it is something that you will need to maintain recommended levels of.
Top BDNF Supplement: NooCube
Can’t wait to read the whole article? Our top BDNF supplement is Noocube. It has a comprehensive profile of ingredients that will not only enhance production of BDNF, but will provide a wide range of cognitive benefits.
It is well priced, has some great bulk buy deals and delivers excellent results consistently in our testing.
What Causes Low BDNF?
Now that we have established how important BDNF is for our brains, let’s take a look at what can cause low levels of BDNF and how we can avoid that.
One of the biggest causes of low BDNF is a lack of sleep. Studies have shown that if we don’t get enough sleep, we don’t produce enough BDNF. A lack of sleep can also lead to a higher chance of getting stressed, which in itself can have a negative impact on BDNF levels. Feeling burnt out can have an enormous impact on how our brain functions too.
The impact of this is so intense that some studies have suggested that if a pregnant mother suffers with stress during pregnancy, the baby could have a lifelong propensity to having low BDNF levels.
BDNF levels will also decrease naturally with age. This is why it has been linked to age-related brain disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
How To Increase BDNF
The good news is that there are things we can do to increase and maintain the levels of BDNF in our brains. Some of these require more action, some will just mean tweaking your diet or taking a BDNF supplement.
Let’s take a look at some of the main ones:
Studies have shown that even a single session of exercise, for as little as 10 minutes, can help you to produce more BDNF. Walking, running, swimming, cycling – any form of aerobic exercise will help to get blood pumping around your body and into your brain to get things moving.
Listen To Music
A study on mice showed that when they listened to music, it improved their mood and helped to fend off psychiatric disorders as the BDNF levels had increased. By being more relaxed, they produced more.
Drink Some Coffee
The coffee bean is packed full of things that can boost our BDNF production – caffeine, caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid. They are full of antioxidants, which help protect your brain as well. You could also take coffee berry supplements.
Sun and Fresh Air
In 2012, a study was conducted which showed that seasonal variations in sunlight impacted our BDNF levels, and clean air will also help to increase your BDNF levels. So get outside and help out your brain.
Eat A High Protein Diet
Proteins are made up of amino acids, which in turn are required for the production of BDNF, as well as other neuro-transmitters. By eating a high protein diet, we ensure we have enough in our brains.
Take BDNF Enhancing Supplements
On top of all this, there are plenty of supplements available today that will help you to maintain healthy levels of BDNF production. Look out for the following ingredients:
Arctic root, ashwagandha, Asian ginseng, bacopa, cordyceps, gotu kola, magnolia bark, coffee fruit extract, curcumin, olive leaf extract, quercetin and resveratrol.
We have more good news for you – there are plenty of supplements on the market that help your brains produce more BDNF, and a whole lot more. Below we have listed our top five supplements to increase BDNF.
5 Supplements to increase BDNF
Full disclosure – NooCube is one of our favorite supplements available today. Let us tell you why. It also tops our best nootropics list.
NooCube was originally released in 2016 by a company called Wolfson Brands, from Scotland, UK. Priding themselves on ‘cutting edge science’ they produce all manner of products, ranging from wellness supplements like NooCube to beauty products and even technological systems for e-commerce.
NooCube, like all nootropics that we will feature on this list, are made with completely natural ingredients and it is aimed at people that need to work to strict deadlines – students and professionals.
To break down the key benefits that they expect their customers to feel; razor sharp focus, lowered stress levels, boosted memory and enhanced eye-brain connection. The last one in particular has made NooCube quite popular with gamers and other people that have to look at screens a lot during the day – which is a lot of us! NooCube should help us deal with mental fatigue caused by living in the modern world.
There are 13 ingredients in NooCube: Lutemax® 2020, Bacopa Monnieri, Huperzia Serrata, Pterostilbene, Resveratrol, L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine, Alpha GPC, Oat Straw Extract, Cat’s Claw, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B7, Vitamin B12.
Each ingredient is there for a good reason, which we go into in great detail in our full NooCube review, but to take the main three that will help with BDNF production:
This award-winning blend of three macular carotenoids, which are found in marigold flowers, are there to help you deal with ‘blue light’ exposure. It is also thought to help your brain’s processing speed, memory, stress levels and attention span.
Bacopa Monnieri Extract
Sometimes known as water hyssop, bacopa monnieri extract has been used for a very long time in eastern medicine. The main benefit is that it has a positive effect on memory, particularly among elderly people. As we have seen, it is also excellent for BDNF production.
A popular ingredient in nootropics, L-tyrosine is an amino acid that is produced in our bodies. It also helps to produce melatonin and helps to regulate your hormones. This is particularly useful in periods of stress – you can focus more and perform better with L-tyrosine in your body.
When we tried NooCube, we found that there was a distinct improvement in our performance professionally, which led to a much happier social and family life. Better sleep, better focus, less stress and better memory. It really worked for us, like it has countless others.
In terms of price, it can be expensive if you take the maximum four capsules a day (we would recommend starting with two – that might be enough for you). But it really delivers great results, so well worth your consideration.
Stripped back focus is what you get with VyvaMind. This over-the-counter supplement has been compared to Adderall, such is the laser-like focus that some have experienced when they have started taking VyvaMind.
What is incredible, though, is that this sort of reaction is brought about with the use of just six ingredients. All natural, of course, but it is hugely impressive that results can be garnered from such a small amount going into this nootropic.
It has been a while in the making. In fact this is version 4.2.1 of this product, but contrary to what you might think, they have been removing ingredients as they go, rather than adding more.
This gave us a lot of confidence when we went to try it – many companies seem to like to cram as much in there as possible, without really knowing what the effect is going to be. With VyvaMind, they seem to only include ingredients that they truly believe will make a difference, and we like that.
So, what are the 6 ingredients?
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamins B6 and B12 are present here, and there is a lot of evidence to justify their inclusion. They have both been found to help us balance our mood, improve memory and improve our general cognitive performance.
As we saw in the NooCube section above, L-tyrosine is great for helping us focus and concentrate in times of stress.
Clinical studies have proven that citicoline is incredibly important for brain function. It aids our focus, energy levels and concentration, as well as raising antioxidant levels which helps protect our brain.
Another amino acid, L-theanine is often found in certain types of tea and mushrooms. It has a calming effect on us, which helps us think in times of stress.
This type of caffeine is slow acting and long lasting, which should help you achieve better focus for as long as you need it.
VyvaMind isn’t cheap – it is more expensive than NooCube, for example – but it works. We found this to help improve our focus noticeably, and taking a ‘top up’ dose around lunchtime meant that we had control over the impact. It is certainly one to consider if focus is the main area that you want to improve.
Made by the company Opti-Nutra, MindLab Pro is a little different to other nootropics – it’s pitched as a ‘whole brain’ supplement, aimed at not just improving your brain’s performance in the short term, but also your brain’s health in the long term.
They claim that it is ‘the most innovative and effective nootropic formula ever made’, which is a lofty claim, and to be honest, one that can’t really be proven – not easily anyway. Nootropics, by their very nature, are slightly unpredictable and impact different people in different ways. But the science behind the ingredients is solid.
Lion’s Mane (a mushroom that helps nerve growth factor production), as well as citicoline, bacopa monnieri (which helps promote BDNF), maritime pine bark (rich in antioxidants), proanthocyanidin, l-tyrosine, l-theanine, rhodiola rosea and Vitamin B complex (B6, B9, B12) – are all ingredients that will help boost and protect your brain.
In our experience, the best thing about MindLab Pro is that it helps to clear the ‘brain fog’ that can impact day-to-day performance. You know that feeling, when you just can’t focus on the task you’re working on? That went away for us when we started taking MindLab Pro.
We’re not alone, either. Generally, the reviews for MindLab are very positive both in terms of memory and short term recall and with very few side effects.
MindLab Pro is priced in the middle of what you might expect to pay for a supplement of this nature, so there is nothing in the price that should put you off. It’s a great product and one that can have a very positive impact on your work.
Made by Onnit, the company founded by Aubrey Marcus and controversial podcaster Joe Rogan in 2011, AlphaBrain has sold over a million bottles and is one of the most popular nootropics in the world. Let’s find out why.
It is described by Onnit as ‘the ultimate way to get in the zone’, with four key benefits: increased memory, improved focus, quicker reactions and the ability to think clearly under pressure. Who wouldn’t want all that, right?
In order to achieve it, AlphaBrain is made up with a series of blends:
Onnit Flow Blend
With L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, oat straw extract and phosphatidylserine – all ingredients to help improve memory, attention, stress prevention and mood.
Onnit Focus Blend
The Alpha-GPC, bacopa extract and toothed clubmoss – as you can probably guess from the name of this blend, these are all geared towards improving focus.
Onnit Fuel Blend
Made up of pterostilbene, vitamin B6 and L-leucine, the Fuel Blend is designed to boost your energy levels and endurance.
Cat’s Claw Extract
This woody vine is used by many different cultures to treat ailments from Alzheimer’s disease to arthritis. There is growing evidence to suggest that by taking supplements of Cat’s Claw will improve general brain performance.
When we tried AlphaBrain, we were pleasantly surprised at how well it worked. It took a while to kick in, over a week or so, but we really noticed an increase in general brain performance – getting more done, with more focus. This, in turn, had a great impact on mood and stress levels.
However, AlphaBrain is one of the most expensive nootropics around, which may put some people off. We have no complaints with the performance, though, so it is well worth your consideration if you can afford it.
We complete our list of 5 supplements to increase BDNF with Hunter Focus, billed as “the ultimate brain pill” on their site.
It is made by Roar Ambition, a company out of Leeds, England, that has an extensive range of supplements and products to help you to become the best version of yourself – physically and mentally. Getting lean, building muscle, enhancing your brain. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
As you will have already gathered, the mental side of things is the target here, in particular focus.
Giving you the ability to think more clearly with better concentration. On top of that, they claim it increases energy, elevates your mood, enhances your memory, optimizes your learning and even boosts your creativity.
It is aimed at all adults that find themselves needing to focus on tasks on a daily basis, which is pretty much everyone.
To achieve these lofty ambitions, HunterFocus is packed full of ingredients, many of which we have already seen in other products on our list:
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Great for memory and also helps to ease anxiety.
Is used to treat anxiety, among other physical symptoms like arthritis.
Helps speed up your brain so that you think quicker in stressful situations
The amino acid that helps with memory and mental performance during stressful situations.
Another amino acid that helps us to relax in stressful situations
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Helps blood flow to your brain which in turn helps focus and concentration
Key for the production of BDNF, as well as helping with memory and anxiety.
Helps to improve our mood and prevent damage associated with aging
On top of this, there are loads of vitamins crammed in there to keep your brains functioning and healthy.
What we found quite surprising was that the recommended dosage for HunterFocus was six capsules, which is a lot. This can be a bit of a shock to people if they are not used to taking supplements, so something to keep in mind.
Having said that, we found that it performed very well. We found that we got a lot more work done when we started taking this nootropic, which helped us immensely, booth professionally and with our families.
As you are expected to take so many capsules a day, it does work out to be quite expensive, although certainly not the most expensive on the market. It might just make people think twice, but the results were great.
As you will have seen, BDNF is incredibly important if we want to improve your cognitive performance. Living a healthy lifestyle – eating well, exercising regularly, sleeping well, taking time to relax and getting some fresh air – is the best way to get more BDNF in your life.
It’s always a good idea to make sure though, and we would recommend taking supplements to keep your brain healthy and working at its best. The nootropics listed above could be the answer you are looking for to make sure you are always performing at your highest possible levels, every single day.
This article was written by: Alex Whybrow – Full Time Writer, Coffee Connoisseur & Nootropic Fan
Alex spends a lot of his time writing. He is a creative soul who loves to express himself through his written word. When focus or concentration becomes an issue he turns to nootropics. Aside from the world of nootropic supplementation and writing, Alex is a huge fan of coffee and can regularly be found consuming it and writing about it.