Note: Only those nutrients that were rated most effective by Nutros' gurus are included in the Performance Level of this table. Other nutrients that also have some potential to enhance mental functioning are listed in the section below, titled "Additional Supplements".
To learn more about Nutros' rating system and the differences between Level, Category, Nutrient Type, and Nutrient, please see the Introduction page of the NSR.
Ways that Supplements Enhance Mental Functioning:
Elevate mood. Perception is reality. Visualize what you want to achieve, stay focused on it, and it will happen. Virtually every athlete knows this. As long as you stay positive, the world will be with you. And a healthy outlook is tied closely to good nutrition. Many supplements, particularly herbs such as St. John's wort, also help increase happiness and optimistism by regulating neurotransmitters in our brains so we perform at our best.
Improve memory. With age, many of us become "spacey." We forget where we left the keys or what time our next dentist appointment is. Memory is closely tied to blood flow and proper nutrient uptake in the brain, which is easily increased through exercise, nutrition, and supplementation. Brain-enhancing supplements and herbs, such as ginkgo, may also boost our cognitive function and memory.
Maintain focus. Staying focused on a goal is the key to success in sports and the basis of many Eastern meditative practices, such as yoga. Athletes often visualize an action they want to perform over and over until it becomes reality in their minds and an automatic, reflexive motion. But distractions in modern life are everywhere, and sometimes, supplements can help improve the concentration abilities of the mind and help us maintain that focus we need. Focus-supporting herbs such as ginkgo actually increase blood flow to the brain, while others, like DLPA, are noted for their ability to help control attention deficit disorder and may help athletes maintain focus as well.
Control stress. Stress, like pain, is another adaptive response of the body that can be carried too far. The stress response is our body's way of gearing us up to fight or run away from trouble. Our heart rate increases, our blood is diverted to our core organs, and our muscles tense. All of these reactions are useful when under threat. However, in modern times, threats can be continuous, not sporadic, and are largely mental, not physical, so this response has become maladaptive. Chronic stress raises levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, that break down muscle tissues, and damage cells, and can lead to chronic disorders such as heart disease. Supplements along with proper diet can help control stress. Useful products include calming herbs such as kava and chamomile, along with stress fighting B vitamins.