Supplements For Brain Fog – Optimize Your Cognitive Health

Supplements For Brain Fog – Optimize Your Cognitive Health

Have you ever felt like your brain is engulfed in fog, and you can’t seem to think straight ahead? In the hustle and bustle of our modern lives, many people grapple with this pervasive and often perplexing phenomenon known as “brain fog.” This nebulous term refers to mental haziness, where clarity of thought, focus, and cognitive function seem shrouded in a mysterious mist. In this article, CARE will delve into all things brain fog, exploring its biological underpinnings and shedding (fog) light on supplements and lifestyle changes that help with brain fog to lift the veil on mental clarity.

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE
Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach

Published in General Health
10 min read · Feb 12, 2024

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Table of content

What Is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is a colloquially used term encompassing a range of cognitive symptoms, including forgetfulness, mental confusion, lack of focus, and mental fatigue. [1] It can manifest as a subtle nuisance or become a persistent challenge, significantly affecting the quality of life for many people. While not a medical diagnosis in itself and with a badly understood phenomenology, brain fog can occur in a harmless context or accompany underlying conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and various autoimmune disorders. [1]

What Does Brain Fog Feel Like?

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Are you not sure if you have experienced brain fog yet? Imagine waking up to a mental haze that wraps your thoughts in a subtle, elusive mist. If you experience brain fog, it's as if the gears in your mind are turning a bit slower, and the mental clarity you once took for granted is playing hide-and-seek.

You might have poor memory, difficulty concentrating on tasks that are usually second nature, and experiencing an overall sense of mental fatigue and a slowed reaction time.

Brain fog is not just a momentary lapse; it's a persistent feeling that clouds your cognitive landscape for several hours or even days.

If you're questioning whether you're navigating through brain fog, consider those moments when your mental state feels off, like it's taken a temporary vacation, leaving you with a sense of perplexity.

Brain Fog Symptoms

These are some common symptoms that accompany brain fog [1] [2]:

  • Memory loss and memory problems
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mental Fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Trouble sleeping and insomnia

How Does Brain Fog Occur Biologically?

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Biologically, brain fog is a multifaceted phenomenon with roots in both neurological and physiological processes. Disruptions in neurotransmitter and hormonal balance, particularly involving serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine, can contribute to cognitive dysfunction. Brain fog is also thought to be caused by high levels of inflammation in your brain. [2]

Additionally, oxidative stress, and impaired mitochondrial function all play a role in the onset and persistence of brain fog.

Did you know that brain fog is often rooted in unhealthy lifestyle habits that promote hormonal imbalances? Chronic stress, inadequate sleep, too much screen time, poor nutrition, and exposure to environmental toxins (alcohol, pesticides, air pollution, tobacco smoke, insecticides etc.) can lead to hormonal imbalances and stress that causes brain fog. [2]

Moreover, fluctuations in blood pressure can exacerbate brain fog. Persistent high blood pressure can lead to vascular damage, impacting blood flow to the brain and contributing to cognitive impairment. Conversely, low blood pressure, particularly in situations like orthostatic hypotension, may result in insufficient oxygen delivery to the brain, manifesting as symptoms of brain fog. [4]

Did you know that your gut is home to a significant portion of your immune system? The gut-brain axis plays a crucial role in the immune system's influence on our cognitive function. Disruptions in gut health, often linked to immune issues, can affect the balance of neurotransmitters and inflammatory markers that influence your cognitive processes. [3]

Understanding the intricate web of these biological processes and implications is crucial for developing effective strategies to combat and prevent brain fog.

What Are the Best Supplements for Brain Fog?

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Most of us know that leading a healthy lifestyle and staying active is key for our well-being. Still, in our hectic lives, eating well and balanced, catching enough sunlight, and exercising can be a struggle at times.

It often seems like there are not just enough hours in a day to take care of ourselves properly while establishing a career and maintaining a social life as well. Therefore, supplements can be a practicable and smart self-care tool.

There are natural supplements for brain fog that can help bring back your clarity and lead a more vital and healthy life.

CARE has summarized the best supplements to clear your brain fog below:

Omega-3 Fatty Acid – Fatty Fish Oil

Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish oil supplements, are renowned for their neuroprotective properties. These essential fatty acids contribute to the structural integrity of brain cell membranes and support optimal neurotransmitter function. Omega-3 supplementation can enhance cognitive function, improve mood, and alleviate brain fog symptoms. [5]

The Waterhyssop Plant – Bacopa Monnieri

Derived from an ancient herb and first described in the 6th century A.D., Bacopa Monnieri has been used in traditional medicine for centuries to enhance cognitive function and regulate mood. Scientific studies strongly suggest that this adaptogenic herb can improve memory function, attention, and cognitive performance by modulating neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine. Bacopa Monnieri's antioxidant properties also protect the brain from oxidative stress, a potential contributor to brain fog, and free-radical scavenging. [6]

A Flowering Plant From Arctic Regions – Rhodiola Rosea

Known as an adaptogen, Rhodiola Rosea has gained attention for its ability to combat stress-related fatigue and enhance mental clarity. This herb can support neurotransmitter balance, particularly serotonin and norepinephrine, helping alleviate symptoms of stress-related brain fog. The succulent perennial flowering plant can also improve learning and memory function. [7]

Vitamin B Complex

The B vitamins, including B6, B9 (folate), and vitamin B12, play important roles in cognitive function and neurotransmitter synthesis and are some of the best vitamins against brain fog. Deficiencies in these vitamins have been linked to cognitive decline and may contribute to symptoms that are associated with brain fog. Supplementing with a B-complex can support optimal brain health and mitigate mental symptoms. [8]

If you are looking for some natural food sources of vitamin B, fantastic sources include meat (especially liver), poultry, eggs, dairy products, seafood, leafy greens, and legumes.

“Smart Drugs” – Nootropics

Nootropics, also known as “smart drugs” are a diverse group of medicinal substances whose action improves human thinking, learning, and memory, especially in cases where these functions are impaired. Certain nootropic compounds, such as piracetam and modafinil, have shown promise in enhancing cognitive function. While their mechanisms of action are not fully understood, these substances can improve memory, focus, and overall mental clarity. [9]

The Sunshine Vitamin – Vitamin D

Vitamin D, often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin," is essential for various physiological processes, including those that impact your cognitive function. Adequate levels of vitamin D are associated with improved mood, enhanced cognitive performance, and a reduced risk of neurodegenerative disorders. [10]

Additionally, vitamin D receptors are present throughout the brain, and this vitamin is involved in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which are vital for maintaining mental clarity. Ensuring sufficient vitamin D levels through supplementation or exposure to sunlight may contribute to alleviating brain fog and promoting overall cognitive well-being. [10]

What Are Some Other Ways I Can Reduce Brain Fog?

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Even though supplements and natural food sources can be a great way to reduce and manage brain fog, there are plenty of other options to get a grip on your mental clarity and prevent the occurrence of brain fog.

CARE has summarized some efficient lifestyle changes that can optimize your well-being and mental clarity below:

Get in Some Zzz’s – Allow Yourself to Prioritize Sleep

Quality sleep is paramount for your cognitive function and mental clarity. Establishing a consistent sleep routine, optimizing your sleep environment, and addressing sleep disorders can significantly reduce brain fog. Seven to eight hours of sleep each night are recommended. [2]

Keep Your Cool & Manage Stress

Chronic stress can contribute to hormonal imbalances and inflammation, both of which may exacerbate brain fog. Incorporating stress-management techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, positive thinking and journaling can be instrumental in alleviating cognitive symptoms. [2]

Eat Well And Establish a Balanced Nutrition

A well-balanced diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is essential for your optimal brain function. You already learned which foods are good “brain food”, so let’s focus on what is bad for your brain. Avoiding highly processed foods like french fries, white bread and fast food can provide your brain with a detox it needs to operate at its best. Get in all those nutrient-dense and natural food sources that haven’t been processed too much. Nutrient deficiencies can affect your nerve function and negatively affect the efficacy and health of your nervous system. [2]

Drink Enough & Stay Hydrated

Dehydration can impair your cognitive function and mood. It can also exacerbate symptoms of brain fog. Ensure adequate hydration by drinking enough water throughout the day. Green tea and ginseng, which can be integrated into unsweetened teas, offer additional cognitive benefits that can help combat brain fog. [11]

Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that, in combination with caffeine, promotes alertness and attention while avoiding the jittery effects often associated with pure caffeine consumption. [12]

Ginseng, particularly Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), has adaptogenic properties that may help the body adapt to stress and mitigate mental fatigue, potentially alleviating symptoms of brain fog. The antioxidant-rich nature of both green tea and ginseng makes them powerful antioxidants that further contributes to neuroprotection, support brain health and potentially enhance cognitive function.  [12] [13]

The Connection Between Routine & Our Brain

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Our brains thrive on routine. Establishing and adhering to a routine helps regulate our circadian rhythms, promoting better sleep patterns and allowing the brain to consolidate memories and recharge. A lack of routine, on the other hand, disrupts these delicate balances. When our daily schedules lack structure, we have irregular sleep patterns, inconsistent meal times, and unpredictable workloads, this can lead to chronic stress and hormonal imbalances that contribute to brain fog. [1] [2] [14] [15]

Routines serve as a stabilizing force for the brain, enabling it to allocate resources effectively and optimize cognitive functions. [15] The brain excels in efficiency when it can anticipate and prepare for recurring tasks, but a lack of routine introduces an element of stress, demanding continuous adaptation. This perpetual state of adjustment can overwhelm cognitive resources, impairing focus, memory, and overall mental clarity.

In essence, routine acts as a supportive framework for our brain's intricate processes, and the absence of such structures can pave the way for the foggy mental landscape associated with brain fog.

Finally, there are also some more serious medical conditions that can have brain fog as a symptom.

Medical Conditions That Can Cause Brain Fog

Brain fog can occur in healthy people and does not have to indicate a serious underlying issue. Still, brain fog can be a symptom associated with various medical conditions, reflecting the complex interplay of physical and cognitive factors. [1]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), a debilitating disorder characterized by persistent fatigue, frequently presents with brain fog as a prominent symptom.

Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, can contribute to cognitive dysfunction, leading to brain fog.

Moreover, neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease and fibromyalgia are also known to cause cognitive impairment and mental fog.

Metabolic disorders such as diabetes may impact cognitive function, potentially leading to brain fog.

Lastly, mental health conditions like depression and anxiety can manifest with cognitive symptoms, further contributing to the experience of brain fog in affected people.

It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional to identify the underlying cause of brain fog if it persists and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

CARE is your expert for preventive healthcare. We help you take your health into your own hands. With our in-depth health check-ups and comprehensive blood analysis, we can give you a profound insight into your health status.

If you sometimes suffer from brain fog and more serious illnesses have been ruled out, we will be happy to advise you on how to get rid of brain fog. We would be delighted to give you personal recommendations and efficient action plans, such as an IHHT therapy, which will tackle the cause of brain fog and help you achieve more vitality and quality of life.

Let’s discuss your personal health goals and start your journey toward a more fit and healthier you!

List of References

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE

Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach at CARE Zurich

About the author

Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!