The brain requires many nutrients to function properly and produce neurotransmitters—substances that control mood, mind, memory, and behavior. Research shows that nutritional supplementation increases IQ, enhances learning ability, and helps students achieve higher test scores.
In a well-documented 1988 study, a California research team headed by Dr. Stephen Schoenthaler found that when school children took vitamins, their non-verbal IQ increased an average of six points. When Schoenthaler expanded the study three years later to include 615 children, not every child experienced an increase in IQ, but one third experienced a whopping ten-point jump in IQ!
Dr. Schoenthaler said, “The IQ difference between an average American and a doctor, lawyer, or professor is only about 11 points. The gain observed in one out of three (study participants) is the same as might be required for an average American to aspire to be a doctor, lawyer or professor.”1
If you can raise your IQ just with simple vitamin supplementation, imagine the possibilities with proven “smart drugs” and “smart nutrients”!
What are “smart nutrients”?
“Smart nutrients” is the popularized term for natural substances that have been demonstrated to improve human intelligence … by improving your memory, concentration, and ability to learn. (In the scientific literature these are generally referred to as “cognitive enhancing substances” and there is a large body of scientific literature in this area.) Here are a few of the best:
Ginkgo biloba improves intelligence in healthy, young people
You don’t have to be middle-aged or older for ginkgo to help increase brainpower! Recently, there has been much speculation that ginkgo may act as a “smart nutrient,” improving intelligence in healthy, young people.
At the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia, 60 students participated in a 30-day double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, in which they were given a battery of neuropsychological tests before and after taking ginkgo. Results indicated that the students who took the ginkgo, showed a significant improvement in the speed at which they processed information and retained it.2
In another placebo-controlled, double-blind study at the Division of Psychology, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 20 students were given a cognitive assessment on which they were tested for attention, accuracy, speed of memory and quality of memory. They received 120 mg, 240 mg and 360 mg of a standardized extract of ginkgo or a placebo over a six-hour time period. The results showed that the students who received 240 mg and 360 mg of ginkgo biloba extract had a sustained improvement in attention, even six hours after they had received the supplement.3
How does ginkgo biloba work?
More than 400 studies and reports have been published showing that ginkgo is one of the most powerful herbs for improving mental performance and memory. Clinical evidence indicates it improves circulation throughout the body—especially to the brain—protects against free radicals, and enhances memory.
The research has also demonstrated that ginkgo’s benefits depend on the action of two groups of active constituents: ginkgo flavone glycosides and terpene lactones. The glycoside constituents include the bioflavonoid compounds that give ginkgo its antioxidant activity throughout the body. The terpene lactones increase circulation and energy production in the brain and other parts of the body, allowing better oxygen and glucose uptake—which is why you’re able to think more clearly and learn more quickly, after taking ginkgo!
No matter what your age, ginkgo biloba extract can help:
- Sharpen your mental performance
- Increase your concentration and short-term memory
- Boost your energy levels
- Slow down the aging process
Vinpocetine enhances memory and response time
Vinpocetine, derived from the periwinkle plant, is another powerful memory enhancer. It improves blood flow to the brain and improves the brain’s use of oxygen. It also helps with concentration.
In one study, women between the ages of 25 and 40 showed incredible short-term memory improvement an hour after taking 40 mg of vinpocetine. Here’s what they did: The women were shown one to three digits on a computer screen. Then, a moment later they were shown a long string of digits. The women then indicated whether any of the first digits appeared in the second long string. The time the women took to remember was then calculated.
The women who took a placebo instead of the vinpocetine took an average of 700 milliseconds to respond when the first set contained three digits. The women who took the vinpocetine averaged under 450 milliseconds!4 Imagine how much better you’d do on a timed exam if you were to take vinpocetine beforehand!
How does Vinpocetine work?
It facilitates cerebral metabolism by improving blood flow to the brain. It also steps up brain cell ATP production (ATP serves as the major energy source within the cell), which increases utilization of glucose and oxygen.
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What does all that mean? That your brain works more efficiently!
Acetyl-L-Carnitine supercharges speed and performance
Acetyl-L-Carnitine is an amino acid derivative that occurs naturally in the body. It transports fats to the mitochondria (the energy producing structures inside cells) and is also available as a dietary supplement.
Dozens of studies have been done showing that Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) supercharges cellular energy production in order to maximize memory, health and longevity. In order to prove that ALC has a positive impact on young people, as well as old, Italian researchers tested 17 healthy young men and women aged 22 to 27. Ten of them were physically active and played competitive sports regularly. Seven of them were pretty much sedentary and rarely exercised. Each one was given either 1500 mg. of ALC or a placebo for 30 days, and tested before and after treatment using a video game-type device designed to evaluate attention span and eye-hand coordination and reflexes.
The group that took ALC, regardless of whether they had previously been sedentary or active, had a markedly increased reflex speed. That group also had a reduced number of errors and shorter task completion time by three to four times over the group that took the placebo. No one had any negative side effects.5 What a great way for active, young people to increase their performance speed and reflex time!
How does Acetyl-L-Carnitine work?
Researchers believe that ALC improves cognition, in part, by increasing acetylcholine production in the brain, which plays an important role in memory and brain function. It may also work by increasing dopamine activity in the part of the brain where dopamine is made. The latest research shows that supplementation with ALC actually supercharges mitochondria, which plays an important role in maximizing memory, health and longevity.
Smart Drugs are for the young and old
Hundreds of studies have focused on showing the significant benefit of smart nutrients for memory problems associated with the aging process. Now we know that these special nutrients can help young people achieve their best, as well.
- Dean, M.D., Morgenthaler, Fowkes, Smart Drugs II: The next generation. Smart Publications, Petaluma, CA, 1993
- Stough C, Clarke J, Lloyd J, Nathan PJ. “Neuropsychological changes after 30-day Ginkgo biloba administration in healthy participants.” Int J Neuropsychopharmacol 2001 Jun;4(2):131-4
- Kennedy DO, Scholey AB, Wesnes KA. “The dose-dependent cognitive effects of acute administration of Ginkgo biloba to healthy young volunteers.” Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2000 Sep;151(4):416-23
- Subhan, Z., Hindmarch, I. “Psychopharmacological Effects of Vinpocetine in Normal Healthy Volunteers.” European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1985, Vol. 28, pp. 567-71.
- Lino A, Boccia MM, Rusconi Ac, Bellomonte L and Cocuroccia BI. Cambiamenti psicofunzionali dello stato di vigilanza e dell’apprendimento sotto l’azione della L-aceticarnitina in 17 giovani soggetti. Studio pilota per l’impiego nel decadimento mentale (Psycho-functional changes in attention and learning under the action of L-acetylcarnitine in 17 young subjects. A pilot study of its use in mental deterioration). Clin Ter (Italy) 140(6):569-73, June 1992.