In the past decade, the supplement industry has slowly been shifting its focus beyond the general body. Brain health and performance have exploded on the scene. This has led to branding of the term “nootropic,” also referred to as “brain vitamin” or “smart drug.” Though all of these terms dance around the concept of brain health or performance, it is important to note the difference. Not all nootropics are created equal, especially when considering specific populations.
When focusing on aging populations, ingredients that can support brain longevity are the most beneficial. The brain, like many other organs, can be negatively affected with age. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), parts of the brain physically change, blood flow is often reduced and inflammation can build up. All of these can lead to changes that often result in a decline in cognitive performance. By helping to slow these changes, certain ingredients have the potential to be extremely helpful to the aging mind and promote cognitive performance well into the later years.
Bacopa monnieri, part of ayurvedic medicine for centuries, is an ingredient with great potential to help the aging mind. Bacopa has been shown to have antioxidative properties,1 helping to neutralize free radicals. When left unchecked, free radicals can interact with cellular membranes and cause lipid peroxidation, which is linked to cognitive decline.2 Bacopa has the potential to help combat this degradation.
CDP-choline (known as cytidine-diphosphocholine, or citicoline), is another multifaceted ingredient with strong potential to help the aging brain. Citicoline aids in the biogenesis of phospholipids3 and supports cholinergic pathways important to neurotransmission. Primary research in animal and human models suggests that citicoline has neuroprotective properties,4 potentially supporting longevity by maintaining the structures within the brain. What’s more, citicoline has been shown to help cognitive performance as well. Research in elderly individuals suggested that dosing between 500 mg to 1 g of citicoline over four weeks was effective in promoting cognitive performance.5
To read this article in its entirety, check out the Healthy aging: Cognitive health – digital magazine.
Vince Kreipke received his doctorate in exercise physiology with a focus in sports nutrition in 2016. During this time, he worked to determine the efficacy of many ingredients with a potential to benefit exercise performance and subsequent outcomes. Currently, Kreipke holds the position of scientific advisor at Onnit Labs Inc. where he continues his research into optimal human health and performance.
1 Vishnupriya P, Padma VV. “A Review on the Antioxidant and Therapeutic Potential of Bacopa monnieri.” React Oxyg Species. 2017;3(8):111-120.
2 Sultana R, Perluigi M, Butterfield DA. “Lipid peroxidation triggers neurodegeneration: a redox proteomics view into the Alzheimer disease brain.” Free Radic Biol Med. 2013;62:157-169.
3 Wurtman RJ et al. “Choline metabolism in cholinergic neurons: implications for the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases.” Adv Neurol. 1989;51:117-125.
4 Greib P. “Neuroprotective Properties of Citicoline: Facts, Doubts and Unresolved Issues.” CNS Drugs. 2014;28(3):185-193.
5 Alverez XA et al. “Citicoline improves memory performance in elderly subjects.” Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 1997;19(3):201-210.