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Brain Supplements Review

You may have seen advertising both online and on television for brain pills and supplements that are supposed to improve your mental functioning in one way or another. I have mostly stuck to cheaper nutritional supplements, but I have always been curious. So I just did some quick online research on some of the most popular (or most promoted) supplements for the brain.

I chose four to check out, and I ordered one of them to try myself. This research is limited, to say the least. For example, I went to forums where people reported their personal experiences, and tried to find those who looked for some objective measure of success. I ignored those who simply said things like "I felt more mentally alert," without explaining further. Fortunately, many users were more objective in their assessments.

For example, one user of Lucidal reported that after six weeks he hadn't improved his scores on any of the mental agility tests he did both before and after. Of course, most people don't bother to get that scientific about there self-experimentation, but many still report specific effects. One user found that Lucidal kept him awake, for example, if he took it too close to bed time, due to being "too mentally alert to sleep."

In any case, here is a summary of what others have found when using the following four brain supplements...

Lucidal

Many who have tried this seemed to either get little or no benefit or they report their improvements in vague terms. One user did say that it has been helping him after a brain injury that may have caused him to need extra nutrients.

That brings up an important point about many of these "brain supplements." They may help simply because they provide some vitamin, mineral or other nutrient that the user is deficient in. In fact, many of these products are similar to multi-vitamin pills, though hopefully with more of the specific elements that are known to help brain function.

Lucidal is one of the more expensive of the "brain pills" out there.

Focus Factor

This is another popular brand supported by a large advertising budget. One review site that claims to have had many "testers" try the product said that it "does not have a noticeable effect on short-term memory." This according to 90-day users who did memory tests before and after. That's a shame for what is advertised as "America's #1 Selling Memory Supplement."

Normally these kinds of "review sites" are questionable as to their objectivity since many are just promoting products for a commission. This one gains some credibility due to the generally negative review, and the fact that I couldn't identify and affiliate links for any of the products reviewed.

Unfortunately some users report upset stomachs and have to quit taking the pills.

Focus Factor sometimes offers free trials, but you pay shipping and sign up for an "auto-ship" program to get this. I personally don't care for the trouble it usually is to cancel these kinds of programs. I also don;t like the marketing technique of saying "free" when there is a shipping charge that isn't mentioned until after you give your name and email address.

Attend

This supplement is marketed by Vaxa Homeopathic Medicinals to those with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder). Users comments seem to indicate that the effect is mild. Some mention that coffee is cheaper and more effective.

Although this formulation has many exotic plant substances, it also has some of the known brain nutrients and mental ability enhancers. However, like many of these products, it is doubtful that with so many things packed into a few pills you can get enough of any one of them to make much of a difference. This product, for example, has over fifty ingredients.

If you get the recommended "Attend Strategy Pac" (which includes two other brain supplements produced by Vaxa: "Extress" and "Memorin+"), it will cost you several dollars per day to use this.

Constant Focus

Constant Focus seemed to have the most positive comments about it. It has just seven ingredients: ginkgo biloba, vinpocetine (biovinca), huperzia serrata (huperzine A), gotu kola, choline, carnosic acid (rosemary leaf extract), phosphatidyl serine (LECI-PSR). The limited number of ingredients and the three-capsule daily regimen at least gives me hope that there can be enough of some of these substances to actually have an effect.

I won't get into what each of these ingredients is supposed to do for you. I have reported on some of them before. The general claims for the product are improved attention, better absorption of new information, more efficient work, and greater realization of your mental potential. I will say that I seem to work better (with more focus and clarity) when I take vinpocetine, which is one of the ingredients.

As I was researching and writing this, I ordered a month supply of Constant Focus, since it was the brain supplement that seems to have the most positive user feedback. I will report on my experiences in the newsletter, and I will update this page as well. (See my review here: Constant Focus)

In general, I am skeptical of the claims made for most brain supplements. I do suspect that they have some effects, but they are prone to being over-hyped, and they are expensive. If a given one works because of one or two ingredients, it would usually be far cheaper to buy those substances on their own. If most brainpower supplements work primarily for those who have nutritional deficiencies (which could be a high percentage of the population), it is certainly cheaper to take a good multi-vitamin and mineral supplement.

In any case, I do believe in self experimentation when it is safe. I prefer it when it is also inexpensive, but I have to try a few new things - including brain supplements - once in a while. I'll let you know what my results are. As unscientific as such anecdotal evidence is, it is often all we have until the science catches up.

Update: You can read about the results of my self-experimentation here: Brain Pills

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