So over the past few months I’ve struggled quite a bit with brain fog. And to be honest it has been terrible. Tasks that I could have easily focused on and finished before became seemingly impossible.
I realized that at times I couldn’t even remember what I did the day before. I felt totally distracted most of the time. For example, I’d try to make my bed and end of leaving the room halfway through to go do something in the kitchen.
My experience with brain fog was so frustrating because I’ve never really had these issues before. In fact, when I was younger I always felt very focused and could focus on tasks for long periods of time with few breaks.
What is Brain Fog?
Brain fog isn’t an official medical term, but it refers to a specific type of cognitive disfunction.
Brain fog symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Extreme and constant mental fatigue
- Memory problems
Causes of Brain Fog:
- High stress levels
- Lack of sleep
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Poor nutrition
- Covid-19 Infection
Brain Fog After Covid
Reports of “post-Covid brain fog” have become widespread following the Covid-19 pandemic. People report that after Covid infection they find themselves experiencing brain fog at different levels of severity.
So what could be causing this type of brain fog?
- Inflammation: Covid is a viral infection, which means your body creates inflammation to help combat the virus. Too much inflammation throughout your body and specifically in your brain can leave you with brain fog symptoms.
- Cytokine Storm: The inflammation caused by COVID-19 triggers a release of inflammatory proteins called cytokines. These are triggered whenever your immune system has to work to fight off an attack. Too much release of these cytokines is called a cytokine storm, and this can result in tissue and organ damage.
Best Vitamins for Brain Fog
I’ve gone all in on figuring out which vitamins my body may be lacking that could cause brain fog. I’ve spent hours reading, listening to podcasts, and watching videos about medical opinions on brain fog and how to combat it.
B Vitamins (B6, B12, and B9)
Supplementation with B vitamins can help those with cognitive impairment improve their symptoms. B vitamins have a neuroprotective effect that actually slows the rate of cell lose in aging patients with mild cognitive impairments.
In fact, B12 shots can be a quick and easy way to get your vitamin B concentration back to a healthy level. These can help boost your energy and mental sharpness in just a single treatment.
Vitamin C plays a role in the differentiation and maturation of neurons and in the formation of the myelin sheath that protects them and speeds impulse transmission, making the vitamin crucial to cognitive performance.
Vitamin C helps keep your immune system functioning properly. Keeping your body healthy is a sure way to also keep your mental function running properly.
Vitamin D can play an important role in brain health and function, and exert various neuroprotective effects in brain areas essential for cognition. Being severely deficient in vitamin D is associated with a more than twofold increased risk of developing dementia.
Getting exposure to the sun is a natural way to get Vitamin D, but the reality is most people don’t spend enough time outside. Vitamin D also has a number of benefits for cardiovascular health, muscle development, and improved mineral absorption.
Which Vitamins Am I Taking?
When I first got blood work done a few years ago, I was deficient in Vitamin D. So my doctor suggested supplementing with vitamin D. I’ve been taking Vitamin D consistently since then, and within a couple of months of supplementing I noticed a difference in my energy levels and muscularity.
If you aren’t supplementing with vitamin D, there is a good chance that you’re deficient and the health benefits you’re missing out on could be tremendous.
I think I first started vitamin C consistently around the beginning of the COVID-19 lock down. I wanted to make sure my immune system was primed to fight off anything I came into contact with.
I take a multi-vitamin basically as an insurance policy that I’m not missing out on any important vitamins. The metabolic panels that my doctor has ordered don’t test for vitamin levels besides vitamin D, so it can be hard for me to know if I’m deficient in other vitamins.
The brain needs vitamins to function properly, so a multi-vitamin may be good enough to get your brain firing at 100%.
Best Supplements for Brain Fog
The ways in which omega-3 fatty acids help our brains and nervous systems include:
- Preserves cell membrane health
- Facilitates communication between neurons
- Assists in the synthesis and function of neurotransmitters
- Supports brain blood flow
- Aids in the growth of brain tissue
- Supports cognition, including memory
- May prevent neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders including depression and anxiety
Resveratrol is a plant compound, found in the skin of grapes and berries, and peanuts. The compound is antioxidant-like in that it helps lower inflammation in the body (and in the brain).
According to a 2014 study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, may represent an effective therapeutic tool in aging-related neurodegenerative processes. It’s also thought that resveratrol can set off a chain of events that may protect brain cells from damage.
Which Supplements Am I Taking?
Creatine is a supplement that is widely used in the athletic performance space to improve energy supply to muscle tissues. However, creatine has also been shown to improve cognitive function in healthy individuals.
A study published in Experimental Gerontology in 2018 showed that oral creatine supplementation may improve short-term memory, intelligence and reasoning. This study also found potential benefits for aging and stressed individuals.
Caffeine is probably the most widely used nootropic in the world. My one tip for getting the most out of your caffeine is to rely on clean, natural forms like black coffee or green and black teas.
Benefits of Caffeine for Brain Function:
- Increased Alertness
- Improved Well-being
- Better Concentration
- Improved Mood
- Improving Depression
So this is a controversial ingredient, but a lot of the stigma of nicotine comes from the pretty terrible ways people ingest nicotine. If your goal is to use nicotine for enhancing cognitive function, you should avoid tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, or chewing tobacco.
Preclinical models and human studies have shown that nicotine has cognitive-enhancing effects including:
- Improved Attention and Focus
- Better Working Memory
- Enhanced Fine Motor Skills
- Improved Episodic Memory Functions
I’m supplementing with 3mg nicotine pouches by Rogue. I’ve had some issues with nicotine pouches making me nauseous in the past, but these seem to work well without making me feel sick.
Weider Prime Testosterone Support
I first tried this supplement a couple years ago after seeing it at Costco. I’m mostly using this Testosterone Support supplement to prevent any potential drops in testosterone from certain lifestyle factors (poor sleep, under eating, drinking alcohol, etc.).
Testosterone is a hormone mostly associated with bulky bodybuilders trying to pack on as much muscle as possible, but it also has some important cognitive effects. Low testosterone levels can lead to memory and concentration issues, and lowered motivation and self-confidence.
Having a healthy testosterone level will promote healthy sleep, which is crucial for giving your brain a chance to recover at the end of the day.
Ingredients in Weider Prime Testosterone Support:
- 400 IU Vitamin D3
- 10 mg Vitamin B6
- 120 mcg Vitamin B12
- 35 mg Calcium
- 15 mg Zinc
- 200 mcg Chromium
- 50 mg Diindolylmethane (DIM)
- 675 mg Ashwagandha Extract (root)(KSM-66)
- 390 mg Cordycepts Extract (mycelia)
- 5 mg Piperine (from Black Pepper)(Bioperine)
FOCUS Factor Brain Health Supplement
FOCUSfactor is a brain health supplement, but it’s designed to replace a traditional daily multi-vitamin. I’ve also been taking this supplement for a few years, and recently had stopped taking it for awhile. That could have been part of the reason my brain fog got so bad.
Ingredients in Focus Factor
I started taking a magnesium supplement after my doctor recommended it. Leafy green vegetables are rich in magnesium, and since most of us don’t eat enough of those we’re often deficient in magnesium.
After looking at all of the benefits of magnesium, it appears to be a miracle supplement. In regards to magnesium and its ability to help combat brain fog, here are some of the cognitive benefits of magnesium:
- Magnesium plays a role in energy production, which also applies to fueling your brain. The brain consumes a whopping 20 percent of overall energy consumed in the body.
- Magnesium is a regulator of neurotransmitter signaling in the brain, and is key to the main neurotransmitters – glutamate and GABA. Also, through its regulation of the activity of calcium channels, magnesium contributes to the maintenance of adequate calcium in brain cells. Through these roles, magnesium is important to neuronal processes.
Other Remedies for Brain Fog
While these supplements and vitamins can have an effect on your brain fog, you also need to make sure you’re getting a few other things right to improve your brain fog.
These supplements may improve things 5-10%, but these lifestyle changes can actually help naturally improve your brain function naturally.
Get More Sleep
Getting proper sleep–meaning enough sleep and high-quality sleep–is a non-negotiable if you want your mental and physical health as optimized as possible.
If you’re chronically under slept, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk for some serious health problems. Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, heart failure, or stroke. Lack of sleep is also linked to obesity, depression, reduced immunity, and lowered sex drive.
When you sleep you allow your body and mind to recover and refresh itself. If you find that you’re unable to sleep well, you may need to improve your sleeping environment.
Make your room as quiet and dark as possible (or use a sleep mask like this one), to allow yourself to sleep peacefully. I just bought a white noise machine (I got this one) to help drown out noise in my room, so I can stay asleep throughout the night.
You’ll also want to keep the temperature of your room pretty cool. Studies have shown that the optimal room temperature for sleep is between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you find that you’re not feeling rested during the day, you should ask your doctor if you can get a sleep study done to see if you’re dealing with sleep apnea or other sleep disruptors.
Regular exercise improves your physical health, but it also provides cognitive benefits. I’ve found that just getting moving for a little bit during the day helps boost my energy levels.
There is also a meditative, emotional benefit to working out. For managing stress, nothing comes close to getting a workout in for me. This can be in the form of a long walk and listening to a podcast, or lifting heavy at the gym with some loud music. Either way, my mood improves, my focus is better, and my energy levels are boosted just by exercising.
Manage Your Stress
Stress sucks. Everyone experiences stress in some way, but it can become totally unmanageable at times. If you’re going through a particularly stressful period in your life, it is totally normal to experience brain fog symptoms.
However, there are a number of ways that you can manage your stress in some way. Here are a few strategies for managing your stress levels to hopefully make focusing on other things easier:
- Practice Relaxation Techniques
- Deep Breathing
- Improve Your Diet
- Slow Down or Take a Break
- Make Time for Hobbies
- Talk About Your Problems with a Therapist or Trusted Friend
- Go Easy on Yourself
- Spend Time with Friends or Family
- Eliminate Your Triggers