Best Supplements for Healthy Brain Aging

Best Supplements for Healthy Brain Aging

As our bodies age, so do our brains. You may notice yourself forgetting words and names more easily, taking longer to figure out how a new device works, or having more trouble multitasking and staying focused. These are normal age-related changes and shouldn’t be cause for worry. Your brain is highly adaptable, and can still learn new skills, even if it takes a little longer.

In fact, older brains have some advantages, too. After all, you’ve got a lifetime of accumulated knowledge and experience that you can draw on, as well as more emotional maturity to temper your decision-making. Research from the Seattle Longitudinal Study shows that older adults actually perform better than their younger selves when tested on verbal abilities, abstract reasoning, spatial reasoning, and simple math.[1]

But aging and cumulative wear and tear does change the brain in ways that can affect your cognitive function. Brain volume shrinks as you get older, and communication between neurons can become less effective. Blood flow to the brain may decrease, while inflammation and oxidative stress increase. These changes come with an increased risk of cognitive decline.[2]

So how can you keep your brain healthier for longer? Research shows that a healthy lifestyle can make a difference in how your brain ages. Older adults who stay physically, mentally, and socially active tend to maintain better cognitive function in their later years. A healthy diet is also important, including avoiding excess sugar and alcohol and eating plenty of healthy omega-3 fats and antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, such as in the Mediterranean Diet.

Brain health supplements can also help provide important nutrients that may be lacking in your diet or that tend to decrease with age. These nutrients and protective compounds help support healthy brain function and protect against oxidative stress and limit inflammation. Curious about brain health supplements? Here’s our helpful guide to some of the best supplements for healthy brain aging, how they work, and why they may be helpful.


Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy fat that’s essential to the brain’s structure and function. Since our bodies can’t produce omega-3s, we have to replenish them through our diet. There are three types of omega-3s – ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – but the important ones for your brain are EPA and especially DHA. However, these are only found in meaningful amounts in a narrow slice of our diet: namely, fatty fish. The other way you can get them is through omega-3 supplements.

Your brain is made up of about 60% fat, and the predominant fatty acid in your brain is DHA.[3][4]  DHA is a key component of brain cell membranes and makes up about 30-40% of fatty acids in the “gray matter” of the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain involved in memory, learning, decision-making, language, emotion, and other functions of higher intelligence.[5] In fact, researchers believe that increased consumption of DHA from seafood by our early ancestors played a critical role in the evolution of the modern human brain.[6][7]

DHA is involved in brain cell communication and supports the activity of important neurotransmitters involved in cognition, attention, and mood regulation.5 It also has neuroprotective properties that are particularly important for the aging brain, including the production of a compound called neuroprotectin D1 (NPD1), which helps protect and repair brain cells from oxidative stress damage.[8] Both DHA and EPA are also known for helping to manage inflammation in the body, including brain inflammation, which is linked with cognitive decline.[9]

Research confirms that omega-3s DHA and EPA are important for healthy brain aging. Observational studies have found that older adults with lower levels of these omegas have smaller brains that tend to age faster, while those with higher levels preserve more brain volume and have a lower risk of cognitive decline.[10][11][12] Clinical studies have also found that higher intake of EPA and DHA through seafood or supplements may improve cognitive function in older adults and help protect against age-related cognitive decline.[13][14][15][16]

Fish oil supplements contain EPA and DHA together, usually with a higher amount of EPA than DHA. If you’re looking for a vegan alternative, or would prefer a higher dose of DHA, try our Vegan DHA supplement sourced from marine algae.

B Vitamins

B vitamins are essential for every aspect of healthy brain function. They help synthesize neurotransmitters that influence mood and concentration, support the structural health and performance of brain cells, and help produce energy for the brain.[17] Vitamins B9 (folate) and B12 help make healthy red blood cells that deliver oxygen, nutrients, and glucose to the brain. B9, B12, and B6 are also important for helping to break down homocysteine, an amino acid that increases oxidative stress and has been linked with higher risk of cognitive decline.[18] Clinical studies suggest that B vitamin supplements may help maintain healthy cognitive function as you age.[19][20][21][22]

Although B vitamins are plentiful in a well-rounded diet, older adults may still run low on these important vitamins for a number of reasons, ranging from low intake to poor absorption, negative drug interactions, and genetic variations that make it harder to metabolize B vitamins.[23] Vitamin B12 deficiency is particularly common for older adults, because age-related changes in the gut significantly reduce the absorption of B12 from food. Lack of B12 can negatively affect your cognition, memory, and mood, and may present with symptoms similar to dementia.[24] For these reasons, health experts routinely recommend Vitamin B12 supplements for older adults.

Low levels of B vitamins are associated with an increased risk of cognitive decline,[25][26][27] so it’s important to get enough. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends older adults take a daily multivitamin to ensure healthy levels of important B vitamins. When taking B vitamins, look for a supplement that includes vitamins B6, folate (B9), and B12 in their active, methylated forms. On the label, you should see folate as methyl folate, vitamin B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P), and vitamin B12 as methylcobalamin. Taking these forms helps make it easy for your body to metabolize and use the vitamins. We use these active vitamins in our complete B Complex supplement, as well as in all of our multivitamins.

Lion’s Mane

Lion’s mane is a functional mushroom that’s been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support health and longevity for centuries. It’s particularly known for its brain and nerve health benefits, and was traditionally used by Buddhist monks to improve their focus in meditation. Today, lion’s mane is the subject of extensive study for its cognitive health properties. Lion’s mane is packed with bioactive compounds, including antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier to help protect the brain from oxidative damage and manage inflammation.[28] But researchers are particularly interested in two unique compounds known as hericenones and erinacines.

Hericenones and erinacines from lion’s mane are able to cross into the brain and stimulate nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).[29][30] These neurotrophic factors help stimulate the growth, repair, and maintenance of brain and nerve cells, making them important for long-term healthy brain function. Declining levels of these factors in the aging brain are associated with cognitive decline and memory loss.[31] By increasing these factors in the brain, lion’s mane shows significant potential for protecting against cognitive decline.[32]

The clinical studies so far are few, but promising. Three double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have found that taking lion’s mane led to improvements in brain health and cognitive function for older adults at risk of cognitive decline.[33][34][35] Lion’s mane is a featured ingredient in our Mushrooms Brain + Immune Blend supplement.


Bacopa monnieri is an Ayurvedic herb that’s been used as a nootropic for thousands of years.[36] Like the more well-known ashwagandha, bacopa is classified in Ayurveda as a medhya rasayana, or mental rejuvenator, with benefits for long-term cognitive function, stress support, and healthy aging. It is especially regarded as a memory aid, and was said to have been used by Vedic scholars to help them memorize lengthy scriptural chants. Research indicates that bacopa has neuroprotective properties, including antioxidant compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier to help protect the brain from oxidative damage and deterioration, an important factor in cognitive aging and memory loss.[37][38]

Early clinical trials on the effects of bacopa have been promising. A 2012 systematic review and a 2014 meta-analysis of controlled human trials found that bacopa has positive effects on cognitive performance and memory recall.[39][40] Two of the placebo-controlled studies included in the review used a standardized extract of bacopa called BacoMindTM. Standardized extracts have a more consistent chemical profile and potency, which makes them easier to study than non-standardized plant medicines. Both studies showed that BacoMindTM can significantly improve memory and cognitive function in older adults.[41][42] We include this clinically researched bacopa extract in our Memory, Focus, & Mood brain health supplement.

Naturelo Brain Health Supplements

Looking for supplements to support healthy brain aging? Check out all of our Brain Health Supplements, including:


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