3 Reasons Nootropics Are Important For Combat Athletes
Nootropics, A.K.A. “smart drugs”, are defined to be any substance attributed a positive action on cognition. For athletes who want an edge against their opponent and who want to maintain brain heath, nootropic supplementation is the way to go. Here are 3 reasons to supplement with natural nootropics:
1. Brain Cell Growth
Some mushrooms exhibit nootropic properties. Lion’s Main (Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus)), for instance, is a well-established medicinal mushrooms for neuronal health that demonstrates regenerative capabilities in peripheral nerves. Lion’s Main contains active compounds that have been shown to “increase mRNA expression of nerve-growth factor (NGF) in isolated astrocytes to around 5-fold.” NGF synthesis occurs by stimulation of the JNK pathway (R). In one study conducted in rats with surgery induced brain damage, Lion’s Mane water extract was able to promote neuronal regrowth after crushing injury. After administration of Lion’s Main, the rats were able to walk better. The study concluded that daily, oral supplementation of Lion’s Main could promote regeneration of injured rat peroneal nerves in the early stage of recovery (R). †
Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) plays an important role in mitochondrial metabolism and in modulating the coenzyme A (CoA)/acyl-CoA ratio. In experiment assessing ALCAR supplementation, the compound was shown to protect neural stem cells from oxygen-glucose deprivation by reducing apoptosis and restoring proliferation. Its protective effects are associated with increases in the expression of survival-related proteins, such as phosphorylated Akt (pAkt), phosphorylated glycogen synthase kinase 3b (pGSK3b), B cell lymphoma 2 (Bcl-2), and Ki-67 in NSCs (R). In a study with fetal rats, ALCAR supplementation resulted in neuroprotective activity, suggesting a possible means for treating Alzheimer's. In the experiment, chronic exposure to ALCAR (10-50 micro Molar for 10 days) cell death caused by 24 hr fetal calf serum deprivation. The chronic treatment with ALCAR (50 microM) significantly reduced the neuronal death caused by neurotoxicity of NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate).†
Myelin sheaths (a fatty substance that coats the axons of some nerve cells and provides electrical insulation) is essential for proper nerve cell functioning. Injury of myelin sheaths can lead to nerve system related impairment and illness. Lion’s Main supplementation has been shown to aid in the development cerebellar cells and to regulate myelin sheath genesis process in vitro (R). An analogue to Hericenones (a constituent of the Lion’s Main mushroom) called 3-hydroxyhericenone, has also demonstrated the ability to preserve neurons from death induced by endoplasmic reticulum stress (R). †
3. Improved Cognition, Learning, & Memory
Trimethylglycine (TMG, also known as Betaine)) primarily functions as a methyl donor, where it directly donates a methyl group to reduce homocysteine into L-methionine, a cardioprotective molecule required for the body’s synthesis of creatine (R). Though it is not classified as a nootropic, betaine acts as a cofactor in neurotransmitter synthesis of dopamine and serotonin through production of S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe) from L-methionine. Like other nootropics, TMG has also been shown in studies to improve mental performance. Increased levels of blood betaine are positively associated with better performance of construction, reaction speed, and decision making. Also, one study demonstrated that high betaine concentrations resulted in slightly higher memory performance compared to those without it (R).†
In a study with centenarians (people over the age of 100) who received L-Carnitine supplementation, participants had “a reduction of total fat mass, increases total muscular mass, and facilitates an increased capacity for physical and cognitive activity by reducing fatigue and improving cognitive functions (R).” In another study with elderly participants, data showed ALCAR supplementation has demonstrated an increase in attention, concentration and a decrease in mental fatigue (R). This was supported by research involving children with ADHD. The evidence suggests that treatment with carnitine can significantly decrease their attention problems (R).†
Long term Lion’s Main supplementation can also result in cognitive enhancement. In an another experiment involving elderly volunteers, subjects of the Lion’s Main group who ingested four 250 mg tablets containing 96% of powdered Yamabushitake extract three times a day for 16 weeks had significantly increased cognitive function scores compared to those in the placebo group. Those in the Lion’s Main group had scores that increased with the duration of supplementation. However, at week 4 after supplement termination, their scores decreased significantly. The results obtained in this study suggest that Lion’s Main is effective at improving mild cognitive impairment (R). †
Since dodging every punch and kick is impossible, supplementation with something natural like Lion’s Main mushroom and ALCAR is important for those such as combat athletes who have an increased risk for cranial impact and brain damage. If you are looking to add a natural supplement to aid in cognitive improvement as well as short-term and long-term brain health, Zenko: Boost contains 600 milligrams of ALCAR and 1.5 grams of TMG in one single serving. The blend complements ALCAR with other natural ingredients that have Antioxidant and Joint Health properties as well. Learn more about it here.
† This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
About the Author: Dennis Thompson is the President of Zenko Nutrition. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a B.S. in Biology and has more than 2 years of experience working in a cGMP Pharmaceutical testing laboratory.