Written by Chris Claussen, Co-Founder, Chief Innovation Officer
About the Author: Chris has over 20 years of experience in product and business development. For the past five years he has focused exclusively on innovative product development in the functional foods and functional mushrooms space. Chris brings experience exploring, experimenting, and conducting extensive research on the relationship between functional foods/mushrooms and metabolic, brain, and mental health.
Thinking about your brain health? You’re not alone. A recent survey found that ~25% of adults over age 50 take a “focus supplement” or a supplement to support and improve their brain health with the specific goal to enhance memory, sharpen attention and focus, and preventing cognitive decline. However, starting supplements earlier and using them consistently can support long-term brain health may be the key to unlocking greater benefits – now and in the future.
Key Ingredients in Focus Supplements
When thinking about taking focus supplements, there are a few key ingredients to focus on that provide significant benefits – including supporting neurotransmitter production.
- Lions Mane Mushroom: supports mood and energy as well as strong memory and concentration*
- Cordyceps Mushroom: supports mental function and strength*
- Panax Ginseng, an adaptogen that may boost physical and mental vitality*
- Vitamin B6 (in the activated form P-5-P): required for the production of dopamine and several other neurotransmitters, and supports memory and attention*
- L-Tyrosine: an amino acid precursor that increases the production of dopamine, and supports critical thinking and decision-making*
- Mucuna: a source of L-Dopa, an amino acid that is converted to dopamine in the brain, and supports motivation and learning
- Huperzine A: supports learning and memory*
From this list – you will notice there are a couple of functional mushrooms. Let’s dive into how mushrooms can support focus.
Functional Mushrooms for Focus
Functional mushrooms are mushrooms that provide a positive contribution to health, beyond just their basic nutritional value. Functional mushrooms are superfoods containing many vitamins, minerals and medicinal compounds. While each type of mushroom has its own unique properties, overall they may contribute to a variety of positive health benefits. Lions Mane Mushroom and Cordyceps Mushroom specifically have been shown to support mental function and concentration specifically.
Supporting Dopamine Production for Improved Focus
The neurotransmitter dopamine plays a vital role in several brain functions related to movement, mood, motivation, and reward. It is produced within neurons and facilitates communication signals to neighboring neurons, influencing various aspects of our daily lives. Dopamine has been linked to healthy habit formation and the maintenance of a healthy nervous system. Its effects on mood, focus, and arousal are noteworthy.
When we complete a task, participate in a sport, learn something new, or accomplish a goal, dopamine is released, resulting in a sense of satisfaction and pleasure. As the "motivation molecule," it is crucial to staying focused and alert. Therefore, supporting dopamine production is necessary for improving focus and maintaining healthy brain function.