I have been looking into methods of increasing my ability to stay focused and concentrate on a single task for extended periods of time. I tend to lose focus when reading or when trying to get started on project. I started looking into Adderall but started looking into supplements or natural foods. Anyway, my question is, would taking Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng, Omega-3, or Nootropics be an effective way of increasing my ability to concentrate and retain information. Are there any harm with taking these all together, or even individually? Have they been proven effective? Or would forming a habit of drinking green tea, eating fish that is high in omega-3 and eating plenty of leafy greens as well as exercising on a daily basis be a more effective approach, or safer? I currently follow Canada’s food guide and consume the proper amount of each food group, limiting my intake of meats and instead substituting them with protein rich cereal, peanut butter, and hummus.
As of what I’ve found from a week or so of research, a nootropic can be helpful but harmful if taken in high dosages or for an extended period of time. So it would be a more temporary solution during finals week. But I am more interested in a long term solution. Possibly a healthy daily dosage of ginkgo biloba, ginseng and omag-3 mixed with some green tea in the morning.
I have only recently looked into supplements and am not to sure on their effectiveness. Are taking any supplements effective at all? I would really appreciate the advice.
There are many supplements available that claim to boost memory, focus, concentration, etc, but most of them have very little evidence of effectiveness. If you have difficulty focusing on tasks you should consult a physician. Many people suffer for years with attention problems that can be managed with prescription medications. Healthy lifestyle choices can play a big role. Eating a well balanced diet, staying active and getting at least 7 hours of sleep can help. It sounds like you have already made the right lifestyle changes. Good for you!
The only non-prescription stimulant that is proven to improve concentration is caffeine. It is best to limit caffeine intake to 100 to 200 mg per day. I recommend taking it in tablet form. That way you know how much you are taking.
I can only give you personal experience on one of these, gingko biloba. Before I tell you my own experience you should know that this herb has been studied extensively in Europe and consistently shown to be positive for improving short-term memory. In Germany they have been using it for at least 25 years.
I was involved in a two-year, double-blind study using this herb. All prospective participants were sent to be tested for Alzheimer's. Those who showed signs were eliminated from the study. Throughout the course of the study, memory tests and EEG's were administered routinely. Given their procedures, subjective skewing of the results appears to be extremely unlikely.
Although I noticed no change in the first couple of weeks, after that the change was immediate and significant. (Because of this dramatic change, I assumed we were all on a placebo for the first couple of weeks and that I was one of the lucky ones to be given the herb.)
Gingko biloba enhances memory. Although this does not specifically effect focus, it has the effect of making one more alert so everything comes more easily. In that sense it probably does improve focus.
There is one side effect, at least for me. I have always been subject to insomnia. Although gingko is only mildly stimulating, since I was touchy in this regard I eliminated the evening dose.
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