5 Unconventional Supplements to Improve Your Mental Performance

In the quest to optimize our life, using supplements can act as a shortcut toward our goals.

Pop a pill, get some extra superpowers.

Sounds easy, but does it really work?

While they are certainly no replacement for a healthy diet, I truly believe that when used properly, some supplements/extracts can provide key nutrients that will help your body and mind perform at their peak potential.

The real question is: which supplements actually work?

Walk into any health store, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With hundreds of different supplements, extracts, pills, powders, the entire gamut, what works and what doesn’t?

Ever since my career as a high-level swimmer, I’ve been experimenting with a variety of supplements, some of which had no noticeable effects (or even negative ones!), while others gave me a significant boost in performance.

I used to take supplements aimed at increasing my physical performance, but now that my main focus is on building my coaching business, mental performance has become my primary focus.

I want to be extremely sharp, learn fast and be creative every day.

Today I’m going to share with you 5 supplements I’ve spent a lot of time researching, and with which I’ve been getting great results.

The interesting thing is that these supplements are totally safe, and actually offer several health benefits.

Chances are, you’ve never heard of them, but don’t be fooled. They are some of the most potent supplements available today… and most of them have been used successfully for centuries in other parts of the world.

1) Lion’s Mane

lion's mane

Historically, the Lion’s Mane mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) was highly prized in Chinese tradition, and eaten exclusively by Emperors.

It was recommended to me by my friend (and Optimal Health Expert) Caleb Jennings. As soon as I started researching it, I was blown-away by its powerful capabilities.

Dr. Hirokazu Kawagishi of Shizoka University in Japan, a world-leading authority on Lion’s Mane for more than a decade, showed the mushroom to have the remarkable activity of stimulating the synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).

Nerve growth factor (NGF) is a small, secreted protein that is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons.

In recent years, the field of neuroscience has proved that even as we age, our brain retains the ability to grow new neurons through a process called neurogenesis. NGF and other neurotrophins are chemicals that help to stimulate and control neurogenesis.

Dr. Kawagishi and his team isolated two types of molecules within Lion’s Mane that both stimulate NGF production and also, crucially, pass unhindered through the blood-brain barrier.

As Paul Stamets, one of the world’s leading mycologists (expert on fungi) and author of several reference books on medical mushrooms, puts it, Lion’s Mane mushroom mycelium is nature’s nutrients for your neurons.

It is completely safe, showing no signs of toxicity or side effects in any scientific research.

The Chinese have known these benefits for thousands of years, as the ancient herbalists promised nerves of steel and the memory of a lion to the privileged few who were allowed to eat this restricted delicacy.

Now, you can have it too.

Here is a great source of high-quality Lion’s Mane mycelium collected by Paul Stamets himself.

Quick tip: Lion’s Mane (and all other medicinal mushrooms) have a much greater absorption rate if consumed with vitamin C as it helps break down their polysaccharides. 

2) Bacopa

bacopaBacopa is a plant that has been used in India for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine for its adaptogenic, tranquilizing, and antioxidant properties.

It was also introduced to me by Caleb Jennings, as he claimed that it was a great memory-booster. Since I’m passionate about learning new things and want to remember them, it was a no-brainer to give it a shot.

I’ve now been using Bacopa daily for about a month and while I don’t have hard data to confirm its effectiveness, I have found my memory to be especially accurate while trying to recall information from an online marketing course I’m currently taking.

Researchers initially became interested in Bacopa monnieri because of the effect they believed it may have on ancient shamans, who claimed to use the herb to help them memorize poems.

Researchers hypothesized that perhaps the Bacopa plant enhanced the shamans’ brain function and improved their memory, concentration, and recall.

It’s no wonder researchers suspected a link: some of these epic poems, when they were finally recorded in writing, exceeded 900 pages… And the shamans could recite them word for word!

Today, modern science is confirming traditional wisdom about Bacopa. In studies conducted in Australia and the U.S., Bacopa improved study subjects’ ability to retain new information — and it also helped them increase their visual processing speed

In his TV show on May 30, 2011, Dr. Mehmet Oz (also known as “America’s Doctor”) recommended Bacopa for brain health.

Dr. Oz said, “Bacopa Monnieri will make you smarter, enhance your memory, and help you focus better.”

Here is the Bacopa product I’ve been experimenting with.

Quick Tip: To be most effective, Bacopa extract should taken in the recommended dosage daily for 12 weeks.

3) CoQ10

CoQ10 is a supplement I’ve been using for months to help increase my energy levels. It’s a vitamin-like compound that is produced naturally in the human body and is also found in most living organisms.

Why is it important? Almost every cell of the human body contains CoQ10. The mitochondria, the areas of cells where energy is produced, contain the most CoQ10.

CoQ10 helps in the production of several key enzymes that are used to create ATP, which is burned by your body for energy, and in the energy transfer between mitochondria and cells.

In layman’s terms, CoQ10 is absolutely necessary to the chemical reaction in our brain and body that gives us energy, and a shortage can leave us feeling lethargic and unmotivated.

It has also been shown to be a potent remedy for people who suffer from migraines, high-blood pressure, or need an immune system boost.

CoQ10 is found primarily in fish and meat, but the amounts in food are far less than what can be obtained from supplements.

You can pick up some high-quality CoQ10 from this source.

Quick Tip: The latest studies show that CoQ10 has a powerful synergistic effect with shilajit. In a breakthrough preliminary study, combining CoQ10 with shilajit produced a 56% increase in cellular energy production in the brain (40% better than CoQ10 alone) and 144% increase in muscle (27% better than CoQ10 alone)

4) Chlorella

chlorellaChlorella is a “superfood” I’ve been using for more than a year now. My friends from Roar Superfoods first introduced it to me as a potent detoxifier. Chlorella is a green single-cell algae and it really packs a huge nutritious punch.

Chlorella contains so many different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that it could easily be considered as nature’s multivitamin. However, unlike most commercial multivitamins, its different components have a true synergistic effect and are highly absorbable by the human body.

Chlorella is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C and E, and contains important minerals such as magnesium, potassium, iron and calcium. It’s also a rich source of protein, containing all the essential amino acids.

One of the greatest features of chlorella is that it has the highest concentration of chlorophyll in any known food. Chlorophyll also has a very similar chemical structure to hemoglobin so chlorella is highly beneficial in the production of new blood.

The main reason why I personally use chlorella is for its proven detoxifying effect. In the world we live in, we are exposed to toxins every day in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, even the cleaning products we use, and they can severely put a damper on our health and energy levels. 

Chlorella has an amazing ability to bind with toxins like chemicals and heavy metals and move them swiftly out of the body.

There is also an increased risk of heavy-metal contamination if you consume a lot of fish (or fish oil), so I like to see chlorella as an insurance policy against this possible ailment.

Here is a great source of high-quality chlorella.

Quick tip: Make sure to purchase cracked cell wall chlorella, as it is absorbed at a much higher rate than normal chlorella. 

5) Ashwaganda

ashwagandhaAshwagandha (Withania somnifera) is an herb commonly used in ayurveda. It has powerful stress-reducing properties that in turn help improve almost any health marker.

Scientific studies support ashwagandha’s ability not only to relieve stress, but also to protect brain cells against the deleterious effects of our modern lifestyles.

Ashwagandha has actually been shown to be as effective as some tranquilizers and antidepressant drugs!

Oral administration of ashwagandha for five days suggested anxiety-relieving effects similar to those achieved by the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam, and antidepressant effects similar to those of the prescription antidepressant drug imipramine.

Of course,  it’s also much better for you!

In a large human clinical study, researchers observed the effects of a standardized extract of ashwagandha on the negative effects of stress and how it affected the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).

The participants reported increased energy, reduced fatigue, better sleep, and an enhanced sense of well-being. They showed several measurable improvements, including a reduction of cortisol levels up to 26%, a decline in fasting blood sugar levels, and improved lipid profiles.

Over the past five years, researchers at the Institute of Natural Medicine at the Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Japan have conducted extensive research into the brain benefits of ashwagandha. They found that it helps support the growth of nerve cell dendrites, which allow these cells to receive communications from other cells.

In another study, researchers found that ashwagandha helps promote the growth of both normal and damaged nerve cells, suggesting that the herb may boost healthy brain cell function as well as benefit diseased nerve cells.

Finally, it has also been shown that ashwagandha extract inhibits acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter responsible for concentration. This suggests that ashwagandha could help you stay focused for longer periods of time.

Better mood, lower stress, better sleep, nerve cell growth and longer periods of focus… not bad for one plant!

Conclusion

If you want to optimize your brain’s performance, adding these supplements to your daily routine is a great start.

But if you want to truly use your mental superpowers at their full potential, I highly recommend you develop the “Limitless lifestyle.”

Because ultimately, supplements are only one piece of the puzzle- you have to consciously transform yourself every day through your actions and attitude to really unleash the greatness that’s within you.

But once you do… sky is the limit.

Choose Greatness,
Phil

PS Any supplements you’ve been using and getting great results with? Let me know in the comments section!

 Please share this post, because that’s how more people can discover the benefits of these natural supplements.

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32 Comments

  • Awesome post bro! I appreciate the mention of some of the epic superfoods I had the pleasure of sharing with you, and love the way you wrote about them! So grateful you are sharing this powerful knowledge with others as well, as we all have the right to live at our most optimal levels of mental and physical performance if we so choose, and these superfoods will speed up that process naturally :-) Glad to hear you are feeling good results from your experimentation with them too.

    Looking forward to geeking out with you more on this subject, and have got some new epic resources to share when we chat next!

    Keep rockin on bro, you’re doing the world a profound and positive service through your creative expression!

    • Thanks brother, and can’t wait to share more of our awesome discoveries in the months and years to come!

      I get giddy thinking about all the AMAZINGNESS we’re going to discover + create in our lifetime :)

      Keep rocking it too, you’re a big inspiration to me!

  • I don’t even have to tell you how much I love this article! :D Love the topic!!
    Thanks for great guides, it sounds amazing. I heard only about Chlorella before. Btw do you still use alpha brain? If you do, does it still helps?

    Missed your posts hehe, keep ’em going!
    Cheers! ;)

    • Hey Ivor, thanks my friend!

      I’m actually taking a break from Alpha Brain right now, letting my brain recuperate while I experiment some different things, but yes it definitely still helped towards the end. 4-6 hours of increased clarity/mental focus everytime…

      Btw I got a GREAT post coming up in the coming weeks on “super-learning”, you’re going to love it :)

  • Nice to see Chlorella in there :) It can also be used to prevent hangovers – there’s a study out there that showed 97% of people who took Chlorella before drinking had reduced or no hangover symptoms.

    • Hahha the infamous Japanese study we could never retrieve :P

      • One day… one day!

  • I am curious about your experience with CoQ10. I have been in need of something to restore my energy since I feel drained all the time and have been turning to energy drinks (I know….BAD). Does this stuff really make a big difference?

    • Jeez, energy drinks?! You should know better :P

      CoQ10 is super affordable, so I would definitely give it a shot if I were you. But I think the more important is why are you drained all the time? What’s at the root of this?

      For me I was already feeling pretty good and energized so it’s only an incremental increase but I like to have all my bases covered :)

      • My diet is pretty stellar. I eat fish, salads, Ezekial bread sandwiches (when I’m at work), lots of protein and few carbs. I also take a shot of apple cider vinegar, cayenne pepper, and aloe vera juice every morning….and coconut oil.
        I exercise regularly too. I think that only leaves room for one possible cause for my energy drain…..my newborn child. :)

        • Damnnn dude, congrats! That’s big news! All the best man, maybe it’s time to throw a little polyphasic sleep in there? :)

        • Damnnn dude, congrats! That’s big news! All the best man, maybe it’s time to throw a little polyphasic sleep in there? :)

  • i’ve been using Alpha Brain by Onnit…does wonders for me. also, Athletic Greens is a miracle for hangover cures.

    • Great to hear it Alex! Alpha Brain is the real deal. I’ve been using Chlorella to combat hangover with moderate success (def no miracle cure), I’ll look into Athletic Greens (I know Tim Ferriss promotes it heavily).

  • Great post Phil. I’m definitely going to be checking some of these out… especially Ashwaganda – I could use the stress relief.

  • Hey Phil, I’m curious if these supplements are available outside the USA? I’ll take a look around in the health stores here in Frankfurt…it’ll be an adventure trying to translate some of these, haha :)

  • I can’t thank you enough for recommending these supplements. After reading this post I placed an order for lion’s mane, bacopa, coq10, and ashwaganda (shilajit and chlorella were too expensive). The vitamins arrived 5 days ago and they’ve already had an unreal effect on my mental abilities. I feel like I’m someone else, not necessarily someone different but someone more evolved. I’m almost anxious to see what I’ll be like when the vitamins have taken full effect.

  • Phil man you are amazing,

    Your blog has help me refined my habits on the quest of empowering my body and mind.Though, what is your take on nootropics? Have you experience with Piracetam?

    Bisous!

    • Hey Martin,

      Thanks so much :) I’ve experimented with nootropics quite a bit, namely Alpha Brain and Modafinil (with good results). I haven’t tried Piracetam yet but I was thinking about picking some up after Christmas. Have you tried it?

      Cheers!
      Phil

      • Hi Phil,

        Anicetram + Modafinil (of course with the proper diet and exercise)

  • Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I’ve read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I will just book mark this site.

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  • Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Taking the time and actual effort to create a really good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.

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  • Hi,

    how much Chlorella do you take very day? Thank you for your great articles :D (started recently IF because of your Superhuman-article^^)

    I still have to look out for CoQ10 and Lion’s mane in germany ;D

  • Yes, I agree that only Nature can provide your nutrition and medicinal efficacy. Many foods have co enzymes and when combined together have a synergetic affect on the body so one nutrient alone is not advisable. I personally use Natures super whole foods over synthetic man made supplements. I cannot list them all hear but here is a few. Chlorella , Spirulina , Bee Pollen, Aloe Vera, raw organic goat milk, Sea weed , all dark leafy greens, all sprouts , all coconut products, Avocado , Juicing ,blending, and other culinary ways of recipe creations in my Earth kitchen at my Garden Villa Phuket Health Longevity and Wellness Resort. “Live and Eat with Natures Plan . Holistic Chef Barry formally Chef Barry Gourmet Raw

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  • Hi our beloved! I must express that this particular article rocks !, great created and come together with close to almost all significant infos. I will see additional discussions like this .

  • Hey Phil,

    Is eating too many superfoods like these dangerous for your body?
    I always get a little anxious about being too healthy and consuming too many superfoods. I tried Spirulina for a while and it was great but I came to realise that my diet was too high in iron and I had some digestive issues and got a little sick too (it could’ve been my body detoxing itself however). I’m a lover of things like chia seeds and quinoa and red meat and seafood, but I don’t want to cause any harm to my organs by including these foods in my diet too.
    Is it safe to consume all these superfoods daily? What are the risks?
    Have you ever heard of Cellfood Oxygen? If so, whats your view of Cellfood? Its a supplement I’ve used for half a year to combat some fatigue I felt after experiencing glandular fever. I haven’t been sick with anything since using it but I feel like taking it is a cheap way of maintaining health.

    Thanks again for all your enlightenment! I just came across your blog and its incredible. I’ve just recently discovered the connection between the mind and body after relieving my anxiety issues through thinking exercises, body exercises and eating organically. I can’t believe how beneficial something like yoga is.

    From Daniel in Australia

  • Hey Phil,

    I was wondering if I can take Lion’s Mane and Bacopa together. Is this what you have done or did you take these supplements separately? Thank you.

  • Is image streaming good

So, what do you think?