Welcome to the 4th and final post in this series. In part one I discussed why nootropics have the potential to improve our golf game by outlining the mental/psychological demands of golf, and why increased psychological/cognitive capacity would no doubt improve our on course performance. I also discussed some of the issues to consider when deciding to use supplements in the first place; mainly, you should not use banned substances, they should be the best quality supplements you can find, and all other aspects of your diet and lifestyle should be in check first. Not to mention that you should always review any supplements with your healthcare practitioner before adding them to your routine. In Part 2 of this series I reviewed the evidence surrounding specific amino acids that are commonly found in nootropic supplements, which are claimed to have cognitive enhancing qualities. In Part 3 I discussed the nootropic properties of a number of plant extracts. Today I will review the evidence for the nootropic properties of a few vitamin and vitamin like substances. Originally I wanted to also write about the racetam family of nootropics (piracetam, oxiracetam, aniracetam); however, I decided to stick to reviewing natural nootropic. Maybe I will discuss them in the future but I have no desire to experiment with their use at this time.
A list of common nootropic products that use some of the below ingredients (in this and future articles) include, but are not limited to: Golf Fuel, Golferaid, Golfer X Nutrition Round Control, Alpha Brain, Ciltep, Choline Force, 88herbs l-theanine, and Natural Factors PQQ-10. Please note that I have not listed the compounds in any type of hierarchical order. Please remember to review any supplements with your healthcare practitioner before taking them.
DMAE is a precursor to choline, and thus, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, present in the brain and liver. Unfortunately, there is limited studies on this compound regarding it’s use and function as a nootropic. Animal studies indicate that DMAE can increase brain choline levels and increase vigilance, attention, and memory, particularly in stressful situations (1). Human studies do indicate possible benefits, particularly in the form of mood regulation (ie. feeling of well-being and calm) in those with mood disorders (2). The suggestive mechanism of action is DMAEs impact on brain choline levels as well as antioxidant and possible increased fluidity of neuronal cell membranes in the brain (1, 2, 3).
Alpha GPC is another compound used in the brain for biosynthesis of acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine (a phospholipid of neuronal cell membranes). Again, I found it difficult to locate a great deal of literature on this compound, but what I did find indicated that it has the potential to increase plasma choline levels, as well as improve symptoms in those with moderate vascular dementia (4, 5). Again, the mechanisms of action here would be similar to DMAE: increase in cell membrane fluidity, antioxidant action, and increase in acetylcholine.
Coenzyme Q10, otherwise known as ubiquinone is a vitamin like substance present in all of our cells within our mitochondria. The reason it is called ubiquinone is because it is ubiquitous in our bodies (ie. found in every cell…it is everywhere). Given that CoQ10 is found within the power houses of our cells (mitochondria), I am sure you have guessed that it is vital for proper mitochondrial function and energy (ATP) production (6, 7). However, it also functions as a potent fat soluble antioxidant (6, 7). There is vast literature supporting CoQ10’s vital role in mitochondrial function, and thus, healthy neurological functioning. Evidence shows that it is helpful in treating and preventing an array of neurodegenerative conditions from Alzheimer’s disease to MS (6, 7, 8, 10). it has also shown promise in treatment of migraines, which are thought to be due to dysregulated brain metabolism (ie. mitochondrial dysfunction) (9). It has even been shown to be preventative of chronic inflammatory diseases, including neurodegeneration, in elderly people (10). Unfortunately, I was not able to find any information on benefits of supplementation in a healthy young to middle age population; however, in light of the evidence out there, benefits are more than likely. Interestingly, foods highest in CoQ10 are meat and fish, particularly, organ meats (if you can stomach them).
Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)
PPQ is a biologically active compound that has beneficial effects for a large range of living organisms (11) and has even been found in interstellar dust (11). This suggests that exposure to this compound was likely present during early life evolution (11)! PPQ has been shown in both human and animal studies to enhance mitochondrial function, reduce oxidative stress (antioxidant function), and increases nerve growth factors (11-16). Possibly most importantly, it has been shown to one of the very few things to induce mitochondrial generation in animals (ie. the creation of new mitochondria) (11) aside from extreme caloric restriction and oxaloacetate (17). PPQ is high in most plant foods.
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This marks the end of my 4 part series on nootropics and their possible use for golf. I am sure there are many other nootropics I have not discussed, these are just the most popular ones I have come across. Again, the choice to use any of these supplements is always yours and yours alone, just make sure that you consult your medical practitioner first to ensure they are safe for you. Also, to ensure I have made this message clear, your first step towards better cognitive function (and performance in general) on the golf course is always to get your diet and lifestyle factors in check, then experimenting with nootropics could be considered an option.
On that note, stay tuned for a future post on whether supplements are even necessary for optimal health. I think this will be a very important post since there are so many supplements out there these days and it can get quite confusing. Keep in mind that this series of posts on nootropics is by no means meant to imply that such compounds are necessary for well being, or performance for that matter. Unfortunately though, sometimes there seems to be a trade off between elite performance and the use of training regiments and/or supplements that may or may not relate to optimal health.
The Barefoot Golfer