The nutritional supplements to study, in addition to having a high price, tend to lack sufficient scientific evidence for their use and consumption
During study periods (especially midterm and final exams at the university, or major events such as selectivity or competitive examinations), hoaxes and legends about food supplements to study multiply exponentially. And, although many articles have dismissed many of these supplements through solid scientific evidence, even today they are still used as if their effects were real and not a mere placebo effect.
Today we will discuss some of these nutritional supplements to study, although not all, as it would be possible to write entire books about them. We will focus on royal jelly, gingeng, guarana, soy lecithin, and caffeine in various forms.
Food supplements to study: Royal Jelly
The royal jelly comes from bees, some insects use this substance as a food for their young (larvae). However, as with honey, royal jelly is also consumed by humans and for many years it has been granted multiple and diverse benefits related to its ability to increase memory or reduce the feeling of physical or mental fatigue.
In fact, some studies went so far as to state that royal jelly helps increase neurogenesis, or the growth of new neurons, in mice. Also, a more recent review from October 2017 has come to affirm that royal jelly would have several benefits on excess blood cholesterol, diabetes, hypertension and various types of cancers, both in animals and in humans. Although, despite being a review, this study does not get wet and only concludes that this food should be further studied.
Even so, despite the fact that there are some studies that defend such a supplement, currently the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) affirms that all these benefits can be obtained through the consumption of a balanced diet and at a lower economic cost. Also, according to EFSA, there is no solid evidence that there is a cause-effect between royal jelly and all these properties attributed to it.
Nutritional Supplements to Study: Ginseng
The ginseng, or Panax ginseng is used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. However, in Western society, its use as a food supplement based on its high ginsenoside content has exploded. Due to the fact that these molecules are attributed stimulating and revitalizing properties, in addition to being able to improve the feeling of physical and mental fatigue and even enhance memory, ginseng has also become a kind of panacea as a supplement to study.
However, as with royal jelly, the EFSA has also evaluated the scientific evidence regarding this food supplement in cases of physical or psychological fatigue, lack of concentration or attempts to improve performance. Again, the conclusion according to the EFSA is similar to the case of royal jelly: there is not enough scientific evidence to affirm that there is a cause and effect between the consumption of ginseng and the benefits attributed to it.
Food supplements to study: Guarana
The guarana or cupana Paullinia is a very common plant in the Amazon, which can be found in countries such as Paraguay, Peru, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia or Venezuela. Its usefulness as a supplement is widely known, since it is given stimulating properties because its fruit contains up to twice the caffeine present in coffee. And precisely because of this richness in caffeine, its consumption is sought to enhance alertness and improve physical and cognitive performance.
In this case, guarana has been shown to improve memory, performance and alertness according to several studies, in which it is suggested that these effects are not due exclusively to caffeine. In fact, more recent studies have even claimed that a single dose of guarana is sufficient to have a significant impact on alertness. However, in the long term, more research would still be necessary in this regard, as the correct dosages for its administration are not clear.
Food Supplements to Study: Phosphatidylserine
The phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid found in the cell membrane of the human body. It is found in some supplements such as soy lecithin, and it has been suggested that its use may enhance memory and prevent age-related cognitive decline.
However, it should be noted that the studies that have found benefits in its use were based on studying age-related memory loss, and not on its use as a dietary supplement to study how it is usually studied. In fact, the Foods & Drugs Administration (FDA) considers that there is not enough scientific evidence in this regard for its use.
Nutritional Supplements to Study: Caffeine
Caffeine, whose use as a supplement is mainly in its forms such as regular coffee or in the form of energy drinks, is one of the most widely used dietary supplements to study today.
While it is true that caffeine produces cognitive benefits (increased attention, memory and learning) from doses of at least 75 mg according to the EFSA, it is not advisable to exceed the consumption of this substance beyond 300 mg daily. A regular cup of coffee contains between 90 mg and 120 mg of caffeine, but an energy drink contains between 30 mg and 36 mg of caffeine per 100 ml, and these drinks are usually presented in formats of 200 ml or 500 ml, which would imply be able to consume up to 180 mg of caffeine in a single dose. If we add the excess sugar in these drinks to this, their consumption as a study supplement can be a big problem.
As we can see, although some nutritional supplements to study have been shown to have certain benefits at a cognitive level (especially caffeine), most of them are useless or at least have not shown enough scientific evidence to take them into account.
In addition, it is worth noting the high price that these types of supplements usually have, especially taking into account that many of the functions that are granted could be achieved with a balanced diet and without supplementation.
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