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Does anyone take any OTC supplements?

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by csx, Sep 25, 2014.

  1. csx

    csx 2+ Year Member

    May 8, 2013
    any supplements you can reccommend whether you feel it gives you more energy, concentrate more, gives you a more clear head, etc.

    Only OTC stuff (so no adderal, and such) and not coffee (the obvious one).
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  3. ZMA


    Sep 26, 2014
    I'd just like to start off by saying no supplement can effectively replace poor sleeping habits, dehydration, or a lack of exercise. If you can get 7-8 hours per night, drink water throughout the day, and get several hours vigorous physical activity at least every other day, you're 95% of the way to an optimal frame of mind. These things should be made a priority, regardless of how much you have going on.

    That being said, I've found a few that have worked for me, or have research supporting their efficacy. Most of these I take to help with strength training and recovery, but they have some cognitive effects as well:

    Caffeine (200 mg tablet)
    - All of the cognitive effects and none of the gastrointestinal distress of coffee
    - Few cents per pill, compared to $2-$3 for a coffee with a similar amount
    - Consume with plenty of water

    - Sympathomimetic that is used as an decongestant and appetite suppressant
    - Helps with allergies, with none of the depressant effects of benadryl or reactine, so you can breathe easier through your nose rather than your mouth
    - Promotes concentration, but too much will cause anxiety and high blood pressure

    - Helps reduce anxiety so you can concentrate on a task rather than dwell on your issues

    - Mostly for power output during strength training, but has shown some cognitive benefit
    - Very well studied and safe

    - Just started with this so not sure if it does anything

    Fish oil + Vitamin D
    - Everyone should be taking this, or getting enough fish/sun exposure

    A great resource with peer-reviewed scientific evidence for hundreds of supplements:
    DanniD likes this.
  4. LabDoc33


    Mar 21, 2014
    I'm a huge fan of ALA (alpha lipoic acid), and fish oil for sure. I'm real into weight lifting so I definitely agree with what is being said above.

    I find that if I can find time, doing hard core cardio, like a cycling class at the gym for an hour before starting to study works wonders for alertness. I almost never get anything more then 6.5 hours of sleep a night because of my hectic schedule, but that's the way it is right now.

    Caffeine pills are straight life savers, although I do love the taste of coffee to sip on anyway.
    ZMA likes this.
  5. Gauss44

    Gauss44 5+ Year Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    CAUTION: Some supplements can destroy performance. Other supplements are only helpful within a certain range of doses or concentrations in the body, and if you get too much OR too little, you under-perform. Many substances designed to "improve" cognitive performance are intended for elderly people who might have chemically and neurologically different circumstances. I'm NOT saying to never ever trust a supplement; I am saying to keep this in mind.

    Supplements that MIGHT help boost cognitive performance:
    GINSENG (American ginseng, root extract) - No complaints. I've used it and like it.
    Caffeine may increase alertness, nervous, and the need to pee. Eating lots of food reduces the later issue, and limiting quantity may limit nervousness.
    Huperzine - I've been told that it's useless.
    Pregneneolone - I've been told that this can screw up your hormonal balance (gynecomastia).
    Phosphtidylserine/choline - I don't think it will help unless you are low on it in the first place. It might be intended for the elderly.
    Bacopa - I've been told that it's useless.
    Vinpocetine - Sounds scary, never tired it.
    DHA/EPA/Fish Oil/fish/flaxseed oil/krill oil - Has a good reputation, but I didn't notice a difference. I took these for dry eyes, although they are also marketed as brain enhancing.
    Acetyl L-carnitine - I've never tried it.
    Ginko Biloba - Never tried it.
    Here's a bunch, and the only one I recommend trying is ginseng and only if you don't have bee allergies: http://search.lef.org/health-goal.brain/index.aspx
    GNC and the internet probably provide additional lists.

    Supplements/drugs that MIGHT do the opposite:
    Benadryl/Nyquil/diphenhydramine/diclorohydramine might cause memory problems, especially after regular use, per a couple doctors (people who happen to be doctors, not my personal doctors).
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2014
  6. ZMA


    Sep 26, 2014
    Also: you should NEVER try something new, or increase/decrease your dose of anything you take regularly, on the day of your MCAT. Maybe obvious but it needs to be said.
  7. John Buster

    John Buster 2+ Year Member

    Sep 2, 2014
    Examine is the best! I love seeing when people link it.

    Can we be friends?
  8. Jumb0

    Jumb0 5+ Year Member

    Aug 24, 2012
    I smoked some methamphetamine and read all the TBR books in one sitting.
    Meth: it does the body good.

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