Back in 2012 I grew interested in cognitive function. As I’d previously worked in an NIH-funded research institute for a few years I knew that a lot of interesting research sits on the shelf, occasionally cited in academic journals but rarely if ever making a real-world difference to people’s health. For the next two years I leveraged my connections to contact and then work with many of the world’s leading researchers into the effects of compounds on cognitive function. What I found was sufficient hard evidence for around 15 micro-nutrients that we should be getting in our daily diets but all too frequently don’t. I then put a startup together to create foods made from natural ingredients that contained the requisite micro-nutrients (zinc, magnesium, B5, B6, B9, B12, theanine, lysine, omega-3, etc.). Then we subjected the baseline formulation to a 90-day double-blind placebo controlled trial run by the Brain Performance Nutrition Research Center under the aegis of Professor David O. Kennedy.

The results were gratifying, if somewhat greater than our expectations. Across 7 different cognitive battery tests for short-term memory, working memory, long-term memory, speed of response, accuracy of response, etc. our baseline formulation out-performed the control group by between 100% and 700% with no attenuation over the 90-day trial period. The p-score was 97.4 and the two groups comprised approximately 50 people each, randomized appropriately.

Sadly I was never able to raise sufficient capital to turn this into a viable business, but it remains a powerful indicator of how deficient even supposedly healthy modern diets can be, and the benefits achievable from giving the brain the micro-nutrients it requires. So no magic, no over-drive chemicals to induce temporary performance gains in one or two areas of cognition; merely a sensible, balanced, scientifically validated approach to the benefits of an adequate diet.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.