Update June 2022: Please note that Calm Balance has been discontinued at this time. However, we have kept the research below for your information. If you need help with calm and focus, you can seek out the vitamins and amino acids formerly in Calm Balance and pair those supplements with Natural Calm magnesium citrate.
We’re so excited to be launching new Calm Balance, part of the “Specifics” line of Natural Calm products. Specifics products are multi-ingredient formulas combining our proprietary ionic magnesium with other natural ingredients.
Now, Calm Balance is here to address another key health issue: focus and concentration. As we each grapple with the many claims on our attention, it can feel like our capacity for focus is in shorter supply than ever before.
This is true for adults and kids, alike. Parents are often concerned with attention deficits among children…which is why Calm Balance was created in the first place.
Calm Balance brings together our highly absorbable magnesium with vitamins, minerals and an important amino acid, l-theanine. It is a blend of nutrients designed to improve mental performance.
In the US, Calm Balance is labelled and marketed as Calm Kids, “the Kids’ Calm-Focus Drink”. (Not to be confused with the Canadian Kids Calm, which is pure magnesium, with no other medicinal ingredients.)
In Canada, however, we’re calling it Calm Balance. Calm Balance can help you get into the zone, mentally, whether you are 10 years old or 60 years old.
Here, we’ll explain why the ingredients in Calm Balance were selected, and how they help! (For the complete list of scientific sources, see our article by Dr Alison Smith on Mental Focus and Memory.)
L-Theanine for Focus
Theanine is an amino acid extracted from Camellia sinensis tea leaves, used to make green, black, white, and oolong teas.
In tea, the main form of theanine is called L-theanine––the most common form of theanine also found in supplements. When purchasing a theanine supplement, it is important to choose one that contains L-theanine only.
In Calm Balance and Calmful Sleep we use Suntheanine®, a patented, premium form of L-theanine. Suntheanine® provides a therapeutic dose of L-theanine in a convenient format, so there’s no need to drink copious amounts of tea to gain the benefits.
What are those benefits?
Research has demonstrated that Suntheanine® (L-theanine) improves: mood, cognitive and mental performance, stress, alertness, and alpha brain waves without any adverse side effects.
It has been demonstrated to influence neuronal activity within 30-minutes following ingestion. 50-200 mg of L-theanine promotes a relaxed yet alert mental state. (50 mg is the amount in a 2 tsp dose of Calm Balance.)
L-theanine does so by stimulating the production of alpha brainwaves and GABA.
Alpha activity is associated with the ability to ignore distractions, which ultimately improves attention and focus. It also improves visual acuity and the ability to respond to visual stimuli faster.
GABA is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the nervous system. A reduced concentration of GABA in the central nervous system is related to mental focus issues observed in disorders like attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Interestingly, these beneficial effects seem to be more pronounced in healthy subjects who typically experience chronic anxiety––which means L-theanine can potentially help anxious people to relax and focus.
Vitamin B6 for Attention
Vitamin B6 is essential for cognitive function. In fact, its concentration is one hundred times greater in the brain than the blood.
Vitamin B6 plays a direct role in the production of neurotransmitters that mediate mental focus and attention, including:
- GABA: As mentioned above, GABA helps us to maintain attention and respond appropriately in a timely manner
- Dopamine: Regulates attention and a reduction of dopamine results in ADHD
- Noradrenaline: Like dopamine, a reduction in noradrenaline activity is also associated with ADHD
- Serotonin: Known as “the happy hormone”, serotonin is directly involved in motivation and mood, cognitive states that influence mental focus
B6 deficiency is linked to cognitive decline, dementia, and a lack of attention.
While we don’t have enough statistical information on B6 deficiency in North America, some reports suggest that 18%-40% of adult females obtain too little through diet.
Vitamin B12 for Concentration
Vitamin B12 plays a pivotal role in healthy brain function, especially because of its role in activating folic acid. Folic acid is essential for brain cell health, neurotransmitter production, nerve cell firing, memory and overall cognitive function.
B12 is also involved in the production of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and epinephrine––all of which mediate mood, mental focus, attention, and clarity.
Research has demonstrated a significant improvement in the brain and cognitive function when B12 is administered to adults with low plasma B12 concentration.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can cause pernicious anemia, reduce cognitive abilities, compromise the ability to think, concentrate, and form memories.
Deficiency can also cause neuropsychiatric disorders––in fact, over one-third of psychiatric hospital admissions are caused by either a B12 or folic acid deficiency.
Vegetarians, vegans and older individuals should take care to get enough vitamin B12 through fortified foods or supplements.
Choline for Cognitive Performance
Choline is a vitamin-like organic compound naturally produced by the human body, but not in adequate quantities, which is why we need choline through the diet. Together with vitamins B12 and B6, choline supports nerve cell function and more.
Healthy mental focus requires adequate choline levels in the blood. Choline supplementation is related to better cognitive performance in older, healthy adults and there is a relationship between low choline and ADHD; it positively affects attention, learning, and memory.
Vitamin C for Brain Health
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes the damaging effects of free radicals, prevents compounds from being oxidized, protects DNA against mutation, and is essential for survival.
In terms of brain health, vitamin C:
- Can improve mood and cognitive ability in older adults
- Is associated with higher IQ in teenagers
- Plays a vital role in brain and nerve cell development
- Helps reduce overstimulation of the nervous system
- Is associated with better memory performance
- Influences neurotransmitters, converting dopamine into norepinephrine: an important neurotransmitter needed for attention, memory, and emotional stability
The concentration of vitamin C in the brain and cerebrospinal fluid is 2-4 times that of the blood plasma––highlighting vitamin C’s vital importance as an antioxidant in the central nervous system. It is thought that vitamin C preserves cognitive ability by protecting the health of neuronal cell functioning and brain tissue.
Vitamin D for Mental Performance
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has hormone-like capabilities. In recent decades, research has indicated the importance of vitamin D in the healthy functioning of the nervous system and we are now beginning to understand how it affects cognition.
Human and animal studies have shown that:
- Vitamin D is significantly associated with cognitive ability––lower vitamin D levels result in performance decline on mental activities involving attention, orientation in time and space, and memory
- Low serum vitamin D level is correlated with a decrease in information processing speed, particularly in men 60 years and older
- Vitamin D is associated with our ability to problem-solve
- Individuals aged 65+ are more able to do tasks involving attention skills, mental shifting, information updating, mental processing speed, recall, and language if vitamin D levels are adequate
- As vitamin D levels decrease, so too does the ability to think clearly and to make the right decisions, quickly
- Vitamin D-deficient rats have a hard time controlling impulsivity, holding attention, concentrating, and making good decisions
- Vitamin D deficiency is also observed in those with ADHD
Magnesium – the Original Chill Pill
Magnesium plays a crucial role in hundreds of physiological processes, including essential processes in the brain and nervous system.
Magnesium helps to reduce the stress response by inhibiting the secretion of cortisol and norepinephrine. This, in turn, prevents the fight-or-flight response from compromising attention and the ability to perform mental tasks.
It also prevents overstimulation of neurons, protecting the nervous system from anxiety and stress as well as neuronal damage and cell death.
Magnesium is known to stimulate GABA receptors, calming the nervous system to downgrade anxiety and improve attention. Reduced GABA is linked to ADHD.
Adequate magnesium is linked to enhanced learning and making new neuronal connections in the brain. Magnesium also supports short and long-term memory.
Without adequate intake of magnesium:
- Mental focus is compromised
- Memory is less acute; new memory formation is inhibited
- The nervous system becomes hyper-excitable
- The stress response is triggered
- The capacity to hold attention declines
- Anxiety increases
No wonder magnesium is known as the original chill-pill!