Everything you need to know about boosting your mental performance naturally
Your brain is like a powerful computer that controls everything you think, feel, and do. Simply put, it’s the boss. If your brain isn’t fully online, you’ll struggle to feel mentally and physically dialed-in. Poor focus, low mood, lack of motivation, and brain fog are super common symptoms of a brain that’s burnt out and exhausted.
As a nutritional therapist and writer, having a sharp brain is crucial if I want to perform at my best. It’s one of the reasons I’m interested in the world of nootropic supplements.
Whether you have cognitive symptoms or not, nootropics may improve memory, focus, creativity, mental energy, motivation, and productivity without harmful side effects. Unlike traditional stimulants, nootropics offer long-term benefits without the “crash and burn” side effects.
Today, we explore how nootropics work, their health benefits, and the best nootropic supplements in the world. Finally, you can expect us to answer all your nerdy nootropic FAQs.
If you’re considering adding nootropics to your stack, don’t make any moves until you’ve read this article.
Nootropics are non-toxic substances that enhance attention span, learning, memory, and overall brain health. They’re sometimes called ‘smart drugs’ or ‘cognitive enhancers’ and may also boost your mood and mental health.
Herbal nootropics have been around for thousands of years, but they weren’t known as nootropics back then. It wasn’t until the 1950s that fringe scientists began exploring natural mind-altering substances to support high-performance military personnel. Dr. Corneliu Giurgea invented the term nootropic in the 1970s, loosely translating to “mind-bending.”
In the last two decades, nootropics have become popular among regular people, not just Silicon Valley residents or competitive chess players. Various brands now develop science-backed nootropic formulas, making them easier for the average person to get hold of them. We’ll cover these formulas later in the article, so keep reading.
Overall, nootropics activate your brain to improve mental function both in the short term and over time. However, different types of nootropics have different effects.
Some replenish neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which help regulate mood and motivation. Others support nerve cells, enabling you to think faster and make better decisions. Some even increase blood and oxygen flow to the brain, which is crucial for mental energy.
Furthermore, certain nootropics trigger neural growth and renewal by activating neurotrophins like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Nootropics may also protect your brain from oxidative damage and slow down age-related cognitive decline.
It’s crucial to choose a supplement that fits your needs. So, you need to understand how the most common nootropic ingredients work.
Our brains are under stress in today’s fast-paced, high-pressure world. It can mess with our mental health and overall well-being. That’s where brain-boosting nootropics come in. They are a game-changer for mental overwhelm, brain fog, and fatigue.
Unfortunately, with so many products on the market, it’s hard to know which ingredients work and which are a total waste of time and money. To help you out, we researched the best natural nootropic ingredients out there.
If you’re looking for the best nootropic supplements on the market, look no further. We only picked quality supplements that meet current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards. However, we’re not doctors, so we stuck to herbs, vitamins, phospholipids, amino acids, and natural stimulants. You won’t find prescription drugs here.
*Note: We have affiliate links throughout this article, which means we receive a commission if you buy from any of our links. This supports our mission to bring complicated health and fitness info in an entertaining package. And it keeps us from putting up annoying things like banner ads. Those suck.
Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that most people don’t realize is also a nootropic. It blocks adenosine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel tired and sleepy, to give you an instant boost of energy and focus. Other benefits include better short-term alertness, attention, productivity, motivation, and reaction times.
Kaged Purcaf® Caffeine is organic and easily absorbed. Each capsule contains 200 mg of caffeine extracted from organic green coffee beans. It’s gluten-free, non-GMO, and certified free of banned substances by Informed-Sport.
L-Theanine is an amino acid involved in calming neurotransmitters like dopamine and GABA. It stimulates alpha brain waves, which leads to a calm and focused state of mind for studying, problem-solving, and creative pursuits.
Interestingly, theanine and caffeine are a perfect match. Research shows these ingredients work better together for mental performance and focus.
Double Wood L-Theanine offers a bottle of 120 200 mg capsules for just $18.95. The products are gluten-free, non-GMO, and third-party tested. You can read more about L-Theanine supplements in our article on the Best L-Theanine Supplements.
Alpha-GPC is the most potent form of choline, the fatty acid backbone of neural membranes. It is also a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine needed for memory, learning, focus, mental processing, and stress management. A 2021 study found that alpha-GPC increases motivation in humans.
Double Woods Alpha-GPC provides 60 300 mg capsules for $19.95. It’s made in the US, third-party tested, and a convenient way to boost choline levels.
Citicoline is a naturally occurring chemical made up of choline and cytidine. Along with nootropics like alpha-GPC, it provides your body with the building blocks for brain cell regeneration. As a choline donor, it’s also crucial for focus and memory. Furthermore, research shows citicoline may support a healthy mood.
A bottle of Double Wood Citicoline contains 60 capsules, each containing 300 mg of pure citicoline. It’s gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO, third-party tested, and cGMP-certified.
Phosphatidylserine is a naturally occurring phospholipid that is a crucial building block for healthy nerve cell membranes and myelin. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and helps with neuron renewal and overall brain health. Research shows 300-800 mg of phosphatidylserine per day may slow the biochemical and structural brain changes associated with aging. In doing so, it may improve memory, learning, focus, reasoning, and problem-solving (1).
Double Wood Phosphatidylserine offers 120 capsules for $19.95. Their product is third-party tested and free from fillers, gluten, and additives. You can also view the Certificate of Analysis on their website.
Ginkgo Biloba is a plant-based nootropic used to help with focus, memory, learning, and thinking skills. It has neuroprotective effects, particularly for people with mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s disease (2). This herbs exerts its effects by promoting blood flow to the brain, boosting oxygen and nutrient delivery to brain cells.
NOW Ginkgo Biloba Extract offers 120 mg of double-strength Ginkgo per capsule. Each capsule also comes with 250 mg of Organic Eleuthero Root. A bottle contains 200 vegetarian capsules.
Huperzine-A, or HupA, is a potent nootropic compound extracted from the Huperzia serrata plant. It inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine, leading to better nerve cell communication, attention span, memory, and learning. Research shows HupA may improve memory in older people with or without Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Double Woods Huperzine A is a simple and effective product that contains 200 mcg of pure, third-party tested HupA. A bottle of 120 capsules costs $19.95. For more options, read about The Best Huperzine-A Supplements.
Lion’s mane is an edible medicinal mushroom that may boost brain function. Studies suggests lion’s mane may support the production of neurotrophic factors, which promote neurogenesis (the growth and differentiation of new nerve cells).
RealMushrooms Lion’s Mane contains 500 mg of the above-ground “fruiting body” free of grain fillers. It is third-party tested, USDA-certified organic, kosher, gluten-free, non-GMO, and vegan. RealMushrooms also have a powder option.
Bacopa monnieri is another neuroprotective Ayurvedic herb that may improve learning and memory in older people (3). It works by inhibiting the breakdown of acetylcholine. This herb may also increase blood flow to the brain.
Each 450 mg serving of Double Woods Bacopa Monnieri Extract contains 20% of active bacosides. A bottle of 90 capsules costs $17.95.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb with a history of use in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for improving stress resilience and stamina. It is ideal for people with stress-related insomnia and burnout. Ashwagandha may enhance GABA signaling in the brain, making you feel calmer.
Research also shows ashwagandha may improve attention span and short-term memory in young adults.
We love Goli Ashwagandha Gummies, containing 300 mg of full-spectrum KSM-66® Ashwagandha. The delicious mixed-berry gummies are vegan, kosher, non-GMO, gluten-free, and gelatin-free.
Ginseng is an energizing herbal supplement with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help individuals struggling with brain fog, forgetfulness, and mental fatigue.
NOW American Ginseng contains 500 mg per veggie capsule. Each bottle contains 50 servings if taking 2 capsules per day.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract, patented as Pycnogenol, is an herbal nootropic from the bark of the French maritime pine. It contains a unique blend of antioxidants like procyanidins, polyphenols, and bioflavonoids, which protect your brain cells from free radical damage. Several human studies have found Maritime Pine Bark Extract improves neurocognitive function.
Life Extension Pycnogenol® delivers 100 mg of French Maritime pine extract standardized for 65% of active procyanidins. You can grab a bottle of 60 capsules from iHerb for a good deal.
Double Wood Rhodiola Rosea is an affordable, high-quality supplement. Each capsule contains 500 mg of Rhodiola root extract. There are 120 capsules per bottle. At $17.95 for a bottle, it’s one of the best deals.
Kaged Carnitine capsules contain 500 mg of patented CarniPure®. It is Informed-Sport-certified to ensure it’s free from banned substances and safe for competing athletes. It’s also vegan, non-GMO, and free from fillers. A bottle gives you 250 veggies capsules.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid that supports stress resilience and mental performance by increasing neurotransmitters like dopamine. Studies have also shown that tyrosine may improve cognitive flexibility (how quickly you can switch between tasks).
Thorne Research L-Tyrosine is gluten-free, vegan-friendly, and free from additives. With 90 500 mg capsules per bottle, a bottle can last up to three months.
Kaged Creatine HCL is a great option, providing 750 mg of patented, highly soluble creatine hydrochloride per serving. It is free from banned substances, making it safe for athletes. If you like options, Kaged Creatine HCL comes in unflavored or lemon-lime powder and veggie capsules.
Vitamin B12 is an essential micronutrient for nervous system function and energy production. It helps to form the protective myelin sheathing around nerve fibers. Low serum vitamin B12 levels are associated with neurodegenerative conditions and cognitive impairment (7).
Solgar B12 offers active methylcobalamin in easy-to-digest sublingual nuggets. Each nugget contains 5000 mcg of methylcobalamin, and it’s vegan-friendly and non-GMO.
You can use nootropic ingredients alone or combine several to create a nootropic “stack” for more benefits. The problem is, buying a bunch of different supplements every month is expensive. It’s also a pain figuring out which ones to use.
Fortunately, supplement brands offer nootropic formulas, a one-stop-shop for scientifically backed ingredients in ideal doses. A ready-made nootropic stack to improve your cognitive abilities.
We searched the market to find the 8 best nootropic supplement formulas.
Mind Lab Pro® is an all-in-one formula making waves in the world of natural brain boosters. This innovative nootropic uses only the highest quality ingredients to support the cognitive demands of a fast-paced world.
It earns the top spot on our list, and many others agree. They’ve sold over 1 million bottles. In fact, Mind Lab Pro comes from the same manufacturers of Performance Lab Sleep, another impressive health supplement.
Mind Lab Pro® contains 11 clinically studied nootropic ingredients for short and long-term brain benefits. The formula targets four key areas: mindset, memory, performance, and structure.
There are no proprietary blends here; each 2-capsule serving delivers a powerful blend of:
Users swear by this stack for improved focus, mental clarity, memory, productivity, creativity, and stress resilience.
Opti-Nutra Advanced Nutraceuticals makes Mind Lab Pro in a cGMP-certified and FDA-registered lab in New Jersey. This lab have some of the strictest testing standards in the industry. Each ingredient goes through testing before entering the manufacturing facility. Plus, the finished product is third-party tested for quality, purity, and safety.
Mind Lab Pro is caffeine-free; it doesn’t rely on stimulants to give you a short-lived mental and physical boost. The formula is non-irradiated and contains zero GMOs, allergens, gluten, soy, artificial colors, fillers, additives, preservatives, pesticides, and herbicides.
It includes patented NutriGenesis™ nutrients, made from probiotic cultures to mimic nutrients found in food. The synergistic blend of NutriGenesis™ B6 + B9 + B12 in Mind Lab Pro supports homocysteine metabolism and sharper mental performance.
Mind Lab Pro is vegan-friendly and comes in NutriCaps® – fermented tapioca capsules infused with prebiotics to enhance absorption.
It’s hard to think of any drawbacks to this supplement.
The recommended dose for Mind Lab Pro is 2 capsules per day with water. Many users experience noticeable results after taking it for at least 30 days. However, you may need to take it for a few months to reap the full benefits.
Mind Lab Pro is only available for purchase from the official website. The manufacturers oversee the entire development, manufacturing, and distribution process.
A bottle of 60 capsules (a one-month supply) costs $69 – $2.30/ serving. They offer discounts for bulk purchasing. Plus, every bottle comes with a 30-day risk-free money-back guarantee.
You can see why Mind Lab Pro is ranked #1 on our list.
If you prefer powders over capsules, Kaged Mindset is a stimulant-free option for working professionals, entrepreneurs, and creatives.
Kaged Mindset contains some of the most impressive nootropic ingredients stacked together to form a potent brain-boosting formula. It stays away from proprietary blends, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
A 1-scoop serving contains:
Kaged is a highly respected nutrition company that produces world-class dietary supplements for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. Every product is cGMP-certified and thoroughly tested for purity and potency by a third-party lab.
Mindset is NSF Informed-Sport Certified, making it free from banned substances and competition safe.
One of the standouts about Kaged Mindset is the insanely tasty natural orange-mango flavor powder.
Kaged Mindset is also stimulant-free. There’s no need to worry about caffeine jitters or subsequent crashes. It’s a plant-based, non-GMO, gluten-free, and soy-free formula that uses only natural colors and flavors. Mindset is also sugar-free, instead sweetened with stevia and sucralose.
According to the label directions, you can take one scoop of Kaged Mindset in 8-10 ounces of water 30 minutes before you want to get “in the zone.” Some benefits, like focus and energy, will be immediate, while others are more noticeable over time.
The powder format might put some people off – especially if you’re on the go. However, the orange mango flavor tastes great, so you’ll WANT to add it to your routine.
As long as you stick to the directions, you shouldn’t experience side effects.
Kaged Mindset is available on the official website at $44.99 for a 30-day supply. It’s a fantastic deal for a top-of-the-range supplement. If you subscribe to their auto-ship program, you get 10% off.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning Kaged Mindset™ + Caffeine is available if you’re looking for an extra energy kick. It contains two types of caffeine from PurCaf® and slow-release zümXR® for sustained energy over 5-6 hours.
X™ from Superhuman Health is a 100% science-based health supplement made with premium-quality, stimulant-free ingredients chosen for their ability to enhance brain power. This world-class formula combines 19 science-backed ingredients in a single, well-dosed supplement. Plus, the company uses only patented ingredients whenever possible.
Each 6-capsule serving of X™ provides a powerful blend of nootropics, including:
The formula finishes with 5 mg of Bioperine® Black Pepper Extract to enhance the bioavailability and absorption of herbal ingredients that may otherwise be hard to absorb.
Superhuman Health manufactures X in a state-of-the-art FDA-registered facility in California. Every batch undergoes rigorous third-party testing to ensure excellence, safety, and purity.
The 19-ingredient formula is vegan-friendly, non-GMO, gluten-free, egg-free, preservative-free, and safe for Paleo and Keto dieters.
X capsules contain Nu-FLOW®, a natural replacement for synthetic anti-caking agents made from rice hulls to keep the product clean while avoiding manufacturing issues.
The recommended dose is six capsules first thing in the morning. This is a hefty amount and may not suit everyone. However, those with sensitivities can start slowly with one of two capsules and build up over time.
Additionally, the makers recommend “cycling” X for best results, five days on and two days off. It’s not strictly necessary, but it might magnify the effects if you take a break now and then.
You can buy X™ directly from XBrain.Science for $62 for a bottle of 64 capsules. It equates to $4.47 per 6-capsule serving.
The product is pricey given that a bottle only has a 2-week supply. But you can make a saving if you buy two or more bottles at a time. Superhuman Health also offers a full 90-day money-back guarantee, one of the most generous guarantees among nootropic supplements.
Vyvamind is a fast-acting, highly focused-nootropic with high-quality ingredients. Although it contains fewer ingredients than others on this list, the scientifically dosed formula targets mental focus, clarity, and productivity during demanding times.
Each 2-capsule serving of Vyvamind provides 300 mg of L-Tyrosine, 200 mg of Citicoline, 150 mg of L-Theanine, 75 mg of Caffeine Anhydrous, 2.5 mg of Vitamin B6, and 50 mcg of Vitamin B12.
The manufacturers claim these ingredients are “clinically proven to increase brain energy by 14%, cell membrane formation by 26%, and to significantly improve performance in memory, visual tracking, and reaction speed tests.”
Vyvamind is formulated in an FDA-compliant cGMP facility in the US and meets strict safety standards. The manufacturers spend all their energy making this formula the best it can be. Each bottle passes through rigorous quality control processes. However, there is no mention of independent lab testing on their website.
VyvaMind has a simple ingredient profile containing only 6 nootropic ingredients. This is a good thing; it’s highly focused.
Vyvamind is ideal if you’re looking for a caffeine kick. It contains about the same amount as a cup of coffee, so it can even replace your morning coffee if desired.
The capsules are soy-free, non-GMO, vegetarian-friendly, and contain zero bulking agents or fillers.
The suggested dose of Vyvamind is 1-2 capsules per day. Some people find one capsule is enough, while others need to double up for extra focus and energy. For the best results, take Vyvamind consistently for at least 3 months.
You can grab a bottle of 60 capsules for $74.99 from the official Vyvamind website. There’s no doubt this is one of the pricier products. However, you can save 15% if you buy three or more.
It’s a stripped-back nootropic ideal for beginners or those wanting a more focused supplement.
Noocube Brain Productivity™ is a caffeine-free formula suitable for men and women looking to enhance cognitive function and promote long-term brain health. Furthermore, the unique formula may protect your eyes from “screen fatigue” from prolonged screen use.
The ingredients in Noocube are expertly combined to provide an all-in-one blend of synergistic nootropics. A serving includes:
It contains lesser-known ingredients like Cat’s Claw, Oat Straw Concentrate, and Pterostilbene, known for their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and brain-protective properties.
Noocube is a nootropic created by Wolfson Brands Ltd., a UK-based cGMP-certified company. While the manufacturers claim that the supplement goes through strict testing, they don’t mention third-party testing. That said, it’s still a top-rated nootropic formula.
Noocube is a non-GMO, caffeine-free formula that supports a healthy brain-eye connection. It contains Lutemax® 2020, a blend of lutein and zeaxanthin carotenoids derived from the marigold plant. These antioxidants protect your eyes from artificial blue light exposure. Protecting your brain-eye connection and reducing visual fatigue may help you take in information more effectively. It’s perfect for those of us who battle eye strain and headaches from spending hours in front of our laptops and devices.
The manufacturers recommend taking two capsules daily, preferably in the morning. If necessary, you can safely take up to four capsules per day.
Some people report feeling the effects within a couple of days. However, you should take Noocube consistently for at least 3 to 6 months to experience all the potential benefits of the science-backed ingredients.
Noocube is only available via the official website. A single bottle of 60 capsules costs $64.99, and bulk-buy discounts are available. Plus, they offer FREE worldwide shipping. It’s a serious flex.
Additionally, ordering any Noocube deal gives you free access to E-guides and newsletters. They also offer a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Qualia Mind is a premium nootropic formula that uses 28 carefully selected natural ingredients to enhance cognitive function through multiple pathways.
This formula contains more nootropic ingredients than most other formulas on the market.
Each 7-capsule serving contains the following:
I’m impressed with the transparency. They list each ingredient and the dose without relying on proprietary blends. I don’t want to bore you with the details now, but I encourage you to read the science behind how the Qualia Mind formulation works.
Although the ingredient-heavy list may attract some users, the number of ingredients also increases the risk of adverse effects. Those prone to allergies or sensitivities may want to consider a more focused nootropic.
Qualia Mind is manufactured in a cGMP and FDA-registered facility. While each of the 28 raw ingredients goes through a quality control process, there is no mention of third-party testing.
Qualia Mind contains the most bioavailable forms of each ingredient, making it the most comprehensive brain supplement on the market.
It contains a moderate 90 mg of caffeine for those looking for a natural stimulant effect. Plus, adding l-theanine helps to counteract overstimulation.
The capsules are vegan-friendly, gluten-free, non-GMO, and free from artificial sweeteners, colors, and fillers.
As a complex nootropic formula, seven capsules per day give you access to the recommended dose of each ingredient. Although taking so many capsules may be a turn off, it is an impressive nootropic supplement overall.
Qualia Mind is available through the official Neurohacker website. A 154-capsule bottle typically costs $159; however, they offer a $100 discount on your first order, reducing the price to $59 ($2.60 per serving). Plus, all subsequent orders will cost you $139 – saving you $20 going forward.
Although it is one of the more expensive nootropics, it’s also one of the most comprehensive formulas. Additionally, Qualia Mind comes with a 100-day money-back guarantee.
Hunter Focus is a nootropic formula created by Hunter Evolve, a company known for cutting-edge performance supplements.
It is popular among high-performing professionals, creatives, and athletes over 30. Unlike other nootropics on the market, Hunter Focus does not claim to be everything to everyone. The company is honest about its target audience.
They don’t hide behind proprietary blends. The label is transparent about the twenty specialized brain-boosting ingredients and dosages in the formula.
Hunter Focus focuses on three key areas: Concentration Activation, Memory Matrix, and Mood Amplification.
Each six-capsule serving contains the following nootropic ingredients:
1. Concentration Activation Blend:
2. Memory Matrix Blend:
3. Mood Amplification Blend:
As a bonus, Hunter Focus includes a nutrient blend of vitamins B6, B9, B12, C, D3, and K2.
Hunter Evolve makes products in-house in their cGMP-registered, FDA-approved manufacturing facilities in the US and UK. However, product testing is also done in-house. There is no mention of independent testing.
Hunter Focus comes with a moderate level of caffeine, no more than a cup of coffee. You won’t be buzzing all night, but it’ll give you a nice boost when you need to feel sharp.
This product also has a bunch of green flags:
An ideal dose is six capsules per day with your morning meal.
Taking a handful of pills might make you feel like a pensioner, but it’s necessary to get the full effects of Hunter Focus. The manufacturers also advise taking this dose for at least three months to feel the full spectrum of brain benefits.
Buy Hunter Focus from the official website to get the real deal. A bottle of 180 capsules costs $90 and lasts one month. It contains 20 premium-quality ingredients, making it a worthwhile investment.
Onnit Alpha Brain is popular for its unique blend of premium ingredients for improved focus, productivity, and creativity.
It’s one of the best-selling nootropics because Joe Rogan, a shareholder, regularly hypes the benefits of Alpha Brain in his podcast. Whether you love or hate JR (there are plenty of people in both camps), this cognitive enhancer is worth the hype.
Alpha Brain is a 3-in-1 formula combining three different supplement blends for focused benefits: Onnit Flow, Onnit Focus, and Onnit Fuel. The exact amounts of each ingredient are unknown because they use proprietary blends. While I prefer more transparency, Alpha Brain is still a high-quality nootropic supplement.
The Onnit Flow Blend (650 mg) contains L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, Oat Straw Extract, and Phosphatidylserine. It supports a “flow state” by stimulating alpha brain wave activity for calm focus.
The Onnit Focus Blend (240 mg) provides Alpha-GPC, Bacopa monnieri, and Huperzine-A to help you make more acetylcholine so your brain cells can communicate at speed.
The Onnit Fuel Blend (60 mg) delivers L-Leucine and Pterostilbene.
Alpha Brain also includes 350 mg of Cat’s Claw Extract and 10 mg of Vitamin B6.
Onnit produces Alpha Brain in cGMP-certified manufacturing facilities in Texas. An independent third-party lab ensures it meets the label claims and is free from heavy metals and other contaminants. Plus, it’s verified free from banned substances by the BSCG Certified Drug Free® program.
Alpha Brain is 100% natural and stimulant-free. It’s free from dairy, gluten, and nuts, making it suitable for different dietary preferences. The capsules do not contain useless fillers and anti-caking agents, instead using allergen-friendly Nu-Flow® from rice hulls.
Take two capsules daily with a small amount of food 30 minutes before your study session, workflow, or workout. However, it may take several weeks of consistent use to experience the full effects of Alpha Brain.
Alpha Brain is available from the Onnit website. It comes in bottles of 30 or 90 capsules.
A bottle of 90 capsules costs $79.95 once-off, while 30 capsules costs $34.95. Customers can save 15% by subscribing to Onnit’s auto-ship program. Plus, it has a generous 90-day money-back guarantee.
If you prefer buying from iHerb, you can time your purchase to score one of their great deals.
We ranked these nootropics, but we want you to understand how we ranked them so you can make the best decision for your needs. Here are some factors we considered when selecting the top nootropic supplements.
Supplements aren’t FDA regulated and don’t have to jump through the same quality control hoops as pharmaceutical products. To ensure quality, we only list reputable companies that follow cGMP regulations to verify purity and safety. When possible, we prioritize products that have been independently tested for potency.
For obvious reasons, we prioritize nootropic formulas that contain high-quality ingredients backed by research. This includes classic nootropics like alpha-GPC, phosphatidylserine, huperzine A, acetyl-l carnitine, L-theanine, L-tyrosine, choline, bacopa monnieri, and ginkgo biloba.
Plus, many products use patented ingredients instead of generic forms for optimal absorption.
The individual nootropic ingredients and formulas use proper doses that are safe and therapeutic.
We prioritize products that don’t use additives, fillers, gluten, dairy, soy, sugar, or GMOs.
We included both stimulant-free and caffeine-containing nootropic supplements so you can see what works for you.
While cost shouldn’t be the only factor when choosing a nootropic, considering your budget is essential.
We weighed the cost of each product against the number of servings, dose per serving, potency, and overall quality to find the best value. We also found a range of quality products to suit various budgets.
There’s no doubt that some of the best nootropic formulas are on the pricey side. That said, most formulas offer discounts if you buy multiple bottles or sign up for monthly delivery.
We prioritize companies offering money-back guarantees if you’re unhappy with their product. This shows confidence in their formulation and respect for their customers.
The nootropics listed are natural dietary supplements that may improve your mental processing speed and overall cognitive health and wellness. They’re available over the counter without a prescription.
However, these are not the same as prescription drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, or Memantine. Those are serious meds that you can only get with the help of a licensed medical professional.
There are also synthetic nootropics out there that you can get without a prescription, like Noopept, Piracetam, and Phenotropil. However, we still suggest being careful and only using them with your doctor’s supervision.
Your brain plays a crucial role in all aspects of your health. Here are some of the benefits you may experience when taking natural nootropics regularly.
Both stim and non-stim nootropic supplements may heighten productivity by increasing focus.
If you’re constantly distracted, a nootropic stack may help you concentrate on a single task for longer. Ingredients like caffeine, alpha-GPC, citicoline, and L-theanine boost mental attention and alertness in humans. Nootropics may also improve how quickly you can switch between tasks.
Including a nootropic in your supplement stack may be a game-changer for short-term working memory and long-term recall. Many nootropics support healthy acetylcholine levels, which is the brain chemical involved in memory and learning.
This study found HupA enhances memory and learning in adolescents. Furthermore, research shows that American ginseng as Cereboost™ significantly improves working memory. Cereboost™ is in Kaged Mindset.
Nootropics may support overall motivation by stimulating feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine, linked to your brain’s motivation center. These brain chemicals give you the drive and determination to reach your goals.
Nootropic ingredients that boost the synthesis of dopamine and serotonin are of the most interest when it comes to motivation. According to a 2022 study, a blend of tyrosine, acetyl-L-carnitine, alpha-GPC, Ginkgo Biloba, blueberry extract, and theanine increased motivation and cognitive functioning more than a caffeine-only supplement or a placebo.
L-theanine is one of the most helpful nootropics for creatives as it promotes an alpha brain state of relaxed, non-drowsy awareness (8). This may support free-flowing creativity.
Measuring creativity is tricky; the best thing to do is to try nootropics for yourself before writing, painting, or performing.
If you’re anything like me, stress causes brain fog and ruins cognitive performance. Stress depletes the brain of key neurotransmitters and is a significant cause of mental fatigue and “brain scramble.”
Most nootropic formulas contain herbal adaptogens, which help to regulate stress hormones. Several nootropic ingredients, like phosphatidylserine, support stress tolerance (9). This may help you feel more relaxed and clear-headed.
As we age, cognitive decline and other neurodegenerative symptoms become more common. Plus, if you have a family history of neurodegenerative disorders, it may be a big concern.
Nootropics cannot cure an aging brain. However, they may slow cognitive aging by increasing brain circulation, protecting delicate brain structures from free radical damage, and promoting brain cell renewal.
Certain nootropics may support patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, dementia, and other forms of neurodegeneration (10). However, again, they’re not a treatment or cure for any condition.
Nootropics may alleviate mental stress and promote a more balanced mood by influencing mood-boosting brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
In addition to cognitive benefits, nootropics may also enhance physical performance. Competitive athletes and weekend warriors use nootropic formulas to enhance mental acuity, stress resilience, motivation, and energy levels. Interestingly, this study found phosphatidylserine may improve your golf game!
While it’s important to note that nootropics cannot treat or cure medical conditions, scientific research backs various nootropics for improving cognitive performance and overall brain health.
Keep in mind; the effectiveness may depend on the quality of the product and dosage. In addition, everyone is different, and some people may not respond as well as others.
Not everyone needs nootropics, but you may benefit from these supplements if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:
If these symptoms persist, it may indicate an underlying health problem. Talk to your healthcare professional for advice.
High-performance individuals, like athletes, entrepreneurs, and professionals, are the most common users of nootropics. With the explosion in popularity in recent years, college students and gamers have also caught on to these natural brain-boosting supplements.
Seniors, those at risk of neurodegenerative conditions, and creative professionals like writers and musicians can also benefit from nootropics.
Technically, anyone over 18 can benefit from them, but that doesn’t mean everyone should take them. Talk to a licensed healthcare professional to see if nootropics are worth your time. Either way, they should never replace your conventional medication.
While nootropic supplements may support mental clarity, learning, and focus, they cannot treat or cure any conditions. If you have ADHD, talk to your healthcare professional about nootropics.
Assuming you’re over 18, all the nootropics mentioned in this article are suitable for supporting focus, attention, learning, and memory. However, the effects are cumulative, so stay consistent.
Some studies suggest that nootropics may reduce stress and promote a healthy mood. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical treatment. If you have anxiety or depression, speak to a medical doctor about nootropics.
Natural nootropics, like herbs, amino acids, phospholipids, and omega-3 fatty acids, are legal in the US and available over the counter without a prescription. They’re non-habit-forming and safe for most people.
If you’re outside the US, check your local regulations to confirm whether you can buy nootropics legally.
Most nootropic supplements are non-habit forming and don’t create dependency. However, some nootropic ingredients, like caffeine, may be addictive to some.
To reduce the risk of dependency, use nootropics responsibly and stick to the recommended dose. If you’re sensitive to stimulants, plenty of caffeine-free nootropics are available.
The best time to take nootropics depends on the supplement and its effects. In general, most nootropics are best taken in the morning to set you up for a day of mental clarity, focus, and productivity.
Some nootropics, like caffeine, L-tyrosine, and alpha-GPC, are most effective taken earlier in the day. Others, like l-theanine, are okay to take later in the day to support focus and relaxation.
For more specific advice about timing, read the instructions on the packaging of your product.
Finally, most nootropics have cumulative benefits and take time to work in your system. Consistency may be more important than timing.
The rate at which nootropics work depends on the type of supplement you take and the type of person you are. Results vary from person to person.
Certain nootropics are fast-acting, and you’ll notice benefits right away. However, for most supplements, it may take weeks or even months before benefits are noticeable. The compounds work on overall brain health and function, so the improvements build on each other over time.
Feeling more clear-headed, awake, and “switched on” are the first notable signs that your nootropic supplement is working. From there, you may experience better focus, faster information processing, and improved short- and long-term memory. Another sign of an effective nootropic is better overall energy levels and motivation.
Not all nootropics work for all people. It’s important to keep realistic expectations. If you haven’t noticed at least some benefits within a month, you may need to try another product.
Nootropics are well-tolerated when taken at the recommended doses. However, some individuals may experience mild and temporary symptoms like sleep disturbances, anxiety, headaches, irritability, restlessness, heartburn, or an upset stomach. This is more common in nootropics containing high levels of caffeine. Fortunately, our list includes plenty of caffeine-free options.
Low-quality, poorly formulated supplements also increase the risk of side effects. You can minimize these risks by taking third-party tested nootropic supplements and sticking to the suggested dose.
If you experience severe or persistent side effects, stop the supplement immediately and contact your doctor.
Before taking nootropics, check with your healthcare professional. Only use nootropics under the guidance of a doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, on chronic medication, or have an underlying health problem.
Nootropics aren’t a quick fix if you live an unhealthy lifestyle. Regular exercise, consistent sleep, stress management, a whole-food diet, and good hydration should always come before supplements. Without this foundation, nootropics won’t do much.
Once you’ve covered the basics, using nootropics responsibly can take your brain power, mental clarity, and mood up a notch.
Our list of the best nootropic supplements is a great place to start if you’re ready to enhance your cognitive performance.