You hear a lot about nootropics these days. Some of it is nonsense. But a lot of it is firmly grounded in science. The fact is nootropics won’t turn humanity into a race of Einsteins. But they may very well help you study more effectively, do a better job problem solving at work and who knows, they may even help you pick that one stock that delivers financial security.
But before that can happen you need to know which nootropic supplements actually work. So we’ve done the legwork for you and compiled our list of the most effective nootropic supplements on the market today.
1. Vital Nootropic Brain Supplement
Vital Nootropic Brains Supplement provides a potent stack of proven nootropics including ginkgo biloba, rhodiola rosea and vitamin B-complex. Together these 3 compounds help clear neural pathways while simultaneously producing a more relaxed mood which enables clear thinking. These Vital nootropics are produced in an FDA and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified facility and subject to rigorous quality controls.
They’re free of potentially compromising additives and GMOs and contain no known allergens. They’re also free of caffeine so there’s no potential crash awaiting you hours down the road. Instead, they’re free to work their magic by improving your mood and setting the table for more effective interaction between your brain and whatever topic, project or problem is at hand.
2. Havasu Nutrition Extra Strength Brain Supplement
Havasu’s Extra Strength Brain Supplement uses the proven memory enhancing ability of bacopa monnieri (1) as a launching pad for its overall ability to optimize mental acuity. Other ingredients include St John’s wort, ginkgo biloba and DMAE. DMAE, or dimethylaminoethanol, is known to help increase production of acetylcholine, which plays a vital role in transmitting signals effectively throughout the brain.
This powerful nootropic combination is intended to provide you with long term mental enhancement. And not just a short term kick in the cognitive pants. Havasu Extra Strength Brain Supplement is also caffeine free so there’s no jittery buzz associated with taking it. And it’s produced in a GMP facility under the watchful eye of FDA inspectors.
3. TruBrain Nootropic Drinks
Sometimes you want a long-term solution to brain fog or general mental lethargy. And sometimes you’re going along just find and hit a wall. In a case like that perhaps all you need is a quick boost to get you back on track and that’s what TruBrain Nootropic Drinks are designed to do.
Each shot provides 1 ounce of nootropic goodness in the form of L-theanine, magnesium, caffeine and other brain boosters. They’ll help clear the fog that’s rolled in and allow you to complete the task at hand quickly and effectively. There’s no reason to worry about side effects here. The caffeine dose is a very modest 80 mg. Which is less than you’ll typically get from a small cup of coffee. A good choice for students cramming for finals or professionals trying to wrap up an important project before a deadline.
4. Zhou Neuro Peak Brain Support Supplement
Zhou Nutrition has a distinguished record of producing all manner of high quality supplements for body and mind. Their Neuro Peak Brain Support Supplement contains vitamin B-complex, bacopa monnieri, ginkgo biloba and rhodiola rosea.
All of which are considered effective at enhancing different aspects of brain function including memory, problem solving, energy and focus. It’s one of the most extensive nootropic stacks on the market and a bold attempt by Zhou to create a kind of super-nootropic supplement. Do they succeed? Our experience was that Neuro Peak provided both short and long term benefits, although the day of the super-nootropic supplement may yet be a ways off.
5. Neovicta Clarity Nootropic Brain Supplement
Neovicta Clarity is a multivitamin with nootropic compounds added into the mix to enhance overall effectiveness. With its DMAE, choline and vitamin B-complex you can take it to help get you through a particularly challenging period at work. Or, because of the wide range of other vitamins and minerals present you can take it to enhance your overall daily health.
It’s not quite all things to all people. But it wants to be. If we have an issue with Neovicta Clarity it’s that they hide ingredient amounts (particularly the nootropic ingredient amounts) behind the dreaded “proprietary blend” label. This enables them to meet FDA disclosure commitments without divulging alleged trade secrets. Whether you consider this an issue is entirely your call.
6. Nuera Champs Neura Spark Brain Supplement
Neura Spark from the company Nuera Champs is another supplement that goes all-in on the nootropic stack. You’ll find generous amounts of vitamin B-complex, St John’s wort, bacopa monnieri, ginkgo biloba and rhodiola rosea and more in each capsule.
While at the same time there’s no caffeine, artificial additives or GMOs that might create jitters or compromise integrity. Some might question whether so many ingredients are going to actually trip over each other. But we found that it provided a noticeable boost in alertness and focus without generating any negative side effects. And that’s pretty much what we think most people are after when they shop for a nootropic supplement.
7. VIA Premium Nootropics
This is a mild nootropic that contains plenty of B-complex vitamins to boost mood and energy along with ginkgo biloba for mental clarity and DMAE for both long and short term brain health. The DMAE and other ingredients are present in fairly modest quantities and there’s no caffeine that might cause insomnia or gastric distress in some people.
This is why we classify this as a “mild” nootropic and would recommend it for anyone wanting to ease their way into nootropic supplementation. The formula itself contains no GMOs, no artificial ingredients and no allergens. It’s also produced in an Good Manufacturing Practices, FDA registered facility, is vegetarian friendly and is surprisingly affordable.
8. Qualia Mind Nootropics
The Qualia Mind Nootropics ingredient list is one of the most impressive you’ll find. It includes a full array of standard vitamins and minerals, all the usual nootropic suspects including vitamin B-complex, St John’s wort, bacopa monnieri, ginkgo biloba, L-theanine, rhodiola rosea and more and one of the most potent coffee doses you’ll find in a nootropic supplement.
As such we would advise anyone brand new to nootropics to take it easy at first with Qualia Mind. Veteran nootropic fans however, may want to jump right into the deep end. And if they do they’re liable to experience a significant boost in energy levels and marked improvement in focus and all day energy. It will cost a bit more than some other nootropics but you are likely to notice a difference.
9. Arazo Premium Brain Function Supplement
There’s no doubt that Arazo Premium Brain Function Supplement provides a noticeable boost in alertness and focus. One might be forgiven for wondering, however, as to the source of that alertness. You see Arazo is another manufacturer that cloaks some of its ingredient quantities behind the “proprietary blend” label. And since “green tea extract” and its caffeine load is one of those items nestled behind the PB label much of the energy boost could conceivably be coming from that.
Still, whatever precise road it takes to its high-energy end it effectively delivers you there. And for bottom line types that’s all that really matters. Note that there is also a full array of standard vitamins and minerals. So you’re bound to get more than just a nootropic benefit from this supplement.
10. Ciltep Mental Performance Supplement
The final entry on our list is Ciltep Mental Performance Supplement. In spite of the somewhat clumsy name this supplement has a refreshingly simple ingredient list that leverages the energy boosting capabilities of acetyl L-carnitine (2) and the mind relaxing properties of L-phenylalanine to produce modest nootropic effects.
For those disinclined to reach for the would-be super nootropic stacks this is a much more reasonable way to enjoy slightly enhanced cognitive function. There’s no caffeine so you won’t be lying awake at night and the capsules are both vegan and paleo friendly. Not the most potent nootropic on the market but a good point of entry for the curious.
What are Nootropics?
Nootropics entered the public consciousness in a real way after the release of the film “Limitless” starring Bradley Cooper. In that film a wanna-be finance wizard cops some brain enhancing pills and takes the financial world by storm. Unfortunately, the odds anyone is going to go from having trouble balancing their bank account to being able to affect global stock markets by taking nootropics are unrealistically long. But nootropics nonetheless seem like they’re here to stay.
Sometimes called “smart drugs” or “brain boosters” nootropics work by clearing neural pathways in the brain (3) while enhancing the flow of oxygen and protecting synapses from the effects of dietary toxins and aging. Some seem to be more effective than others. And some seem to respond positively to being “stacked” with others. Though that’s not the case with all nootropics. The following is a short list of some of the most commonly used nootropics:
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Bacopa Monnieri
For the record: some say the best nootropic effect is achieved through vigorous aerobic exercise. Since this significantly increases the flow of blood and by extension, oxygen, to the brain.
What Are The Benefits of Using Nootropics?
As we alluded to above the benefits of nootropics seem to vary from compound to compound and from person to person. Caffeine for instance, is perhaps the most popular nootropic ever discovered. But while it will have a profound effect on some people, enhancing their mental performance and function (4), other people may feel virtually no effect. The same can be said for L-theanine, ginseng and others. All that said, potential nootropic benefits include:
- Enhanced mental acuity – One of the most common and sought after benefits of nootropics is their ability to enhance brain function. Focus, short term memory, alertness and mental energy may all be enhanced by means of an effective nootropic supplement. For this reason nootropics are particularly popular with college students and busy professionals. But they aren’t the only ones who may enjoy the potential benefits nootropics deliver to the brain. There is a growing amount of research that suggests nootropics such as ginseng might help fend off symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease (5).
- Reduced stress – There are almost as many definitions of stress as there are people studying it. But what most agree on is that it seems to be the body’s natural reaction to sudden or significant change, particularly change that may threaten a person’s well-being (6). Stress can diminish both mental and physical performance and can exacerbate fatigue and cause mental and emotional burnout. Some nootropics are believed to relieve stress by replenishing certain chemicals in the brain and strengthening neural pathways as mentioned earlier. This, in turn, allows us to stay relaxed and think clearly even when the pressure is on.
- Creativity and problem solving – Not everyone is an artist and nootropics aren’t going to transform a non-artist into Picasso. On the other hand, everyone does have their own particular strengths and most people could benefit from being able to think in a more creative fashion. By helping to promote more efficient and effective brain function nootropics may help people become more creative problem solvers. Being able to see all sides of an issue enables a person to think outside the box and come up with remedies they likely would have overlooked otherwise.
- Enhanced motivation – Motivation is a funny thing. It seems to come and go like the wind. One day it feels like you have a howling gale at your back pushing you to new heights, while other days you feel dead in the water. Nootropics can potentially smooth out these highs and lows by helping to regulate release of the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical that produces a state of pleasure and is most often associated with addiction (7). But dopamine is also released by the brain as a reward for achievement. And it may play a significant role when it comes to providing motivation in our daily lives (8).
- Better Sleep – A clear mind is a relaxed mind and a relaxed mind is one that will have little difficulty shutting down for the night at an appropriate time. By helping you get a good night’s sleep nootropics indirectly provide you with the downstream benefits of being well-rested. Those include, more energy, greater alertness and a better overall mood. Research shows that L-theanine in particular has the ability to generate a more relaxed mental state (9).
The field of nootropic research is relatively new and clinical studies are ongoing as you read this. As such more comprehensive information regarding the benefits of nootropics is bound to be revealed in the coming months and years and the above list should not be considered comprehensive or definitive.
What are the Best Nootropic Stacks?
Nootropic stacks have become increasingly popular these days. But they’re nothing to worry about. “Stack” is nothing more than a fancy name for a combination of 2 or more nootropic compounds. As you can tell from the products on our list such combinations, or stacks, have become quite popular and are believed to be highly effective. Common stacks include:
- Caffeine and L-theanine – This particular stack is favored for its ability to provide a significant boost in mental focus and clarity. Caffeine is the original nootropic and is still the most effective and widely used natural stimulant ever discovered. When combined with L-theanine the two are believed to provide an unparalleled mental boost as they work off each other in a synergistic fashion.
- Choline and cytidine – Choline (10) is crucial in allowing cells to maintain their integrity. It is also necessary for the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Cytidine (11) is another compound that is abundant in the brain and considered essential for proper brain function. Combining the two is believed to lay the foundation for healthier, more robust mental function.
- Vitamin B-complex and L-tyrosine – L-tyrosine is known to improve mental acuity and learning (12) while B-complex vitamins can effect everything from mood to metabolism. Combining the two is thought by many to enhance a person’s overall outlook and increase their baseline motivation.
Who Should Use Nootropics?
There is no reason to rehash all the potential benefits of nootropics. So suffice to say nootropics are for just about anyone interested in boosting brain response and overall function. They can also provide a way for those suffering from stress and stress induced sleep deprivation to return to more normal and beneficial sleep cycles. Students, entrepreneurs, stock brokers, scientists and others find nootropics allow them to optimize their potential.
As we move deeper into the 21st century there is little doubt that advances in the life sciences will shed ever more light on the potential of nootropics to treat Alzheimers, Parkinson’s and other degenerative diseases. For the moment however, they remain of primary interest to those hoping to maximize their mental output.
What are the Side Effects of Taking Nootropics?
Nootropics are not known to produce any particularly odious side effects. That said, anything a person ingests has the potential to produce an effect, either good or bad. And while the lion’s share of effects produced by nootropics are considered beneficial, some people may experience one or more of the following negative side effects:
- Headaches – There is no way to predict who will experience headaches. But since nootropics tend to influence brain function it’s possible you may experience a mild headache. Exactly why is not fully understood. But it has been known to happen on occasion.
- Brain “fog” – Brain fog is a vexing condition without a specific scientific definition. But it is widely recognized as being a real and sometimes troubling phenomenon (13). While many people use nootropics to improve cognitive function, others complain that nootropics caused a fog to descend upon them. Keep in mind that the number of such cases is extraordinarily small. But there are a few reported incidents.
- Upset stomach – A lot of the literature supporting or reporting on nootropics ignores the fact that one of the most effective nootropics is caffeine. It has long been known to enhance cognitive function and memory (14). Because of this some nootropic supplements quietly add caffeine while talking up the benefits of other ingredients. The problem is if you ingest too much caffeine you may wind up with an upset stomach. Too much caffeine may also cause insomnia. In addition caffeine withdrawal can produce a number of unpleasant side effects including headache and intense fatigue.
- Additional potential side effects of nootropics – On rare occasions some nootropic users have also reported experiencing lightheadedness, fatigue, nightmares and mood swings. Such occurrences however, are very rare and there is no scientific data to establish these effects were directly tied to nootropic use.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of individuals who use nootropic supplements experience no negative side effects of any kind. The rare side effects listed above are simply provided in the spirit of full disclosure.
The Bottom Line
Nootropics have become a hot topic for discussion and research. Their use has exploded in the past decade with much of the increase likely due to the ever more competitive nature of the global marketplace. People want and need to optimize their potential and nootropics provide them with a safe and relatively effective way to do just that. If you have questions about whether you should engage in nootropic supplementation be sure to discuss the matter with your doctor.