Best Nootropics

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Written by James Dixon

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The market for nootropics is growing fast. So called ‘smart drugs’ are helping people to maintain the focus, clarity and energy they need to deal with modern life.

The overstimulation we face on a day to day basis and the hectic pace of modern life can leave us feeling sluggish. It can be too much, causing cognitive overload. We are also, naturally, functioning at below cognitive capacity. The best nootropics look set to change this, giving us the ability to remain on top of our game all day long, taking on whatever life can throw at us. They can both improve short-term cognition and mental wellbeing and ensure longer term cognitive health, keeping us safe from age related decline.

However, though it is good to see variety in any feature of the supplement market, too much can be problematic. At a basic level, it can be hard to know which nootropic to go with. More worryingly, it can be hard to work out what is healthy, what is dangerous, what is beneficial, and what is a waste of time.

With this in mind, we’ve scoured today’s market to find some of the best nootropics that money can buy. We made a list of the top few, those that really do represent good value for money and those nootropic supplements that do give you an effective boost to your overall cognitive capacity and health. How do we know? Because we’ve tested them – and the results are in…

NooCube bottle

Quick Verdict: Our No.1 Nootropic Supplement

It is hard to look past NooCube when choosing the best nootropic supplement on the market. After rigorous testing, we found it to significantly improve almost all aspects of cognition – with best results after 2 months.

They offer a 60 day money back guarantee so there is little to lose and a lot to gain.

Our Top Nootropics

We’ll go into detail on more common ingredients and their mechanisms as we run through the list below. However, for the moment, we can count among the benefits of pretty much all nootropics improved cognition and memory, improved attention span and concentration, enhanced energy levels and alertness, often improved sleep, and the mitigation of mental health concerns like anxiety, stress, and depression. Many will improve your brain health in the long run, in addition, largely through their anti-inflammatory properties.

Let’s take a look at our 6 best nootropics available today that we have tested.

NooCube 

top nootropic choice

I want to begin with NooCube. It is one of the best nootropics going. If I was going in with my own money (which I often am!) I would buy NooCube most of the time (which I often do!) It can help to boost mental clarity, focus, and energy, can help you to be more productive, and, if you’re anything like me, lend you a far more positive outlook on life.

You should find yourself having an easier time controlling your thoughts, maintaining individual thought strands, and, as a result, focusing more on tasks.

You may also find your reaction times improving (I’m a martial artist in my spare time, so this is particularly useful. It will be to any athlete or non-athlete, however). Memory should improve, as should spatial and mindful awareness.

All of this combines to make you happier and more productive.

Of course, as with any good supplement, the detail is in the ingredients list. All of NooCube’s ingredients are natural, non-toxic, and free from side effects. They are also stellar frequent flyers in the nootropic world.

First up, we have bacopa monnieri, which I mention below in passing. It is a herb that increases the reception of nerve signals. This improves reaction times and enhances cognition, boosting both long-term and working memory.

NooCube also contains Alpha GPC, which enhances the body’s production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Acetylcholine plays a crucial role in memory and learning,

Then we come to l-theanine and l-tyrosine. L-theanine is there for a big mood boost. It helps to release dopamine and serotonin in your brain. This will elevate your mood. It will also benefit your attention span and reaction times. Meanwhile, l-tyrosine diminishes stress levels and lessens the symptoms of fatigue.

Huperzine A further enhances memory function, whilst oat straw extract can considerably improve responsiveness.

Both can help to aid focus and concentration. Resveratrol and pterostilbene, polyphenols commonly found in berries, help with longevity. They are excellent antioxidants, keeping you safe from oxidative stress and damage. This will slow the aging process, including age-related cognitive decline.

All of these ingredients work very well to do what any good nootropic should do – they keep your brain healthy and fully functioning, improve cognition and focus, give you more energy, fight aging, and make you happier, clearer headed, and more efficient over time.

You also get a 60-day money back guarantee when you buy from the official website, so if you find that NooCube doesn’t work for you, there is no damage done.

It is a fantastic deal for a fantastic product – one of the most potent, useful, usable nootropics on the market and one that I have tried and tested with great success.

VyvaMind

VyvaMind is another top quality nootropic and one that after testing we couldn’t leave out of our top three. Made from all natural ingredients and now on version 4.2.1 after years of refinement, VyvaMind is designed for high performance individuals according to the manufacturers (and we would tend to agree).

Anyone looking for a serious cognitive uplift will do well to choose VyvaMind as their nootropic of choice.

It isn’t the most complex of formulas either. With just 6 ingredients included (all perfectly dosed), VyvaMind still manages to combat pretty much all angles a good quality nootropic should – it will help with focus, concentration, memory, motivation, mood, stress, anxiety and energy.

That may sound too good to be true, but the reality is that VyvaMind have put together an almost perfect blend (based on current clinical data) of ingredients that when combined will combat all of the above.

VyvaMind is also one of the best nootropics for beginners – in other words, if you’ve never used a nootropic supplement before, then VyvaMind is a great choice.

The reason for this is that with just 6 ingredients and not too much in the way of stimulants (such as caffeine), anyone can start taking VyvaMind and be not too concerned about the negative side effects. There is 75mg of caffeine anhydrous per serving (about the same as a strong cup of coffee) but this is on the low side compared to some other brands.

You get vitamin B6 and B12 (2.5mg and 50mcg respectively per serving), 300mg of L-Tyrosine, 150mg of L-Theanine, 200mg of Citicoline and 75mg of caffeine anhydrous per serving.

Citicoline is one of the killer ingredients here. In fact, it is the one omission from NooCube that probably should be there. It is a naturally occurring chemical found in the brain that will provide long lasting energy levels that can lead to a significant increase in focus and concentration. Those taking citicoline over a sustained period of time are likely to improve productivity significantly.

It is also thought to be beneficial to long term brain health thanks to its anti-oxidative properties and its ability to help promote neurotransmitter repair and growth.

L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine also carry with them a plethora of benefits – including aiding focus, attention span, creativity and a sense of focused calmness.

The B vitamin pairing is also a clever addition that can help improve memory, mood and overall brain health.

All in all, VyvaMind is a top nootropic that is pretty cost effective thanks to its stripped back ingredients list.

Hunter Focus 

As much as I love NooCube and VyvaMind (and I really do), they are far from the only big players in town. Hunter Focus gives them a good run for their money. It gives you an awful lot, all packed into a 6-capsule daily serving of top shelf ingredients.

In fact, there are a full twenty active ingredients in Hunter Focus. These are split across three main, separate nootropic areas, broken into Concentration Activation, a Memory Matrix, and Mood Amplification.

Concentration Activation does what it says on the tin – it improves your concentration and ability to focus, no matter the situation.

A lot of this comes from its inclusion of citicoline, which you’ll see in a lot of nootropics. It is a naturally occurring brain chemical, though our brains often don’t produce as much as they can efficiently use. When you take Hunter Focus, the citicoline splits into choline and cytidine, which the body quickly converts into actylcholine and uridine, respectively. Actylcholine improves signaling between neurons, thus improving memory and recall, attention, and learning. Meanwhile uridine repairs and protects your brain cells, ensuring long term health and optimal function.

The Concentration Activation formula also contains l-tyrosine and l-theanine, which, as we saw with NooCube, each have potent nootropic properties.

Then you come to Hunter Focus’ Memory Complex. As you might imagine, it aids your memory using natural ingredients.

I was excited to see lion’s mane mushroom included in the recipe. Lion’s mane contains hericenones and erinacines, well-known active nootropics that support cognition and lasting brain health. They allow the brain to produce more NGF (nerve growth factor) which helps to repair the brain’s pathways and nerves. It can help to support both long and short term memory, whilst also shielding you from some of the effects of stress.

Next up we have maritime pine bark, another favorite ingredient of mine. It is one of the most heavily researched nootropic compounds going, and has been shown to offer significant improvements to cognitive ability and brain function, especially when it comes to attention. It works by improving blood flow to the brain, delivering more glucose and oxygen.

Hunter Focus uses a pine bark extract standardized with 95% proanthocyanidins, making it amongst the most potent forms on the market.

Finally, Hunter Focus’ memory matrix uses bacopa, which as we have already seen can deliver some significant nootropic benefits to your mind, health and cognitive abilities.

The Mood Amplification recipe is simple yet very effective. It only includes two ingredients – phosphatidylserine (PS) and ashwagandha – but packs a real punch.

Firstly, PS is amongst the most interesting, potent, effective nootropics going. It is an aminophospholipid and amino acid derivative. This means that it can aid a great deal in repairing and renewing neurons, largely by promoting increased levels of NGF. It helps to boost glucose metabolism, allowing for your brain to receive more fuel. It can also help to fight stress and can even bring a small athletic advantage.

Meanwhile, Hunter Focus has included ashwagandha to further reduce the effects of stress. It is a well-known, traditional Ayurvedic compound used to treat depression and anxiety, and is also used to heighten cognitive abilities. It does this by repairing and renewing your brain’s axons and dendrites, which will improve your memory, whilst also increasing its choline levels, lifting your mood, improving recall, and boosting your motivation.

All told, it can help to keep you calm under pressure whilst lifting your mood.

I have not personally used Hunter Focus but members of the SOMA team have and stand by the impact it has. Like any nootropic the impact will only be felt whilst taking it, so you will need to take it daily to feel the benefits – but we can attest to the benefits being far ranging and hugely impactful.

Mindlab Pro 

packaging and pills

Mind Lab Pro by Opti-Nutra is another heavy hitter, an incredibly high-quality nootropic that centers its effects on several pathways in the brain at once. It is a sort of three in one, helping to sustain optimized regeneration and protection within the brain whilst maintaining healthy waves and chemicals. In this way, it is a sort of ‘whole brain’ supplement where many nootropics only work one or two different aspects of your cognitive health.

It can help to support both long and short term cognitive health, all thanks to an exhaustive list of some of the best nootropic ingredients going. It is also one of the best researched, most data driven supplements going, with plenty of high-quality science to back up its claims.

But what does this all mean for you?

To begin with, there are plenty of benefits to be gained from using Mind Lab Pro. It aims to improve both your short and long term memory by aiding information retention. It should also help with information recall, making the process easier and much faster. You should be able to live life with greater focus and clarity, able to multitask more easily and keep track of everything around you.

It also gives you a decent energy boost, as all good nootropics should. It’s actually quite a decent one considering there are no stimulants involved in the recipe. Instead, you get a good boost in natural energy, motivation, and mood, whilst remaining calm and level headed throughout.

Longer term, Mind Lab Pro should help support your brain’s neural plasticity, keeping it healthy into old age and even fighting some of the effects of aging and the natural cognitive decline we all suffer over time.

The formula is an impressive, intelligent blend of 11 natural nootropics. As above, everything is incredibly well researched and data driven. You can rest assured that there are no nasty additives at work, here.

Firstly, it uses lion’s mane, which we’ve already seen is one of the best nootropic ingredients going. It promotes optimal NGF production, allowing you to regenerate and maintain neural health with improved myelin nerve sheath synthesis. It can also improve brain plasticity, keeping your brain young and ensuring improved learning and memory processing.

Mind Lab Pro also uses citicoline, another ingredient we also saw in Hunter Focus’ list. It can improve brain cell regeneration and upkeep whilst promoting higher energy levels. Mind Lab Pro also contains PS, bacopa monnieri, and an antioxidant rich form of maritime pine bark, all of which will help to slow cognitive decline, improve mental clarity, relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety, improve learning and memory, including the retention of new information, and improve attention and focus – everything a good nootropic should deliver.

You also get both l’s with Mind Lab Pro – l-tyrosine and l-theanine. This allows Mind Lab Pro to mimic the kinds of effects we have seen in Hunter Focus’ Concentration Activation recipe. They will allow you to optimize mental performance in every area possible, reduce the effects of stress and fatigue, and allow for greater attention, focus, and clarity.

There are a couple of things that make Mind Lab Pro stand out from the crowd, though.

Firstly, Mind Lab Pro contains a good dose of rhodiola rosea, a well-known herbal adaptogen. Rhodiola rosea helps you to maintain high levels of cognitive energy. It also helps to diminish the effects of mental and physical stress whilst enhancing attention span and mental processing, learning, long and short term memory, and work capacity. Rhodiola rosea should further help to deliver clarity whilst keeping you calm with an elevated mood.

Then there is a solid vitamin B complex included in Mind Lab Pro’s formula. You get good doses of vitamins B6, B9, and B12. These are all key in keeping your cognitive processes working as they should, especially through age related cognitive decline. They work together to improve mental performance, to keep your mood balanced, and to promote longer term cognitive health.

CentraPeak 

1 bottle of centrapeak

CentraPeak is a nootropic supplement with a bit of a twist. It is aimed largely at men, and works by both supporting good cognitive health and optimal testosterone output.

This is actually very clever. Low testosterone can lead to many of the effects that most nootropics seek to address. It can leave you foggy headed, slow witted, lethargic, depressed, unfocussed, and unmotivated. Reversing this – boosting testosterone levels – is therefore a great way to bring about many cognitive and mental health benefits to any man suffering with low testosterone (which many are in this day and age.)

There are plenty of testosterone boosters out there. I’ve tried several. Some are fantastic, some are a bit rubbish, the same with any category of supplement. There are also plenty of nootropics out there, as we have seen today. This is a great combination of both, and, to the best of my knowledge at least, it’s the first testosterone booster to focus on mental health and cognitive wellbeing in tandem.

It contains many of the natural botanicals we have already seen in this list, chief amongst them rhodiola rosea and PS. These should enhance feelings of wellbeing and improve mental clarity and focus.

Centrapeak also contains vitamin D3, the sunshine nutrient. It is a type of secosteroid hormone that acts as a precursor to testosterone (so, if you want to naturally raise your testosterone levels, start by getting out into the sunshine a bit more!) Many of us are vitamin D deficient, getting in less than half of what our body needs to fire on all cylinders. Including it in a supplement has been shown to boost levels of both total and free testosterone.

Vitamin D3 supplements can also help to undo the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Centrapeak contains vitamin B6 as Pyridoxine HCL. This can help to optimize testosterone output in a couple of ways. Firstly, it helps your brain to regulate estrogen production. Secondly, it can stimulate testosterone-producing androgen production.

Vitamin K2, meanwhile, is included for its ability to improve men’s health in general. It can work with vitamin S synergistically to improve bone health whilst raising testosterone levels. It can also help to preserve long term cognitive and mental health, protecting from dementia and cognitive decline and elevating mood.

You also get a good dose of zinc citrate, which is unsurprising and thoroughly welcome. It is key to maintaining optimal testosterone levels. All men should take some form of zinc. This is particularly true of vegetarians like me, as most dietary zinc will come from red meat and shellfish.

Boron is also a worthy inclusion. Research has shown that it can enhance free testosterone whilst improving physical and athletic performance. It is also a good nootropic compound, improving long and short term memory, brain function, and attention.

This isn’t it for minerals, though. You also get a good amount of magnesium, which is vital to long term men’s health. Included as the very bioavailable magnesium citrate, the magnesium in Centrapeak should help to boost testosterone production, increasing levels of both total and free testosterone. It can also inhibit testosterone binding by SHBG.

You also get decent amounts of some of the other ingredients we have already found in this list. These include PS, for neuron repair and improved overall brain health, and ashwaghanda, which can improve testosterone and sex drive whilst relieving the effects of stress. It contains pine bark extract, l-theanine and l-thiamine, too, representing a well-rounded approach to nootropic output.

Korean ginseng further backs up a normalized, healthy sex drive, whilst also improving circulation and further boosting testosterone levels. 

Finally, Centrapeak makes use of Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C) and Mucuna Pruriens, velvet bean. I3C is a wonder anti-carcinogenic, atherogenic antioxidant-rich nutrient. It also reduces estrogen levels, thus promoting testosterone. Velvet bean, meanwhile, uses a complex process to inhibit the reduction of testosterone by inhibiting prolactin.

Every active ingredient in Centrapeak is made far more bioavailable and effective than it would otherwise be by the inclusion of BioPerine®, standardized to minimum of 95% piperine. Piperine helps your body to better absorb and use all of the nutrients above, making Centrapeak much more efficient.

For men over the age of 40 (and for any over the age of 30 who are are worried about their t-levels) who are are looking for a high quality nootropic supplement with additional physical health benefits then Centrapeak is an excellent option.

Brainzyme Focus Pro 

Brainzyme front of bottle

Brainzyme Focus Pro is an entirely plant-based nootropic designed to give you a large energy boost whilst helping you to maintain focus and motivation. It can support both long and short term memory and help with clarity and speed of cognition.

They really focus on the energy boost and mood support in their branding, claiming for instance that it can give you a full eight hours of increased energy. This is probably not far off the mark, given the ingredients included and overall quality of the product.

However, these 8 hours won’t just be more energy fueled.

As with any nootropic, you will also find your focus and concentration will be greatly improved. Brainzyme Focus Pro also helps to support your memory and recall. Overall, you will be far more energized and completely on the ball for taking it.

There are twenty active ingredients included in the Brainzyme Focus Pro formula. As above, they are all natural, all plant-based, and pretty much side effect free. They are fast acting, too, being incredibly easy to absorb and thus bringing you into the improved cognitive state within a few minutes of taking them.

Some of the ingredients are rehashes of what we have already seen. For example, you get decent amounts of both l-theanine and l-tyrosine, for improved cognitive function and longevity. There is also a vitamin and mineral complex that goes into this. We have seen how potent minerals like zinc and magnesium can be, as well as B vitamins and vitamin D, so this makes complete sense. You also get choline and ginkgo bilopa, as well as piperine to make it all more effective and bioavailable.

There are a few newcomers, however.

First off, Brainzyme Focus Pro includes guarana seed. This is where that energy kick mainly comes from. If you’ve never taken guarana, it’s like a slower, steadier form of coffee. It gives you plenty of energy, but without the buzzy, frazzled high and major comedown. Including it in this kind of product is very clever and very worthwhile.

Brainzyme Focus Pro includes ‘polyphenols’. This is ostensibly a good thing. Polyphenols, micronutrients sourced from plant life, are usually very good and are often seen in nootropics and the like. However, there are over 8,000 different types of polyphenols, so a little more information would be great here!

Brainzyme Focus Pro includes bromelain and maca root, too, which are great choices. Bromelain is an excellent tool for reducing inflammation and swelling. It is also known for improving memory, especially when combined with vitamin B1 and manganese. Maca root, meanwhile, can aid libido and energy, whilst diminishing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It can improve cognitive function and motor coordination, too, making it perfect for those looking to stay sharp into old age. 

Everything involved with Brainzyme Focus Pro is cruelty free, completely vegan and plant-based, GMO free, gluten free… free from pretty much any form of nastiness going and as such is another excellent option for you when choosing a nootropic.

Alpha Brain 

Finally, we come to Alpha Brain, another one of my favorite nootropics. I was surprised to like it so much the first time I tried it. The company behind, Onnit, is backed by Joe Rogan, of the Joe Rogan Podcast fame. He is a shareholder and he promotes the supplement quite hard.

I distrust Joe Rogan’s grasp of scientific methodology and would be reticent to give any of his claims too much credence. He has bought into, and given airtime to, too many unscientific conspiracy theories over the years for comfort.

Therefore, when I say I was impressed by Alpha Brain, it really does mean a lot. It first had to overcome my natural, well-founded but nonetheless unhelpful bias, then it had to prove itself in a competitive market against products that I knew I loved.

It managed all of this. 

It is a fantastic nootropic supplement, able to improve cognitive function and all the things that come with it. It manages this through three proprietary supplements blended together with the herb Cat’s Claw.

These proprietary supplements are:

  • Onnit’s Flow Blend
  • Onnit’s Focus Blend
  • Onnit’s Fuel Blend

These blends all come together to optimize serotonin and dopamine response whilst increasing levels of naturally occurring acetylcholine (which we have already seen, in the form of choline). It may also aid cellular communication. All in all, this leads to improved mood, improved energy levels, and faster, more focused thinking.

Alpha Brain leans heavily on l-tyrosine and l-theanine, which we keep seeing for good reason. One of their main benefits, which we haven’t really touched on, is that they help to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine within the body. This underpins their cognitive enhancing abilities, raising your mood and cutting through much of the brain fog and fatigue that we all suffer with from time to time.

It also includes oat straw extract, a bit of a favorite of mine and a real contender in the world of nootropics. Oat straw extract is an entirely natural ingredient commonly found in various forms of traditional medicine. It improves blood flow to the brain – quite a simple thing, with incredibly profound consequences. As we have already seen, when you increase blood flow to the brain, you increase the amount of oxygen and glucose delivered to it. This supercharges it, keeping you sharp and highly energized.

As above, one of the main functions of Alpha Brain is to increase the body’s natural production of acetylcholine. This improves communication both between your brain and the rest of your body, and within the brain itself. Alpha Brain elicits this through a combination of Alpha GPC (only ever found in the most top tier of nootropics), bacopa, which we have already seen, and phosphatidylserine. Phosphatidylserine holds the prestigious position of being the only nootropic recognized by the FDA for boosting cognitive function.

Alpha Brain also contains huperzia serrata, a compound which allows you to maintain higher levels of acetylcholine by inhibiting production of the catalyst acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase works to break down the acetylcholine in your body, so it is crucial to limit the amount you produce.

This isn’t the end to the list. There is plenty more involved with Alpha Brain. However, this is where I part company with it; this is where my fear of Joe Rogan’s poor science comes right. Everything else they claim is backed by very murky science, if at all. The other ingredients have no scientific merit to them, though Alpha Brain still make a big deal of praising their benefits.

None of this really undercuts Alpha Brain. It is still one of the best nootropics available. The stuff that works really does work, incredibly well, with a full range of high quality ingredients giving some great benefits. It is just worth pointing out that many of their additional claims are pretty baseless.

What To Look For In Nootropics

There are a few things to look out for in any supplement.

Ingredients are always paramount. Everything included in the list above is there because of the ingredients it lists. Everything contains fantastic ingredients with proven track records and solid scientific research to back them up – where the data is sketchy, which it isn’t often, I’ve pointed it out.

You will want a supplement that contains many of the usual suspects. Here, we are talking about common nootropic compounds like l-theanine and l-tyrosine, choline, ginkgo biloba, oat straw extract, B vitamins, vitamins D & K, Alpha GPC, ashwagandha, and so on. If you have several of these in workable doses, you will be onto a winner. If not, think twice.

Reviews are also important. Data from lab studies is great. However, nothing quite beats user testimonials. If something has lots of four and five star reviews, you will probably do well from your nootropic. If not – if the reviews are poor or thin on the ground – then again, think twice.

The products included on this list are all high quality, highly popular supplements with proven track records across thousands of satisfied users.

When you’ve got your nootropic, you also want to make sure that it is working. If it isn’t, it may not be bad, it just may not be for you. It may be time to try something new.

How To Know if Nootropics Are Working

We’ve run through the many benefits that nootropics bring in general. I’ve also listed the benefits that the individual nootropics in the above list can bring. This points to how you can know if they are working.

A nootropic should make you clearer headed, first and foremost. If you struggle with brain fog and fatigue, you should give nootropics a go. They should get rid of both. If they do, they are working. If not, they are failing at the first hurdle, unfortunately.

Then there are the additional benefits that most will bring. You should find your cognitive processes improving. This will include, most noticeably, improved memory, both short and long term, and a greater ability to focus on any given task. Things should become a little easier, a little clearer, and you should be able to multitask with far less effort.

If all of these things happen, your nootropics are working.

Finally, many will bring you a good energy boost. This can include a good mood boost, too, and often an improvement to your libido (especially where men and testosterone boosters are concerned!) This can be direct, through the use of stimulants like caffeine and guarana. It can be indirect, simply a result of improved blood flow to the brain.

Either way, you should feel more awake, more energized, for a larger portion of your day.

Again, if you do, everything is working as it should.

Verdict

I love nootropics. As a writer, my brain is my livelihood. Focus and cognitive efficiency have immediate, real life consequences. Therefore, I am always on the lookout for something that can help to keep my brain high functioning, clear, and able to deal with high, high word counts without getting overly tired.

Nootropics are therefore a bit of a lifesaver for me and something that I’d like to think I am pretty well educated on. The supplements on this list are amongst the best in the world. Each one has something unique to offer. Each one is packed full of well-known, high quality nootropic ingredients, as well as many supplementary ingredients to help you maintain top cognitive and mental health.

I personally favor NooCube. It is arguably the highest quality product on this list. It is the one from which I have had the best results. I have always felt myself far more engaged, far clearer headed, far happier and energetic for taking it.

However, take your pick from our list. Anything there will be good. There will be something in there that will be absolutely perfect for you.

Still need more information on nootropics before you choose which to buy? Then read on…

What Are Nootropics?

It’s all well and good to simply call nootropics ‘smart drugs’. It’s actually also very accurate. They are often also called cognition or memory enhancing supplements and really can improve your brain’s health and performance. But what exactly are they?

Well, nootropics are drugs or supplements, prescribed or bought over the counter, which improve executive function, attention span and focus, memory, both short and long term, creativity and motivation. As supplements, they are meant for use by healthy people, i.e. those without any kind of cognitive impairment (though they can help here, too).

Prescription nootropics are medicines. They typically give stimulant effects – think of Adderall and so on. You will typically see these prescribed for people suffering from conditions such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and narcolepsy. They can help to mitigate symptoms and, in degenerative diseases, slow decline.

Today, however, we’re looking at non-prescription nootropics. These are supplements typically made from natural compounds and ingredients. They will generally contain a few common ingredients, though formulae can vary a great deal. Mostly, they will contain stimulants or similar substances that can improve your cognitive performance. Creatine and caffeine are quite common. They will also often contain compounds with antioxidant and similar properties, designed to ring-fence long-term brain health.

Plenty of people have begun to use nootropic supplements, regardless of whether or not their brain’s present as being ‘healthy’. Nootropics can improve performance and output, allow you to concentrate and focus more, improve your energy levels, and often improve your mood and thus overall mental health.

How Nootropics Work And Their Benefits

All nootropics work differently, especially supplements. What each will do will depend on their ingredient profiles – don’t worry, though, we’ll run through the individual benefits of each item on our list below.

However, all nootropics will share a few common benefits.

Most high quality nootropics will increase the action of useful neurotransmitters such as glutamate to some degree whilst also suppressing the action of depressant neurotransmitters such as GABA. In short, they will improve wakefulness and clarity, making you more alert and clearer headed. Ampakines and Piracetam are well known for their ability to do this.

Most nootropics will also improve your memory. They will make it easier for you to maintain healthy short term memory whilst also protecting your long term memory. For example, citicoline, a common ingredient, can protect the integrity of nerve membranes, whilst cerebrolysin can promote the regeneration of nerve fibers.

This can also lead to enhanced sensory enhancement as signal transmission between neurons is improved.

Nootropics will also generally lead to improved energy levels. Some do this by delivering caffeine and other stimulants. Others will manage it by simply allowing for greater clarity and longer lasting energy in your brain.

They can also improve your mood. Caffeine and other stimulants elicit dopamine production, one of the main mechanisms that nootropics seek to exploit. Dopamine is the brain’s reward chemical. It makes us happy. When you have a hug, eat some chocolate, work out, or do anything else that makes you happy and relaxed, your brain will be releasing dopamine. Nootropics are therefore a good idea for anybody suffering from depression or anxiety.

Plenty of nootropic supplements will contain l-theanine. L-theanine is well-known for increasing alpha waves in the brain. This in turn should lead to even greater clarity whilst inspiring greater cognitive performance.

Plenty will also contain bacopa monnieri. This speeds up the production of protein in the brain and the activity of the protein kinase. It also prevents inflammation, keeping your brain’s cells safe from damage. This should enhance intellect and memory whilst keeping your cognitive health on track long-term.

James writer image

This article was written by: James Dixon – SOMA Analytics PT, Nutritionalist & Published Author

James Dixon is one of the key players in the SOMA Analytics’ team. He is a personal trainer and is educated to Masters level. He is a published author and is a keen advocate of high quality nootropic supplements. James enjoys helping others to reach their peak both physically and mentally and believes that expressing his knowledge through his writing is an effective way to positively impact the wellbeing of others on a larger scale.