Our nutrition expert, personal trainer and writer James Dixon examines the difference between two of the top nootropics on the market in this NooCube Vs Alpha Brain comparison. Read on to find out which one he thinks is best and which one is right for you.
We all suffer from stress and overwork at times – it seems baked into the bedrock of modern life. Anxiety and fatigue often duly follow. Nootropics can help us with this. So called ‘smart drugs’, nootropic supplements are designed to give you the energy, focus, mental clarity and cognitive power you need to live your best life.
Several spheres of the supplement market seem to be supercharged at the moment. For avid supplement watchers like me, the nootropic market is being particularly bubbly. There are new offerings, improved formulas, backed up by ever more data, seemingly every other week. This can be good; change can be good.
But sometimes the old stalwarts are worth considering. Though nothing in the supplements market is ‘old’ by most measures, there are a couple of nootropics that have set an industry standard for a few years now – which, in such a young industry, is like a lifetime.
I am, of course, talking about NooCube, one of my own personal favorite supplements, and Alpha Brain, another serious contender with a bit of an A-list backing. But which, if either, is better? Which should you plump for if you pitching NooCube Vs Alpha Brain?
NooCube Vs Alpha Brain – That Is The Question
NooCube is made by Wolfson Brands, who have been steadily working away in the supplement market for over thirty years. Every other top shelf supplement money can buy is seemingly down to them and their team.
With NooCube, you get a high-quality supplement packed with some of the best known nootropic compounds available (more on this below). It is aimed at improving concentration, memory and multitasking, whilst giving a boost to overall brain function, mental energy and clarity, as well as improved communication.
Wolfson Brands are based in Cyprus (a good tax dodge if ever there was one) but deliver all over the world and maintain fully FDA approved facilities across every aspect of their manufacturing process. They offer a sixty-day money back guarantee for NooCube, so you can try it out without having to commit to losing any cash if you don’t like what you find. They are known for good customer service and offer fast, free shipping, so you should have anything you order in less than a single business week.
Alpha Brain is made by Onnit, a large US-based supplement company set up in 2010. Although they lack the full pedigree of Wolfson Brands, twelve years is still a very respectable amount of time in this game.
Alpha Brain, Onnit’s flagship supplement, is largely known for its celebrity endorsements. Several high flying athletes use it and it is backed by Joe Rogan, who uses it, promotes it, and owns a stake in the company behind it.
Everything in Alpha brain is natural, ‘earth grown’, as Onnit say, yet potent nonetheless. So far, so much like NooCube. The promised results are also the same – improved cognition, mental energy, and focus, with greater drive and enhanced memory and learning skills.
Both are high quality supplements. The main thing that will separate them, for me, will therefore be less a matter of how they operate, and the skill and care they bring, than what they include in their formulas. This will, of course, always make or break a supplement.
Where The Ingredients Overlap
NooCube and Alpha Brain actually have a lot in common – they share the same DNA, with many of the same core ingredients.
As above, NooCube is one of my favorite supplements. Not one of my favorite nootropics – one of my favorite supplements of all. They hit all the right notes, for me.
One of these notes is transparency. They don’t hide anything behind ‘proprietary blends’. You see exactly what you’re getting in each dose, and how well everything is dosed. This might sound basic, but you would be surprised at how often you don’t get these all-important details.
Alpha Brain is a little less clear. They hide the details behind several different blends. These blends all work well, are intelligently created, and have plenty of advocates who have used them to great effect. It’s just a bit of a shame that we can’t see everything in the clear light of day.
Both have a fantastic list of ingredients, though.
It all begins with Alpha GPC, a well-known compound used for protecting against cognitive decline, which both supplements use.
Alpha GPC should ring-fence your long-term brain health. It may also help you to think creatively and decisively in academic contexts. It contains acetylcholine, which should help you to make split-second decisions whilst keeping you alert.
NooCube includes 50mg of Alpha GPC. This is a little underwhelming, but is still a useable quantity. There is no way of knowing how much Alpha Brain includes.
Next up, we have Bacopa Monnieri, another ingredient commonly found in good quality nootropics. I particularly like it as a form of anxiety relief – it keeps anxiety levels down, allowing for better mental health and clearer cognition. Bacopa Monnieri can also help with memory and learning.
It is also a great antioxidant, which should help to keep your brain young, protecting your body against free radicals and helping to repair cell damage.
NooCube gives you a full 250 mg dose, which is fantastic. Again, we can’t know the exact dosing included in Alpha Brain. However, it is part of a blend that totals 240 mg, so it will obviously have far less Bacopa Monnieri than NooCube.
I also like to see l-tyrosine in nootropics. You get it with both NooCube and Alpha Brain, which makes me immediately like them.
L-tyrosine is known for improving, and allowing for more sustained, focus. It promotes memory and cognition, and can even cheer you up, as the body uses it to create dopamine. It can also help protect you against stress and anxiety, diminishing the amount of the stress hormone cortisol that the body produces.
As with everything else, we don’t know how much l-tyrosine Alpha Brain includes. NooCube gives a generous 250 mg.
Herbal extracts – Cat’s Claw and Oat Straw
Then we come to a couple of herbal compounds which both supplements include to great effect.
Firstly, there is cat’s claw, an Amazonian herb known for its generous antioxidant content. As with other antioxidant-rich ingredients, this makes it great for protecting against oxidative stress whilst promoting healthy cellular repair.
Cat’s claw is also thought to boost the neurotransmitters which increase serotonin, keeping you calm yet with an elevated sense of awareness. It can also help in combatting pain. Further to this, cat’s claw has been associated with improvements to learning and memory.
We can actually see Alpha Brain’s content, here, which is a first. At 350 mg, you get a very generous dose with each serving. NooCube is slightly less generous at 175 mg.
Then there is oat straw, which is thought to be good for promoting enhanced cognition. It can also help to fight stress and anxiety, and may even be an aphrodisiac! It is anti-inflammatory, which is always welcome, and some people even claim that it is a decent antidepressant. It contains the amino acid arginine, which helps to create nitric oxide. In turn, this will dilate your body’s blood vessels, allowing for better circulation.
Oat straw can also increase alpha brain wave function, which is usually associated with relaxation and happiness.
NooCube give you a very workable 150 mg. Alpha Brain’s is part of a blend, so there is no way of knowing how much they give you.
Finally, you get huperzine A in both supplements. It is one of the best nootropic ingredients going, so it’s no surprise that two such heavy hitting compounds use it.
Huperzine A (or huperzia serrata) stops the brain’s production of acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase can break down the brain’s neurotransmitters, so you want to limit the amount in your system. In doing this, you ensure long-term brain health, protecting against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In the short-term, huperzine A can lead to improved energy levels and alertness.
You get a generous 20 mg with NooCube. Of course, we don’t know how much you get with Alpha Brain.
NooCube Vs Alpha Brain Ingredient Differences
The two formulas are, however, different, despite their similar basic DNA. Not only do the doses vary, but each includes several ingredients not found in the other. Or, rather, NooCube includes one ingredient, resveratrol, not found in Alpha Brain, and Alpha Brain includes a far more extensive list of extras not found in NooCube.
Resveratrol is a decent nootropic and testosterone booster found in wine, of all places. It has been linked with increased longevity, though this is more to do with protecting the heart than actually explicitly extending your lifespan.
For our purposes, resveratrol is good for improving cerebral circulation – the blood flow to and around your brain. This ensures that your brain has all the oxygen and nutrients it needs to fire on all cylinders.
Resveratrol has also been linked to improved mood, long-term memory, and learning.
You get 14 mcg in NooCube, which is a very workable dose.
All The Extras Of Alpha Brain
This brings us on to Alpha Brain’s list of extra ingredients.
You get a good dose of vitamin B6, which should help to reduce fatigue whilst enabling proper brain function and serotonin regulation.
Then there is vinpocetine, a compound derived from periwinkle leaves. This may enhance blood flow, though there is little data to support this claim. The problem arises with pterostilbene – it may help to support the life and healthy function of brain cells, but these benefits are unsupported by research.
You also get phosphatidylserine with Alpha Brain, which should lower cortisol levels, helping to fight stress, whilst aiding your memory. Phosphatidylserine levels in the brain diminish with age, so it’s important to keep on top of them.
Finally, you get l-leucine. I quite like l-leucine as a supplement. It slows down protein degradation and may help with hypertrophy (muscle growth). However, it serves no purpose here. There is no information as to why it might be worth including in a nootropic.
Side Effects of NooCube and Alpha Brain
Both NooCube and Alpha Brain are made from completely natural ingredients. They are herbal supplements, in the main. This means that there are few, if any, side effects associated with either.
You shouldn’t suffer any ill effects from taking either NooCube or Alpha Brain.
My main concern is with Alpha Brain’s use of proprietary blends. With only a couple of exceptions, we don’t know how much of any given ingredient they use in their formula. This makes it hard to guarantee any level of safety or efficacy. In real terms, this doesn’t make much difference. The formulas in their blends don’t seem to be overly potent and there have been few side effects reported by users. However, it’s a gripe worth bearing in mind.
NooCube is safer, even if only theoretically.
Pros and Cons
- Effective, useful ingredients
- Good scientific backing
- Clear labelling at mostly optimal doses
- Safe and free from side effects
- Money back guarantee
- Plenty of user testimony
- A couple of slightly underdosed ingredients
Alpha Brain Pros
- Most of the ingredients are high quality and useful
- Plenty of user testimony
Alpha Brain Cons
- Proprietary blends mean you can’t be sure of doses, efficacy or safety
- Several ingredients with either no nootropic purpose or no scientific validation
- Only available online
When deciding between Alpha Brain and NooCube I would go with NooCube. There are fewer ingredients in its formula. However, everything has its place – everything is usable in a nootropic context, and everything is backed up by good research and hard data. The formula is transparent, so you know exactly what you are getting.
Alpha Brain is decent, of course. It deserves its reputation. However, some of the added ingredients are pretty spurious additions, with either no nootropic purpose or no scientific validation. You also don’t know how much of anything you are getting, which is a massive alarm bell for me.
I would steer clear and stick with NooCube. Wolfson Brands dominate the market for a reason.
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.