It is well-known how supplements can boost physical performance – bodybuilders everywhere are downing protein shakes, BCAA supplements, and fat burners.
But did you know that you can also take supplements to boost your cognitive performance?
The group of supplements designed to do things such as improve memory, enhance focus, reduce stress, and boost decision-making are known as nootropics, which is taken from the Greek and means “things to shape the mind”.
While research into the realm of cognitive performance enhancers is relatively new, there are already some great nootropics on the market that you can use to give yourself a safe mental boost.
Read on as we go into what exactly nootropics are and how effective you can expect them to be. We will share with you our eight top picks from the nootropics currently on the market, and give you details on the key ingredients in most nootropic supplements and what exactly they are doing for you.
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics is an umbrella term for pills, supplements, and other substances that are designed to improve cognition. So, they are supplements designed to make your brain work better.
Today, there are scores of different varieties on the market, all designed to do different things. Some might help you remain calm, others could improve your memory, one might give you a boost in decision-making ability, while there are others that can help you concentrate for longer.
Nootropics generally fall into three different categories: dietary supplements, synthetic compounds, and prescription drugs.
Prescription drugs are the most well-known nootropics, with stories of students taking ADHD medications to be able to study all night. But these prescription pharmaceuticals come with a lot of potential side effects, including everything from hallucinations to sudden death.
So, the mass market of over-the-counter nootropics is focused on dietary supplements and synthetic compounds that have a less strong and immediate effect, but are significantly safer.
In today’s article, we will be looking exclusively at over-the-counter nootropics.
Do Over-The-Counter Nootropics Really Work?
Nootropics are a relatively new area of research, and there are lots of different studies turning in different results. So, as of today, there is no firm consensus on just how well nootropics work.
There is good evidence that a lot of the ingredients included in nootropics, such as omega-3 acids and flavonoids, are very good for the brain in the long term. But whether taking a supplement will give you any kind of short-term boost is questionable.
So, if you are looking to improve your memory, you will need to invest in boosting your intake of memory-enhancing nootropics for an extended period of time.
And as is the case with most supplements, getting these dietary elements from supplements is less effective than getting them from a natural food source.
So really, the overall verdict is that nootropics can boost your cognitive function, but they are only one part of the puzzle when it comes to brain health.
The brain is a muscle, and you can strengthen it through exercise. Brain games, such as puzzles and learning new things help keep your brain active and healthy.
Physical exercise also helps. People who work out tend to have better memories, sharper decision-making, and feel less stressed.
9 Best Nootropics You Can Buy Today
Brainzyme Focus Pro
This all-natural supplement has been featured by The Times and Forbes as one of the best ways to improve your focus, motivation, memory, and energy throughout the day.
It contains 20 active ingredients including L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine, Choline, Guarana, Gingko Biloba, and Niacin. It claims that it can give a similar boost to prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, but without the dangerous side effects.
Manage your dosage depending on your needs, as you can take between 2 and 6 capsules per day. The feeling should kick in within 60 minutes, and should stay with you for eight hours. Continued use over an extended period promises an overall boost in your mental wellbeing.
- £50 per month (for 3 capsules per day)
- Focus and motivation booster
- L-Theanine 350 mg
- Guarana 330 mg
- Choline 290 mg
NootriStim Nootropic Brain Supplements
If your principal challenge is a feeling of lethargy and frustrating concentration and energy dips throughout the day, then this stimulating supplement from NootriStim might be exactly what you are looking for.
It combines three stimulants with some of the best nootropics on the market. It contains Niacin, which is essential for a healthy nervous system and digestive system, and Choline, which helps regulate memory, mood, and muscle control.
It is also one of the few supplements that contains Huperzine-A, which has been proven to improve brain function in individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Take one capsule daily to start seeing results.
- £15 per month
- Simulant for focus and energy
- Huperzine-A 100 mcg
- Niacin 1.5 mg
- Choline 75 mg
Motion Nutrition Unplug Night-Time Nootropic
This nootropic from Motion Nutrition is designed specifically to help you get a better night’s sleep. This is an essential period of time in which your brain and body recharge, so maximizing how well you sleep can provide a variety of health benefits.
It contains a number of the most popular nootropic ingredients including L-Theanine, Rhodiola, and Bacopa Monnieri, which are all major stress reducers, as well as essential vitamins and minerals such as Iodine, Zinc, and Magnesium.
The company, which is based in the UK, also suggests that their botanical and mineral combination helps maintain the healthy production of thyroid hormones, which is essential to the health of every part of your body.
Take two capsules daily one hour before bed to see if you wake up feeling more energized and alert.
- £24.99 for 30 days
- Enables a better night’s sleep
- Reduces stress
- Bacopa Monnieri 100 mg
- Rhodiola 50 mg
Just Floow Genius Mind
If you are looking for a supplement that will give you an overall boost of body and mind, then consider this choice from JustFloow, which claims to give you an edge in both the boardroom and the gym.
It contains a variety of strong cognitive enhancers including Gingko Biloba Bacopa Monnieri, and natural caffeine. It helps keep energy levels high but on an even level throughout the day with vitamin B12 and zinc.
Enjoy maximum cell regeneration in both the body and mind with healthy doses of Phosphatidylcholine and L-Tyrosine.
Take two capsules a day for the best results.
- £17.99 for one month
- Overall boost for mind and body
- Phosphatidylcholine 100 mg
- Ginkgo Biloba 120 mg
- L-Tyrosine 100 mg
Peak Spirit Nootropic Think Brain Vitamin Supplement
This is a new premium nootropic line from the Peak Spirit company. It promises loads of macronutrients for overall brain health, and a variety of nootropics to reduce fatigue.
It relies principally on natural ingredients including Bacopa Monnieri, Ningko Biloba, and Turmeric Root.
Take just one tablet a day for optimal results. But you can also snap portions into two if you want to increase or decrease your dosage.
- £12 per month
- Overall mental boost
- Bacopa Monnieri 100 mg
- Gingko Biloba 120 mg
- Turmeric Extract 975 mg
VitaMIND Cognitive Enhancer
UK company VitaMIND are producing this all-natural cognitive enhancer designed to improve memory and concentration, boost mood, and facilitate clear thinking.
It contains 13 active ingredients including Guarana, Polyphenols, Gingko Biloba, L-Theanine, and L-Tyrosine. It is designed for busy people who need to be able to concentrate and produce their best for longer.
Take two capsules a day for the best results.
- £17.99 per month
- Naturally boost concentration and alertness
- Guarana Extract 180 mg
- Gingko Biloba 5250 mg
- L-Theanine 25mg
ProMind Nootropic Plus
This formula is a bit simpler than most, containing just seven ingredients, but is still effective. It contains caffeine, L-Carnitine, L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine, Matcha Green Tea, Niacin, and Vitamin B.
Take a two-capsule dose in the morning for eight hours of mental enhancement, but don’t worry about suffering from a crash later in the day.
Qualia Mind Nootropic
This premium nootropic from Qualia promises to boost focus, memory, and drive. It uses a complex recipe with a mix of ingredients including Bacopa Monnieri for memory, Gingko Biloba for stress reduction, Rhodiola Rosea for mood enhancement, Taurine, L-Theanine, Caffeine, and Huperzine A.
It promises clean energy that will last for the entire day, and never leave you feeling jittery or like you are suffering from an energy crash.
You can manage your energy levels as you like, as you can take up to seven capsules throughout the day as needed.
- £160 per month
- Focus, memory, and drive
- Bacopa Monnieri
- Gingko Biloba
- Rhodiola Rosea
N2 Nootropics Cognitive Enhancer Brain Booster
This formula is a simple recipe that uses natural ingredients to boost memory and reduce stress. It relies principally on Bacopa Monnieri for memory, Gingko Biloba for stress reduction, and caffeine for alertness and energy.
The supplement also contains a nice dose of Reishi, which contains adaptogenic properties that help the body reduce stressors, whether they be physical, chemical, or biological.
Take two capsules a day for the best possible results.
- £18.95 per month
- Simple recipe to boost memory and reduce stress
- Bacopa 400 mg
- Gingko Biloba 240 mg
- Caffeine 100 mg
Key Nootropic Ingredients
While you will find that most nootropic supplements contain a mix of ingredients designed to enhance your brain in a variety of ways, there are a few key ones to look out for if you want the best benefits in specific areas.
The brain-enhancing properties of this herb have been known for centuries and it is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance brain function.
Studies have shown that it can speed up reaction times and improve memory because it improves signaling in your hippocampus.
A daily dose of between 300 and 600 milligrams is recommended to see the best results.
It won’t be news to anyone that caffeine boosts brain performance. It does this because it blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, which helps you to feel less tired.
It is safe to consume between 40 and 300 milligrams of caffeine per day to boost alertness and improve reaction times.
Your body and brain use Choline to regulate your nervous system, and studies suggest that a sufficient intake can enhance memory, mood, and muscle control.
Choline is also essential for forming the membranes that surround the body’s cells, so it is essential for regeneration and healing.
Creatine is a supplement more familiar in the world of bodybuilding, as it is an amino acid that the body uses to make protein and enhances muscle growth. But it is also very good for your brain.
Creatine boosts energy levels because it creates a molecule that the brain can burn quickly to fuel itself. The brain can burn this energy for a short-term memory boost or improved reasoning skills.
Studies have shown that taking Ginkgo Biloba before a stressful task can help prevent stress-related high blood pressure. It has also been shown to improve memory and mental processes in older people when taken for extended periods of time.
It may work by improving overall blood flow to the brain, which allows the essential organ to function better.
Huperzine-A is a solution that has been developed to improve the memory and mental functions of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Early tests suggest that it can also enhance cognitive function in healthy brains.
L-Theanine, found naturally in tea, is a fantastic de-stressor. It has a calming effect on the brain without causing drowsiness. It may also boost creativity as it significantly increases alpha-waves in the brain.
L-Theanine has been shown to be most effective when taken in combination with caffeine, with a dosage of 200 milligrams per day having a positive effect.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that is produced by the body, but increasing your concentration of it has been shown to improve mental performance, alertness, and memory.
It is sometimes used as a natural treatment for depression and attention deficit disorder.
Niacin is a B vitamin that your body uses to turn food into energy and is essential to the healthy functioning of the nervous system and the digestive system.
Some cognitive conditions, such as brain fog, are associated with Niacin deficiencies, and taking the supplement may aid with alertness and mental agility.
Surprised to see this one on the list? Nicotine has also been shown to boost alertness and attentiveness, especially in those with a naturally poor attention span. It may also improve basic motor function.
But before lighting up, remember that nicotine is also highly addictive and potentially lethal in high doses.
Noopept is actually a synthetic compound, but it can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Its effects are generally felt immediately and lasts for several hours.
It has been shown to speed up how quickly the brain forms and retrieves memories by boosting the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is essential to the growth of brain cells.
In humans, it is often used to help people recover more quickly from brain injuries.
Panax Ginseng is a medicinal plant that has been used since ancient times to reduce brain fatigue and improve mental performance.
This may be related to its anti-inflammatory effects, which protect the brain from oxidative stress.
A daily dose of 200 to 400 milligrams is recommended for an immediate performance boost. However, the body also seems to adapt to ginseng, so it may become less effective over time.
This synthetic compound is widely available over-the-counter as a smart drug. Initially used to support recovery from brain injury, it quickly spilled over into the mass market.
Limited testing suggests that it can enhance memory and reasoning.
This is another synthetic nootropic that has been shown to provide a healthy memory boost.
It has been around since the 1970s and is widely available, though research into its concrete benefits is still limited.
This herb has been shown to improve the mood and reduce stress in the highly anxious, such as college students prior to exams. It may also reduce fatigue and enhance a general feeling of wellbeing.
Very little research still exists in this area, and it is unclear exactly how much needs to be consumed to make a difference.
Turmeric is pretty well-known as an overall superfood. It has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps fight depression, improve cognition, and even boost libido.
Turmeric may help protect the brain from inflammation, which helps ensure long-term brain health.
What Is The Most Effective Nootropic?
The most effective nootropic depends on what you want to achieve. You will want to try different things to boost memory or manage stress. However, in terms of quickly boosting mental alertness to get you through a challenging situation, caffeine is still at the top of the list.
Are Nootropics Safe?
Taking anything that is designed to change the natural working of your brain carries a risk. Our knowledge of the human brain is relatively rudimentary, and we don’t know how all the different elements interact.
That said, you are probably already taking nootropics on a daily basis. Caffeine, found naturally in coffee, and L-Theanine, found naturally in tea, are both powerful nootropics.
Natural nootropics, that can be taken as a dietary supplement, pose a minimal risk. Though, as with everything, you want to ensure that you aren’t taking an excessive amount.
Pharmaceutical nootropics are significantly more dangerous and often come with dire side effects. These should only be taken in consultation with a physician.
Researchers still have a lot of work to do in terms of understanding nootropics, how they work, and how they can best be used to enhance cognitive performance on a daily basis. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t start benefiting from nootropics today.
There are a variety of natural nootropics on the market that are safe to use, and will contribute to your long-term brain health. Whether they will give you an immediate boost in a moment of emergency is another question, but it certainly can’t hurt!
- Towards Better Brain Management – PubMD
- Nootropics: An Overview – ScienceDirect
- Nootropics – Psychology Today
Last update on 2021-05-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API