What are nootropics and are any nootropics worth taking?Jump To The Best
As humans age cognitive function starts to decline, that means focus, energy, lateral thinking and mood can all begin to deteriorate.
Nootropics are a recent and popular form of supplementation designed to help improve cognitive performance in adults.
They're typically a blend of herbal extracts, vitamins and minerals that have been shown to improve brain function. As this is an unregulated market however, not all nootropics are any good and the quality of the ingredients does tend to vary wildly across brands. Nootropics supplements have become popular with entrepreneurs, students and athletes in the past couple of years with many claiming that it helps them perform at their best.
The best nootropics contain ingredients that help boost mental acuity, cognitive function, focus and memory retention. Generally speaking this will be done with ingredients that contain herbal compounds or are rich in essential vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients like L-Theanine and Citicoline being the common amongst all of the best nootropics due to them being the most well researched and clinically evaluated.
Citicoline has been studied and shown to increase brain membrane formation by 26% in healthy adults and increased brain energy by 14% when compared to a placebo group. Brain energy refers to the amount of fuel your brain is able to hold and use throughout the day. Meaning that a 14% increase could lead to increased performance overall, and definitely an increased sustained performance throught the day.
L-Theanine is typically more utilised for mood regulation nootropics, but does make it's way into most of the best ones on this list. It's been studied to promote the production of GABA and other brain calming chemicals, L-theanine elevates levels of GABA, as well as serotonin and dopamine. This was also shown to improve sleep effeciency. Beyond that, it also has been shown to in double blind trials to improve memory, even in those with impared function.
What Are Nootropics? What Do You Need To Know?
Perhaps the most well known is caffeine, that said, it's not something you typically want from a nootropic supplement, L- theanine tends to be the most highly rated and well known after that and the most powerful nootropic supplements tend to contain a relatively high does of this. Even just 50mg has been shown to boost creativity and brain health. After that Citicoline tends to be the most important to look out for.
The strongest nootropic on our list is Hunter Focus and honestly there ins't anything on the market that is safe, legal and comes close.
All the nootropics on our list are safe. That isn't to say everything marketed as a nootropic is completely safe mind. And you can take too much, remember many nootropic supplements contain caffeine, and too much can be harmful.
We're huge fans of Hunter Focus, even though it's a lesser known nootropic, it is by and large the highest quality available at the moment. Produced by Roar Ambition, a long standing player in the supplements market and part of the Hunter range known for it's high quality natural supplements.
It does come in at a slightly higher price point than a lot of the competitor brands, but not substantially. Hunter Focus is filled with the top tier of research backed and clinically proven ingredients. It's also higher dosed than most of it's competitors, making it the strongest nootropic on our list.
You can purcahse it at hunterfocus.com
Hunter Focus nootropic ingredients list is by far the most extensive on the market. With everything from Citicoline, L-Theanine, Ginko Biloba, Ginseng, Rhodiola Rosea, L-Carnitine, B vitamins and a host of other ingredients their really isn't anything missing at all. If you want just one nootropic pill to cover everything then Hunter Focus is the one for you.
It's priced relatively well against the other competitors as well, to be honest nothing else really comes close, and unless you're looking for a specific eye health nootropic we'd recommend it for basically any use over everything else on this list. The only downside is that to get such a broad coverage you will have to take 6 capsules a day. But, as you can see from the bottle size you get the same amount of daily doses for only a couple of dollars more, and a whole lot more supplement for your money.
Highest dosages of key nootropic ingredients
Covers all bases
Great for memory
Best for mood by far
Great for focus
Very positive customer reviews
Most expensive nootropic supplements on the list
Contains caffeine (for those avoiding it)
Hunter Focus ingredient list is as we've said, excellent ingredients, and where it really shines against other nootropics is the ashwaganda. Typically ashwagandha is used in other supplements, such as testosterone boosters which could lead some people to think that it is a more male focused ingredient, but it is also fantastic at relieving stress and has been clinically proven to reduce cortisol build up (the stress hormone). In fact, outside of the niche supplements industry this is what it was most well known for. It also contains Ginseng, which has been linked to improved mood, and long term brain function protection. The other thing that makes Hunter focus stand out from the crowd is the higher dosages of Bacopa and L-Tyrosine than it's competitors, delivering on the optimal levels, whereas others tend to skimp out on the more expensive ingredients.
Beyond that the formula contains the expected, Pine Bark, Rhodesea Rosea, L-Theanine and Citicoline that we would expect from a good nootropic.
Improvements In Brain Health.
Reduces Symptoms Of Stress.
When we tried Hunter Focus we definitely noticed better as the name would suggest focus, even when compared to other nootropics. It sits at our number one on the best nootropics list for a reason and we'd highly recommend taking advantage of the bulk buy options as individual bottles are rather pricey. From our tests and the ingredients list it is hands down the best nootropic for memory and focus, the only thing that could put some people off is that it contains caffeine, and that it's the highest priced (although only slightly) nootropic on our list.
Ok, so let's start with the disappointing element, Performance Lab Mind is missing L-Theanine, so it's not great for regulating mood, however, it has one particularly interesting ingredient Sharp-PS Green. Sharp-PS is also referred to as Phosphatidylserine, which is shown to slow mental decline with age.
This is the main ingredient in Performance Lab Mind aside from citicoline, which as we've already mentioned helps repair the brain membrane and increases the brains ability to process glucose and increase brain energy. Phosphatidylserine is currently being trailed as a treatment for Alzheimer's, Multiple Sclerosis brain fog and several other conditions. This makes Performance Lab Mind great nootropics for brain fog and particularly interesting for people as they age.
Performance Lab have a pedigree in the nootropics space, they're the sister company of Mind Lab Pro's nootropics and smart drugs, which are probably the most well known in the space. They're reviewed generally quite well on amazon, and most trust pilot issues seem to be in relation to late shipments although this seems to be from a few years back.
Performance Labs nootropics supplements are generally high quality, but this is one of their best pre made nootropic stacks for anyone looking to prolong mental function. These smart drugs as we've mentioned are one of the best for protecting brain cells due to Phosphatidylserine, but that's not all we liked. The pine bark extract was an effective addition to prolonging brain health by improving cerebral circulation which helps prevent decline in cognitive functions making it a great addition to preventative nootropic stacks.
Focus on long term brain health
Reasonably priced for a nootropic supplement
Specialised for improved cognative function and brain protection, limited other benefits
NooCube is perhaps the most well known nootropic on the market at the moment, but does that mean it's the best? Well, no, but, it is very good. There are a couple of things we didn't like. The first of these was the claims that they make, Noocube says that it can start to work after just 30 mins, which if it does then it's likely the placebo effect. The reality is that whilst the ingredients in NooCube are in fact good for improving focus and information retention, they simply don't work that quickly. We like L-Theanine and L-Tyrosine both are clinically proven to benefit brain function, Alpha-GPC is great for stimulating the retention of new information. It's been shown to stimulate the release of the acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for learning. But, it doesn't really hold up on the mood element of things, so is by no means a good all round nootropic. The one thing we really don't like about Noo Cube is it's price point, considering it's largely aimed at learning. Most students would be priced out by it's cost which is slightly counter intuitive.
Noocube's customer reviews also claim that the nootropic has helped ease the symptoms of focus related conditions such as ADD and ADHD. Although, it doesn't contain any stimulants, unlike the strongest nootropic supplement on this list Hunter Focus.
Being Caffiene free isn't a necessity for everyone, but if you want to avoid it then it does give noocube an edge over Hunter. B vitamins are a strong inclusion as they're well known to help with focus and energy.
Reservatrol has been shown to have a multitude of brain protective effects, and is being tested for use in Alzheimer's and is even being tested to fight tumour growth in patients with brain cancer. It's likely that we'll see more and more supporting evidence for the potency of this brain protecting nootropic over the next few years. Overall we highly recommend noocube if you want a stim free nootropic.
Best nootropic for memory
High price point
In terms of customer reviews of mind labs nootropic supplements it seems there were some delivery issues in the early days, but that seems to be a problem dealt with some time ago, and the vast majority of customers do report an increase in mental energy and focus whilst taking the nootropic. Like most smart drugs, mind lab pro seems to provide cognitive benefits, however, in terms of it's claims to prevent mental decline, time will only tell, but the overall science behind the ingredient choices seems to be favourable. The only issue we have with it really is we'd have liked to have seen a slightly higher dosage of Bacopa to make it more effective at dealing with anxiety and stress related issues, that said if you're only looking to improve brain function then it's a great choice as far as brain supplements go.
No caffeine if you're avoiding it
Not as well dosed as hunter focus
Below are some of our favourite specialised nootropic supplements that we can't really judge against the top three that are solely designed around improving mental performance. They contain nootropic supplements designed for things like improved vision, long term brain health, rather than those mostly aimed at mental energy and memory retention.
Performance lab vision is designed to protect your eyes as much as your brain cells, making it a good nootropic supplement for a gamer nootropic stacks. It's not going to help with mental energy as much as nootropics that are heavy on ingredients L Carnitine, or L theanine and the like, but it does contain things like Lutein which promote overall eye health, and zeaxanthin, which increased processing of visual signals.
Whilst these extracts from the marigold flower do improve visual cognition most notably they aren't going to be as effective for memory, focus or cognitive functions.
And if you're staring at a screen for long periods of time this becomes increasingly important. To balance this out there's no reason that you couldn't add it in to a nootropics stack with another of our best nootropics more focused towards brain health or mental performance aside from the fact that costs will add up quite quickly.
FloraGLO® is a blend of Lutein and Zeaxanthin which are used by your eyes to help filter out blue light, and is one of the best ingredients you can take to maintain your eye health.
Studies have shown that supplementing can reduce symptoms of eye degeneration and can potentially prevent it. It has also been shown to improve visual performance, ideal for twitch responses.
Bilberry and the Blackcurrent extracts have both also been shown to prevent retinal damage. Saffron on the other hand has been shown to improve light flicker sensitivity and vision sharpness, whilst Performance lab vision isn't going to do all too much for cognitive functions it is going to make all the difference to maintaining long term eye health, which is why it makes it onto our best nootropic supplements list, and into our nootropic stack.
Brain Pill targets itself as an all round nootropic come energy based multivitamin. There's a lot we like about BrainPill for people who aren't taking any other form of supplements. The addition of Vitamins b12 and b6 which are proven to boost energy levels gives it an edge if you're not already supplementing these vitamins. The body can tolerate huge volumes beyond the RDI although it does have diminishing returns. It also has the usual suspects of L-Theanine and Citicoline (Cognizin) which we come to expect in all good nootropics. The downside of brainpill however, is that the dosage is on the small side. Suggesting that you only need one pill per day does mean that there isn't enough of a lot of the core ingredients. However, you can easily use your brain to figure out how you could get around that problem. However, using it in high enough volumes to be effective could prove costly as it's one pill a day dosage is at a similar price point to even Hunter Focus. That said if money's no object and you'd rather not take other supplements, have an energy problem then it's going to be effective.
Most people turn to a nootropic supplement to boost their mental performance beyond normal levels, whereas some people are simply looking for any help they can get to catch up. Some users described Vyvamind as an alternative to Adderall and they've been using that in their marketing ever since. Is this going to improve mental performance and cognitive abilities as much as an amphetamine, well obviously not, but even being compared to one is a good sign that it can dramatically increase focus. It's heavy on the L-Tyrosine and L-Theanine which as far as we're concerned is good. To be honest it's quite similar to Hunter Focus, but with a bit of caffeine and a bit less of the ingredients you can't get in a cup of coffee. So, we wouldn't recommend it over Hunter, as they're about the same price point. But, if you don't drink coffee and still want the stimulant hit, then it's a good option.
There are a lot of ingredients that make it into the best nootropics, and not all are as good or as well researched. Here's a bit more information about the ingredients in the products on our best nootropics list.
L-Theanine is expensive, so it only makes it into more premium and the most effective nootropics, and it's very well studied which is the main reason we rate it so highly.
Citicoline helps repair the brain and improve it's ability to hold sugars and use energy efficiently. This helps avoid mental fatigue, protects brain cells, improving brain function overall. As such it's a common ingredient across most nootropics and smart drugs, and belongs in almost everyone's nootropic stack.
Ashwaganda is known for it's cortisol lowering effects. Cortisol being the hormone responsible for stress. As a result of this Ashwagandha is fantastic for restoring brain function during periods of prolonged stress. Reducing stress hormone cortisol is not only beneficial for long term brain health, but will help improve your cognitive function almost immediately and improve mental energy.
Caffeine is perhaps the most well known of all nootropics, it's stimulant effects may not promote overall brain health, but it does dramatically increase focus and combats mental fatigue increasing cognitive functions for the short term.
L-Tyrosine has been studied to help alleviate stress and improve cognitive function. Most of the studies have come out of military research units from the USA and the Netherlands, but so far it's effects look very positive. It is also currently being looked at for its improvement to brain health.
1- https://cognizin.com/en/studies/cognizin-citicoline-increases-brain-energy-atp-by-14-and-speeds-up-formation-of-brain-membranes-by-26-in-healthy-adults - Citicoline Increase In Brain Energy
2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6366437/ - L Theanine Gaba And Sleep Regulation
3 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21303262/ - A combination of green tea extract and l-theanine improves memory and attention in subjects
4 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18296328/ - L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state
5 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32201301/ - Ashgawanda and stress relief
6 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595381/ - The effects of alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine
7 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1609044/ - Effects of phosphatidylserine in Alzheimer's disease
8 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6619435/ - Assessing the Efficacy and Mechanisms of Pycnogenol® on Cognitive Aging From In Vitro Animal and Human Studies
9 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164534/ - The Effect of Lutein on Eye and Extra-Eye Health
10 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1863555/ - L-Tyrosine to alleviate the effects of stress?
11 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679686/ -A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Ginkgo biloba in Neuropsychiatric Disorders: From Ancient Tradition to Modern-Day Medicine
12 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4698241/ - Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and meso-Zeaxanthin: The Basic and Clinical Science Underlying Carotenoid-based Nutritional Interventions against Ocular Disease
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6262174/ - Resveratrol Brain Delivery for Neurological Disorders Prevention and Treatment