Now, where did I put my glasses? How can I finish this project when my brain is mush right now? I need to hone my focus and ignore all distractions or I’ll never win.
Have you ever found yourself saying any of these things, or others in a similar vein? I know I have, we all have. Everyone needs a helping hand now and again, and just as you can take vitamins for all-over body health, you can now take supplements for your brain too.
Good nootropics are safe, side-effect free and can do wonders for your long and short term mental functioning. They can boost performance, strengthen memory, aid learning, boost blood flow to the brain and tackle age-related cognitive decline, and more besides. But which products should you choose?
The good news is that better minds than mine have created some excellent ready-made nootropic stacks (combinations of nootropics designed to work together), easily available to buy. It takes the pain out of trying to stack them yourself. So let’s take a look. Here’s our pick of the very Best Brain Supplements to Buy in 2017.
#1 Mind Lab Pro
Take the wonderful Mind Lab Pro. We have yet to see any other ready-made nootropic supplement that we like better. It mixes a very clever formula with a commitment to boost every aspect of brain function. As the marketing says, it promises 100% brainpower, and it delivers on its promise.
Nootropic Geek says “Of all the nootropic products I’ve tried & reviewed, none have reliably boosted mental performance as well as Mind Lab Pro.”
We totally agree.
Mind Lab Pro describes itself as the first universal nootropic to boost all aspects of cognition in all people. It promises:
- Support for studying, learning, stress-reduction, memory storage and recall for students.
- A boost to work productivity and performance, focus, multitasking, problem-solving and more for professionals.
- A helping hand in strategic thinking and calm mindset for competitors.
- Nootropics to promote the right brain chemistry for willpower, motivation and intensity, needed by athletes.
- Support for the active over-55s in verbal communication, memory, mood and clarity.
About Mind Lab Pro
We like the fact that:
- Mind Lab Pro doesn’t waste a single bit of space but crams it full of worthy nootropics.
- Every single ingredient in Mind Lab Pro is a genuine nootropic and has a distinct purpose.
- Ingredients work together to boost the overall power of the supplement.
- Each ingredient is included in clinically effective dosages. No name dropping of buzz nootropics that are actually too weak to have any effect.
- Mind Lab Pro eschews caffeine, a common fallback of the lesser nootropic stack.
- It provides the brain with fuel and support for both long and short-term cognitive benefits.
- Being a universal nootropic, Mind Lab Pro can work to tackle whatever cognitive ailment you may have on any given day – mind fog, low energy, poor cerebral circulation to name a few.
- Not only have the manufacturers of Mind Lab Pro chosen strong nootropics, they have also committed to including premium versions of them where possible.
- Mind Lab Pro is the highest quality nootropic supplement on the market.
- Considering that it is such exceptionally good quality, it is excellent value, too.
Tried and Tested Nootropics
The beauty of Mind Lab Pro is in its elegance and simplicity. It doesn’t try to set the world on fire, use ‘buzz’ ingredients or reinvent the wheel. Instead it opts for proven nootropics and a clever formula.
Ingredients such as Bacopa Monnieri (memory, anti-stress) complement the likes of N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT), an anti-stress booster; L-Theanine (calm alertness) and Rhodiola Rosea (boosts performance under stressful conditions).
Other ingredients work to improve cognition via different pathways.
Vinpocetine encourages good blood flow to the brain, while Lion’s Mane Mushroom helps to nourish neurons and improve memory recall. Citicoline (Cognizin®) boosts memory, attention and processing, backed up by B12 to support brain health, B6 for long-term memory support, and Pterostilbene to tackle brain cell ageing.
Finally, Phosphatidylserine strengthens brain communication.
In a Nutshell:
We like the honesty in Mind Lab Pro and the minds behind it. They really have succeeded in creating a universal nootropic. For all of the reasons above, Mind Lab Pro deserves its place at the top of our Best Brain Supplements to Buy in 2017.
#2. Neuro Optimizer
Neuro Optimizer is our second favorite nootropic supplement, chosen for its ability to support several different aspects of brain health.
Most nootropic supplements couldn’t do much with just seven ingredients but the clever formula behind Jarrow Formulas’ Neuro Optimizer makes it work. Neuro Optimizer’s ‘Neuro-Nutrients & Protectants’ help to protect brain cells, boost brain metabolism and support chemicals in the brain.
We like it because it mixes notable stimulant-free solid nootropics and brain healthy cognitive boosters with antioxidants and amino acids to protect the brain, without resorting to caffeine or sugar. Let’s see how it does so…
- The two big heavy hitters in this seven ingredient formula are Citicoline & Phosphatidylserine, both also incidentally included in Mind Lab Pro. We consider Citicoline, especially in premium form Cognizin®, to be one of the best nootropics around. It works well as a whole-brain optimizer, supporting brain chemicals, regeneration and energy.
- Phosphatidylserine (in premium form, Sharp-PS) is also good for brain regeneration. It helps to maintain brain cell membranes, which aid in short-term memory and clear thinking. Phosphatidylserine is backed by claims from the FDA.
- Other ingredients include Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR), known for its support of elderly mental health functions, but a promising ingredient for regulating neurotransmitters as well. Taurine is an antioxidant more often seen in energy drinks, but surprisingly also helps tackle anxiety and aid in sleep and relaxation.
- Phosphatidylcholine, another key ingredient, is a choline donor. Choline is crucial to synthesize acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter responsible for learning, memory and mood. Alpha Lipoic Acid, another inclusion,is not necessarily a nootropic but is a universal antioxidant which protects the brain.
- The final ingredient is L-Glutamine, perhaps the least necessary element of Neuro Optimizer. L-Glutamine helps to create GABA, the neurotransmitter that dials down excitable neuro-activity to generate a balanced mood.
About Neuro Optimizer
Jarrow Formulas doesn’t make a song and dance about it (in fact it’s surprisingly humble about its award-winning formula) but Neuro Optimizer earned the title of Best of Supplements (2011) from Better Nutrition Magazine and the Vity Award (2010) from Vitamin Retailer Magazine.
The ingredients place Neuro Optimizer second on our list as a well-designed reputable nootropic stack. With its immediate cognitive boost plus its commitment to long-term brain protection, it would make an ideal starting stack for early neuroprotective advantages followed by brain restorative benefits into old age.
In a Nutshell:
While it would work for any age, Neuro Optimizer tends to target the over-50s. That’s why many of its ingredients increase in value as you age. The only downside we see is taking four tablets a day, but we can live with that for the benefits, can’t we?
#3. Alpha Brain
Alpha Brain by Onnit is one of the original most popular nootropic stacks on the market and its formula remains tough to beat. It combines tried and tested nootropic ingredients (for the most part, we’ll come onto the question marks shortly) in pretty effective dosages.
But what really makes Alpha Brain stand out from the majority of its competition is the fact that it boasts genuine human clinical trials, practically unheard of among the nootropic fraternity. These double-blind trials prove Alpha Brain’s effectiveness in improving verbal memory, processing speed and boosting Alpha brainwaves, known to improve focus.
Alpha Brain’s Formula
At first glance, Alpha Brain’s formula is pretty similar to Mind Lab Pro’s, and includes at least five strong tried and tested nootropics, such as Bacopa, L-Theanine, Vinpocetine, Huperzine A, and Phosphatidylserine. It also includes Pterostilbene, L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, and Vitamin B6, all of which are also strong inclusions.
Additional ingredients include Oat Straw, similar to L-Theanine in that it boosts Alpha brainwaves to generate a state of relaxed awareness, and L- Leucine. Here we hit our first question mark. L- Leucine is not a nootropic and it is unclear what role it has here.
The biggest question mark, however, is reserved for Alpha Brain’s ‘ace in the hole’, its star ingredient AC-11®. A patented form of the Cat’s Claw herb, Onnit say it has anti-oxidant properties and offers strong immune system support. Its patent claims it can repair DNA damage caused by age or environmental stress.
Onnit is so convinced by the benefits of AC-11 that it has ensured no other nootropic supplement can use it, and it cannot be sold alone. This is where we struggle with Alpha Brain because we just don’t know what research it is looking at. So far there is NO independent evidence that AC-11 works as claimed. If it does, great; it will surely put Alpha Brain over the top. But we have yet to see any real reason for Onnit’s confidence.
All of that said, the rest of the ingredients in Alpha Brain are strong in their own right, and for that reason it earns its place on our Best Supplements of 2017 list.
About Alpha Brain
While we are fans of Alpha Brain, we have one more little niggle with it: its use of proprietary formulas.
Alpha Brain’s ingredients are split into three different blends – Flow (influencing Alpha brainwaves), Focus (boosting concentration), and Fuel (ensuring nutrients reach the brain).
While we know the dosages of each blend, we do not know the exact dosages of the ingredients within that blend. It makes it impossible for the casual user of nootropics to know just how effective Alpha Brain might be, or whether each ingredient reaches clinically-effective dosages.
Our View? The majority of ingredients in Alpha Brain are likely to be included in effective doses, hence its success in clinical trials. There’s still no reason for the secrecy, however.
In a Nutshell:
Alpha Brain is a fairly solid nootropic supplement with a majority of tried and trusted brain boosters. It does have a few question marks, hence its position third on our list, but despite these, it is still a pretty impressive nootropic stack. Its human clinical trials prove Alpha Brain can help with learning, memory, alertness and processing speed.
Alpha Brain doesn’t necessarily target an age group, but seems to be aimed at students and professionals alike, as well as athletes and trainers (thanks to links with various celebrities).