If you’re looking for nootropic brain supplements that actually work, then you’ve come to the right place. Boosting memory, cognition, energy levels, and even reactiveness is about improving the brain.
Take a look through the the following list of the best nootropics so you’ll know which supplements are right for you.
The Best Nootropics that Work
Sitting at the top of this list is CDP Choline, also known as Citicoline. It’s a fast-acting mental energizer that’s perfect for those who want to safely and effectively rejuvenate the brain.
How It Works: improves circulation through the brain and helps stimulate neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine. It also revitalizes brain cells.
Benefits: this compound helps to sharpen memory, mental processing, and improves attention spans. It’s designed to boost the layout, or ecosystem, of the brain, which leads to improved function (McGlade et al).
Look Out For: the best form of citicoline on the market is Cognizin. It’s done well with human trials.
This ancient herb has been known to be a powerful brain booster.
How It Works: it helps to protect the brain cells, improves circulation, and that helps balance the proper brain chemicals.
Benefits: Bacopa monnieri is great for improving one’s ability to learn, process mental information faster, and reduces stress levels. It’s also been potentially linked to fighting brain degeneration (Stough et al).
Look Out For: make sure you find products that have at least 20% bacosides and you’ll most certainly enjoy these benefits.
This ingredient is common in nootropic supplements, and for good reason.
How It Works: L-Theanine boosts alpha brain wavelengths and that helps to fine-tune the brain for more focused and a more relaxed atmosphere (Nobre at al).
Benefits: mental energy revs up a few gears with this. It’s like getting hooked up on caffeine without the jitters or energy crash that follows. It also helps reduce stress and sharpens focus.
Look Out For: when you want the benefits of L-Theanine, dosages of 100-200mg and higher are proven to be ideal.
While this ingredient may help reduce the risk of some forms of dementia, it also provides some other wonderful ancillary benefits.
How It Works: it clears out brain toxins, helps to increase the production and balance of certain brain chemicals, and keeps the cell membranes in the brain supple and healthy.
Benefits: this is one of the best ingredients for boosting memory and retention (Crooke at al).
Look Out For: most PS products are derived from soy, but it is now being derived from sunflower and some other all-natural sources, for those allergic to soy.
This ingredient has been shown to be able to boost brain cognition in as little as two days!
How It Works: it helps to boost blood flow to the brain, which increases oxygen. It’s also known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Benefits: attention, memory, and concentration levels all get a boost when taking Vinpocetine (Hindmarch).
Look Out For: 5-10 mg should be more than enough of vinpocetine and you’ll begin noticing the changes within the same week from when you start.
This medicinal mushroom helps the brain regenerate and reorganize quickly.
How It Works: it has been recently discovered that this incredible mushroom boosts Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which means it stimulates the growth of new brain cells.
Benefits: Stimulates growth of brain cells and some studies suggest it helps maintain brain health and optimal cognitive function. Helps boost mental performance and one’s mood (Mori et al).
Look Out For: 500-1000mg daily of good quality Lion’s mane should be enough to reap the full benefits.
How It Works: This ingredient comes from Chinese club moss. It inhibits an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, which means it may have synergy with nootropics like CDP choline and alpha GPC that boost acetylcholine.
Benefits: Has been shown to enhance the production and balance of brain chemicals. It is often used to help those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and can boost memory and function (Zhang et al).
Look Out For: 200-400mcg per day is the recommended dosing range. It is not recommended to take more than 400mcg per day of Huperzine-A. We also recommend that you cycle Huperzine-A and take a few days off every now and again.
How It Works: Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic Russian Herb that helps to boost the brain’s resistance to stress and fatigue.
Benefits: Promotes more focus, especially when facing stressful situations. It works in as little as 30 minutes.
Look Out For: Doses as low as 50-100mg have been shown to provide these nootropic benefits.
Other Nootropics that Work
There are plenty of nootropics on the market that work, some that sort of work, and those that simply don’t work. Here’s a list of some others that do work.
L-Tyrosine. This ingredient is naturally occurring in the brain, but it can be deleted when overwhelmed by stress. Adding this to daily diet helps to boost neurotransmitters. It’s great for those under a lot of stress or having trouble sleeping.
Alpha GPC. Boosts levels of acetylcholine in the brain similarly to CDP choline, but with a different mechanism of action. May improve memory and cognition. Seems to benefit those with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
Gingko Biloba. You’ve undoubtedly heard this ingredient before. It’s known as an energy booster, but it’s also a potent memory enhancer. That’s because it increases circulation for the brain.
It also helps to promote brain chemical production. Gingko can also sharpen attention spans in as little as 2 hours!
DMAE. When theta brainwaves are ‘agitated,’ it can cause some confusion, which impacts concentration and focus. DMAE helps to balance that by boosting acetylcholine.
Vitamin B6. This ingredient helps protect damaged blood vessels and improves mood. It also balances many brain chemicals.
Vitamin B12. The benefits of vitamin B12 for brain health are well known. Just make sure you are using the methylcobalamin form, which is the form that works on the brain.
Pterostilbene. Potent antioxidant that helps to boost the production of neural connections in the brain. More of a long-term mental health enhancer rather than short-term stimulation and performance. Learn more about Pterostilbene.
Nootropics that Might Work (though the verdict is still out)
Acetyl-L-Carnitine. This is also known as ALCAR and it helps boost the production of neurotransmitters, which is how the brain communicates. This can be great, but there’s no evidence it provides any benefit for younger individuals.
GABA. This helps to calm brain cells when nervous or anxious. It helps promote better sleep, which has been directly linked with more focus and energy. However, there’s no direct research linking GABA with brain enhancement.
NADH. Dopamine is vital for focus, memory retention, and motivation. Coenzyme is essential for that and this ingredient has benefited those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but no research supports it outside this parameter.
Gotu Kola. Limited to only animal studies, this ancient herbal ingredient has been linked to an improved health system and also alleviating depression and anxiety.
Sulbutiamine. This synthetic version of thiamine may help to enhance memory recall as well as improving mood, but more of the research to support that has studied thiamine instead.
Hordenine. If you’re looking to inspire some adrenaline without having to actually go out and do something extreme, this ingredient has been linked to that, which can increase energy and concentration for short bursts. There are no long term benefits found with it, though.
Nootropics You Shouldn’t even Consider (Because They Don’t Work)
You’ll see a number of these ingredients when you shop around for nootropics, but they are simply not effective, so your best bet is to avoid them entirely.
PQQ. This is certainly a great antioxidant, but there’s no evidence it provides any benefits for brain health for humans.
Turmeric. Raw turmeric is difficult to absorb in the body and its ability to actually slow brain degeneration is mixed in various research studies. It might help elderly individuals, though.
AC-11®. The key ingredient in the popular nootopic supplement Alpha Brain, by Onnit. This shows promise when it comes to repairing DNA, but it’s still too early to tell for certain.
Caffeine. There are plenty of caffeinated beverages and supplements, but it’s not a nootropic. It’s give you a boost for the short-term that may appear as though it’s help concentration and focus, but it has far too many bad side effects and becomes less effective the more you consume it.