In this day and age having a mental edge is important for many entrepreneurs, students, and people who generally want to have a healthier consciousness. There are a lot of natural ways of achieving a great mental health like exercising regularly, doing yoga, eating well, going into the mountains every once in a while. All these methods have something similar in common – they affect the way you brain’s chemicals work and interact with your body. Of course, whenever there are hormones, chemicals, and other substances involved, there is an artificial way of interacting. This is exactly where various products come into play. Recently, a group of products under the cumulative name “nootropics” became very popular with young students and office workers. If you are wondering whether these are the same as the well-known smart drugs – they are not. Nootropics are compounds that boost your short and long-term memory, your learning abilities, improve your focus, and most importantly reduce your stress levels. Finding the best nootropic can be challenging, though, and this is why we created this Guide.
Here you will learn the major differences between nootropics and other previously known substances, learn about the various ingredients and their specific effect and understand what nootropics are in their core. What is the most important is that you will see whether nootropics will address the issue you are currently experiencing and learn how to properly deal with the myriad of products on today’s market.
In case you are feeling lost among the countless of products offered to you, we’ve created a top 10 list which consists of nootropics with various strong parts that all serve a different purpose to your brain. Before we get into them, we would like to give you a small comparison chart between all our hand-picked products.
Top Nootropic Supplements Comparison Chart
|Stack||Best For||Core Nootropic||Price||Rating|
|Akua Life Neuro-Stack||Anxiety||Lion's Mane||$$$$||4.5/5|
|Havasu Nutrition NeuroIgnite||Gaming||Bacopa Monnieri||$$||4.5/5|
|Vitalfuse Fused Focus||Gaming||Bacopa Monnieri||$$||4/5|
|Primal Herb Neuro Shroom||ADHD||Lion's Mane||$$$||4.5/5|
|Vital Brain Booster||ADHD||Bacopa Monnieri|
|Onnit Alpha Brain||Studying||Special Blend|
|Nutra Champs Neura-Spark||Studying||Bacopa Monnieri||$||4.5/5|
|Nutrition Essentials Neuro Clarity||Memory||St John's Wort||$$||4.5/5|
The Best Nootropics For Handling Anxiety
Anxiety is a growing issue in today’s society and can be crippling if left untreated. There are tons of modern drugs out there but people often opt for something more natural. This is the case with some the ingredients found in nootropic stacks such as:
- Bacopa Monnieri
- St John’s Wort
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Lion’s Mane
All those help the brain maintain a healthy metabolism and work effectively against everyday anxiety. Furthermore, these substances can boost learning and cognitive capabilities as well as reduce stress and memory loss.
The products we chose have been highly tested and proven effective in numerous people. Since they are stacks, their effect will not be isolate in dealing with anxiety only. They will have other beneficial effects along the course of you taking them. If you want to treat anxiety solely, consider getting the above mentioned herbs or their extracts individually.
Akua Life Neuro-Stack
What Akua Life have done with this product is nothing short of amazing. It has a ton of nootropic substances in it and the price to value ratio is insanely good exactly for that reason. People dealing with constant stress, anxiety or have memory issues will find that this product is great for all of those, if not more problems. The Neuro-Stack packs a punching power of Lion’s Mane mushroom which improves almost all aspects of our brain thanks to the nerve regenerating powers of this Chinese mushroom. If you want to learn more about the product, visit our full review on it. There, we’ve discussed its strong sides as well as the main weaknesses.
Genius Mushroom Immune System Booster
Genius is a relatively new brand to the market but their mushrooms stack has been turning heads left and right. For people dealing with anxiety, stress, inflammation, common colds, low immune system or even low energy levels, this is the ideal stack. It contains just three ingredients and nothing else. Some might argue that this is milking the customers but the concentrations of these three fungi is great and have a total dosage of 1500 mg per fungi per day. The short term effects are great and promising as you almost immediately feel more energetic and relieved. The nootropic that deals with your anxiety kicks in after a few days from the start. All in all, we appreciate any stack with fewer ingredients as the effect is more narrow, can be identified easier, and there are less side effects if not none at all. To read more about this Mushrooms stack, head over to our full review about it.
The Best Nootropics For Passionate Gamers
Many people would wonder what the connection between nootropics and gaming is. The truth is that people didn’t intentionally invent a nootropick stack specifically for gamers but when people from the professional gaming fields started taking certain nootropic substances for additional concentration, improved reaction time, and decision making they realised it gives them a good edge on their opponents.
Some of the more potent nootropic substances that increase these required qualities in gamers are:
- Lion’s Mane
- Phosphatidylserine (PS)
- Vitamin B5
The first three are extracted from flowers and herbs while vitamin B5 can be found in most unprocessed foods. Still, a combination between them along with another nootropics like Alpha GPC which adds choline to the equation can prove greatly beneficial. Below are the two products which we picked ranked the highest due to their effect and ingredients.
Havasu Nutrition NeuroIgnite Brain Supplement
NeuroIgnite is the latest and, in our opinion, best product coming from the company Havasu Nutrition. It isn’t specifically geared towards gamers but will cater their needs in a nice manner. This stack increases your focus, makes you more motivated to achieve your goals, boosts your reaction time (which is vital for gamers), and also helps people deal with everyday stress levels. All these features are thanks to its 7 ingredients with a core nootropic of Bacopa Monnieri which we describe into greater detail further down this guide. Overall, for the price you are paying, and the ability to get your money back in 60 days, this product is impressive as it isn’t full of countless of useless ingredients and it also isn’t limited to just a few. It offers a natural balance of nootropics at a relatively low dosage which is also good for people who are now starting to take nootropic stacks. Gamers who mean business, though, will have to take a double dose for a longer period of time to experience the desired effects. To find out more about the NeuroIgnite, follow us on our full review of it.
Vitalfuse Fused Focus
Vitalfuse is a great company which delivers even better products but that doesn’t necessarily seem like the case with their Fused Focus stack. On paper, it is one of the most straightforward stacks we have seen and tends to be simple and productive but when you dig deeper you find out things that aren’t particularly great. All of the nootropics inside are great and have a proven effect but are underrepresented and have low dosage amounts. That leaves you with buying a product that you will have to take twice the dosage to get a valid effect from. The core ingredient is Bacopa Monnieri which will help you with focus, motivation, long and short-term memory and a good brain health in general. Gamers would love the pure caffeine extract here which will allow them longer and more productive gaming sessions. To find out more about this stack, check out our full review about it.
The Best Nootropics For Treating ADHD
ADHD or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a condition where the attention span is drastically lower and there are impulsive or hyperactive reactions to the environment by the person suffering from it. It’s three main parts are:
Inattention means that you cannot stay on a single task for a normal period of time and your mind wanders off it faster than normal. People have difficulty sustaining the amount of focus they have on something or someone and are often disorganized.
The hyperactivity part is defined by the constant need of moving of limbs or the whole body. It can be degrading when it comes to social interactions and this is why ADHD itself has become a very serious question in modern healthcare.
The last part is impulsivity which describes people who make quick actions before thinking about it or making any sort of logical decision based on the action. That might lead to harm or damaged social connections as those people are often intrusive and interrupt their close people.
It is important to know that not every lack of attention, unfocused mood or lowered activity means that you have ADHD. With these patients those factors are much more deeper and severe and occur on a regular basis.
The raising number of people diagnosed with ADHD raised a need for better medication towards this condition. Still, some people prefer a more natural approach and turn their heads to the nootropic industry. The single, most effective substance that helps people with their ADHD is Bacopa Monnieri. We chose the two best products that have it in good concentration to showcase to you as an example.
Primal Herb Neuro Shroom Support
What Primal Herb have done with this stack is great for the industry for a lot of reasons but the main one is that they acknowledged the effect of nootropic mushrooms and combined it in a stack which not only works well but has a concentrated effect on people dealing with a variety of issues, such as ADHD, for example. As with other nootropics that revolve around the brain’s cognitive capabilities, Neuro Shroom has Lion’s mane as its core substance. It comes in a good dose and is decent enough to steadily boost your natural energy levels, focus, concentration and long-term memory. There are no fillers in this stack, meaning that you are getting what you paid for which is always a welcomed feature nowadays. Furthermore, the other 5 nootropics here are well-researched and also well-known to the neurohacking community. All that creates a product people can trust to have fewer side effects than others and users will also know what to expect from it since the effects are known. The capsules contain no animal products in them which actually got Primal herb onto the radar of a lot of vegetarian and vegan people, as there is also no gluten and GMOs here. As a whole this is a well-balanced product and a great statement coming from Primal Herb showing us that they care for their customers and that they will constantly try to get a better stack to help people with their day to day issues. If you want to learn more about the Neuro Shroom powder, check out our full review about it.
Vital Brain Booster
The Vital Brain Booster is a nootropic stack with a very narrow audience in mind even though it is advertised as a full-spectrum stack. Newcomers might be mislead by this but one simple test is to see how many ingredients it has. The six nootropics inside are well-known and are potent enough to have their effect shown in a few days after you start taking it but the effect itself won’t be anything more than a slight improvement due to the low doses. Don’t get us wrong, the combination of nootropic substances here is first class but the doses could be higher. For people suffering from attention deficit issues this stack is great as it has no tendency towards hyperactivity due to the lack of stimulant fillers like caffeine inside. Still, there are some weird add-ons which Vital decided to include. One thing is great here, though. That is the price of the stack. Nowhere you will be able to find such a price to value ratio and such a cheap serving. For the 30 servings you get in this pack, even when doubled it seems cheaper than usual. If you want to learn more about its ingredients and see what possible side effects they might have in some user groups, check out our full review.
The Best Nootropics For Better Studying
Studying can be hard especially if there is a lot of it to be done in a short period of time. For those times we need a great short-term memory and an even better long-term one. The issue is that when it comes to studying memory isn’t often an issue – concentration is. That is why people looking for good nootropic stacks for studying are often picking the one with the best ingredients for improved concentration, focus, and memory such as:
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Lion’s Mane
There are others such as St John’s Wort but you will find out a little later why it isn’t a great nootropic to be mixed with others. The products we chose are a cocktail of nootropic substances that are proven to be geared more towards students even though not everyone will be exposed to the same effect due to the nature of the stacks.
Onnit Alpha Brain Memory & Focus
Coming from a brand that has done it all, the Alpha Brain nootropic stack is one great product for all sorts of people. Sure, its primary group of interest are people who undergo long sessions of mental work, such as students or workers on demanding jobs but this stack can also prove helpful for elderly people, people under stress, or just users who want to get a slight boost for their mental state. The stack itself is very packed in terms of nootropics and other ingredients. What’s good is that we are already very familiar with everything inside and Onnit hasn’t done any type of risky moves. The combination has proven to work well and there are no caffeine or non-vegan additives here. For all that you will be paying quite the premium price, making it one of the more expensive nootropic stacks out there but when you consider the dosage and amount of supplements you are getting in one serving, it even starts to feel like a bargain deal. All in all it is a good product for everyone interested in upping their studying game a little bit. For a full review, click the button below.
Nutra Champs Neura-Spark
This nootropic stack created by Nutra Champs is a great tool for students and workers who deal with a lot of day to day stress and can benefit from a snappy and durable short and long-term memory. the Neura-Spark is an affordable alternative to most other nootropic stacks with a very few downsides. On of these is the fact that all the nootropics found here are very under dosed. Don’t get us wrong, the whole ingredients list is excellent but a little more out of everything wouldn’t hurt anyone, well… except the end price of the product. Still, for people who are now entering the world of nootropics it’s a great way to start things lightly. The core ingredient is Bacopa Monnieri which has proven itself as a premium nootropic with well-known effects on our ability to concentrate and remember. There are a lot of other substances which compliment that effect. The best thing about this stack is that if you aren’t satisfied with the results you are getting from it, Nutra Champs give you the option of a refund whenever you want. To find out mroe about the quirks and features of this product check out our full review.
The Best Nootropic Stack For Improved Memory
Having a good memory can help you in all aspects of life, whether it is the professional life you want to have or your social interactions. With age, we tend to lose the ability to have a good short-term memory while the long-term remains unchanged. To correct that, it is best to supplement your body with some of the natural memory-boosters such as:
- Acetyl L-carnitine
- Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha GPC)
- DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)
- Ginkgo Biloba
- B1, B5, B6
The effect from these nootropics won’t be immediate nor as apparent as you might want it to be but in the long run there will be noticeable effect when you are trying to recall fats, memories, or ideas at the workplace. Here is the best memory booster on today’s market:
Nutrition Essentials Neuro Clarity
Neuro clarity by Nutrition Essentials is a one of the, if not the, best nootropic stacks for short- and long-term memory boost. If you are a student before a heavy studying session this is the right product for you. Even though it has some downsides such as the lack of site for a lot of time until recently, and an unknown gelatin source, this still is an optimally made stack which features all the important ingredients without any “fillers”. The Bacopa Monnieri, Ginkgo Biloba, Acetyl L-Carnitine, and St. John’s Wort combination make this a very potent and well-balanced treat for your brain’s cognition capabilities. Another thing that I love about Neuro Clarity is that it is one of the best price to value ratios on the market right now and is loved by most of the neurohacking community. As a whole, this is a solid product which deserves recognition. If you want to find out more about it, click the button bellow to read my full review on it.
Nootropics Buyer’s Guide
Even though the term “nootropics” is relatively new, it has an old root all the way back to the Greek language (nous means “mind” and trepein “to bend”). So, in basic terms, nootropics bend your mind. This is what Dr.Corneliu Giurgea had in his mind when he created Piracetam back in 1963. This medicine was and still is one of the most widespread nootropic in the world and most countries have it under the trademarked name of “Nootropil”.
There are a lot of synonyms of the word “nootropic” due to the vast popularity it has. Some of those are:
- Cognitive Enhancers
- Memory Enhancers
- Neuro Enhancers
- Intelligence Boosters
- Brain Supplements
- Neuroceuticals and Nutraceuticals
- Memory Boosters
Another term used to describe nootropics is “Brain Drugs”. This is wrong since brain drugs are a completely different category of substances but we will touch on that a bit later. Now, we have to answer the million dollars questions:
What Exactly Are Nootropics
Generally speaking, nootropics are a group (or class) of substances that is specific to the brain and its functions. These brain enhancers can be either synthetically produced in a laboratory or naturally found. Most of them are also derivative of substances found in our bodies and/or are part of our body’s biochemical variety.
It is important to draw a line between nootropics and smart drugs, though. Smart drugs like Adderall, for example, are medication used to temporarily give you a boost or have a short-term positive effect. On the long run, they often have negative side effects. Nootropics, on the other hand, almost always have a great long-lasting effect with a slower start than smart drugs. In other words you won’t be able to take a nootropic product the night before an exam and go through 1000 pages in a night memorizing it all. The key to taking nootropics is to help your brain with your elevated cognitive needs and have a long-term effect on your memory and brain functions.
Some of the major uses for nootropics are:
- Improved focus
- Improved motivation and will
- Increased short-term and long-term memory (depending on the substances)
- Less mood swings and better mood overall
- Improved cognition
- Increased attention span
The general idea of using external substances to jog our brains isn’t really new actually. Ever since the dawn of humanity, people have been trying to alter their brain function whether it is with herbs, alcohol, or other substances.
When Dr. Giurgea created this huge interest for this field, he also gave a somewhat broad definition of what a nootropic should be like. According to him, a nootropic substance must enhance the memory and one’s ability to learn, assist brain function under stress conditions like the lack of oxygen, protect the brain from toxins, increase cognition, and must be non-toxic to our brains. One addition to that is that nootropics also must not stimulate or depress one’s brain. During the 70s there weren’t many known substances that matched all these criteria but with the biochemical and medical progress the number of nootropics went through the roof.
Now that you are familiar with what nootropics do, you might also guess which are the main groups of people that take these enhancers:
- CEOs, Managers
- People working under stress conditions
Those people do not solely rely on taking nootropics, though. They combine them with a healthy lifestyle, enough sleep, and a healthy diet. It is very important to remember that these products aren’t magic pills that you can take anytime that will substitute a healthy lifestyle without actually having one. They also cannot be taken any time without a limit. As it’s famously said, “the dose makes the poison” so take everything within the reasonable borders.
Piracetam And The Chain Reaction That Followed
Ever since the invention of Piracetam (known as Nootropil) people have been fascinated by the long-term effect of nootropics. This medication basically marked the beginning of a new era in modern medicine, leading to vast research on the effects of different substances on the human brain. Suddenly everybody was captivated by the idea of being smarter and more focused without having to deal with side effects. This is why more and more nootropics are being synthesized yearly for the last 50 years. What people don’t know is that those substances won’t turn an ordinary person into a genius overnight.
What nootropics require is a lot of determination beforehand. Logically, you still need to read a lot and chase your goals to achieve something great. Nootropics will just be there to give you that extra push when it comes to focusing, memorizing easier and staying motivated throughout the process.
Another effect which got discovered after the creation of Piracetam was that nootropics generally improved the brain’s well-being over time. In fact, shortly after it was created, nootropil started being administered to people with brain strokes.
A Walk Through Our Nervous System
Our nervous system consists of billions and billions of neurons. Each of those neural cells has a few dendrites which stretch like arms to the next neuron to form a connection. These connections are made possible via the synapse terminals. Those are the connection points between individual neurons. In those connections there are numerous substances that are being released responsible for the transmission of a signal. Depending on the chemical compound of the released substance the next neuron will respond in a different way, which on the grand scale of things leads to a different reaction of the whole nervous system.
Think of it as a tree touching a few more trees with its branches and those trees touch other trees on their own ultimately creating an intertwined net of branches which will simultaneously react to external and internal factors.
Nootropics strengthen the connections between the branches and keep them healthy and therefore result in a long-term well-being of the brain and its countless receptors. Exactly the decline of responses in those neurotransmitters and connections between nerve cells leads to brain degeneration. It is proven that nootropic substances slow down this process and even revert it in some cases. That protects the brain from the cognitive decline that comes with age as well as from some disorders such as Alzheimer’s, amnesia, and others.
The neurotransmitter that is responsible for memory, learning abilities and different moods is acetylcholine. We will mention it a lot since it is the prime factor upon which most nootropics act.
Now, back to Piracetam. The chain reaction it started lead to a better understanding our of brains and ultimately lead to a categorization of the nootropic substances. The science community categorized them into three separate groups:
The Three Main Groups Of Nootropics
One thing that everybody agrees upon are that we can categorize nootropics into three groups:
Each of those three groups has a specific and well-researched effect on our brain and bodies. Let’s talk about them individually now.
This group is responsible for altering the acetylcholine levels in the brain. That leads to an effect in memory, mental agility, mood, and your ability to focus. Racetams are taken when people want a better memory (both short and long-term), better concentration, tranquility, and some other abstract effects which include pattern recognition idea recalling and creative thinking.
In other words this first group of nootropics will allow for analytical and creative tasks to be performed simultaneously.
Stimulants are focused more on your brain’s attention span, overall alertness, and concentration. They also protect the brain from higher stress levels by increasing your heart rate, blood supply, and blood pressure. Some people might argue that the effects by stimulants last longer than the ones caused by racetams and those people have a valid point. Think of it like that – racetams will help you with remembering something but you will never learn or remember anything if you don’t read or pay attention in the first place. Stimulants, on the other hand, improve your concentration and make you more focused on the task at hand ultimately leading to more learning, reading, and remembering. If the habits that you acquire when using stimulants stick with you, you won’t have to use them ever again since you will get used to doing everything on time and in an organized manner.
Simply put, nutraceuticals are food products which have an effect similar to a combined one between the previous two groups. The effect, however, is much smaller. Some diseases such as Alzheimer use nutraceuticals as a dietary supplement in addition to the main therapy.
In general all the three different groups are safe to eat and won’t have severe side effects if overdosed upon. We will explain that in a moment, when we cover the topic of “stacking”.
In general, all the nootropic group’s effects can be narrowed down to the following:
- Increasing the acetylcholine levels
- Providing the brain with more oxygen through the blood supply
- Stimulated nerve growth factor leading to growth of new brain cells
- Increase vitamin or hormone levels that indirectly enhances our cognitive capabilities
- Influence brain waves, blood flow to the brain, hormones, etc.
Depending on your goals you might want to take more than one nootropic ingredient in a combination with others. This is called “stacking” and is one of the hottest topics today because every product is basically a stack of a lot of mixed ingredients. Each of them interacts with the others in a specific way. This can prove beneficial for the recipient but sometimes stacking can lead to negative effects if the stack is bad. There can also be reduced good effects due to a stack with a lot of useless ingredients where you pay a bunch of money for an active ingredient which is 1% of the whole package. In the next chapter we will introduce you to the whole concept of stacking better and give you a few examples of what to look for and what to avoid.
What Is “Stacking”?
Combining multiple nootropics can create a strong synergistic effect. This means that the sum of effects from all the different ingredients is greater than the individual effects of each one of them. This is what most people are after when buying a great nootropic stack.
Each individual nootropic supplement has its own way of interacting with your brain. As soon as you add something to that mix you change things either for the better or for the worse. Let’s give an example with Piracetam. It makes the acetylcholine receptors in your nervous system more sensitive. This makes the brain need more acetylcholine to fill that gap. If you add in the mix CDP-Choline which is a choline supplement you will boost the Piracetam effect for sure resulting in better focus and learning capabilities.
There is a bad side of stacking as well. If you add an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (a substance which prevents acetylcholine from breaking down) in combination with a choline substance you will overdose your brain on choline leading to all the negative effects of that.
Stacking some nootropics in shorter intervals can also have potential risks. For example, some substances need more than 24 hours to flush from your body so taking them more than once per day will overload your body on them and you won’t be able to clean your system from the previous dose upon taking the next one.
The Nootropics You Need To Know About
In order to understand better how nootropics stack with each other you will need to know what the most common nootropics do. This is why we created this list of brain enhancers and their function. Below are some of the most common nootropics found in every nootropic stack:
- Acetyl L-carnitine
- Bacopa monnieri
- DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)
- Lion’s Mane
- St. John’s Wort
- Ginkgo Biloba
- Rhodiola Rosea
- Vitamins From The B-Group
- Vitamin D
Let’s take a closer look at each one of them now. It is better to get very familiar with these nootropics as they are literally found in almost any stack you can find on the market in different concentrations and combinations. They all have individual effects as well as stacked effects.
Acetyl L-carnitine is basically L-carnitine with an acetyl group (acetylated form). It derives from the amino acid lysine. Lysine is naturally produce in our bodies in organs like the liver or our kidneys. Once synthesized it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier which is paramount to its effect on the brain.
For a substance to go pass the blood brain barrier it needs to be fat-soluble. Water-soluble compounds have a hard time crossing from the vessels to the brain matter and therefore have weak or no effects at all on our brains.
What Acetyl L-carnitine (or ALCAR) does in the brain is stimulate metabolism, increase energy levels in the brain cells, increases memory capabilities, alertness and serves a protective role. It protects your neurotransmitters from external damage by being an potent antioxidant which makes it a great add-on to many nootropic stacks.
The usual daily dosage ranges between 500 mg and 1,500 mg per 24 hours.
Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine is another substance which is naturally found in our bodies, more specifically in the brain. It’s a precursor to the most essential neurotransmitter – acetylcholine(ACh). In other words, our bodies use it to synthesize ACh which is heavily involved in cognition, muscular control, sleep and memory. Alpha-GPC crosses the blood-brain barrier easily and once synthesized to ACh helps with age-related issues such as memory loss or cognitive degradation.
It can be found in foods like liver, spinach, cod fish, natural milk, soy, and even eggs. When supplemented it is derived mostly from sunflower or soy. It is a great way to boost your acetylcholine levels when taken into adequate levels.
The recommended daily dosage is around 600 mg.
This is one of the best natural nootropics today and you can see it in basically every nootropic stack. It is a herb with ancient history which has been used in India for thousands of years. It is named after their supreme god Brahme.
In its nature it is an adaptogen meaning that is belongs to a group of herbs that helps your body adapt to stress. Adaptogens also helps you keep mental fortitude and keep your brain active even when exposed to the fatiguing effects of long-lasting stress.
Bacopa monnieri is widely used to treat anxiety, stress, and depression and it is a great alternative to common antidepressants as it has little to no side effects when taken adequately. It has also shown positive effects in treatments against ADHD.
Its main ingredient the Bacoside A is also fat-soluble meaning it crosses the blood brain barrier with ease. You have to carefully read the stickers at the back of the nootropic stack you are buying because B.Monnieri has a % of bacosides in it. The typical % is around 40-50 and for these types of stacks you should take no more than 500 mg per day of B.Monnieri.
Everybody knows caffeine and what its biggest source is. What people don’t know is that it is the most wide-spread psychoactive drug in the world. It is a nootropic that helps improve a lot of our brain’s features such as:
- Reaction Time
In its chemical nature, caffeine acts as an adenosine antagonist which boosts the dopamine levels and influences other substances such as ACh, Adrenaline, and Serotonin. All that combination of effects creates a stimulant effect in our brains.
Studies show that regular caffeine intake can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and even Parkinson’s by boosting the gene expression of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor).
For people under 18 a dosage of 200mg is more than enough and shouldn’t be regularly exceeded. Adults can safely consume up to 400 mg per day.
Continuing with the list of substances that are naturally found in our bodies, DMAE finds its place in our brains. What some places get wrong is that DMAE is a precursor to acetylcholine – it’s not. What it does is prevent choline metabolism (degradation) by the cells and therefore naturally raises the choline levels in our brains. From there, choline can be synthesized to ACh when needed.
The effects of DMAE are increased alertness, boosted memory and better more stable mood. Some people say that it increases energy levels to a point where it turns into a hyperactivity problem. That isn’t a side effect but an effect from prolonged taking of higher doses by some people.
The dosage heavily varies from person to person and that is why we recommend you start with a lower one. 50 mg per day is adequate for a beginner and if you do not feel any significant result in one week up it to 100 then 150 and finally 200 mg per 24 hours.
Huperzine is a substance naturally found in the chinese clubmoss “huperzia serrata”. It inhibits acetylcholineesterase (the enzyme responsible for keeping the ACh levels at bay) and therefore boosts the ACh levels in your brain. Of course, that will lead to all the effects linked to higher ACh levels such as increased short and long-term memory, better cognition, etc.
There have been reports of more vivid dreams when taking huperzine-A even lucid dreaming.
This is another nootropic that is found in almost all stacks. The Lion’s mane is a chinese mushroom and has been a remedy for better health and cognitive improvement ever since ancient chinese medicine was practiced. Most nootropics act on the neurotransmitters but the Lion’s Mane goes deeper. It increases the levels of the brain nerve growth factor and leads to an increased neurogenesis.
It helps you focus easier, increases your attention span, boosts critical and logical thinking, and repair damaged brain cells. The last quality makes it an ideal supplement with patients suffering from Alzheimer’s dementia.
The dosage depends on the potency of the extract (or its concentration). Anywhere from 500mg to 2-3 grams per day is considered normal dosage levels. There are no reported side effects so you can safely find your sweet spot until you know the right concentration for you.
St John’s Wort
Throughout medieval medicine St John’s Wort has been used to treat mood issues and also to heal wounds. Nowadays, it is a great nootropic for anxiety and depression. This substance works by crossing the blood-brain barrier and reducing the reuptake of serotonin.
The downside of this nootropic is that it is an enzyme inducer in the liver meaning it will reduce the liver’s capabilities of metabolizing psychoactive substances such as any other brain enhancer. All that means that you wouldn’t want to combine it with other nootropics as the effect won’t be ideal. It is a more direct nootropic aimed at a more specific issue such as anxiety or depression. For memory boosts and concentration you can take other nootropics but preferably not in combination with St John’s Wort.
Another substance that has a Chinese origin is the Ginkgo Biloba. It is famous as the pharma companies have used it in memory-enhancing drugs for decades now. The leaves of the Ginkgo tree have been used for thousands of years to boost alertness and create a better blood circulation in the brain leading to a healthier brain in the long run.
The nootropic capabilities of Ginkgo Biloba have been concentrated on memory loss with the elderly. It speeds up their thinking and enhances their reasoning capabilities. It generally improves the short-term memory and the ability to recall past situations.
There are other reports showing that this nootropic also helps with stress, anxiety, and mood swings. Normal dosage levels usually vary from 100 to 250 mg per 24 hours. It is not recommended to take Ginkgo Biloba if you have circulatory issues or weak blood vessels as it can cause internal bleeding.
This substance is produced by our brains on a daily basis as it is vital to its health. It is a phospholipid found in all our cells but the highest concentration is in the brain cell’s walls.
It helps with the storage and release of neurotransmitters, as well as their receptors. The production of Phosphatidylserine generally goes down the older we get and this is a great reason to supplement it from someplace else. Taking it as a nootropic can increase your cognitive capabilities, boost your memory and focus, as well as make easier to recall ideas and thoughts.
In the past it was derived from animal brains and it wasn’t as effective as the modern PS which is extracted from plant sources such as sunflower lecithin.
The daily dosage varies from person to person but is generally between 100 mg and 300 mg per 24 hours.
Rhodiola Rosea is a plant found in the wild which grows at very high altitudes as well as the colder regions of the globe. It is used to treat or control depression, stress levels and fatigue-related issues.
It works by increasing AMPK levels. AMPK is used to basically initiate or stop the use of our body’s stored energy in the form of fats. It removes them alongside with sugar from the bloodstream and reduces inflammation. In the brain its activation leads to Alzheimer’s prevention along with other protective qualities.
The daily dosage shouldn’t exceed 250 mg per day and for noticeable effects you should take at least 100 mg per 24 hours.
This is a substance derived from a plant called “periwinkle”. Once crossed the blood-brain barrier it enhances the cerebral blood flow by reacting with the blood vessels (dilates them).
All those effects to an improved blood supply to the brain, higher oxygen levels as well as more glucose for the brain to use. This helps maintain the healthy levels of neurotransmitters and creates a better environment for the brain to be more concentrated, focused, and energy-efficient.
Nootropics that have this substance usually are to be taken a few times per day and the Vinpocetine amount is 10 mg in one capsule/pill.
Vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9, B12
Vitamin B1 (also called thiamine) is essential to the cell’s ATP levels. It helps the cell to produce ATP from the food intake and is also needed in the DNA synthesis.
It is found in:
- Whole Grains
- Pork and Red Meat
It is water soluble and is stored for around two weeks in our body. If deficient it will cause confusion and memory issues. Severe deficits lead to conditions like beriberi, heart problems, and in the most extreme cases – paralysis.
The recommended daily dosage is 1.4mg per day. Nootropic benefits are experienced at doses higher than 50 mg per 24 hours.
B3 (niacin) assists in the synthesis of the Coenzyme A. Co-A then continues its path until it forms Acetyl-CoA which combined with choline forms acetylcholine. Apart from this vital reaction, this vitamin is included in 300 other chemical reactions in our body. It can be found in:
From all the B-vitamins this is the only one that be synthesized ne-novo from our liver. That synthesis requires the amino acid tryptophan. Niacin is used to dilate blood vessels and continuous use can be visible by having reddish skin and/or tingling sensations. Doses of up to 3000 mg per day are okay (taken three times at 1000 mg). If the last dose is right before bedtime it improves sleep quality.
B5 (pantothenic acid) is again used to synthesize coenzyme-A just like B1. That leads to the creation of acetylcholine. Just like all other vitamins (except B3) it cannot be synthesized by our bodies so we need to supplement it externally. It is found in almost every food but processed (canned) foods don’t have it due to the processing techniques. Home-grown foods are rich on it, on the other hand.
Stacking B5 with other nootropics like Alpha GPC, CDP-Choline or Acetyl L-carnitine will boost their effect. B5 generally increases focus, short and long-term memory, as well as learning abilities.
The recommended daily dose is 5 mg per 24 hours. If you want to take CDP Choline, for example, we suggest going for a 1-to-2 ratio with vitamin B5 (ex. 250 mg of B5 with 500mg of CDP Choline).
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps our bodies produce serotonin, adrenaline, and melatonin. It is needed for red blood cell creation as well as the creation of immune cells. Vitamin B12 cannot be absorbed without vit. B6. When low on pyridoxine, we feel depression, memory loss, and nervousness. It is found in:
- Dairy Products
The daily dosage is around 100 mg per 24 hours but you shouldn’t exceed doses of 200 mg.
Vitamin B8 (known as Inositol) is a nootropic which boosts serotonin resulting in a calm sensation and fluid thought process. Our bodies can produce very small amounts of B8 on its own but it’s better to supplement it with foods such as:
- Citrus Fruits
- Green Leaf Vegetables
- Brown Rice
B8 is known to control conditions like OCD and panic attacks. The daily dosage is from 500 mg to 3000 mg per 24 hours.
Vitamin B9 (known as Folate) also helps your brain produce dopamine, adrenaline and serotonin. It is also involved in amino acid synthesis and gene expression. It can be found in:
- Green Leaf Vegetables
- Citrus Fruit Juice
Note: Folate and Folic acid are not the same thing and shouldn’t be confused. Folate is needed in doses of around 400 mcg (micrograms equaling 0.4 mg) per day.
Our last B-group vitamin is the B12 (cobalamin). It has the biggest role since it’s deficiency is a common condition in adults. It helps with the cell’s energy production. Having brain fog and issues with remembering things are one of the symptoms of B12 deficiency. Other symptoms may be fatigue, weakness, mood swings, low energy, and even depression and dementia.
B12 is the largest vitamin so absorbing it isn’t the easiest task for your body. As we grow old it gets harder and harder for your body to transport B12 from your intestines to your bloodstream where its used.
In its natural form B12 can only be found in animal food sources and seafood. The older you get the more B12 you will need as a form of supplementation. Even though B12 is water-soluble it won’t “flush” from your body as easy as the other water-soluble substances. It it stored in different tissues throughout the body and that isn’t a great thing since you won’t notice a deficiency for a long time after the body starts needing it. Then it might be too late to start supplementing it as irreversible brain damage could have already been done. This is the exact reason why older people are generally advised to supplement this nootropic.
The dosage depends on the condition but generally doses of 1000 mcg per month are okay. If you suffer from deficiency you need to start with 2000 mcg daily for one week then lower that to 1000 mcg once per week for a whole month and then go to the normal intake of 1000 mcg per month.
Vitamin D is used for the creation of GABA, glutamine and glutamate, as well as dopamine in our brains. It also helps gene expression and in the regulation of neurotrophic factors. In kids, Vitamin D is crucial for early brain development.
Vitamin D3 is the version of vit. D which is created in our skin under UV radiation from the sun. It is a fat-soluble steroid hormone which is later transformed into vitamin D.
It is estimated that nearly half the earth’s population is suffering from hypovitaminosis D, or lack of vit. D in our bodies. The best method to supplement this substance is through sun baths. Atmospheric conditions and excessive clothing can prevent this from happening, though. People spend more and more time indoors as well leading to less and less vitamin D3 synthesized in our skin. This is why vit. D3 should be taken as a supplement in doses of around 4000 International Units (IU) per 24 hours.
Zinc is one of the elements crucial to our brain’s functions and this is why it is considered by many a nootropic. It helps with brain health and improves cognitive capabilities. It also is a memory booster since zinc itself helps neurotransmitters be more efficient and active.
Zinc deficiency results in bad memory and in the malfunction of over 100 enzyme systems. Vegans and vegetarians are extremely susceptible to Zinc deficiency. Depressed people are known to have lower zinc levels where the lower the levels are the deeper the depression.
Recommended doses are 30 mg daily taken with 2 mg of copper.
Now that we are done covering some of the essential nootropics let’s see whether taking a single nootropic is better than taking a stack and vice versa.
Single Nootropic Substances Vs. Stacks
As we already showed you, every single nootropic substance has its specific effect and specific dosage. This means that for more narrow issues you can take one single nootropic with a known effect towards that issue.
Furthermore, taking one nootropic substance will also have a much smaller possibility for any side effects since you will be able to control the dosage better without taking anything extra. Still, it is hard to influence a single aspect of our brain without interfering with the others mainly because that is how nootropics work. They increase or decrease the levels of a substance (be it a hormone, enzyme, etc.) and it then affects moods but our bodies are far too complex for something to have an effect on a single thing without causing any collateral changes.
There is still a lot of research to be done in the nootropic field and there are many tests that have to be carried out on human patients to get direct numbers and results for all the newly upcoming substances.
Well-developed and thoroughly researched stacks are popular due to a single reason – they are nicely balanced and the nootropic doses in them are carefully calculated having in mind the basic human physiology. This, in combination with well-known possible side effects, is a major reason why you should always trust well-known and researched brands.