No matter your age, gender, race, or profession, you want to have peak mental health. That includes providing your brain with the fuel it needs to perform optimally.
This leads us to nootropics, also known as “smart drugs” or “cognitive enhancers.” These supplements can give you a mental boost whenever you’re feeling sluggish, or, better yet, keeps you in tiptop mental shape throughout your day.
Now, it isn’t enough to choose a nootropic willy-nilly and hope for the best. You want to research what the best nootropics are and which supplements are optimal for mental performance.
Lucky for you, we’ve done all of the hard work and have compiled our list of the top nootropic supplements you can get right now. For all of you science geeks (we’ve provided links to studies and research to back every claim made in our review).
Plus, we get into what nootropics are, what they actually do for you, whether they work or not, and other frequently asked nootropic questions.
Let’s get started!
For those who want a quick overview, below is our comparison table:
When it comes to nootropics, you won’t find one better than Vitamonk Instabrain.
And the science backs it up…
It has the perfect blend of high-quality ingredients, all of which are backed by scientific literature.
I’ve went through each ingredient individually and they don’t add a single ingredient that doesn’t assist in cognitive functions.Not. Even. One.
The main nootropic ingredients in this supplement match up with a lot of the best individual nootropics we dive into at the bottom of this article (in the section titled “The Best Individual Nootropics”), including vitamin B12, folate, acetyl-l-carnitine, and L-theanine.
And it doesn’t stop there.
VitaMonk also packs in Rhodiola Rosea and L-tyrosine for an additional mental boost.
While all of these ingredients are fantastic as nootropics, they also affect other parts of your body as well.
Cocoa polyphenols boost your mood, which allows you to have a kinder approach to the world at large. This aids in spiritual health.
Plus, acetyl-l-carnitine has been found to increase glucose disposal in people with Type 2 diabetes, making it beneficial to your metabolism and glucose usage.
Not only a nootropic, InstaBrain by VitaMonk you will help you perform better under pressure, focus more, eliminate brain fog, boost your energy, and improve other biomarkers.
All from one supplement.
I’ve tried a lot of nootropics in my day, and without question, Vitamonk Instabrain takes the cake.
If you’re looking for a nootropic to improve your ability to focus, this is the one you want.
Gaia Herbs has always been a trusted source of amazing supplements filled with all-natural ingredients that work, period.
And they have a Nootropic Focus supplement that has your brain firing on all cylinders.
The advantage of taking this supplement is it’s calming and concentration effects. It has a spearmint leaf-lemon balm proprietary blend and saffron stigma extract to keep your behavior balanced and steady.
Plus, it has ginkgo biloba leaf extract, which gives you an energy boost to keep you going strong throughout your day. This mix of chilling you out while ramping up productivity makes it the perfect supplement for busy parents or professionals looking to get things done while maintaining an even keel.
This is the ideal supplement for complete focus while remaining calm.
You can attain focus with a cup of coffee, but you might feel jittery or uncomfortable in the process. Nootropic Focus has a mix of ingredients that help your brain function to the max:
As you can see, the main components of this supplement get your brain fired up and raring to go… all without causing additional stress on yourself and in your body.
(Pro tip: You can pair Nootropic Focus with Gaia Herbs Agile Mind, found here, which has even more nootropic ingredients like bacopa, turmeric root for reducing inflammation, and rosemary leaf.)
This supplement is jam-packed with all kinds of nootropic ingredients, making it more than deserving at our #4 spot on our list.
Mainframe Nootropic Formula has two different ingredient complexes, one offering elite energy and focus, the other a premium nootropic complex that includes Lion’s mane mushroom extract, Bacopa monnieri, and alpha GPC (a natural choline compound found in the brain).
Plus, it has a patented ingredient, Teacrine, which inhibits adenosine receptors just like caffeine, making you feel more awake. The only difference is that Teacrine is a dopamine agonist, meaning you get a dopamine hit at the same time.
This gives you clean energy for about four to six hours.
On top of that, it has black pepper extract to enhance the bioavailability of all the other ingredients.
If you want to boost your neurotransmitters, improve your overall concentration, support your cognitive function, and have dialed-in focus, this would be the supplement to reach for in your local GNC or Vitamin Shoppe.
Another solid Bodybuilding.com nootropic product is the Beverly International Fast-Up.
Just as the name implies, this supplement will get you up and at ‘em like nothing else.
Fast-Up has four different B vitamins, including B12 and folic acid. The Fast-Up energy and cognitive renewal system have ingredients like L-citrulline, caffeine, Coenzyme-Q10, and green tea leaf extract for the polyphenols.
What all of these do is create a fantastic nootropic stack that gets you alert as quickly as possible and keeps you in that enhanced state for most of your day.
It supports your mental and physical performance, boosts your energy, and promotes overall health and wellness.
If you want a supplement that can be a pre-workout and a pre-work supplement, definitely go with Beverly International Fast-Up.
Last up, we have a nootropic stack from our good friends over at VitaMonk.
This combo includes alpha GPC, which we’ve established as a choline compound found in the brain, and uridine.
The alpha GPC (650mg per serving) helps support brain cognition and promotes learning and memory.
Uridine is a nucleoside that makes up nucleic acids; adding uridine into the stack helps promote synapse growth, neuroplasticity, and healthy brain function.
Together, this stack amps your brain up into a whole other playing field.
With faster synapses, increased brain cognition, improvements in memory, and heightened neuroplasticity, you don’t need anything else.
Of course, getting these two singular ingredients as a stack — either in pill form or mixed together in a powder — saves you money at the same time.
So you can get sharper and smarter while not having to dig too deep into your wallet.
As we said above, nootropics are substances — usually in pill or supplement form — that might improve cognition, especially these mental function areas:
We say “might” because science is still out on a lot of the various nootropics being lauded as miracle brain drugs.
However, some nootropics have healthy amounts of research backing up the claims. We’ll get into which nootropics are bolstered by studies and which ones aren’t.
Are there any nootropics that actually work? It’s a common question, and a fair one.
Again, it’s a half-yes, half-no answer. Some nootropics have been shown to work with the neurons in your brain to improve chemical balances. Others are akin to snake oil.
For the most part, if you stick with companies that conduct third-party research and include only high-quality, effective ingredients, you should get a supplement that works for most healthy individuals.
Below, we’ll list the best, most effective individual nootropics you can get, as well as the ones that are smoke and mirrors and should be avoided at all costs.
Nootropic supplements affect the brain, so practice extreme caution. The last thing you want is for your brain to go all haywire on you.
Never, under any circumstances, should you take more than the recommended dose (it’s recommended for a reason).
Seeing as it alters and stimulates your brain, there’s always a danger.
Most — if not all — of the nootropic supplement packaging should have some sort of warning label. Simply practice safe supplementation and STOP taking them if you experience any side effects.
You do it right, and you can supplement nootropics safely.
Individual ingredients are great for improving brain function.
Some of them you might be using already and you don’t even realize they’re nootropics. But what are the best individual ingredients you can use to boost your brain function?
While these are both nootropics, A) they usually require a prescription for a neurological disorder such as ADHD or ADD, and B) they come with too many side effects to be considered the “best.”
Adderall abuse can result in anxiety, low libido, sweating, and, in recreational use, more severe effects like heart attacks, especially if you mix Adderall with alcohol.
As for Ritalin, it can impair thinking if excessive amounts are taken, and have side effects like insomnia, headache, upset stomach, and loss of appetite.
Worse effects still include seizures, heart arrhythmias, high blood pressure, psychosis, and hallucinations.
In short, steer clear of both Adderall and Ritalin. They aren’t worth the cognitive benefits.
Yes. In fact, a lot of the nootropics don’t reach peak performance until you’ve used them for a long period of time.
Taking healthy, science-backed nootropics regularly each and every day will ensure that your brain starts to expect those boosts in your day.
If you want to boost your cognitive function throughout the day, we recommend taking your nootropic supplement in the morning.
You could also take it in the afternoon to beat that slump you feel after lunch. Read the packaging of your supplement to see if it works best with food or without.
Look again at the list of individual nootropics and think about which brain functions you want to be improved.
Is it your mood? Memory? Attention span? Creative thinking?
Pick out a handful of nootropics that match the benefits you’re looking for, then find the best nootropic that has all of those.
Trust us: Equipped with a high-quality nootropic, your brain will be working in tiptop shape (and it will show in your performance).