Looking for a nootropic supplement but don’t know where to start?
You’ve come to the right place.
This is our guide to the best nootropics on the market today. In it you will learn about the strongest and most effective brain supplements for boosting focus, memory, mental energy and brain health.
We will explain how we review and rank nootropics. We will explain how memory supplements work, and what the strongest nootropics are actually capable of doing. We will give you our current top rated nootropic stacks for boosting overall brain function. You’ll also learn about the best individual nootropic supplement ingredients and how to take them for optimal mental performance.
All of the nootropics we recommend in this article are natural, and have all been tested in robust clinical trials using human subjects. We would not list a substance as a top nootropic if there wasn’t hard scientific evidence that it works and is safe! If you have any questions, please post them in the comments and one of our nootropics experts will get back to you.
#1 Best Nootropic Overall: NooCube
NooCube is our top rated nootropic stack right now, and it is hands-down the best complete daily nootropic our review team have ever tried. This nootropic combines 13 powerful cognitive enhancers to deliver a single stack for total brain optimization. Made with 100% natural nootropics proven to work in robust clinical trials, NooCube provides support for every aspect of cognitive performance and brain health.
The ingredients in NooCube have been proven to:
- Sharpen focus and concentration
- Improve memory retention and recall
- Boost motivation and mood
- Protect brain cells from oxidative stress
- Increase procesisng speeds and reduce reaction times
- Promote brain cell repair and development
NooCube is a complete package nootropic. We think it is ideal for people who want a single nootropic stack to take care of every aspect of cognitive enhancement and brain health. But perhaps the best thing about NooCube is the price.
NooCube offers the best value for money of any nootropic supplement on the market today. Each bottle of NooCube costs just $29.99 when you opt for the multibox deal. Other nootropics with similar ingredients and dosages (e.g. Mind Lab Pro or Alpha Brain) will set you back up to $70 a month!
#2 Best Nootropic For Anxiety: Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro is undoubtedly one of the most effective nootropics on the market today, and it is certainly one of the most comprehensive nootropic stacks you can use. Mind Lab Pro combines a dozen clinically proven, highly effective natural cognitive enhancers to produce a stack which supports overall brain performance and long-term brain health.
The Mind Lab Pro formula is particularly focused on reducing stress and anxiety. Several of the ingredients in Mind Lab Pro are potent anxiolytics. When taken together, they will significantly reduce stress, anxiety and brain fog.
The benefits of taking Mind Lab Pro on a daily basis include:
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Increased mental clarity
- Reduced brain fog
- Enhanced focus and learning
- Better working memory function
However, there are a few reasons why Mind Lab Pro is not our top recommended nootropic. The main issue with Mind Lab Pro is the cost. A single bottle of Mind Lab Pro will set you back $69.00. That is very expensive compared to NooCube’s $29.99. When you consider that you aren’t getting any extra benefits from Mind Lab Pro that you don’t get from NooCube, this price difference really does become indefensible.
But despite its enormous price tag, Mind Lab Pro is one of the most complete and effective nootropics today.
#3 Best Nootropic For Focus and Energy: Vyvamind
Vyamind is a fantastic nootropic which has been purposefully designed to act as a legal, safe, natural, over the counter alternative to prescription ADHD medications and smart drugs like Vyvanse, Adderall and Ritalin.
Vyvamind combines sizeable doses of Citicoline, Tyrosine, Theanine and Caffeine to deliver a rapid and significant increase in focus, concentration and mental energy. Users typically feel mentally sharper, more motivated and generally more ‘locked in’ on tasks within an hour of taking Vyvamind. This feeling of being in a ‘flow state’ can last for up to 6-12 hours depending on the dosage taken.
While Vyvamind is specifically designed as focus and mental energy booster, it is also a highly effective all-round nootropic that would greatly benefit anybody looking to enhance cognitive function on a daily basis.
The benefits of taking Vyvamind include:
- Rapid increase in mental energy
- Sharper focus
- Greater concentration and learning capacity
- Faster processing speeds
- Increased motivation and drive
While we think NooCube provides much more comprehensive cognition and brain health support than Vyvamind, this nootropic is much better placed to provide a fast-acting, palpable boost in focus, concentration, and mental energy than NooCube.
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics are simply substances which improve brain function in any way. The term refers to both natural nootropics (e.g. Rhodiola rosea or Ginkgo biloba) and synthetic smart drugs (e.g. Piracetam and Noopept).
The strict definition of “nootropic” requires that the substance causes no notable side effects. Improving cognitive function without impacting brain health is what sets nootropics apart from stimulants and other drugs which affect brain function in simple ways.
When we talk about nootropics, we are typically talking about natural brain supplements known to have positive effects on any one of a broad range of cognitive faculties. These typically include: focus, learning, information processing, memory retention and recall, mental energy and stamina, mental clarity, creativity, and even mood.
Individual nootropics tend to enhance brain function in different ways, which is why many people usually opt to use nootropic stacks instead of individual cognitive enhancers. Using several different cognitive enhancers at once allows you to cover every aspect of mental performance. Hence why we recommend nootropic stacks.
Pre-Made Nootropic Stacks vs Making Your Own Nootropic Supplement
For the vast majority of people who use nootropics, total brain optimization is the goal.
They don’t want to limit themselves to enhancing memory or reducing performance anxiety – they want 100% brain performance.
This is where high quality, pre-made nootropic stacks come into play. These are brain supplements that combine multiple substances into a single capsule, which together enhance multiple different aspects of cognitive function.
Some substances have a synergistic relationship with others – by combining them, you get an effect that is far more powerful than the sum of the individual parts.
So if you make your nootropic stack intelligently, you can achieve significant improvements in cognitive function using very few ingredients. This is why people use premium, pre-made nootropic stacks.
Choosing the Best Nootropic Stack For You
We have very strict criteria when ranking nootropics. For us, the best brain supplement will have the following features:
- Large doses of ingredients proven to work in multiple, robust clinical trials
- A formula which covers every aspect of cognitive performance, from memory and focus to mood and brain health
- Exceptional ingredient quality and purity
- Plenty of supporting ingredients (e.g anti-oxidants, vitamins and minerals)
- Extremely low side effect risks
- No waste of filler ingredients
So what is the best nootropic on the market today?
Which product offers total cognitive enhancement for the best possible price?
The 15 Most Effective Natural Nootropics and Smart Drugs
There are literally hundreds of different nootropics out there, and all of them claim to enhance cognitive function in various ways. When you factor in both natural nootropics and smart drugs, then the choice of compounds you can use to enhance your cognitive abilities can be overwhelming. That’s why we have compiled a list of the best nootropics and smart drugs for improving brain function, reducing mental fatigue and helping to slow cognitive decline.
Here is our list of the 15 most effective nootropics for brain function and overall brain health:
- Bacopa monnieri
- Rhodiola rosea
- Ginkgo biloba
- Lion’s mane mushroom
- Maritime pine bark
Each one is backed by hard scientific evidence and clinical data. None of them have serious side effect risks or long-term negative health effects. We will now go through each of these nootropics in more detail, explaining how they work for cognitive enhancement and what they do for focus, brain fog, mental fatigue and memory. At the end of this section we’ll tell you how to stack these nootropics for maximum effect.
Citicoline, or CDP-Choline, is the best nootropic to use if you want to see a rapid increase in focus, information processing, and learning capacity.In our opinion, Citicoline should form the backbone of any full-spectrum brain supplement.
Citicoline is extremely efficient at delivering choline to the brain. Once there, it is used to make acetylcholine – the brain’s primary executive neurotransmitter -and phosphatidylcholine, which is used to make new brain structures. Supplementing with Citicoline has been shown in multiple clinical studies to improve focus, enhance memory function, and more (source). Citicoline is also usually preferable to other cholinergics because it delivers uridine; a precursor to RNA. Researchers believe that supplementing with uridine supports healthy brain cell maintenance.
For maximum effect, we recommend using 200-250mg of Citicoline per day. Ideally, use a standardized, pure Citicoline like Cognizin. If using Cognizin, then 200mg is plenty.
Stack with: Tyrosine and Theanine.
Learn more: Citicoline guide.
Like Citicoline, Alpha-GPC is a cholinergic. Alongside Citicoline it is one of the most powerful nootropics and by far and away one of the most effective supplements for raising acetylcholine levels in the brain. Supplementing with Alpha-GPC raises acetylcholine activity, which improves processing speeds, decision making, and working memory. It also improves mind-muscle connection and reaction times, making it a great nootropic for athletes and gamers.
A side benefit of Alpha-GPC is improved brain cell formation and maintenance. As well as choline, Alpha-GPC delivers a large amount of phospholipids ot the brain. These phospholipids can be used to create new brain cells and to repair existing brain cell membranes.
We advise people to take between 150mg and 300mg of Alpha-GPC per day for best results. However, some of the best nootropics contain lower doses of Alpha-GPC as they combine it with Huperzine A, which keeps acetylcholine levels high.
Stack with: Huperzine A and Tyrosine
3. Bacopa monnieri
Bacopa monnieri is the best memory enhancer in existence, and it is a vital part of any natural memory supplement or daily nootropic stack. Study after study confirms this; clinical trials show that Bacopa monnieri supplementation leads to significantly better performance in memory tests in almost everybody, but particularly in older people and those suffering with mild cognitive impairment and memory loss.
Bacopa monnieri works by increasing dendrite branching. This effectively means that your neurons gain more connecting points through which to communicate. More communication channels between neurons means better memory formation and recall.
The studies are quite clear on how Bacopa monnieri should be used. You need to take more than 150mg of Bacopa monnieri for at least 6 weeks to see any difference in cognitive performance. The effects of Bacopa monnieri really set in after about 12 weeks, but once they have set in, they tend to stick for a while (source).
You should try to use a Bacopa monnieri extract which contains a large percentage of Bacosides (the active compounds). Mind Lab Pro uses an extract that only contains the 9 bioactive bacosides, which is great.
Stack with: Citicoline and phosphatidylserine.
Learn more: Bacopa monnieri guide.
Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid found in high concentrations in the human brain. It is a primary constituent of brain cell membranes.
Phosphatidylserine is also needed for cell signalling. When a brain cell is ready to die and be replaced, phosphatidylserine moves to the outside of the cell membrane. This is the signal for immune cells to come in and destroy the cell.
Phospholipid levels decline as we get older. Supplementing with phosphatidylserine has been shown to promote good cognitive function, particularly those related to memory. Some studies have even found phosphatidylserine has short-term benefits.
Stack with: Bacopa monnieri and Citicoline.
DHA, or Docosahexaenoic Acid, is an omega-3 fatty acid. It is the principle structural component of the human brain. DHA is the fat that makes up the vast majority of your brain. It is used to construct the cerebral cortex, retina, and skin.
Obviously, supplementing with DHA is a good idea if you want to optimize the construction of new brain cells (especially in the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for “higher level” cognitive functions and language). Few people get enough of this stuff from their diets. It is found in algae, so most people get it through fish. The modern diet is pretty devoid of DHA though, so for most people, supplementation is necessary.
Stack with: Maritime Pine Bark, Citicoline and B12.
6. Rhodiola rosea
Rhodiola rosea has been used in traditional medicine for a very long time. It is a natural anxiolytic. In simple terms, that means it helps to reduce anxiety and alleviate stress. Rhodiola rosea makes for a great nootropic because of its effect on cognition. Studies have found that rhodiola rosea promotes better cognitive function in people subjected to acute stress. So unlike some anxiolytics, rhodiola rosea does not merely calm you down. Instead, it keeps the brain sharp in stressful situations.
About 100mg of Rhodiola rosea is all you need to see significant benefits. You can even cut that back to 50mg if you couple it with another anxiolytic.
Stack with: Tyrosine, Bacopa monnieri, and Magnesium.
Tyrosine is another amazing nootropic. Like rhodiola rosea, it is a potent anxiolytic. And like rhodiola rosea, it is particularly useful for people who want to optimize brain performance in stressful situations.
Studies have shown that Tyrosine consumption improves cognitive performance in people subjected to extreme environmental stressors. These clinical trials have so far observed benefits form Tyrosine supplementation in people who are sleep deprived, subjected to extreme cold, placed in noisy environments, placed in a reduced-oxygen environment, and more (source).
With Tyrosine, more is definitely better. We’ve seen people get great results from just 150mg, but we’d recommend pushing this up to 200-300mg if you can. In an ideal world, you’d use Tyrosine alongside another anxiolytic.
Stack with: Theanine, Caffeine and Citicoline.
Ashwagandha is a staple of ayurverdic medicine. It has long been used as a general cure-all. While it is far from a panacea, Ashwagandha does have one extremely interesting benefit – it suppresses cortisol.
Clinical trials have found that ashwagandha supplementation quickly reduces serum cortisol levels in humans. Cortisol is the human stress hormone; it is released when we perceive an immediate threat. Unfortunately, some people have chronically high cortisol levels due to the stresses of modern life.
Supplementing with Ashwagandha can significantly reduce stress, lower blood pressure, promote a positive mood, and by extension, help you concentrate on your work. Large doses are necessary – aim for 300-500mg per day if you’re seriously stressed.
Stack with: Lion’s Mane Mushroom and Tyrosine.
9. Ginkgo biloba
Ginkgo biloba is quickly making a name for itself as the best natural nootropic supplement for older people.
Ginkgo biloba contains two compounds – terpenes and glycosides. The former reduces the viscosity of your blood (making it thinner and ‘runnier’), while the latter causes vasodilation (where your blood vessels expand).
The end result is greater blood flow in the brain, which means better oxygenated, better fed brain cells. This is why older people are using Ginkgo biloba; restricted blood flow is one of the leading causes of age-related cognitive decline and memory degradation. Using Gingko biloba on a daily basis might help slow down cognitive decline.
You don’t need to use much of this stuff. We think 50-90mg of Ginkgo biolab per day is plenty to see results.
Stack with: Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine and Bacopa monnieri.
10. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s Mane Mushroom has been a part of Chinese cuisine and traditional Chinese medicine for a very long time. Like most traditional medicines, it has long been said to do all manner of things. Modern clinical trials have found that it does have one fascinating effect when consumed by humans – it triggers the release of Nerve Growth Factor in the brain (source).
Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) is a neurotrophic factor. It governs the growth, proliferation, maturation, and repair of nerve cells in the brain. Higher levels of NGF means enhanced neuron growth, faster neurite outgrowth, and ultimately more raw brainpower. The researchers in the above cited study (Puei-Lene et. al., 2013) found that Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract was able to increase neurite outgrowth by 60%!
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is the ultimate nootropic for achieving long-term, lasting cognitive enhancement in our opinion. Its benefits are wide ranging, and they exist long after you stop taking it. With this nootropic, anywhere from 300-1000mg per day will yield big results.
Stack with: Anything – Citicoline, Tyrosine and Maritime Pine Bark Extract work especially well with Lions Mane Mushroom.
Theanine is without doubt one of the best nootropics for anxiety, sleep and mood support. It is also one of the most effective nootropic supplements for energy, motivation and focus. This is why we think L-Theanine should be in every good nootropic stack, especially if it contains any caffeine.
Theanine has a few different mechanisms of action that allow it to enhance brain function and mental performance. Theanine acts on GABA receptors in the brain, reducing nervous system activity, which in turn lowers anxiety levels. This means less brain fog, more mental clarity, and reduced mental fatigue. Theanine also counters the side effects of caffeine while boosting the stimulant’s positive benefits.
Theanine can be used every day to boost cognitive function as it has no known side effects. To promote overall cognitive function while suppressing caffeine side effects, we recommend taking around 150-300mg of Theanine per day. If you consume more caffeine, take more Theanine.
Stack with: Citicoline, Caffeine and Tyrosine
B12 is probably the first supplement that many people take. Nothing gives you the kind of general pep boost that B12 can. It increases energy, reduces brain fog, improves mood, supports healthy skin, and more.
Many people overlook B12s nootropic properties. But this is a mistake; B12 is a good nootropic substance. Studies have shown that B12 deficiencies (although rare) lead to a steady decline in cognitive performance. Other clinical trials have demonstrated that B12 supplementation improves various aspects of mental function; specifically, those relating to brain cell energy metabolism.
You don’t need to go crazy here. It takes your body years to deplete your B12 stores. So as long as you consume some through your diet, you don’t need to take lots through supplements. We recommend shooting for about 500% of your RDI. More is great, but not necessary.
Stack: DHA, Caffeine and Maritime Pine Bark Extract.
13. Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime Pine Bark is prized for its antioxidant content. This hardy tree bark is incredibly rich in a class of compounds called proanthocyanins. Maritime Pine Bark contains a complex of proanthocyanins which together protect the brain from oxidative damage.
However, Maritime Pine Bark is not like any other antioxidant source. It is one of the best nootropics for a very good reason. The proanthocyanins in Maritime Pine Bark not only act as antioxidants; they also stimulate the release of nitric oxide, increasing blood flow. On top of that, Maritime Pine Bark contains flavonoids which stimulate brain cell repair.
If you’re looking for an antixodiant to add to your nootropic stack, then Maritime Pine Bark is the obvious choice. It is the only antioxidant with its own nootropic properties beyond preventing free radical damage.
Only the best nootropics contain this ingredient. You don’t need much; around 50-100mg per day is plenty.
Stack with: Citicoline and Tyrosine; an incredibly effective combination
Pterostilbene is another antioxidant. It isn’t quite the nootropic that Maritime Pine Bark is, but it is still an excellent choice for a nootropic stack.
Pterostilbene is structurally similar to resveratrol; the antioxidant found in large quantities in red wine. It acts in a very similar way to resveratrol in the body. The only difference between the two is that only about 20% of the resveratrol you consume ends up active in the blood. Pterostilbene, on the other hand, is far more bioavailable – about 80% ends up in the blood.
Pterostilbene can therefore be said to be a far better nootropic than resveratrol. Ideally, a stack would utilize a high-proanthocyanin Maritime Pine Bark Extract. But failing that, a nice big dose of pterostilbene is great.
Stack with: DHA and B12 – a great brain health combination.
Of course, no list of the most effective nootropics would be complete without caffeine.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant. Just a hundred milligrams is enough to reduce the perception of fatigue, increase motivation, and increase energy levels. Caffeine also has nootropic properties – it improves the quality of focus and concentration at doses of 75mg and up.
We prefer to use caffeine-free nootropics. Most people consume a lot of caffeine throughout their day anyway, and coffee is delicious. Adding in even more through supplements is unnecessary and just raises the chances of side effects.
Stack with: Anything – caffeine works well with practically all nootropics. Theanine is great for mitigating side effects, while Tyrosine synergizes with caffeine to boost motivation
Creating A Complete Nootropic Stack
These substances all have different effects. While they all have different mechanisms of action, they all contribute to better cognitive function. Some enhance memory formation. Others promote faster memory recall. Many sharpen focus and promote concentration. Others increase mental energy. A few of them increase neuron growth and dendrite branching, while a small number promote the formation of new brain cells.
Importantly, many of these substances have a synergistic effect when used in combination with one another. By stacking two or more of the nootropics listed above, you can get effects far more powerful than you can using the substances individually.
The best nootropic stack will combine several of the brain boosting ingredients listed above; ideally they will use those ingredients which work best when taken together, as this will give you the strongest effects for minimal costs. This is why we recommend NooCube.
NooCube is the best nootropic supplement on the market today – no doubt about it. No other brain supplement provides the same range of benefits, the same rapid-onset increase in focus and mental clarity, and the same long-term memory support for such a reasonable price.
At just $29.99 a bottle, NooCube provides the same benefits as the likes of Alpha Brain or Mind Lab Pro for roughly half the price of these popular brain supplements.
Benefits of Nootropics & Smart Drugs
Why should you take nootropics? What does the best nootropic stack actually do for you?
The best nootropics can help you in lots of different ways. Different nootropics affect brain function in different ways. Some improve mental performance quickly by reducing mental fatigue, increasing mental energy and boosting motivation. Others enhance executive cognitive abilities by activating specific brain pathways and neurotransmitters, eliminating brain fog and boosting mental clarity.
Understanding what specific nootropics can do is crucial if you want ot get the most out of your brain supplements and nootropic stacks. Here is a quick overview of the main benefits of taking nootropics and smart drugs.
Focus & Learning
Increasing focus, learning and mental processing speed is arguably the single most important thing people look for in a nootropic. This makes sense; most people discover nootropics when they find that they need help dramatically increasing their productivity or overall mental acuity, either for work, college, or sports performance.
Thankfully, lots of natural nootropics can quickly increase focus and concentration, enhance your ability to process and learn information, all without causing side effects. To achieve this, you want to avoid substances which simply raise nervous system activity; in other words, don’t just take lots of stimulants! Instead, try to improve cognitive functions by increasing neurotransmitter availability. Citicoline, Alpha-GPC, Huperzine A, Theanine and Caffeine all have a part to play here!
So much of your mental performance depends on your memory. The ability to quickly encode memories and to retrieve those memories when you need them is vital to the learning process. On the other hand you have working memory; this is your ability to keep lots of different things in your head at one time, in the present moment, and act on them.
Several natural nootropics can boost memory recall and memory retention without causing any side effects whatsoever. Using clinically proven nootropics to enhance memory retention and recall, not to mention long-term storage, can go a long way to enhancing your overall cognitive abilities and productivity.
Brain Energy & Stamina
Being stressed or overworked can quickly sap your mental energy and leave you fatigued, demotivated and mentally sluggish. If you’re looking to quickly increase productivity and overall cognitive performance, then you will want a nootorpic that boosts brain energy.
It is very important that you do not rely on stimulants alone here. While caffeine is an exceptional nootropic, by itself it is not the answer to chronic mental fatigue. To properly support healthy brain energy levels, you should stack caffeine with other nootropics which fight fatigue in different ways; by lowering stress, improving sleep, boosting cell mitochondria, and so on.
Neuroplasticity & Brain Health
Healthy brain function relies on having healthy brain cells. And healthy brain cells come from providing your brain with all of the raw materials it needs to maintain, repair and create new brain cells. The best nootropics will provide a range of ingredients to promote brain cell development, repair and metabolism. This is the best way to optimize brain health over the long-term.
Some natural nootropics can significantly increase the rate of neuron growth and repair. They do this in a few different ways. The likes of Lion’s Mane Mushroom, by increasing brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) or nerve growth factor (NGF). Some nootropics like Ginkgo biloba and Maritime Pine Bark work by increasing blood flow to the brain cells, which means more nutrient and oxygen delivery and overall healthier brain cells. Others, such as Bacopa monnieri, primarily work by increasing neuron dendrite branching. However you choose to promote neuroplasticity and brain cell development, a comprehensive nootropic stack is always going to give you the best results.
Stress, Anxiety & Mood
Stress and anxiety are absolutely lethal to proper brain function. Chronic stress not only drains your mental energy and motivation, it also causes brain fog, memory loss, and poor decision making. Learning information and processing information quickly is practically impossible when you are stressed; it can feel like nothing you read or hear sticks in your brain if you’re highly anxious. If stress and anxiety levels stay high, then your mental health can quickly deteriorate.This causes a negative feedback loop, where low mood leads to low productivity, which in turn causes low mood, and the cycle reinforces.
The best nootropics will always contain at least one ingredient proven to help control and suppress anxiety levels to ensure your cognitive performance isn’t compromised by stress. Ideally a top nootropic stack will combine 2 or more nootropics for anxiety and stress.
Are Nootropics Safe?: Side Effects & Safety
If you’re looking to augment your brain function in any way, then you’re going to have to consider potential side effects. Even natural nootropics derived from plants and naturally occurring compounds can have a signifciant effect on cognitive function; it’s why we use them! But this means they are also liable to causing negative side effects.
The bottom line is, taking any pills for the brain is going to potentially cause unwanted side effects.
Nootropics are a very broad class of substances, so you will need to research each individual supplement before using it to evaluate side effect risks. Generally speaking, nootropics are safe, but education and awareness is vital. In general, the best nootropics are safe if you have an awareness of risks and how to avoid them.
Some side effects common to many nootropics include: stomach cramps, nausea, headaches, and dizziness. More extreme side effects of nootropics include insomnia, blurry vision, high blood pressure, anxiety, and hypomania. These are very rare however, and typically involve severe abuse or allergic reactions.
It is almost always safer to use a natural nootropic stack than a synthetic, pharmaceutical-grade smart drug. While most people find smart drugs like Aniracetam and Noopept to be relatively side effect-free, adverse effects do occur in a signifciant minority of users of these substances.