Nootropics are finally starting to find their place in the competitive world of dietary and wellness supplements. In the last few years they’ve risen from being a fringe product, to a widely consumed, and popular way, to boost cognitive performance. As their usage continues to rise, more and more studies are being conducted to track the effects and benefits from this exciting class of drugs.
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What Are Nootropics?
Before we get into our picks for the best Nootropics of 2020, let’s cover some basics. What exactly are Nootropics? Simply put, Nootropics are “smart drugs” – compounds that can enhance brain function, and increase cognitive ability, by gradually tweaking your brain chemistry. That may sound a little scary, but Nootropics have become a popular way to give your brain a boost when you need one most. In fact, according to one study out of England, up to 25% of students at UK universities are taking prescription Nootropics to boost their brain function, and help them retain information and focus.
Nootropics come in many shapes and forms, but the major categories include essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, herbs, Adaptogens, Phospholipids Choline Sources, antioxidants, and amino acids.
Types of Nootropics
People take Nootropics for all kinds of different reasons. Some are trying to reduce anxiety in social situations, while others are hoping to improve their retention and memory skills. Here’s a rundown of some of the most popular kinds for Nootropic smart drugs and the areas of the brain they focus on.
- Nootropics have become a popular way to improve many aspects of your attention span, including focus and concentration. This can give users an edge in productivity when they really need it.
- Learning and Memory. College students and adult learners can benefit from various Nootropic enhancements for cognitive learning processes, such as memory formation and recall.
- Nootropics can help achieve a balanced mood by improving relaxation, confidence, motivation, sociability, and happiness. This can help manage anxiety, or improve social skills by optimizing cognitive function.
- Brain wave-balancing Nootropics can foster a relaxed, free-flowing thought pattern that is more conducive to creative thinking, artistic expression, and quiet contemplation. As practices such as yoga and transcendental mediation have become more popular, so has the use of Nootropics to enhance those techniques, and help you maximize their effectiveness on your system.
- Although they are by definition brain supplements, Nootropics are now being included in many sports nutrition products, due to their ability to improve motivation, intensify training, and promote focus. Certain Adaptogens can also help balance and stabilize hormone levels, which can unlock the answers to a number of physical conditions.
- Stress Resistance. Many Nootropics have well-documented anti-stress benefits that can improve performance and reduce stress levels of everyone from grad-students and multitasking professionals, to competitive athletes and new moms.
A Few Nootropic Guidelines
The exact effects of Nootropics on your brain chemistry can vary widely, so it’s important to keep in mind that with some drugs you might feel like nothing is happening. This is a common occurrence that many users experience, however many times, once you stop taking the Nootropics, you’ll begin to notice their absence immediately. This is because, when your brain begins to work better, the transformation feels so natural, that it’s hard to notice. With other Nootropics, you might experience the exact opposite, and feel a cognitive boost as soon as you begin taking the pill. Of course, these effects also depend on dosages.
Remember to always review the purity of your Nootropics, especially if you’re looking at pre-made Nootropic mixes, sometimes referred to as “stacks”. Often sold as tablets or capsules, these pre-made formulae sometimes include things like sweeteners and artificial food coloring. So remember to read your labels and make sure you know what you are consuming.
Before trying Nootropics, it’s a good idea to clean up your diet and make sure that you are getting the proper amount of sleep. Many times your cognitive issues can stem from common causes like poor diet and exhaustion rather than a chemical imbalance.
So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s start breaking down the best Nootropics supplements on the market category-by-category:
The Top 2 Nootropics for Improving Attention
Attention is key for ultimate cognitive performance. However, with our senses being besieged around the clock by social media and 24-hour news cycle notifications, it’s getting harder to stay focused. Check out the two supplements listed below, which are some of the best Nootropics for focus and attention.
Citicoline has shown to heighten the performance in overall attention performance by minimizing attention deficits and curtailing impulses. It is suggested that Citicoline raises a chemical in our brain called acetylcholine. This, combined with Citicoline’s overall brain enhancement activity, helps to sharpen focus and brain health.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is found naturally in food high in protein. Through over-activity with catecholamine conversion, research has shown that it might aid in stress-induced attention span deficits.
As a cognitive enhancer, N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine works best under pressure. When the brain is over-worked and over-stressed, it burns through neurotransmitters in order to maintain high levels of cognition, which then diminishes the body’s natural reserves of tyrosine. Once the reserves of tyrosine begin to diminish the brain begins to be less focused and sharp.
N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine converts to catecholamine, a powerful neurotransmitter, which helps to alleviate the depletion and aids in restoring and maintaining focus.
The Best Two Nootropics for Learning and Memory
Having a strong memory is an important component to our overall quality of life, and as we get older, it’s natural for our memories to decline. It becomes easy to forget little things, like having to ask yourself “where did I leave the keys”? before heading out in the morning, or trying to recall key information at work. By 2020, neurologists have mapped the brain to the point where they can truly understand how memory works within the brain down to the molecular level. This has given neurohackers the ability to create some amazing things, and from their discoveries, we’ve selected the best Nootropics for memory and learning.
Now it’s important to note that most Nootropics for memory come in the form of stacks, so unlike the other categories on our list, we’ll be looking at these stacks piece-by-piece. Before you try anything, we’d advise doing your homework and having a basic understanding of how your brain works with memory and the different mechanisms affecting it, which will help you build a stack that works best for you.
Best Custom Stack for Memory:
- Phosphatidylserine (PS)
- Pine Bark Extract
- Vitamins B1, B9, and B12
If you’re new to Nootropics, we’d recommended only starting with one or two of the supplements above, and building to the full stack over time. It’s important for you to have a precise idea of what each drug is doing to you, before adding more.
If that sounds intimidating, another option for memory and learning is to go with a pre-made stack. Now there are tons of pre-made stacks out there, and many of them contain additives like colors and sweeteners that can throw off your body chemistry and have adverse effects. We took this into account as we combed the Internet for the best pre-made Nootropic stack for memory and learning, and here’s our favorite:
The MindZymes Mind Stack includes L-Glutamine for improved concentration, GABA to help keep your brain working at a steady level, Choline to help with better cellular energy, and Inositol to enhance a more balanced mood. It’s a terrific, clean Nootropic stack that has awesome effects on memory and learning abilities, and no harmful side effects.
Remember that to help improve your memory, you must be willing to equip yourself with the right information, and have the willingness to experiment, in order to put together the best Nootropic stack that is best for you.
The Best Nootropics for Mood and Happiness
The best Nootropics supplements for happiness may work by increasing the neurotransmitter levels, and your brain activity, to help improve your everyday state of mind. Incredible, right? Here are two of the best mood-boosting Nootropics out there that can help with your overall happiness.
Rhodiola is a popular herb with that helps with improving mood and memory. A popular adaptogen, Rhodiola has been around for centuries and can help against the effects of stress, increases energy, enhances mood, and promotes cognition when taken regularly. By lowering stress and boosting mood, Rhodiola also works with the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) system, to minimize cortisol production, and release beta-endorphins into your body.
L-theanine is an incredibly popular Nootropic that you may recognize from a ton of modern vitamins and supplement mixes. It can also be found in green tea leaves and some types of mushrooms, and helps promote a happier, relaxed mind by increasing GABA levels, as well as stimulating the release of serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters adjust mood, energy level, attention span and motivation among other things. As a result, the levels of cortisol and adrenaline become lower, which can make you more relaxed.
There have also been studies into the way L-theanine can enhance alpha brain waves, to make you more relaxed, and better focused, without giving you a weary, drugged-up feeling.
The Top Two Nootropics for Creativity
Many working professionals, artists and college students use Nootropics to enhance their imagination and creativity. In our increasingly competitive world, people want that extra-added edge to unleash their talents, whether it be to create a work of art, write a book, or create an unforgettable presentation at work. Below are two of the best Nootropics supplements that are significant in enhancing creativity.
One of the best Nootropics for creativity belonging to the racetam family, is Aniracetam. Racetams are known for their capacity to promote learning and memory, and Aniracetam is called an AMPA modulator. AMPA modulators are capable of improving the function of the AMPA receptors, which respond to glutamate. These receptors are associated with sensory perception, learning, and memory. This is how Aniracetam helps to boost your overall cognition.
Aniracetam may also increase motivation and mood. Common types of anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). These kinds of drugs increase their presence in the brain by inhibiting the reuptake of these chemicals.
Much of our creativity comes from a state of relaxation and focus, and taking Aniracetam to strengthen individual imagination and creativity is a common practice within the Nootropic community. That’s partly because of its effectiveness, and partly because taking an Aniracetam supplement is relatively safe, when taking the proper dosage, however, occasional headaches are a common side effect. To minimize or prevent headaches, you can use a reliable choline source such as Citicoline, or Alpha GPC in your Nootropic stack.
Aside from Aniracetam, one of the best Nootropics for college students is Piracetam. Its popularity among college students is in part due to the lack of noticeable side effects. Piracetam is one of the best Nootropics for memory, while also being one of the best to release the user’s artistic abilities. It works primarily by increasing the impact neurotransmitter acetylcholine has in the brain, by modulating your brains receptors.
Piracetam also increases activity between the two halves of our brain, which communicate through the corpus allosum – the band of nerves connecting both hemispheres. This then improves mood, focus, memory, and creativity. Like Aniracetam, one possible side effect is headaches. As suggested with Aniracetam, choline can be used to counter headaches by working to increase production of acetylcholine.
The Top Two Nootropics for Physical Recovery
Keeping your body and mind running at maximum efficiency is a critical part in achieving the highest physical performance, and the right Nootropic may give you the edge you need.
While other stimulants like caffeine only help by ramping up brain activity and increasing alertness, Nootropics can gradually raise brain efficiency and cellular health.
Here are two of the best Nootropics for physical performance:
Phosphatidylserine is a natural compound created by the body that has been shown to help with some mental decline related to age. Its main function is as an important part of the cellular membrane, which is a phospholipid layer that envelopes all cells and gives structure and protection. It keeps the membrane fluid and flexible, encouraging cellular healing and helping to flush out waste products.
There is some evidence that for the person seeking better physical performance, Phosphatidylserine increases the amount of time a person can do strenuous exercise before they reach a point of exhaustion.
Modafinil has been found to reduce the onset of fatigue, and the feelings of exhaustion, which in turn allows an athlete to perform their exercises for a longer period of time. Although it is usually taken to keep people awake, many take it to better their physical performance.
The Top 2 Nootropics for Stress Reduction and Resistance
Stress is a common response caused by a person’s anxiety or fear, and that reaction releases cortisol from your adrenals, which allows your body to fight the effects of stress. Stress can be set off by a number of things – an approaching work deadline, not enough sleep, or dealing with traffic. Fortunately, there are Nootropics that can help your body deal with stress, and possibly avoid the damage it may cause. Many of these Nootropics are classified as adaptogens (herbs that help the body to normalize functions that are in need of repair) and two of the best for stress are listed below.
Rhodiola Rosea works by weakening the release of cortisol from your adrenals, and helping to reduce it within normal range. It also helps to protect the mind and body from excessive stress, that may lead to mental exhaustion and brain fog. Rhodiola Rosea is known to improve concentration, energy, memory, and boosts cognitive performance, all while decreasing the release of cortisol.
Many consider Bacopa Monnieri to be the best-proven Nootropic available today. As an adaptogen, it helps with the prevention of the physical and chemical effects of stress. It is also an herb that is well known for its benefits for memory, knowledge retention and learning.
Its mechanism of is similar to Rhodiola in that it helps to blunt the chemicals of the brain that typically increase in response to stress. Bacopa Monnieri has been suggested to help regulate some “calming” brain chemicals, in addition to reducing the release of stress hormones, which include serotonin and GABA.
In a recent study on animals, Bacopa Monnieri was compared against prescription anti-anxiety pills. Researchers appeared to have made a compelling discovery about Bacopa’s potential: Bacopa Monnieri actually eased tension while simultaneously promoting cognition. This is compared to the anti-anxiety pills, which eased tension but were associated with motor deficits and even amnesia.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products discussed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.