Nootropics can do many positive things for the brain -- enhancing brain energy, neurotransmitters, cerebral circulation, neuroprotection, brain waves, regeneration and more.
But how do these nootropic bioactivities translate into nootropic benefits for mental performance and brain health?
This guide discusses some of the most research-backed benefits of nootropics, and how you may best achieve them with smart supplementation.
What Kind of Brain Benefits Can Nootropics Offer?
Your brain is your entire universe.
Everything you perceive, everything you do, and everything you are is thanks to healthy brain function.
True nootropics enhance brain function in a lot of different ways, and therefore, offer cognitive benefits far beyond a standard memory pill.
Indeed, by optimizing the brain, true nootropics are unique among nutritional supplements for their ability to enhance virtually every aspect of your life performance -- no matter who you are or what you do.
Nootropics can be used in many ways, for diverse aspects of brainpower. The most research-backed of these nootropic benefits generally fall under:
- Short-term benefits: Performance-driven thinking like focus, short-term memory, stress resistance and others that help to give a more immediate edge to productivity, intensity, competition, deadline, exams, etc.
- Long-term benefits: Promotes healthy brain structure and function during the aging process, including support for memory, age-related cognitive decline, mood, and mental clarity well into senior years
Let's take a closer look at some specific short-term and long-term mental performance benefits of nootropics, and learn how a Universal Nootropic may deliver the best of both worlds.
Short-Term Nootropic Benefits
Nootropics have a long history of use for improving memory. Traditionally, brain boosters were taken mostly by mature adults experiencing age-associated memory impairment.
Today, memory enhancers are known to be far more versatile -- optimizing performance-oriented memory functions in addition to helping with age-related memory concerns.
Memory functions that may benefit from nootropic supplements include:
- Long-term memory - the specific memory stage that holds onto knowledge and experiences indefinitely, over years and decades
- Short-term memory (working memory) - knowledge and experiences that are held up to about 30 seconds, and in limited quantity – 5 to 10 pieces of information only. Used in reasoning and processing.
- Free recall – Ability to store a set of items, hold onto them for a few minutes, and then properly remember and express those items in any order
Since acetylcholine is a key brain chemical for memory formation and retrieval, nootropics that help with this neurotransmitter are believed to benefit memory performance.
Nootropics for healthy brain cell structure -- especially those that support brain cell membranes -- are also good for memory performance.
Nootropics with research-backed memory benefits include:
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) - Researchers suggested it helps short-term memory, long-term memory, recall and more; PS is the best evidence-backed memory nootropic<1>
- Citicoline - Shown to help enhance memory performance in elderly people,<2> possibly due to brain-energizing and regenerative nootropic properties
- Bacopa Monnieri - Top memory-booster for students because it helps slow down the rate at which the brain forgets newly learned knowledge<3>
- Vitamin B6 - shown to significantly improve storage of information in older adults<4>
- L-Tyrosine - shown to help enhance working memory in multitasking settings with additional benefits for mental performance under stress<5>
Many seek out brain-boosting nootropics for help with various aspects of mood, including anxiety, depression, stress and others. This is a good move.
Mood issues are strongly linked to brain functions that can be improved with nootropics -- including bad brain circulation, unbalanced brain chemicals, low brain energy, and poor stress resistance. In addition, nootropics that enhance overall brain health have been linked to mood benefits.
Nootropics with research-backed benefits for depression, anxiety and other aspects of mood include:
- L-Theanine - modulates Alpha brainwaves to encourage a relaxed, anxiety-free state; L-Theanine has been linked to a calmer heart rate and reduced stress markers<6>
- Bacopa Monnieri - Adaptogen stress-buster suggested to ease anxiety while sharpening mental performance; no sedating side effects<7>
- Lion's Mane Mushroom - Assists with Nerve Growth Factor (NGF), which may explain its clinically shown benefits for bright, balanced mood<8>
Nootropics are appealing energy boosters because they work without the use of stimulants, eliminating any unpleasant stim-related side effects.
Nootropics are instead suggested to boost brain energy because they:
- Support healthy blood flow to the brain, which supplies oxygen and glucose that are burned for energy
- Optimize brain cells' mitochondria power plants for efficient production of energy
- Strengthen the brain's resistance to stress. Stressful, fast-paced, multitasking activities can all leave the brain feeling exhausted
- Tune brain waves to Alpha frequency, associated with gently revitalizing feelings of "wakeful relaxation"
Healthy brain energy metabolism is important because the brain consumes 20% of the body's energy. Further, brain cell maintenance, repair, and regeneration all add to the brain's significant power demands.
Brain energy is linked to overall brain health. It is also associated with an energized mindset – the capacity to think quickly; to have mental agility and maintain sharp alertness.
Nootropics with research-backed benefits for energy include:
- Citicoline - as the Cognizin brand, it has been clinically shown to boost brain energy metabolism by 13.6%<9>
- Rhodiola Rosea - Suggested to increase brain ATP energy and minimize stress-induced fatigue<10>
- Vitamin B12 - key cofactor in brain cell energy metabolism<11>
- L-Tyrosine - shown to enhance mental performance under sleep deprivation<12>
Attention and focus refer to the ability to concentrate one’s mind on a single task while ignoring other environmental stimuli over an extended period of time.
Attention underlies many other cognitive functions. But in the context of nootropics, consumers are often looking for attention support for performance reasons, such as studying, work productivity and competitive activities.
Nootropics may help with several different aspects of attention, including:
- Focused attention - the ability to maintain focus on a specific sensory stimuli
- Selective attention - maintaining focus on one stimuli against the background of distraction
- Alternating attention - cognitive flexibility; the ability to switch seamlessly from task to task
- Divided attention - classic multitasking, the ability to manage multiple cognitive tasks at once
Several different nootropics have been linked to benefits for attention and focus. The most notable, however, may be:
- L-Tyrosine - master precursor to attention-related brain chemicals; suggested to activate cognition and boost markers of attention<13>
- Citicoline - shown to enhance attentional performance in two separate studies, one for women and one for younger men<14><15>
- L-Theanine - raises an Alpha brain wave state of relaxed alertness; shown to improve attention in human research<16>
- Rhodiola Rosea - shown to significantly enhance multiple aspects of attentional performance<17>
People are increasingly aware of the link between healthy sleep patterns and peak brain performance. As a result, many are seeking out nootropic brain supplements that optimize both sleep and cognition at the same time.
Nootropics for sleep have the potential for significant performance benefits because they work on two levels:
- Nootropics for sleep can help to promote a calm and relaxed mind state, helping to accelerate the onset of sleep itself;
- A well-rested mind simply performs better than a sleep-deprived mind
There are several different nootropic compounds that may help with sleep in a number of different ways.
One standout, however, is L-theanine – especially in the Suntheanine® brand, which is patented for its sleep-supportive activity.
- L-Theanine - shown in human research to improve sleep quality and other sleep benefits: Dream quality, energy upon waking, mood, and self-perceived measures of recovery.<18>
Stress can not only diminish mental performance in the short term, but also lead to more ongoing issues with mental fatigue and burnout.
Nootropics for stress may help in a few different ways – including by strengthening the body’s resistance to stress, replenishing brain chemicals that are depleted by stress, and naturally promoting feelings of relaxation.
By regulating stress, nootropics have the potential to not only help us feel more relaxed, but to achieve a higher level of cognitive performance. Only by removing stress can the brain reach its full potential. Research-backed benefits of nootropics for stress include:
- L-Tyrosine - may assist with mental recovery by helping to restore brain chemicals that are depleted by stress<19>
- Rhodiola Rosea - adaptogen that strengthens stress resistance; a natural mind-body performance enhancer<20>
- Bacopa Monnieri - another anti-stress adaptogen, suggested to prime the brain for active thinking under stress<21>
- L-Theanine - shown to have anti-stress benefits, attributed to its Alpha brain wave modulating activity<22>
As more students of academics and students of life seek natural ways to improve their performance, nootropics for learning get more attention.
Learning involves conquering a challenging combination of cognitive demands in order to excel, including:
- Mental energy
- Focus and attention
- Memory storage and retrieval
Nootropics are especially well-suited for many of these cognitive challenges, with additional benefits for maintaining a calm mind during stressful exams, when we must remember and think clearly under pressure.<23>
Many nootropics can contribute supportive activity for the memory and other cognitive functions that underlie all new learning, including:
- Bacopa Monnieri - the most famous learner’s nootropic, shown to slow down the rate at which we forget new knowledge.<24>
- Rhodiola Rosea - suggested in animal research to demonstrate potential for enhancing memory and learning ability<25>
Even the most artistic of individuals can struggle with creativity sometimes. Natural nootropics may help by gently steering the mind in a more relaxed, free-flowing direction.
Nootropics can affect many of the brain functions that are linked to creativity, such as mood, relaxation and focus. But of course, creativity is impossible to measure and validate with clinical research.
Nootropics for creativity are theoretical, but it seems to make sense that the benefits of nootropics like Citicoline and Rhodiola may help to promote the energized, motivated mindset that propels creative vision to artistic realization.
Perhaps the most intriguing nootropic with possible benefits for creativity is, however:
- L-Theanine - works by modulating brain waves to the Alpha frequency – a relaxed-but-alert brain-state that is associated with mind-expanding creativity and cognitive exploration.<26>
Motivation and drive are important contributors to cognitive function and overall life performance. Without motivation and drive, not much can be accomplished.
Despite motivation's importance, many people have difficulty finding their inner drive to reach their full potential. Nootropics may help, potentially by regulating the brain chemical dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that drives us to achieve by rewarding us with pleasure upon accomplishment. Issues with dopamine have been linked to low motivation and related concerns like poor mental energy, sluggish mood, and slow cognitive processing.
Nootropics that may assist with dopamine and benefit motivation include:
- L-Tyrosine - helps to balance brain chemicals and support dopamine levels associated with healthy mental drive<27>
- Vitamin B9 - a foundation nootropic B-vitamin that is required for dopamine synthesis; may help to support motivation<28>
- Rhodiola Rosea - optimizes dopamine plus mind-clarifying, stimulating, energizing benefits that complement motivation<29>
Long-Term Nootropic Benefits
Nootropics have a lot of potential to help with keeping the brain healthy for optimal performance now and sharp cognition in the future. Long-range brain health-supportive bioactivities performed by nootropics include:
Many people take nootropic supplements in order to boost their cognitive performance in the present day. Equally important, but less appreciated, are nootropic benefits for overall brain health, especially when it comes to aging.
Think you're too young for age-related cognitive issues? Think again: Researchers suggest that in otherwise healthy adults, cognitive decline may start as early as one's 20s or 30s.<30>
In older age more significant age-related brain health issues may manifest, which are associated with mood problems, poor memory, and general cognitive decline.
Brain aging is thought to be caused by free radicals: unstable molecules that smash against brain cell membranes, damaging them over time. Antioxidants nootropics can “quench” these free radicals, stabilizing them and halting their cellular damage.
Nootropics with antioxidant benefits that help protect the brain against the effects of aging include:
- Pine Bark Extract - bark of the Maritime pine has an especially potent complex of proanthocyanidin antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier to help neutralize free radical damage in the brain and maintain a healthy brain structure<31>
- Bacopa Monnieri - its active bacosides are antioxidant compounds shown to exert neuroprotective effects in the brain; researchers suggested Bacopa's antioxidant activity may contribute to its pro-cognitive nootropic benefits<32>
Just like antioxidants protect brain cells from the age-accelerating effects of free radicals, other nootropics may help to protect brain cells from other types of damage and degradation that are associated with brain fog and cognitive decline.
Nootropic brain protectors (distinct from antioxidant brain protectors) include:
- Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 - in a stack, they help regulate unhealthy homocysteine in the bloodstream, thereby protecting the brain and blood vessels from homocysteine-related damage<33>
- Vitamin B12 - required for formation of the myelin sheathing that protects brain cells and neurons throughout the central nervous system<34>
- Citicoline - shown in animal research to have a neuroprotective effect by accelerating brain regeneration; may protect the brain against degeneration by optimizing brain cell structure<35>
- Lion's Mane Mushroom - animal research suggests it may also protect against unhealthy proteins; also promotes nerve growth factor (NGF) that supports healthy brain structure and nerve-protecting myelination<36>
- Phosphatidyserine (PS) - helps regulate immune system's cleanup and disposal of damaged or dying brain cells, thereby protecting other brain cells from toxic collateral damage<37>
The brain is constantly regenerating – growing new brain cells, repairing brain cell membranes, and remodeling itself in response to new learning and new experiences. All of these regenerative, brain-healthy bioactivities may be optimized with nootropics.
Nootropics for brain regeneration work in part by serving as building block raw materials or growth promoters in the brain. Some examples of research-backed benefits of nootropics for brain regeneration include:
- Citicoline - shown in human research to boost brain regeneration by 26%; potentially via a combination of brain energy and building-block benefits<38>
- Maritime Pine Bark Extract - its flavonoids have been suggested to enhance neural connections, to promote brain growth factors including Brain Derived Neurotrophic factor (BDNF)<39>
- Lion's Mane Mushroom - Increases NGF (Nerve Growth Factor). NGF helps with the brain plasticity and remodeling that occur during brain regeneration<40>
Nootropic Benefits for Seniors
Much nootropic research has centered on adults over the age of 55, likely due to the cognitive decline that occurs naturally during aging.
- Nootropic supplements -- especially those that support long-range brain health -- may be highly valuable for seniors.
With short-term nootropic benefits, you get cognitive results you can feel in a relatively short duration of time. With long-term nootropic benefits, the brain is instead quietly nourished and protected over time.
You may not feel a long-range nootropic working, but the cognitive benefits that eventually emerge may be dramatic.
Some specific nootropic benefits that illustrate how "brain health = brainpower" in older populations:
- Citicoline has been shown in human research to improve memory in elderly subjects, potentially by enhancing building-block compounds for brain repair and supporting acetylcholine<41>
- Vitamin B6 has been shown in human research to enhance memory, especially long-range memory, in elderly male subjects<42>
- Vitamin B12 is suggested by researchers to protect the brain from shrinkage and cognitive dysfunction in the elderly<43>
- Phophatidylserine (PS) has been shown to help memory, learning and motivation in geriatric subjects<44>
- L-Theanine has been suggested by researchers to improve mental performance in elderly subjects with mild cognitive decline<45>
- Lion's Mane Mushroom has been shown to significantly improve cognition in a senior population with brain degeneration<46>
Some nootropics' evidence-backed cognitive benefits for seniors reflect their great potential to enhance mental performance by improving brain health.
Perhaps the most important – but least heralded – benefits of nootropics are their ability to optimize overall brain health.
Benefits to brain health may not be as easy to identify or feel when compared to the near-instant gratification of fast-acting nootropics.
But as brain health is optimized over time, you may notice across-the-board enhancements in many different cognitive functions and types of thinking.
When the brain is healthier, it simply works better.
Universal Nootropic™ Benefits
The first Universal Nootropic™, Mind Lab Pro® is a single nootropic stack that supplies all of the nootropics discussed in this article -- in pure, premium and potent forms at clinical-range dosages.
Unlike other nootropic supplements, Mind Lab Pro® is designed to supply broad-spectrum brain support that enhances both short-term mental performance and long-range brain health.
By boosting multiple brain pathways with the multi-tasking nootropics discussed in this article, Mind Lab Pro® promotes a flexible state of 100% Brainpower that flexes to deliver all of the nootropic benefits discussed in this article.
With this Universal Nootropic™ design, Mind Lab Pro® innovates the traditional "brain supplement" concept to produce effects that are different and better than any other nootropic stack.
Short-Range Mind Lab Pro® Benefits: 100% Brainpower™
Mind Lab Pro® short-range nootropic benefits manifest in many ways, and flex to meet various cognitive demands with varied brainpower support:
- If you’re working out, you may feel more motivated and driven to excel
- At the office, enhanced multitasking or better single-task focus
- Learners may improve studying capacity and calm clarity during exams
- In competition, improved strategic thinking and reaction times
- In social settings, may feel like relaxation, bright mood and fluid verbal skills
- Others may notice sharper recall, faster processing, longer attention span
- Flexible support for memory, focus, attention, learning and more
- Adapts to shifting brain demands, assisting with stress, mood and relaxation as needed
Long-Range Mind Lab Pro® Benefits: Whole-Brain Optimization
The very reason Mind Lab Pro® can deliver so many short-range cognitive benefits is because it enhances so many different brain pathways. It is designed to not just boost the brain temporarily, but to improve the brain over time.
Mind Lab Pro® long-range brain benefits include:
- Helping to improve the symptoms of mild age-related decline
- Promoting sharp memory and mental clarity during the aging process
- Minimizing issues related to age-associated memory impairment
- Supporting antioxidant defenses for healthy brain aging
Mind Lab Pro® optimizes all of the potential brain benefits discussed in this article by using 11 premium-quality nootropics, shown to be safe and effective, delivered in clean, premium capsules with no garbage additives.
Mind Lab Pro® Universal Nootropic™ design unlocks full-spectrum benefits for short-term mental performance and long-range brain health.
No other product on the market can approach Mind Lab Pro® depth and breadth of nootropic benefits. With an innovative formula designed to optimize multiple cognitive pathways at once, Mind Lab Pro® functions as an unparalleled whole-brain optimizer.