The best nootropics can do more for brainpower than you might think. But finding the right supplement can be challenging.
This guide is written to help you do just that.
We'll discuss how you can figure out which nootropics work. Discussing the science behind nootropics, the forms and combinations that are most effective, and how the best nootropics stack may deliver everything you need for brain power in one formula.
What Makes a Nootropic the Best?
Nootropics are cognitive enhancers. That means to be considered among the best, there must be scientific evidence showing they boost brain function in one (or many) ways, such as:
Improving mental performance: Often this is direct support for memory, attention, focus, mental processing speed and concentration. Nootropics also support performance via motivation, mood and other indirect pathways.
Addressing specific cognitive health concerns: For example, some may seek out the best nootropic for ADHD specifically, the most effective for Age-Associated Memory Impairment (AAMI), the top nootropic for energy, etc.
Promoting overall brain health: If you want to improve brain health, nootropics can help protect brain cells' structure and function. Since brain health also helps improve cognitive function, supplements for overall brain wellness may also be considered "performance" nootropics.
Ideally, the scientific evidence supporting these benefits will be "Gold Standard" quality: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical trials. The top nootropics are backed by Gold Standard research.
In addition to scientific evidence and ability to meet user needs, in order to be the best, a nootropic must be safe to take.
Let's take a closer look at some of the best nootropic substances you'll find in supplements today that meet these criteria.
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*A word on nootropics and smart drugs
Although the terms nootropics and smart drugs are sometimes used interchangeably, it is important to remember that they are not always the same.
Smart drugs are pharmaceuticals prescribed by doctors.
But not everyone wants a prescription drug. In this article, we are focusing on nootropic supplements that are available without a prescription.
Top Nootropics Ingredients
All of the following nootropic supplement ingredients are backed by science, with many featuring strong Gold Standard human research studies.
Citicoline is the best nootropic for energy and top overall nootropic for healthy brain function and peak cognitive performance.
Citicoline may be most well-known as a clean and effective mental energizer. It powers up the brain on a cellular level – within brain cells' powerhouse mitochondria – to enhance alertness and improve mental performance without the "crash" of a stimulant or a smart drug.
One human research study found that Citicoline may boost brain energy production by 13.6% and accelerate brain cell formation by 26%.1
Citicoline works in many ways to boost many aspects of brainpower – making it the best nootropic overall. In terms of cognitive benefits, researchers have suggested that Citicoline may help with:
- Overall cognitive function.2
- Attention and reaction time.3
- Memory performance.4
- Verbal learning performance.5
- Age-related cognitive and mental performance decline.6
Human research suggests Citicoline may improve cognitive function related to attention.
In addition to boosting performance-driven brain functions, Citicoline nourishes brain regeneration – so it also helps with long-range brain wellness and clarity.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is the best nootropic for memory. It has additional anti-stress effects and cognitive benefits that may help with competitive performance.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid (healthy fat) nootropic used in brain cell genesis, repair and maintenance. It is especially important for brain cells, including their outer membranes and nerve-protective myelin. PS has additional roles in brain chemicals and brain cell energy metabolism.
PS enhances several cognitive functions, with its greatest nootropic benefits in the area of memory.
Researchers have suggested PS promotes the formation and storage of short-term memories, consolidation of long-term memories, and memory retrieval (also known as recall).7
Additional mental performance benefits linked to PS supplementation include:
- Stress reduction and mood balance.8
- Improving cognitive abilities in age-related mental impairment.9
- Increasing sports-oriented cognitive functions.10
- Memory enhancement in elderly subjects.11
Bacopa Monnieri may be the best nootropics for studying, with unique brainpower benefits that boost memory, learning and cognition under stress.
This traditional Ayurvedic herb supplies active nootropic bacosides, which regulate brain chemicals and brain circulation while supplying brain-protective antioxidant activity.
Bacopa Monnieri's versatile brain benefits deliver some of the best cognitive effects for students and learners, but may help anyone seeking a sharp mental performance edge without stimulants or smart drugs.
Researchers have suggested that Bacopa Monnieri may help:
Memory retention, slowing the rate at which we forget newly acquired information.12
Significantly improve memory acquisition and retention in older adults.13
Supply neuroprotective activities that may be therapeutic in memory loss.14
Activate the brain for clear thinking under stress (animal research).15
Human research shows Bacopa Monnieri at 24% bacosides/9 bioactives may boost memory, learning, recall and more.
In a study that included 81 healthy Australians over the age of 55, Bacopa Monnieri supplementation for 12 weeks appeared to significantly improve verbal learning, memory acquisition, and delayed recall.13
In another study, researchers linked Bacopa Monnieri supplements to significant improvements in delayed recall memory. In weeks 0-12, a 36.5% improvement was noted with Bacopa supplementation.
Over the study's 24-week duration, a 78% improvement in delayed recall was noted with Bacopa.17
Bacopa Monnieri is popular in nootropic stacks because it is associated with so many different performance-oriented brainpower benefits.
In addition to learning, it supports short-term mental performance, long-range healthy brain function, and stress resistance.
Best Bacopa Monnieri for Brain Supplements: Standardized for 24% Bacosides, Calibrated to 9 Bioactives
- 24% potency of active nootropic bacosides ensures consistent activity
- Advanced HPLC-analysis ensures 9 bioactive bacoside nootropics are present
- Precisely calibrated botanical extract for more reliable Bacopa brain benefits
Lion’s Mane Mushroom
According to scientific research, Lion’s Mane Mushroom appears to be to be the best nootropic for Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).18 Healthy NGF levels in turn support several cognition-enhancing brain functions.
Lion's Mane Mushroom is one of the best mushroom nootropics. Its NGF-boosting bioactivity is rare, but highly significant for brain health and mental performance:
Healthy NGF levels support a range of brain bioactivities including plasticity, brain regeneration, cell-to-cell signaling and more
Suboptimal NGF levels have been linked to blue moods, poor memory issues and cognitive decline
Researchers have suggested Lion's Mane Mushroom's brain-healthy NGF support may boost brain power by:
Increasing cognitive performance scores in older adults with mild age-related cognitive issues.19
Potentially helping to clear brain fog, balance mood and ease anxiety.20
Lion's Mane Mushroom (Yamabushitake) has been shown to enhance cognitive performance in human research.
In one clinical trial, subjects took Lion’s Mane Mushroom or placebo three times a day for 16 weeks. Researchers found that the Lion’s Mane supplementation was associated with enhanced cognitive performance scores, and that cognitive testing scores dropped four weeks after supplementation stopped.19
Best Lion's Mane for Nootropic Supplements: Organic, Standardized Full Spectrum Extract
- Full spectrum extract supplies all the mushroom's constituents
- Includes Lion's Mane nootropic actives: hericenones and erinacines.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime Pine Bark Extract is the best antioxidant nootropic because it combines potent brain anti-aging activity with natural support for brain blood flow and brain regeneration.
Antioxidants fight cell aging, including within the brain. Antioxidants work by neutralizing the cell-damaging, age-accelerating effects of toxic free radicals. Maritime Pine Bark Extract is a strong antioxidant substance because it:
- Supplies dozens of brain-protective flavonoid antioxidants in one complex.
- Pine bark antioxidants are suggested to be 50X stronger than vitamin C.
- One of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood brain barrier.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract emerges as the best nootropic antioxidant because it does far more than protect the brain.
The flavonoid antioxidants that are found in Maritime Pine Bark also:
Stimulate Nitric Oxide, which promotes blood flow to the brain.21
Help raise levels of BDNF, a growth factor for brain regeneration.22
Researchers have linked flavonoids’ brain-regenerative and anti-aging bioactivities to improvements in memory, learning and overall mental function, as well as a potential reversal of age-related cognitive decline.23
Best Maritime Pine Bark for Nootropic Supplements: 95% proanthocyanidins
- Standardized to supply a minimum of 95% active proanthocyanidins
- Also called flavonoids or OPCs, proanthocyanidins are Maritime Pine Bark's nootropic antioxidants
- 95% active proanthocyanidins is the strongest available potency of Maritime Pine Bark’s nootropic actives
L-Tyrosine is the best nootropic for achieving peak cognition and clarity in challenging, pressure-filled situations – and then supporting mental recovery afterwards.
L-Tyrosine is an amino acid used to make brain chemicals involved in memory, mood and mental processing, including dopamine and norepinephrine.
Stress, multitasking and other intense cognitive functions deplete these performance-oriented brain chemicals, which may lead to brain fog and attention problems.
By maintaining stress-depleted brain chemicals, L-Tyrosine appears to enhance cognitive performance in stressful, distracting and demanding scenarios.
Researchers have suggested L-Tyrosine improves:
Working memory and learning speed during cold water immersion.24
Mental performance during loud 90 decibel noise exposure.25
Short-term memory during demanding multitasking activities.26
Cognitive performance and mood during sleep deprivation.27
Best L-Tyrosine for Nootropic Supplements: N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT)
- NALT is the preferred Tyrosine form for brain supplements
- May have bioavailability advantages over plain L-Tyrosine
L-Theanine's rare Alpha brain wave-boosting activity makes it the best nootropic for relaxed mental clarity, with additional support for sleep and healthy brain function.
A soothing amino acid nootropic from green tea, L-Theanine raises activity of Alpha brainwaves.28 By tuning the brain to an Alpha frequency (8-14 Hz) , it helps produce feelings of wakeful relaxation, mood enhancement, creative thinking and calm mental clarity.
Researchers have suggested that L-Theanine's nootropic benefits include:
Activating and enhancing the brain's attention circuitry.29
Reducing stress during demanding multitasking tasks.30
Enhancing age-related cognitive performance and protecting the brain.31
Improving performance on math tasks in a stressful environment.32
Helping to reduce the side effects of caffeine, for alertness without jitters.33
L-Theanine is also a research-backed sleep enhancer.34 This strengthens L-Theanine's reputation as one of the best overall nootropics, because healthy sleep is key for brain regeneration and sharp daytime cognition.
Best L-Theanine for Nootropic Supplements: Suntheanine®
Suntheanine® is 100% pure L-isomer form of theanine
Patented fermentation process mirrors green tea’s profile
Suntheanine® is shown in human research to raise Alpha brainwaves
Rhodiola Rosea is a great natural nootropic supplement for mind-body performance. It helps strengthen mental fortitude against stress, supporting mental energy, physical intensity, mood, work capacity and more.
Rhodiola Rosea is one of the best nootropics and a must-have in performance-oriented brain supplements. Rhodiola Rosea is powerful brain-booster that works in a unique way:
Rhodiola Rosea modulates stress hormones to strengthen mental (and physical) resistance to stress.35
Rhodiola's anti-stress and brain support promotes far reaching brainpower benefits, including an anti-fatigue effect that improves concentration ability, clears brain fog, decreases stress responses and helps with peak mental performance.
Researchers have suggested Rhodiola Rosea may help brain function in several ways:
- Enhances mental and physical performance.36
- Promotes a significant anti-fatigue effect.37
- Supports mental energy and neuro-motoric testing scores.38
- Reduces mental fatigue in stressful settings.39
- Supports a bright, balanced mood.40
Rhodiola Rosea has been linked to dose-dependent mental energy benefits in human clinical research.
In a human clinical study investigating Rhodiola Rosea's impact on mental work capacity during stress and fatigue, researchers reported that rhodiola group study subjects showed a pronounced antifatigue effect.37
Rhodiola Rosea is a legendary mental and physical performance enhancer for athletes, especially in Russia.
Soviet-era Russian researchers studied Rhodiola Rosea's impact on biathletes and found that it improved cognitive abilities like focus and decreased tremors.
Best Rhodiola for Nootropic Supplements: 3% rosavins, 1% salidrosides.
- Standardized for a minimum of 3% rosavins and 1% salidrosides.
- Strongest potency of Rhodiola rosea nootropic bioactives available
- Enhanced-potency form of a traditional herbal performance booster.
Vitamins B6, B9, B12
B-Vitamins get a special nootropic mention because they are among the best essential nutrients for the brain, but not everybody gets enough. While the B-Complex as a whole is believed to support brain wellness, three Bs in particular are most important for a brain supplement:
Vitamin B6 is one of the best nootropics to look for in brain supplements because it regulates synthesis and conversion of neurotransmitters involved in healthy cognition, mood and memory performance.
Researchers have suggested that Vitamin B6 may:
- Significantly improve the brain's storage of information.41
- Support brain chemicals associated with a bright, healthy mood.42
Vitamin B9 is a top nootropic supplement because it helps balance homocysteine levels, thereby optimizing blood flow to the brain and production of cognition-critical brain chemicals.
High homocysteine levels correlate to low B9 intake. Both are linked to cognitive decline and unhealthy changes to brain structure.43
Vitamin B9 supplementation has been shown to increase blood B9 levels by 576%, reduce homocysteine by 26%, and significantly improve memory and information processing speed.44
B9 also plays a role in the synthesis of the brain chemicals serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine.45
Vitamin B12 is an important essential nutrient for the nervous system, including the brain. It supports brain cell energy metabolism and the formation of healthy, protective nerve sheaths.46
Low levels of B12 are associated with cognitive decline and mental imbalance. Researchers have suggested that as a nootropic, Vitamin B12 may help to
Maintain brain size against age-related shrinkage.47
Reverse age-related cognitive concerns in some older adults.48
Support healthy blood flow to the brain.49
Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 are the best vitamin nootropics for overall brain wellness.
When stacked together Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 unlock another benefit that makes them three of the best nootropics for long-range brain health: They help to regulate homocysteine levels.
High homocysteine is a strong modifiable risk factor for cognitive decline because it interferes with circulation to the brain.
Vitamins B9, B6 and B12 for Healthy Blood Flow to the Brain
Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 are all involved in homocysteine metabolism, which in turn supports healthy cerebral circulation and brain chemicals:
The best nootropic supplements may include Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 to help regulate homocysteine, thereby supporting brain chemical conversion and healthy blood flow to the brain.
In a meta-analysis review of 12 human clinical trials including over 1,100 study subjects, researchers suggested that B-vitamin supplements help with homocysteine metabolism:50
- Supplementation with .5 mg of Vitamin B9 appears to be associated with a 25% reduction in blood homocysteine concentrations;
- Adding .5 mcg of Vitamin B12 to the regimen was associated with an additional 7% reduction in blood homocysteine levels.
Best B-Vitamins for Brain Supplements: NutriGenesis® nature-identical.
- NutriGenesis® nootropic B-Vitamins are lab-grown via dual-organism cultivation in a state of the art laboratory.
- Complexed with absorption-enhancing cofactors like amino acids, prebiotics, enzymes and fiber.
- The body recognizes, absorbs and utilizes nature-identical NutriGenesis® B-Vitamins efficiently, amplifying their nootropic benefits.
- Patented NutriGenesis® process yields the cleanest, safest, most eco-friendly B-Vitamins available.
Mind Lab Pro® is the Best Nootropic Stack Supplement
The above list covers some of the most effective single ingredient nootropic supplements on the market today.
But many biohackers are looking for more cognitive benefits than a single ingredient or smart drug can provide. Enter the "Nootropic Stack Supplement" that combines several cognitive enhancers into one formula, in order to improve brain function in many ways.
Mind Lab Pro® is a nootropic stack supplement that selects the best brain boosters from a long list of possibilities – combining 11 research-backed ingredients, each of which has multitasking benefits for multiple aspects of cognitive function and brain health.
As a result, Mind Lab Pro delivers more brain function benefits than other nootropic stacks on the market. It's just one reason it's the best.
Another reason it is a top shelf stack: Smart formulation. Mind Lab Pro® doesn't just provide a lot of benefits, it provides more powerful benefits by employing a stacks within stacks strategy.
Mind Lab Pro® targets the brain power benefits most people are seeking, and then combines several nootropics to provide stronger results. Some examples:
Top Crash-Free Nootropics for Mental Energy
Together in Mind Lab Pro®, Rhodiola Rosea, Citicoline and Vitamin B12 combine to promote mental energy in separate, complementary ways.
- Rhodiola Rosea - natural psychostimulant helps ease mental fatigue.
- Citicoline - optimizes brain cells' energy-producing mitochondria.
- Vitamin B12 - essential nutrient for brain energy metabolism.
Both Rhodiola and Citicoline have been noted to achieve their brain-energizing effects without the crash or side effects of caffeine or other typical energizers.
Leading Nootropics for Brain Regeneration
Mind Lab Pro® supports creation and repair of brain cells with a smart nootropic stack that works across four unique pathways:
- Citicoline - powers and accelerates new brain cell formation.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) - nourishes brain regeneration with building blocks.
- Lion's Mane Mushroom - promotes nerve growth factor (NGF).
- Maritime Pine Bark - promotes brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
Together in Mind Lab Pro, these nootropics supply the raw materials, energy and growth factors that all contribute to healthy brain regeneration.
Performance-Driven Nootropics for Sports & Gaming
Together in Mind Lab Pro®, the nootropics PS, Rhodiola and Bacopa combine to support the healthy stress responses and mental clarity that help contribute to peak brain function during athletic competition.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) - stress benefits suggested to improve golf performance and endurance training.
- Rhodiola Rosea - supports stress resistance, focus, athletic performance and exercise adaptation.
- Bacopa Monnieri - anti-stress, memory and learning benefits for strategy and gameday performance.
Mind Lab Pro®'s mini-stack for sports cognition and gaming/esports supplies effective brain boosters to help you gain a safe, legal competitive edge.
Most Effective Mental Recovery Nootropics
High-performance thinking depletes brain chemicals needed for mental clarity. Mind Lab Pro® may help with:
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine helps the brain recover and clears brain fog by supporting synthesis of stress-depleted brain chemicals.
- L-Theanine promotes relaxation and healthy sleep, which in turn supports efficient brain repair and recovery.
Mind Lab Pro® takes care to not only boost brainpower, but support mental recovery and overall brain health along the way.
Top Nootropics for Thinking Under Pressure
Together in Mind Lab Pro®, N-Acteyl L-Tyrosine and Rhodiola rosea supply complementary support for superior cognitive function under demanding, distracting and stressful scenarios.
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine - brain-boosting activity may deliver better benefits during high-intensity cognitive tasks than relaxed cognitive tasks.
- Rhodiola Rosea - adaptogen activity helps regulate stress responses to maintain clear, fast mental processing during pressure-filled situations.
This mini-stack forms a powerful nootropic duo for dynamic, competitive and high-performance individuals.
Research-Backed Nootropics for Mood
Vitamin B6 and L-Theanine supply complementary support for a positive, balanced mental state – raising Alpha brainwaves for immediate mood support.
- Vitamin B6 - needed to synthesize brain chemicals for mood balance.
- L-Theanine - supports a bright, relaxed mood via Alpha brain wave activity.
Together in Mind Lab Pro®, these two nootropics help to support mood via separate complementary brain pathways, without smart drugs or their potential side effects.
Best Nootropics for Learning
Bacopa, PS and Lion's Mane may help learners to encode and recall valuable knowledge in the short term, as well as supporting the ability to draw upon that stored knowledge for years to come.Bacopa Monnieri - improves learning rate while sustaining the retention of newly acquired information.
Phosphatidylserine (PS) - best nootropic supplement for long-term memory and recall.
Lion's Mane Mushroom - supports brain plasticity that underlies new learning.
This mini-stack can help students and learners of all ages to retain and recall new knowledge.
Mind Lab Pro® is Clean and Safe.
Are nootropics safe? Do they really work? Not always. To be the best, a nootropic supplement must be clean and high quality – for the best results, fewest discouraging side effects, and greatest overall safety profile.
Mind Lab Pro® is the best because it high quality across the board:
- Research-backed nootropic ingredients that have been shown to be safe and well-tolerated in multiple human clinical trials
- No artificial colors, no preservatives, no GMO, no gluten, no caffeine or stimulants, no soy and no synthetic additives.
- Premium vegan NutriCaps®: Clean, clear pullulan naturally fermented from tapioca; no unsafe or synthetic capsule ingredients.
Mind Lab Pro®'s quality delivery and clean label helps each nootropic contained in each capsule to reach their full brain-boosting potential.
Mind Lab Pro® is Backed By Research.
Finally, Mind Lab Pro® is the best nootropic stack because it's one of the only ones on the market that has been the subject of a rigorous clinical human trial. In this research, it was shown to improve brain function across several key cognitive markers.
Conclusion - What is the most effective nootropic on sale today?
Mind Lab Pro® is the best nootropic supplement source ever developed – supplying 11 superior nootropics in one premium-quality stack to unlock 100% Brainpower™.
Whatever your cognitive goals may be, it is the best nootropic supplement you can take. It is one formula that optimizes the whole brain – unlocking a peak performing mind that helps you do everything better, no matter who you are or what your lifestyle may be.
Best of all, Mind Lab Pro® delivers its life-enhancing brainpower benefits in a clean, superior-quality formula. It's not a synthetic smart drug. It is safe, side effect-free, and great for overall brain health – so you can achieve 100% Brainpower™ now while nourishing your brain for a bright, healthy future.
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