Looking for a safe and legal competitive edge in gaming? Nootropics for gamers may help. Some of today's top brain-boosters can enhance cognitive functions that are needed for sharp gaming performance: Focus, strategy, working memory, creativity and more. This guide discusses some of the best nootropics for gaming, and how you can leverage them to become a dominant force at any video game.
Nootropic Benefits for Gamers
Don't hack the game. Hack the brain.
Serious gaming places tremendous demand on many aspects of cognition at the same time. On an otherwise level playing field, brain function will ultimately determine gaming success.
Brain-boosting nootropic supplements can enhance several cognitive functions that may promote a state of peak gaming performance:
Focus and Attention
If your mind wanders during high-intensity gameplay, you are at a distinct disadvantage. Some nootropics for attention can help to sharpen focus on the task at hand, which translates into fluid gameplay and fast reactions that give gamers an edge.
Also known as short-term memory, working memory is key for victory across all types of video games. Nootropics for working memory can help you retrace recent steps in gameplay, assist with pattern recognition, and otherwise sharpen your competitive edge.
Energized, active thinking is key for effective gaming, especially in late-night marathon sessions. Energy drinks are a staple of gamers. Some nootropics help caffeine to work better; others promote stimulant-free energy within brain cells themselves, for a healthier competitive boost.
Strategy is for winners. Some nootropics help with brain functions that underlie insightful strategic thinking, which includes aspects of learning, memory and other higher-order cognitive processes.
Intense and highly competitive gameplay can generate stress that can be counterproductive. Some of the best nootropics for gamers help to strengthen the brain's resistance to stress, for clear and logical thinking even in the most chaotic of gaming scenarios.
Creative problem solving wins games. In today's complex video games, there are often multiple solutions to the same storyline. Some nootropics help to foster ideal mind-states for creative thinking that can help gamers to solve puzzles and advance while their opponents remain stumped.
Level Up with (Legal) Nootropics
Video gaming has been around for decades, yet only recently has become a legitimate career option. And with the rise of YouTube gamers, Twitch stars, and professional eSports competitors, the question of how to play better is no longer simply influenced by impressing your friends and topping high score boards but a matter of millions and millions of prize money.
With so much now on the line, the term "gaming" almost seems a misnomer – at least for the non-casual crowds.
As such, not all uses of cognitive enhancers are open to all gamers, seeing as the Electronic Sports League (ESL) has began enforcing stricter policing of performance enhancing substances, which are partially determined by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited Substances list of 2017.
Fortunately, most natural nootropics are good to go and, if used right, may significantly push the limits beyond your previous high score.
The gaming nootropics covered in this guide are substances that work under the WADA standards of clean usage. As such, you won't see the likes of high stimulative substances or powerful prescription-based performance enhancers. Instead, what you will find are:
- Natural nootropic supplements that are safe, legal, and effective for both recreational and professional use.
- Healthy alternatives (and complements) to another gamer staple: energy drinks.
Here is a short list of some of the best nootropics for elevating your gaming performance:
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for Gamers
The premier anti-stress amino acid, L-Tyrosine is a precursor to neurotransmitters that are burned by over-excitement.
While computer games may help you unwind and release a long day's worth of built up stress, prolonged gaming binges may also wreak havoc on your biochemical makeup – with some evidence finding significant structural damages on the brain's dopaminergic pathway.<1>
For a quick recap: Dopamine is the neurotransmitter involved in the pleasure-reward pathway. When you eat chocolate, dopamine releases. When you drink coffee, dopamine releases. When you learn something new and exciting, dopamine releases. And when you game, dopamine releases, reinforcing repeat behavior of the experience.
- As such, dopamine is viewed as the Motivation Molecule, promoting driven "go-getter" behavior as well as addictive "I need it now" compulsion.
One of the key co-factors in dopamine synthesis is L-tyrosine, which converts in the brain to L-dopa, the direct precursor to dopamine. This is why supplementing L-tyrosine, particularly with B vitamins, feels good – it results in an increase in dopamine activity.
Supplementing the active form of L-tyrosine (N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine) may ameliorate brain burnout due to excessive gaming by sustaining healthy dopamine levels for enhanced mood and motivation.
If nothing else, L-tyrosine has been shown to improve cognitive performance during a "demanding military combat training course." We can't imagine CS:GO is too far off.
In addition, L-Tyrosine has been found to sharpen thinking in distracting environments including loud noise exposure and immersion in cold water; this seems to suggest great potential for peak performance in chaotic gaming scenarios.
For optimal gaming effect: Stack N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine with B vitamins, specifically vitamin B6, which is another smart precursor prerequisite to dopamine synthesis.
L-Theanine's anxiolytic alpha brainwave modulation promotes wakeful relaxation.
L-theanine, an anxiolytic amino acid and immensely popular herbal nootropic, accomplishes two significant nootropic outcomes for gamers:
- Modulates alpha brainwaves - the brainwave frequencies associated with relaxed, yet wakeful thinking and creativity.<2>
- Reduces over-excited neuro activity - the amino inhibits excess glutamate release, damping down on mental overstimulation.<3>
L-Theanine for caffeinated gamers with jittery trigger fingers.
Caffeine provides extremely reliable bursts of mental energy, acutely enhancing focus, attention, and concentration, but at the cost of accuracy and precision – not to mention the anxiety-inducing stress levels provoked by an over-caffeinated diet.
L-theanine minimizes that risk and reduces caffeine jitters while sustaining caffeine's greatest alertness-enhancing benefits.
In fact, the combination of caffeine and L-theanine not only improves cognitive performance, both in speed and accuracy, but does so beyond the potential individual nootropic capacities of each compound, suggesting of a significant degree of synergy at play.<4>
- For optimal gaming effect: Shoot for either a 2:1 or 3:2 mix of L-theanine to caffeine, considering L-theanine seems to possess a much shorter half-life than caffeine.
Citicoline is a nootropic choline donor and a cognitive supercharger, making it an ideal choice for gamers seeking stim-free mental energy.
While citicoline delivers a wide array of brain health benefits, the compound is first-and-foremost a choline donor – meaning it provides raw cholinergic building block material for the following neural compounds:
- Acetylcholine (ACh) - the neurotransmitter often associated with memory, learning, and neuron-to-neuron communication.
- Phosphatidylcholine (PC) - one of the building blocks of cellular phospholipid bilayers, essential to the health and stability of neuronal membranes.
Few dietary choline sources are able to cross the blood-brain barrier as citicoline can. And of the few that can, citicoline packs the hardest nootropic punch, targeting a number of well-researched brain-building benefits for a cumulative result of 14% increased ATP brain energy and 35% increased neural membrane repair.<5>
One of the best nootropics for gamers, citicoline essentially provides two helpful precursor items:
- Choline - precursor to acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine.
- Cytidine - precursor to uridine, an RNA nucleotide base.
Uridine's promotion of new synapses qualifies citicoline as not only an acute cognitive enhancer but long-term neuroregenerator, optimizing your abilities to efficiently process, store, and recall strategic information.<6>
The two-in-one combination of choline and cytidine (ultimately uridine) enhances and energizes cognition, learning, and memory, supporting deeper cognitive paradigms that, while not necessarily relevant to twitch gaming, may benefit more chess-style thinking – the type required for real-time strategy (RTS) gaming and, yes, even chess.
Training eSports competitors, regardless of the gaming genre, may do well by adding a citicoline supplement to their nootropic stack.
Siberian-grown adaptogen root herb modulates the HPA response to stress for enhanced mental performance and clarity.
Initially kept secret by the Soviets, Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb treasured by the high-altitude citizens of Russia and Eastern Europe, where its potent anti-fatigue effects have benefited the likes of:
- Olympic Athletes - to maintain a sharp mental and physical edge in competitive performance as well as an anabolic post-exercise metabolism.
- Cosmonauts - to calm nerves and reduce anxiety while undertaking the physical and emotional stresses of space flight.
- Soldiers and Farmers - to safeguard muscular and mental stamina through harsh climes and frigid temperatures.
And now, today, Rhodiola rosea benefits: Video Gamers.
Due to Rhodiola's potentially direct regulation on the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis, the adaptogen complements L-tyrosine's anti-stress effects well by targeting the biological root of stress altogether (whereas L-tyrosine targets one of stress' outcomes).<7>
Among the class of adaptogen nootropics, Rhodiola stands out in particular for its acute "single-dose" benefits, with one animal study finding a single serving of Rhodiola to boost mood, alleviate anxiety, and achieve mild stimulation.<8>
Unlike many nootropics, which require long-term supplementation to achieve cognitive enhancing effects, Rhodiola's anti-stress benefits can be felt relatively quickly.
This turns out to be great news to the gamers on the fly.
Ultimate learner's nootropic and multifaceted memory enhancer may improve gamers' strategic thinking.
Like Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri is classified as an herbal adaptogen nootropic that helps to counter the negative cognitive effects of stress. While its anti-stress benefits may confer an advantage to gamers, Bacopa Monnieri is capable of doing much more.
Specifically, Bacopa Monnieri has been shown in some research to slow down the rate at which we forget new knowledge, as well as supporting working memory.
New knowledge and memory are key for gaming strategy and success, whether you are trying to remember how to get out of a complex dungeon or recalling the gameplay patterns of a human opponent.
Mind Lab Pro® nootropics for gamers include the best performance-enhancing brain-boosters for achieving total victory in any video game.
This guide only covers the nootropic supplements that may benefit gaming performance, however gamers may also want to consider checking out vision enhancer supplements – most notably Zeaxanthin, Lutein, Astaxanthin, and Cyanidin 3-Glucoside (C3G).
From beginners playing video games as a hobby to pros putting in long hours of practice, nootropics represent a safe, legal and effective way to achieve your full gaming power.
- Mind Lab Pro® supplies all of the nootropics for gamers discussed in this guide, and is suitable for both twitch gamers and real-time strategists. Its non-caffeinated formula also grants users the option of stacking Mind Lab Pro®'s L-theanine with alternative energy sources.
- Tian M, et al. PET imaging reveals brain functional changes in internet gaming disorder. European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging. July 2014; 41(7): 1388-97.
- Nobre AC, et al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17 Suppl 1: 167-8.
- Yamade T, et al. Effects of theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, on neurotransmitter release and its relationship with glutamic acid neurotransmission. Nutr Neurosci. 2005 Aug; 8(4): 219-26.
- Owen GN, et al. The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood. Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Aug; 11(4): 193-8.
- Silveri MM, et al. Citicoline enhances frontal lobe bioenergetics as measured by phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy. NMR Biomed. 2008 Nov; 21(10): 1066-75.
- Wurtman RJ, et al. Synapse formation is enhanced by oral administration of uridine and DHA, the circulating precursors of brain phosphatides. J Nutr Health Aging. 2009 Mar; 13(3): 189-97.
- Olsson EM, et al. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. 2009 Feb; 75(2): 105-12.
- Perfumi M, Mattioli L. Adaptogenic and central nervous system effects of single doses of 3% rosavin and 1% salidroside Rhodiola rosea L. extract in mice. Phytother Res. 2007 Jan; 21(1): 37-43.