EASNA review the best nootropic supplements designed to help manage the stress and pressure of the modern world and work environment.
It's no secret that the modern world is a stressful place, mental fatigue, isolation and unnatural working environments have taken their toll on the mental health and productivity of 10,000s of American's.
As a result, many have begun to look for new ways to help themselves, whether that be through lifestyle changes, reaching out for help, or supplements. Nootropic supplements have become increasingly popular as people start to understand more about maintaining their brain health, rather than historically just looking at our outward appearances and physical capabilities especially with entrepreneurs and office workers looking to boost productivity.
Brain supplements designed to increase cognitive function have varying levels of success and not all products are created equal. We take a look at the most effective ingredients and the best pre made nootropic stacks. We rank pre made nootropic blends based on value, efficacy, customer satisfaction, ingredients quality, dosage, our testing and the quality of the research backing their use.
Nootropic supplements (often referred to as smart drugs) are a relatively broad category of supplements, it covers pretty much everything that can have a positive impact on your brain function or health. Whether that be immediate focus improvement, memory boosters, sleep aids, stress relievers or even supplements designed to maintain long term eye health. The most popular tend to be nootropics for anxiety, memory and cognitive function allowing people to maintain higher performance at work, as well as maintain improved mental health.
Anxiety reduction is one of the most common reasons that people take nootropics aside from improvements to brain function. Generally speaking there is a lot of research backing individual nootropics, but how effective that they're going to be will depend on which nootropics that you are taking. For example, caffeine, is perhaps the most commonly used nootropic, and whilst it does improve focus, with overconsumption it can actually increase anxiety.
Some Of The Most Commonly Asked Questions About Nootropics
Many nootropic supplements improve mental acuity, they also improve brain energy, allowing people to maintain high performance for prolonged periods of time. On average the longest a person can focus on a creative task is around 90 minutes, then breaks are required. With average brain function continuing for up to 6 hours. In theory nootropics can help people retain focus on creative tasks for 30 minutes more and increase overall function to 10-12 hours.
Natural nootropic supplements are generally contain ingredients that are considered completely safe for human consumption, that doesn't mean that you can't take too much, but in general there shouldn't be any issues unless you suffer from specific allergies. There are sometimes side effects such as an upset stomach and if you experience any issues you should stop taking them and speak to your physician. All of the nootropics and smart drugs on our best nootropic supplements list are produced in FDA approved factories.
The short answer is yes, the long answer is that how effective they are will differ from person to person and what you're using them for.
There are dozens of nootropics on the market and different ingredients not only have different functions, but different levels of efficacy. Some of the best nootropic ingredients to look out for are listed below.
L-Theanine - L Theanine has been backed by multiple placebo controlled studies for showing significant improvements to anxiety when taken over a 4 week period. L Theanine is an amino acid that has shown multiple benefits to overall mood and sleep quality.
Omega Oils - Several studies have shown that Omega 3 can cause reduction of cortisol build up in seriously stressful situations, and reduce anxiety symptoms in otherwise healthy adults. Beyond that there is even some suggestion that it can reduce symptoms of PTSD. It's long been known that Omega oils are essential for healthy brain function. Supplementation is increasingly important for vegans and vegetarians who are far less likely to get omega oils in their diet.
Vitamin D - Vitamin D supplementation has been well studied to improve anxiety in deficient patients, deficiency has been long connected to stress and mood issues. This is particularly notable in the USA where nearly half the adult population is deficient in the vitamin.
Lions Mane - Lions mane has been shown to improve mild depressive, anxiety and cognitive impairment symptoms with the most effective results being over a 4 week trial. The mushroom contains hericenones and erinacines which stimulate nerve growth factors improving cognitive function and brain health overall. Initial studies also suggest it can reduce Alzheimer's markers and improve cognition and mental performance.
Piracetam - Piracetam has been shown to boost brain function, it seems to be most effective in older adults, suggesting that it is best taken to maintain cognitive function throughout aging. It's been well documented for use in cognitive disorders, but is being increasingly studied to improve mental performance in healthy adults.
Phenotropil - Typically used as a clinical option for improving cognition disorders it was originally developed for soviet cosmonauts to improve mood and reduce stress markers. It's also been noted for being able to increase dopamine production and has even been shown to reduce cravings as a result. However, it's now being used for maintaining long term brain health due to it's ability to reduce inflammation.
Phosphatidylserine - Is a phospholipid, or a fatty acid used to protect brain cells improving overall brain function. PS is absorbed well by humans in volumes of up to 800mg daily, and has been shown to slow cognitive decline, and even reverse some structural deuteriation to nerve cells.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine - Is most commonly used to protect overall brain health as a neuroprotectant, but also is well researched for brain fatigue and even performs well for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and MS. As a result the readily available nootropics has become common place in nootropic supplements.
Maritime Pine Bark - otherwise known as Pycnogenol, is mostly known for it's anti-inflammatory qualities and neuroprotective function. It's typically used to maintain healthy brain cells whilst ageing although has been shown to have efficacy in treating TBIs (traumatic brain injury) meaning that it could have completely regenerative effects.
Caffeine - The most well known and commonly taken focus enhancer around. Pretty much everyone is aware of caffeine's effects on the body and mind. It's well known for improving cognition, focus and alleviating fatigue[20}.
Nicotine - Nicotine is interesting, the chemical itself is of course highly addictive, but it gets a worse rap than is probably due when in isolation whereas in that context its behaviour is similar to that of caffeine, but with increased potency. It has been shown to improve focus substantially and even treat ADHD symptoms. Whilst you won't find it in any pre made nootropic supplements, there is some argument that the gum could be useful.
B Vitamins - Deficiencies in B vitamins cause brain fog, problems focusing, issues with memory retention and low energy in general. One study of 202 patients showed that 84% showed improved focus and 78% showed improved memory retention after supplementation
Creatine - Not an ingredient you'll see in pre blended nootropic supplements due to the volume required for efficacy, creatine is normally taken as a powder. Typically associated with improved athletic performance, it also has been shown to greatly improve brain function in terms of focus by helping your brain produce ATP which is required for difficult tasks this is actually one of the same reasons it works well for exercise as the muscles also utilise ATP. Beyond that it also has a notable effect on mood regulation, by increasing dopamine production. It's doubly effective for vegans and vegetarians who get nearly 0 creatine from their diets as it's typically only found in any substantial quantity in red meat. One study was able to show vegetarians had 20-50% increase in memory and intelligence test scores after supplementing with creatine. It was also shown to be more effective in older individuals than the young although still effective at improving brain function.
Ashwagandha - Particularly effective for stress relief, ashwaghanda is one of the best nootropic supplements for mood boosting as well as anxiety. Proven to reduce cortisol build up (the stress hormone), ashwagandha also has a number of other health benefits. It's particularly effective for improving mood in men, as it can help regulate healthy testosterone production, which is important for men's mental health, fatigue and overall cognitive function. Ashwagandha extract also inhibits acetylcholinesterase which breaks down key neurotransmitters responsible for memory retention, this means that Ashwaganda also improves memory and can help with brain fog. Oddly Ashwagandha doesn't appear in a lot of nootropic supplements, and is most commonly found in men's supplements despite it's well studied effects.
L-Tyrosine - L Tyrosine's main nootropic function is preventing any drop in cognitive functions as a result of stress, it's included in a lot of dietary supplements for a variety of other reasons, however, with modern society being what it is a substantial amount of cognitive decline is as a result of chronic stress.
S-Adenosyl L-Methionine (SAMe) - SAMe has been heavily studied for treating depression, the chemical is produced naturally within the body and improving levels have suggested that people show marked improvement. However, there are still more trials ongoing. There are also ongoing trials for the treatment of cognitive decline.
Rhodiola Rosea - A common ingredient in the best nootropic supplements, it is not only evidenced to improve memory retention and improve brain health, reducing cognitive decline, but is also well studied as a mood booster.
Hunter Focus is quite possibly the king of brain supplements on the market right now, containing almost every ingredient on our top ingredients list, it is the highest dosed nootropic on our list. Scoring highly in all categories, memory retention, cognitive function, mood, stress and focus it's no surprise it tops our list. It is a premium nootropic, but it is the most highly dosed of all the brain supplements on this list. Generally speaking it does become a lot more affordable when purchased in bulk, but that does mean committing to taking it for a few months. The manufacturer does offer a money back satisfaction guarantee which does mitigate some concern. That means no matter how you're looking to improve brain function it's got you covered. The only real drawback is that the serving size is a bit high.
We generally recommend Hunter Focus for anyone looking for a catch all nootropic supplement. Our personal experience was that it notably improved cognitive functions, and it's our go to nootropic of choice. It contains the highest (and optimal) dosage of Bacopa, as well as Ginseng and Ahwaganda not contained in the other nootropic supplements on this list, making it the most effective for mood regulation. The fact it contains caffeine does mean it is more effective for focus as well, however, as some people that have high caffeine sensitivity may want to avoid Hunter even though the dosage is not particularly high. You can purchase it from hunterevolve.com
Hunter Focus is a premium nootropic which actually earns it's price tag. None of the ingredients are under dosed unlike a lot of cheaper options which simply include ingredients that do improve brain function, but not in an high enough volume to actually be effective. The Hunter range doesn't just include nootropic supplements mind, and their pedigree is consistent across all their products with full dosing being a consistent focus for the brand. They also offer a 90 day money back guarantee, so they're one of the lowest risk options on the market. We've already mentioned that they manage to cover more bases than the competitors, making them the most complete pre made nootropic stack on the list, making them great for fist time nootropic users looking to improve cognitive function and brain health. In comparison to the other supplements on this list, they include Ashwagandha, Ginseng and Spanish Sage. It's also the highest dosed in terms of L-Tyrosine and Citicoline making it the most effective in terms of improving brain energy and clearing brain fog.
As you can see in the image, pretty much everything you could ask for in a nootropic stack. It will be quicker to talk about what isn't in it. It is missing Alpha GPC and Reversatrol, but that's about it. These particular ingredients are however mostly useful for long term brain health and people with specific attention related disorders, over the average person. Whilst we'd have liked to see Alpha GPC, Hunter focus really doesn't have any space for more ingredients, the serving size is already the largest on our list by a long way. The star ingredient is Citicoline which is in all the best nootropics due to it's proven cognitive benefits and the high dosage easily makes up for the lack of Alpha. Hunter really is the best of the best when it comes to nootropic supplements, and we can't recommend it highly enough.
Covers All Nootropic Areas
Money Back Guarantee
Contains Ingredients Missed By A Lot Of Other Smart Drugs
Highest Price Point
Only Available From Hunter Store
Contains Caffeine Which Could Put People Off
Mind Lab Pro is perhaps the most popular nootropic supplement on the market, and for a long time we would have also given it the best all rounder. As brain supplements go it's still one of the best and a good choice. It scores almost as highly as Hunter for brain health and brain energy, but loses out slightly on mood and focus. The reason we mark it as the best for anxiety is that it doesn't contain caffeine anhydrous, which can of course exacerbate anxiety. We could have easily called this award the best nootropic supplement without caffeine.
Like Hunter it contains a large dose of Citicoline or Cognazin, maritime pine bark, PS and most of the other top shelf ingredients that you'd expect from what is ultimately the second best nootropic all around. Other than the fact it doesn't have caffeine there isn't really anything that would make this a better purchase option over Hunter Focus.
Noocube is one of the oldest nootropic supplements that still holds up. It doesn't score particularly well for mood regulation, and does have some unnecessary bulking ingredients, but it does contain a few less commonly found nootropic ingredients that are particularly beneficial at improving memory. Alpha-GPC isn't contained in the other supplements on this list and it's efficacy as learning aid is well proven. It boosts the production of acetylcholine which is the transmitter responsible for storing newly learned information. It does also contain Reversatrol which is more geared towards long term brain health, but again has some notable benefits to memory retention.
Overall it isn't the highest scoring on increasing overall cognitive abilities, and has little benefit for stress relief, but stands tall in the mix for it's ability to improve memory retention. We'd typically recommend it to students. There are some hyperbolic claims made by it's customers for it's efficacy at helping with ADHD and other disorders, however, this is likely either a placebo effect, or placed marketing.
Great For Memory Retention
Good For Long Term Brain Health
Not The Best For Mood
High Price Point
Performance Lab Vision is geared specifically towards long term eye and vision health. It's perhaps an odd nootropic for this list as it isn't particularly geared towards brain health or cognitive abilities like the rest. The FloGlo formula contains Lutein and Zeaxanthin which both help eyes filter out blue light from screens. Making this supplement fantastic for people who work in offices and spend prolonged times staring at screens. Filtering blue light can also have a positive effect on sleep patterns and mental fatigue. Vision also contains Bilberry and Blackberry extracts which promote long term retinal health, another huge benefit to people working at computers for multiple hours per day. Whilst performance lab vision is not going to improve cognitive function, it is a great option to take on top of other nootropics or if you're having difficulty sleeping as a result of blue light sensitivity.Check Deals
1 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3062016/ - Mental well-being at the workplace
2 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8099008/ - Caffeine Intake and Mental Health in College Students
3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6836118/ - Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial
4 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6324500/ - Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms
5 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33576691/ - Bioavailability and conversion of plant based sources of omega-3 fatty acids - a scoping review to update supplementation options for vegetarians and vegans
6 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7667301/ - Vitamin D supplementation improves anxiety but not depression symptoms in patients with vitamin D deficiency
7 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21310306/ - Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults
8 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6982118/ - Therapeutic Potential of Hericium erinaceus for Depressive Disorder
9 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20834180/ - Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake
10 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27350344/ - Erinacine A-enriched Hericium erinaceus mycelium ameliorates Alzheimer's disease
11 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3924982/ - Neuronal Health – Can Culinary and Medicinal Mushrooms Help?
12 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10338103/ - Piracetam improves cognitive performance by restoring neurochemical deficits
13 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6741724/ - Piracetam: A Review of Pharmacological Properties and Clinical Uses
15 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28743458/- S-phenylpiracetam, a selective DAT inhibitor, reduces body weight gain without influencing locomotor activity
16 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32279140/ - Neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory activity of DAT inhibitor R-phenylpiracetam in experimental models of inflammation
17 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25933483/ - Phosphatidylserine and the human brain
18 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14759641/ - Comparison of the effects of acetyl L-carnitine and amantadine for the treatment of fatigue in multiple sclerosis: results of a pilot, randomised, double-blind, crossover trial
19 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32046747/ - Evaluation of the effects of pycnogenol (French maritime pine bark extract) supplementation on inflammatory biomarkers and nutritional and clinical status in traumatic brain injury patients in an intensive care unit: A randomized clinical trial protocol
20 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4462044/ - Caffeine: Cognitive and Physical Performance Enhancer
21 - https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00573248 - Nicotine and Behavior in Adult ADHD
22 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7077099/ - Low Vitamin B12 Levels: An Underestimated Cause Of Minimal Cognitive Impairment And Dementia
23 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257700/ - Metabolic Agents that Enhance ATP can Improve Cognitive Functioning: A Review of the Evidence for Glucose, Oxygen, Pyruvate, Creatine, and L-Carnitine
24 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691485/ - Oral creatine monohydrate supplementation improves brain performance: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial.
25 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17828627/ - Creatine supplementation and cognitive performance in elderly individuals
26 -https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573577/ - A Prospective, Randomized Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study of Safety and Efficacy of a High-Concentration Full-Spectrum Extract of Ashwagandha Root in Reducing Stress and Anxiety in Adults
27 - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28471731/ - Efficacy and Safety of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal) Root Extract in Improving Memory and Cognitive Functions
28 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1863555/ - L-Tyrosine to alleviate the effects of stress?
29 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5501081/ - S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) for Neuropsychiatric Disorders: A Clinician-Oriented Review of Research