best nootropics for memory 2024

Key Takeaways

  1. Comprehensive list of nootropics categorized based on their effects such as memory enhancement, mood improvement, and increased focus.
  2. Detailed explanation of each nootropic including its benefits, mechanism of action, and recommended dosages.
  3. Mention of natural nootropics like Bacopa Monnieri and synthetic ones like Noopept, providing a diverse range of options.
  4. Thorough reviews on the safety and potential side effects of different nootropics, ensuring informed decision-making.
  5. Guidance on creating personalized nootropic stacks to achieve specific cognitive goals, alongside recommendations for pre-made stacks.

The best nootropic supplements for 2024 cover the fundamentals for supporting great cognitive function,  performance, and brain health.

Natural nootropic supplements for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), boost decision-making, enhance cognitive functionlearning & memory, focus, energy, and motivation.

And supplements that for many, can reduce anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, or age-related cognitive decline.

I have also found over years of hacking my own brain, that we can simplify the list of supplements we use if we narrow our choices down to only 5 categories for brain optimization.

Those brain hacking categories look like this …


Best Nootropics for …

Recommended nootropics

Processing speed, Decision-Making, Focus, Flow, & Thinking

Acetyl-L-Carnitine, CDP-Choline, Lion’s Mane, Magnesium, L-Tyrosine, B-Complex

Learning & Memory

Bacopa Monnieri, CDP-Choline, DHA (Omega-3), Magnesium, Phosphatidylserine (PS), Pine Bark Extract, L-Tyrosine, B-Complex

Anxiety & Depression

CDP-Choline, Bacopa Monnieri, Magnesium, Rhodiola Rosea, B-Complex, Saffron

Energy & Motivation

Caffeine, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, CoQ10, L-Theanine, MCT Oil, Rhodiola Rosea

Brain Repair & Maintenance

Acetyl-L-Carnitine, Astaxanthin, CDP-Choline, DHA, Lion’s Mane, Magnesium, Phosphatidylserine (PS), Rhodiola Rosea, Pine Bark Extract, Saffron


Best Nootropic Supplements in 2024

I have my favorite nootropics after 17-years of trial and error. And I’ll share what I’ve found and use in this article. Because what works for me may work well for you too. The nootropics I’m talking about here are what I use every day.

You’ll notice in the categories above that some of the most popular nootropic supplements work in multiple areas of cognitive enhancement. This means you can use fewer capsules in a well-rounded nootropic stack.

I encourage you to invest a little time and learn how each nootropic works in your brain. Because you’ll find that many of these compounds work in synergy. This translates to smaller doses of each supplement for a bigger benefit.

The key to success with nootropics is having the willingness and determination to experiment and find out what works best for you.

And there is no “one pill” solution for repairing and optimizing your brain. It often takes several carefully chosen supplements to get the job done.

Pre-Made Nootropic Stack Benefits

Mind Lab Pro v4.0Fortunately, I found the best pre-made nootropic stack in late 2015 which includes most of the nootropics I’d selected for my stack. All packed into 2 capsules in a natural pre-made nootropic stack called Mind Lab Pro® v4.0.

I’ll talk more about Mind Lab Pro® v4.0 in a few minutes and how it ties into my brain hacking goals.

The company that makes Mind Lab Pro® also produces a line of dietary supplements called Performance Lab®.

They also make a nootropic snack bar that I use when I need an energy boost. They are called Nu:tropic® bars.

And before I go to the gym, I mix a glass of Pre Lab Pro®. It contains ingredients for mental clarity, more energy, improves cognitive function, better muscle performance and growth, and quicker recovery,

get Mind Lab Pro® v4.0

get Performance Lab® Energy

get Performance Lab® Caffeine 2

get Performance Lab® Omega-3

get Nu:tropic® bars

get Pre Lab Pro®

Choose the Best Nootropic Supplement Stack for You in 2024

If you are new to nootropics, or have years of experience but need a refresher on building your own nootropic stack, see my articles:

Beginners Guide to Nootropic Stacks

How to Create the Best Nootropic Stack

Improve Brain Function with the Best Nootropic Supplements to buy in 2024

best nootropics for 2023Each of the nootropics I detail below contain links through to my full review. When you click through to each individual nootropic supplement review you’ll find more detail on what it is, why we use it as a nootropic, how it feels, the mechanism of action in your brain, potential side effects, recommended dosages, and the best supplement to buy.

You’ll also notice in the table above and each nootropic listed below that many of these ingredients are conveniently encapsulated in the Mind Lab Pro® v4.0 formula of two capsules per day.

Or in Performance Lab® Energy or Performance Lab® Caffeine 2 or Nu:tropic® bars or Pre Lab Pro®.

Each of these nootropic supplement stacks are generally regarded as safe and non-toxic at recommended doses. Your mileage may vary.

How you respond to each of these compounds depends on a host of variables including:

  • Genetics
  • Interactions with prescription meds
  • Current state of health

So please click through to each nootropic and read the side effects, drug interactions and any other notes or warnings. But in general, these are among the safest cognitive enhancers we know of.

Read more about Nootropics Safety and Side Effects

  1. Acetyl-L-Carnitine

ALCAR helps transport fatty acids into mitochondria for the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). [i] ATP is your main energy source throughout your day and can boost physical and mental energy.

ALCAR is a necessary cofactor for acetylcholine formation.[ii] Which boosts memory, cognitive function, mental alertness, and fluid thought.

The antioxidant properties of Acetyl-L-Carnitine provide neuroprotection. And ALCAR boosts Brain-Derived Nerve Growth Factor (BDNF) and promotes cerebral blood circulation.

  1. Astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is one of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier and blood-retinal barrier, benefiting both your brain and vision.[iii]

As a nootropic, Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory providing protection from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disease.[iv]

Astaxanthin protects your cells from the destructive effects caused by free radicals and protects cognitive function by increasing cerebral blood flow for better memory, cognitive abilities, and overall cognitive performance. [v]

And supplementing with Astaxanthin helps reduce cortisol, a biomarker for stress and mental fatigue.

  1. Bacopa Monnieri

best nootropics for focus 2023Bacopa Monnieri has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and is one of the best nootropics for studying.

Researchers at Banaras Hindu University in India showed Bacopa Monnieri as effective for anxiety as the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam.

And unlike benzodiazepines, Bacopa Monnieri did not cause memory loss. In fact, it boosted mental function.[vi]

Another study done in Portland Oregon demonstrated that 300 mg of Bacopa Monnieri per day for 12 weeks:

  • Improved word recall
  • Increased attention
  • Enhanced processing speed
  • Boosted memory
  • Improved focus while learning
  • Lowered anxiety and heart rate[vii]
  1. Caffeine

Caffeine is the main active compound found in a cup of coffee and is an adenosine antagonist which is why it helps prevent you from getting sleepy. Which in turn influences acetylcholine, epinephrine (adrenaline), serotonin and it boosts the use of dopamine. Providing the stimulant effect you feel when consuming caffeine.[viii]

Caffeine assists in the gene expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which boosts neurogenesis.

And caffeine increases the density of GABA receptors, potentiates dopamine, and causes some serotonin receptors to be more responsive. Which in turn improves mood within an hour of consumption.[ix]

  1. CDP-Choline

A valuable addition to any potent nootropic stack, the cholinergic compound CDP-Choline is a multitasker which boosts cognition, mental processing, cognitive function, and brain power, improves focus and motivation, and reduces fatigue.

CDP-Choline aids in the synthesis of acetylcholine, and the release of dopamine.[x] Both neurotransmitters involved in learning and memory.

CDP-Choline also helps repair of brain cell membranes. The cytidine in CDP-Choline converts to uridine in your brain. And works as a bridge between choline and neuron membrane synthesis.

Uridine is needed to synthesize phosphatidylcholine (PC) needed to repair damaged neuron membranes.[xi]

Choline is so vital to cognitive functions, cognition and nerve function that, without it, we couldn’t move, think, sleep, or remember anything. And one the best ways to provide your brain and body with the choline it needs is supplementing with CDP-Choline.

  1. DHA

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid. DHA is crucial for the healthy structure and function of your brain. Your brain is made up of 60% fat. And much of that fat is DHA.

DHA enhances brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Improving neuroplasticity leading to better learning and memory. And DHA acts as an anti-inflammatory by reducing the enzyme COX-2.

If you suffer from chronic depression, within a few weeks of adding DHA to your nootropic stack, you should feel the depression lift. You’ll think clearer and quicker. Your memory and ability to learn will improve. And you’ll likely have more energy and motivation.

But it is very likely you won’t think to attribute these improvements to adding DHA to your nootropic stack. Something else will get the credit.

The thing is you cannot get these benefits from fish oil or most Omega-3’s on the market. Because the dosage of DHA is far too low. And purity is a problem.

Best to get your DHA from the source. The same place fish and other marine life get their DHA. And that’s from algae.

A recent addition to my nootropic stack, and thousands in our community, is the Performance Lab® Omega-3. It provides 540 mg DHA and 270 mg EPA made from Algal Oil (from life’s™ Omega 60) in two NutriGels® vegan softgels.

  1. Lion’s Mane

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is well-known for its neuroprotective effects. It’s an ancient Chinese remedy and traditional medicine for improving cognitive performance, and overall health.

In our modern world, Lion’s Mane makes it into some of the best nootropic stacks. Why?

Because Lion’s Mane stimulates enzyme production that releases Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).[xii] It stimulates the repair and creation of neurons (neurogenesis). Boosting neurotransmitters and signaling that may effect memory, improve cognitive function, learning, recall, and mood.

And Lion’s Mane helps eliminate brain fog. Restoring function from cognitive impairments, memory, and mental alertness. And lowers anxiety and depression symptoms.[xiii]

Lion’s Mane is a great compliment to any nootropic stack for an immediate cognitive boost.

  1. L-Tyrosine

best nootropics for ADHD 2023L-Tyrosine is a precursor to the synthesis of the catecholamine-triad of neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. As your dopamine levels increase, you’re better able to concentrate, organize your thoughts, and stay productive.

L-Tyrosine can be an effective for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. L-Tyrosine works in synergy with Smart Drugs like Ritalin and Adderall by boosting extracellular levels of dopamine. Helping these drugs be more effective. And mitigating side effects like crashes when these smart drugs wear off.

Tyrosine also improves memory and cognition under acute stress.[xiv] It helps improve decision making, flow state’ and creativity, cognitive flexibility, acts to support cognitive function, and working memory.

L-Tyrosine is a great addition to any nootropic stack, especially if you’re dealing with ADHD or ADD. And helping prevent cognitive decline as you get older.

For more tips on how to deal with ADHD and ADD symptoms, see my article:

Best Nootropics for ADHD/ADD

And for more tips on preventing cognitive decline as you get older, see my article called:

Best Nootropics for the Aging Brain

  1. Phosphatidylserine (PS)

Phosphatidylserine is one of the best nootropics because:

  • PS helps the efficient transfer of proteins, enzymes, nutrients, oxygen, and glucose into and out of each cell
  • PS is involved in the formation and sending of signals within neurons
  • PS promotes healthy nerve growth factor (NGF)
  • PS supports the neurogenesis needed for long-term potentiation (LTP)
  • PS is involved in building mitochondria which are the energy centers of each brain cell.
  • And PS works in synergy with DHA for healthy and permeable brain cell membranes.

Phosphatidylserine (PS) is arguably one of the most effective and important nootropics we have available today. It has a reputation for improving alertness, attention, cognition, cognitive function, memory, recall and mood.[xv]

  1. Pine Bark Extract

Maritime Pine Bark Extract is one of the best nootropics around but relatively unknown to the nootropic community. It’s a naturally derived standardized herbal extract of French maritime pine bark.

Pine Bark Extract helps prevent increases in dopamine, norepinephrine, and the glutathione (GSH) to GSH-disulphide reductase (GSSG-R) ratio. Neurotransmitter problems which contribute to hyperactivity in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).[xvi]

Pine Bark Extract helps by increasing blood flow to and within your brain for better overall brain health.[xvii] By increasing nitric oxide (NO) which helps dilate blood vessels. And helping repair and maintain the health of the lining of blood vessels. Crucial to overall brain health, maintaining signaling pathways and leading to improved cognitive function and learning and memory.

And Maritime Pine Bark Extract also helps prevent the accumulation of oxidatively damaged proteins. Which may reduce the risk of diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Huntington’s.

  1. Rhodiola Rosea

best nootropicsIn Russia, Rhodiola Rosea is widely used as a remedy for fatigue, poor concentration, and decreased memory. It’s also believed to make workers more productive.

As one of the best nootropics around, this adaptogen helps reduce stress and fatigue, cognitive function, increase energy, alertness, and stamina, while boosting mental performance under periods of chronic stress.

Research shows Rhodiola Rosea can increase attention to detail-oriented tasks by improving concentration over a prolonged period. Making it one of the best nootropics for studying.

Rhodiola Rosea boosts mood by influencing serotonin and norepinephrine levels in your brain, and the feel-good opioids like beta-endorphins.

It also helps with neurogenesis by repairing and growing new neurons. As well as activating the synthesis and re-synthesis of ATP, your body and brain cell’s main energy source.

One more reason to add Rhodiola Rosea to your nootropic stack – it helps reduce inflammatory C-reactive protein. And salidroside, one of many components of this incredible herb, protects neurons from oxidative stress-induced cell death.

  1. Saffron

Saffron is the dried stigma of the Crocus sativus plant native to the Middle East. And is the world’s most expensive culinary spice largely due to the way it must be grown and harvested (by hand).

Saffron has been used for thousands of years as an anxiolytic, sedative, and antidepressant.

Recent studies show Saffron as effective as some popular prescription antidepressants. And can even help alleviate the sexual dysfunction caused by these drugs.[xviii]

Saffron extracts (crocin & safranal) inhibit the uptake of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain which helps improve mood.

Saffron inhibits the deposit of amyloid-β which is associated with the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Saffron also inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine (acetylcholinesterase) just like the current medication (donepezil) approved to treat Alzheimer’s.[xix]

Saffron is also a very effective vision supplement. Driving at night is easier on your eyes. And the flicker caused by screens and monitors won’t leave you with eye fatigue later in the day.[xx]

Saffron improves the oxygen and nutrient supply required for healthy eyes. By boosting blood flow in the retina and choroid of your eyes.[xxi]

For the best vision supplement on the market, get: Performance Lab® Vision. I’m serious. Get it!

  1. L-Theanine

best nootropics for anxiety 2023L-Theanine is an amino acid and one of the main natural substances you get from green and oolong tea. Many consider it the best nootropic when combined with caffeine for the synergistic effect of lowering blood pressure, rejuvenate and relax, boost thinking ability and cognitive function, improve focus and put you in a better mood.

This amazing amino acid:

  • Boosts alpha brain waves (8-12Hz) promoting alert relaxation.[xxii]
  • Increases GABA, serotonin, and dopamine use in your brain. Producing an energizing and calming effect helping you go into flow. And improving cognition and memory.
  • Is an antagonist of NMDA receptors and can inhibit synaptic release of glutamate. Protecting your brain from over-stimulation caused by glutamate, and possible glutamate toxicity.
  • Boosts the use of neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and GABA in your brain. As well as increasing Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF).[xxiii]
  • And it helps lower cortisol levels

Most neurohackers report a calming effect within 30 – 45 minutes of taking L-Theanine. Cognition gets a boost, and energy levels rise, and it helps suppress the jitteriness caused by stimulants like caffeine.

Some report L-Theanine has stopped their anxiety and panic attacks.

  1. Vitamin B-Complex

The B-Vitamins are essential vitamins that should be part of every nootropic stack and they include:

You may not realize the full benefit of a nootropic stack containing CDP-Choline, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, any of the racetams, or any nootropic for that matter without adding a good quality bioactive B-Vitamin Complex. These essential vitamins are possibly the most important and least expensive addition to your stack.

get Mind Lab Pro® v4.0

get Performance Lab® Energy

get Performance Lab® Caffeine 2

get Performance Lab® Omega-3

get Nu:tropic® bars

get Pre Lab Pro®

Check Your Oil

Some nootropic supplement labels recommend taking it with a meal. The implication behind this recommendation is that the nootropic is fat-soluble. And requires some fat for proper absorption and to increase bioavailability.

Each of the nootropics above have links through to a full review which includes information about solubility – fat or water soluble.

To make sure all fat-soluble ingredients in my stack are absorbed, I use one tablespoon of organic Performance Lab® MCT oil with my nootropic stack. But you can use unrefined coconut oil as well.

This healthy oil provides the fat I need for better absorption of  fat-soluble supplements. And I don’t have to worry about taking it with a meal.

Using MCT or unrefined coconut oil with my stack does not interfere with water-soluble supplements either. It’s a win-win.

get Performance Lab® MCT

best nootropic supplements for 2024Choose the Clear Path to Improved Performance in 2024

I’ve tried a lot of different nootropic stacks in the last 17 years. But in late 2015, I finally found one high quality pre-made stack that covered all the bases. That stack is Mind Lab Pro® v4.0.

I’ve used Mind Lab Pro® as the “base” for my personal nootropic stack since 2015. And continue to use it in 2024. It’s that good.

In fact, in 2017 Mind Lab Pro® upgraded their formula. Their B-Vitamins are now their own proprietary NutriGenesis® vitamins. ‘Nature-identical’ nutrients that your body recognize as food.

Then in 2018, their sister company introduced an entire new supplement brand called Performance Lab®. The company recognized the demand for more choices when it comes to brain optimization. And the need to support the rest of your body.

Performance Lab® offers the pre-formulated nootropic stacks Performance Lab® Mind, Performance Lab® Caffeine 2, and Performance Lab® Energy.

Their nootropic stacks are supported by the Performance Lab® NutriGenesis Multi which I also use daily. This multi contains nature-identical NutriGenesis® vitamins and minerals for whole-body and brain performance.

This is now my preferred multivitamin supplement which works very well with Mind Lab Pro® v4.0.

In early 2018, I switched from using individual supplements to Performance Lab® Energy. Because this stack contains the Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR), Coenzyme Q10, PQQ, and R-Lipoic Acid that I was buying and using separately which was more expensive.

Performance Lab® Energy uses the patented, clinically-tested forms of each ingredient in NutriCaps® vegan-friendly capsules and no additives. Just pure, tested nutrients that work.

In 2019 I added Performance Lab® Caffeine 2 which I use occasionally when energy is running a little ragged. And I need that extra boost to finish what I’m doing.

Because it contains Natural Caffeine (from Coffea Robusta seeds) 50 mg, L-Theanine (Suntheanine®) 100 mg, Ajipure® L-Tyrosine 250 mg, supported by NutriGenesis® Vitamin B2, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B9 & Vitamin B12. For alert clean energy without the negative side effects like the jitters.

Or a get a quick boost by using a Nu:tropic® bar which contains Norwegian Black Oats, NutriGenesis® Choline, DHA (Omega-3) 150 mg, Prebiotic fiber, Phosphatidylserine (PS), NutriGenesis® Magnesium, and NutriGenesis® Vitamins D3, K2, B2, B3, B6, B9 & B12.

Performance Lab® also offers supplement stacks for Vision, Sleep, Prebiotic, Flex, and Pre Lab Pro® which I use just before I go to my gym for a workout.

And they make an effective T-Booster for men.

Conclusion – Best Nootropic Supplements

If you’re feeling frustrated finding your ideal stack, my hope is this page provides the pointers you need to create your best nootropic stack.

Each nootropic I’ve featured on this page works. How do I know? Because I use them every single day.

But I’m not the only one. 100’s of thousands of people just like you and I have found success with these nootropics too.

I encourage you to try each of them in your nootropic stack in 2024. Or save some money on your monthly supplement purchases and try some of the pre-formulated stacks like Mind Lab Pro® v4.0 and the Performance Lab® supplements. The company even offers a money-back guarantee if you try one of their supplements and are not happy with it.

My attitude is that once I’ve found a nootropic supplement company that puts out high quality product, I keep using them until something better comes along.

So far that has not happened. I’m confident you’ll like and appreciate the pre-formulated nootropic stacks on this page. The company puts out amazing products.

When it comes to brain optimization and what I put in my body, “good enough” isn’t nearly good enough until I’m performing my best. In all areas of life.

The right combination of nootropics in the right amounts have helped me get to the point where I feel I’m performing better than ever.

Near the beginning of this page we identified the main points that lead to better cognitive ability, cognitive function, cognition, decision-making, focus, flow, thinking, memory, anxiety, depression, energy, motivation, brain repair and maintenance.

What I love about the nootropic supplements outlined on this page is that it covers each of those categories.

And to help you fine-tune your nootropic stack even further. Spend some time with each of the following articles I have written on individual areas of brain optimization here.

Best Nootropics for Learning & Memory

Best Nootropics for Social Anxiety

Best Nootropics for Anxiety

Best Nootropic for ADHD

Best Nootropics for Depression

Best Nootropics for Motivation

Best Nootropics for Hacking a Flow State

13 Nootropics to Boost BDNF

Psychobiotics: The Gut-Brain Connection

How to Select the Best Multivitamin for Brain Function

[i] Berg J.M., Tymoczko J.L., Stryer L. Biochemistry. 5th edition. New York: W H Freeman; 2002. (source)

[ii] White H.L., Scates P.W. “Acetyl-L-carnitine as a precursor of acetylcholine.” Neurochemical Research 1990 Jun;15(6):597-601. (source)

[iii] Galasso, C., Orefice, I., Pellone, P., Cirino, P., Miele, R., Ianora, A., Brunet, C., & Sansone, C. (2018). On the Neuroprotective Role of Astaxanthin: New Perspectives?. Marine drugs16(8), 247. (Source)

[iv] Nakagawa, K., Kiko, T., Miyazawa, T., Carpentero Burdeos, G., Kimura, F., Satoh, A., & Miyazawa, T. (2011). Antioxidant effect of astaxanthin on phospholipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes. The British journal of nutrition105(11), 1563–1571. (Source)

[v] Lobos, P., Bruna, B., Cordova, A., Barattini, P., Galáz, J. L., Adasme, T., Hidalgo, C., Muñoz, P., & Paula-Lima, A. (2016). Astaxanthin Protects Primary Hippocampal Neurons against Noxious Effects of Aβ-Oligomers. Neural plasticity2016, 3456783. (Source)

[vi] Bhattacharya S.K., Ghosal S. “Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera: an experimental study.” Phytomedicine. 1998 Apr;5(2):77-82 (source)

[vii] Calabrese N.D., Gregory W.L., Leo M., Kraemer D., Bone K., Oken B. “Effects of a Standardized Bacopa monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial” Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 2008 Jul; 14(6): 707–713. (source)

[viii] Walker J., Rohm B., Lang R., Pariza M.W., Hofmann T., Somoza V. “Identification of coffee components that stimulate dopamine release from pheochromocytoma cells (PC-12).” Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2012 Feb;50(2):390-8 (source)

[ix] Gjorness T.E., Greene R.W. “Adenosine and Sleep” Current Neuropharmacology. 2009 Sep; 7(3): 238–245. (source)

[x] Adibhatla R.M., Hatcher J.F., Dempsey R.J. “Citicoline: neuroprotective mechanisms in cerebral ischemia.” Journal of Neurochemistry 2002 Jan;80(1):12-23 (source)

[xi] Wang L., Pooler A.M., Albrecht M.A., Wurtman R.J. “Dietary uridine-5′-monophosphate supplementation increases potassium-evoked dopamine release and promotes neurite outgrowth in aged rats.” Journal of Molecular Neuroscience 2005;27(1):137-45. (source)

[xii] Lai P.L., Naidu M., Sabaratnam V., Wong K.H., David R.P., Kuppusamy U.R., Abdullah N., Malek S.N. “Neurotrophic properties of the Lion’s mane medicinal mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Higher Basidiomycetes) from Malaysia.” International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2013;15(6):539-54. (source)

[xiii] Nagano M., Shimizu K., Kondo R., Hayashi C., Sato D., Kitagawa K., Ohnuki K. “Reduction of depression and anxiety by 4 weeks Hericium erinaceus intake.” Biomedical Research. 2010 Aug;31(4):231-7. (source)

[xiv] Coull N.A., Watkins S.L., Aldous J.W., Warren L.K., Chrismas B.C., Dascombe B., Mauger A.R., Abt G., Taylor L. “Effect of tyrosine ingestion on cognitive and physical performance utilising an intermittent soccer performance test (iSPT) in a warm environment.”European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2015 Feb;115(2):373-86. (source)

[xv] Crook T.H., Tinklenberg J., Yesavage J., Petrie W., Nunzi M.G., Massari D.C. “Effects of phosphatidylserine in age-associated memory impairment.” Neurology 1991 May;41(5):644-9. (source)

[xvi] Dvoráková M., Jezová D., Blazícek P., Trebatická J., Skodácek I., Suba J., Iveta W., Rohdewald P., Duracková Z. “Urinary catecholamines in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): modulation by a polyphenolic extract from pine bark (pycnogenol).” Nutritional Neuroscience 2007 Jun-Aug; 10(3-4):151-7. (source)

[xvii] Nishioka K., Hidaka T., Nakamura S., Umemura T., Jitsuiki D., Soga J., Goto C., Chayama K., Yoshizumi M., Higashi Y. “Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract, augments endothelium-dependent vasodilation in humans.” Hypertension Research. 2007 Sep;30(9):775-80. (source)

[xviii] Lopresti A.L., Drummond P.D., Inarejos-García A.M., Prodanov M. “affron®, a standardised extract from saffron (Crocus sativus L.) for the treatment of youth anxiety and depressive symptoms: A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” Journal of Affective Disorders. 2018 May;232:349-357 (source)

[xix] Banerjee S., Hellier J., Romeo R., et al. “Study of the use of antidepressants for depression in dementia: the HTA-SADD trial – a multicentre, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the clinical effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of sertraline and mirtazapine.” Health Technology Assessment. 2013 Feb;17(7):1-166. (source)

[xx] Natoli R., Zhu Y., Valter K., Bisti S., Eells J., Stone J. “Gene and noncoding RNA regulation underlying photoreceptor protection: microarray study of dietary antioxidant saffron and photobiomodulation in rat retina.” Molecular Vision. 2010 Sep 3;16:1801-22. (source)

[xxi] Xuan B., Zhou Y.H., Li N., Min Z.D., Chiou G.C. “Effects of crocin analogs on ocular blood flow and retinal function.” Journal of Ocular Pharmacology & Therapeutics. 1999 Apr;15(2):143-52. (source)

[xxii] Mason R. “200 mg of Zen” Alternative and Complementary Therapies. July 2004, 7(2): 91-95. (source)

[xxiii] Yamada T., Terashima T., Wada K., Ueda S., Ito M., Okubo T., Juneja L.R., Yokogoshi H. “Theanine, r-glutamylethylamide, increases neurotransmission concentrations and neurotrophin mRNA levels in the brain during lactation.” Life Sciences. 2007 Sep 29;81(16):1247-55. (source)

[xxiv] Clayton P.T. “B6-responsive disorders: a model of vitamin dependency.” Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease. 2006 Apr-Jun;29(2-3):317-26. (source)

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Nootropics can help increase your memory, boost learning ability, improve your mood and assist overall brain function. If you’re new to nootropics, or wonder about the difference between a nootropic and a smart drug, then this page is for you. Here you’ll find the definition of a nootropic, how to pronounce the word “nootropic”, the […]

The Most Comprehensive Nootropics List

This is our big list of the most popular Nootropics in use today. Here you’ll learn what each nootropic is, what it does and suggested dosages. What is this List of Nootropics About? Nootropic supplements are cognitive enhancers aiming to improve brain function. Whether you are looking to treat mild cognitive impairment, improve mental focus, or biohack […]

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Join The Discussion - 358 comments

December 11, 2017

I noticed in all categories you recommend CDP Choline and not Alpha GPC. Is is because it’s similar and it doesn’t matter which one you take? Or is CDP Choline just better?

    David Tomen
    December 11, 2017

    Michael, not sure where your got that from and would appreciate if you’d let me know. For most of the reviews where I talk about the nootropic (i.e. racetams) needing a choline supplement to work better, I suggest Alpha GPC or CDP Choline.

    Some prefer Alpha GPC (I do) and some prefer CDP Choline. One is not better than the other. They are just different. But both are precursors to the synthesis of acetylcholine.

    Each of the choline supplements I’ve reviewed has a section that explains how each works in your brain >

      December 11, 2017

      Hey David, thank you for the answer. That’s what I thought.

      I referred just to this article (“Best nootropics 2017”) – the table of 5 categories and recommended nootropics at the top of the page. Alpha GPC doesn’t appear once. I was just curious why.

      Thanks for your research, it’s really helpful.

        David Tomen
        December 11, 2017

        Michael, I had to make some choices when writing this article. Because of all the nootropics reviewed here on Nootropics Expert there of course are others that can help everything from anxiety to Alzheimer’s. In this case it was a judgement call on selecting a nootropic that can help boost acetylcholine. I could have just as easily switched CDP Choline for Alpha GPC. I didn’t include both because I thought it would just confuse people. I hope that explanation helps.

November 23, 2017

Is memantine a true nootropic?

    David Tomen
    November 24, 2017

    For those unfamiliar with memantine, it’s a drug first synthesized by Eli Lilly in 1968 as a potential drug to treat diabetes. It has since been primarily prescribed to treat Alzheimer’s for those who do not respond well to acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.

    Memantine is an antagonist of NMDA receptors, serotonin receptors, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, and dopamine D2 receptors.

    A “true nootropic” is described as:
    – Enhances memory and the ability to learn
    – Assists brain function under disruptive conditions such as lack of oxygen and electroconvulsive shock
    – Protects the brain from chemical and physical toxins like anticholinergic drugs and barbiturates
    – Increases natural cognitive processes
    – Must be non-toxic to humans, nor stimulate or depress the brain

    Given that definition of a “true nootropic”, memantine only qualifies for 2 out of 5 which would disqualify it as a true nootropic. And it does come with several side effects including cough, fever, chest pain, confusion, hallucinations, loss of coordination, seizures and others.

    But some neurohackers find that memantine helps memory, concentration, ADHD symptoms, OCD, mania and libido. So the jury is out. A nootropic fundamentalist would not classify memantine as a nootropic. But it may qualify as a “cognitive enhancer” for some.

November 2, 2017

David – Thanks for the quick response. I’m glad you mentioned the Milk Thistle, that is good to know. Keep up the great work!

November 2, 2017

Hello David – Thank you for all of the great information! I am 52 years old, and was recently diagnosed with ADD. I wish that I was aware of this a lot earlier in life, but “better late than never”. I feel like a kid in a candy store when reading about all of the different nootropics. I want to try them all : ) I recently purchased the following:

* Daily Multivitamin (NOW Foods – Adam)
* Omega 3 Fish Oil – DHA/EPA (Dr. Tobias Omega 3 Fish Oil Triple Strength) – starting with 300 mg DHA/day
* Vitamin B-Complex (Jarrow B-Right)
* Magnesium Glycinate (Dr’s Best) – 200 mg/day
* Acetyl-l-Carnitine (NOW Foods) – 500 mg/day
* Bacopa Monnieri (Himalaya Organic) – 750 mg/day
* Berberine (We Like Vitamins) 450 mg/day
* CDP Choline (Jarrow) 250 mg/day
* Curcumin w/piperine (NatureWise) 825 mg/day
* Lion’s mane (Relentless) 750 mg/day
* N-Acetyl-l-tyrosine (Jarrow) 350 mg/day
* Phosphatidylserine (Dr’s Best) 100 mg/day
* Pterostilbene (Jarrow) 50 mg/day
* Pine bark extract **not Pycnogenol** (NOW Foods) 240 mg/day
I’ve only started taking the multi vitamin, fish oil, B-complex, magnesium, CDP Choline, and Berberine at the lowest dosages, which are listed. I have a few questions:
* Do I have too much duplication?
* If so, which would you recommend eliminating?
* Are there any nootropics in the list that you would replace with something not listed?
* Are the manufacturers, that I listed, reliable?
I know a lot depends on each individual, but any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again for your outstanding web site and God bless you!

    David Tomen
    November 2, 2017


    Looks like you have a good stack with reputable manufacturers. There is a bit of ‘overlap’ in there that can’t be avoided. So not to worry. But I do suggest you follow the dosage recommendations here on Nootropics Expert for each of those nootropics. And here’s why…

    For example, there is some dispute on how well Berberine is absorbed and used by your body. If you closely look at the review on this site, you’ll notice that it’s suggested you take it with a tablespoon of coconut oil. And studies with animals show that Berberine could cause DNA damage promoting tumor growth. This DNA damage can be avoided by using Milk Thistle with Berberine. The radical-scavenging and antioxidant properties of the compound silymarin in Milk Thistle appears to counteract this effect.

    It’s all in the Berberine review. But easy to miss if you’re scanning the post. So you’re definitely on the right track here. But please spend some time and carefully review each article on each of the supplements in your stack. And watch out for something you may have missed.

    And BTW, the dosage recommendations here on Nootropics Expert are often different than what you’ll see on the supplement bottle or package. The dosage recommendations on this site are based on clinical studies and user reviews and feedback.

    As for supplement manufacturers, the best thing to do is research each one. Find out what kind of testing they do. How they verify this testing. And what customers say about them on places like Amazon and other forums.

John Dalszys
October 29, 2017

Hi. I am looking at MLP ingredients. Pterostilbene* , and Vinpocetine*are not on their list.

    David Tomen
    October 29, 2017

    John, Opti Nutra recently updated the formula for Mind Lab Pro. And I have yet to update my Mind Lab Pro review to reflect these changes.

    Pterostilbene and Vinpocetine was replaced with Pine Bark Extract which does the job of both nootropics. It’s a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. And it increases cerebral blood flow.

    And they added Vitamin B9 (folate) which together with B6 and B12 are needed for neurotransmitter synthesis. And to keep homocysteine in check.

    This updated formula was a smart move in my opinion. And works even better than before.

July 9, 2017

Thank you for all the great information on your website. I am finishing withdrawal from 20 years of klonopin use. I’m suffering from severe insomnia and anxiety as a result of damaged gaba receptors from the meds . Do you had any recommendations on supplements would help speed up the repair of the gaba receptors? I’m taking Holy Basil and about 1500 mg of GABA to sleep but it’s not helping much. I’m also concerned that the GABA will a slow down the healing.
Thank you!

    David Tomen
    July 10, 2017

    Laura, as you likely know there are entire forums dedicated to recovering from benzo use. There’s no easy answer. And for most people, it takes 18 – 24 months for your brain to recover from the use of these drugs. First thing I’d suggest is stop using GABA for a couple reasons. First, it does not easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Second, if it does cross, you’re adding more stress to the GABA receptors that are left.

    The key I think is to do what you can to encourage the growth of new receptors. Check out this post I just wrote about brain aging, and review the section on synapses here > Ashwagandha stimulates neurogenesis and helps reconstruct synapses >

    I’d also suggest taking a look at Artichoke Extract and Forskolin together to encourage cAMP and CREB for the same reason. But please see the individual review of those nootropics for tips on dosing and how to use them.

    You also may want to boost Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) which is a protein used for neurogenesis > Just make sure that if you choose a nootropic from the list on that page that it doesn’t also boost GABA. You don’t want to aggravate anything at this stage in your brain.

    For anxiety, please read this post for ideas > Focus on serotonin and dopamine. Balance is the key.

    For sleep, I use about 4 oz. of tart cherry juice, 400 mg of high absorption, chelated magnesium and 3 mg of melatonin. Works as good as taking an Ambien. Dosing on melatonin is very much up to how you react to it. If you feel hungover the next morning, you’re using too much. If you can’t get to sleep, you’re likely not using enough.

    Read through those articles and start experimenting. I think you’ll be amazed at the results. It just takes time and patience.

Kim Jansen
May 12, 2017

Have you tried Qualia yet? If so what do you think? Is it worth the high price?

    David Tomen
    May 14, 2017

    Kim, I have not tried Qualia yet but intend to do a comprehensive review of their stack within the next few months. Simply looking at their ingredient list I think “qualifies” the price. I do think the name “Qualia” is a little pretentious. Keep an eye out for my review and let me know if you’ve tried it. And what you think.

April 27, 2017

Firstly, thank you for a wonderfully informative website.

Regarding taking Nootropics with coconut oil. I am a big fan of coconut oil, but I was under the impression that amino acids like L-Tyrosine needed to be taken on an empty stomach. Wouldn’t coconut oil inhibit the absorption of L-Tyrosine, DMAE, Ginkgo Biloba, and Acetyl-l-Carnitine, all of which need to be taken on an empty stomach? How exactly does coconut oil improve the absorption of the above, if it in fact does do so?


    David Tomen
    April 28, 2017

    George, thanks for the compliment on the website. Much appreciated. I need to dig into the science deeper. But it seems to me there would be more competition between amino acids than a problem with using coconut oil. Worth looking into and I will. I take all my supplements together because it would complicate my day too much to have 6 – 8 dosing sessions instead of 4. And the amounts I take seem to make up for any possible mistakes in dosing.

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