I often get emails from Nootropics Expert® readers asking me what my favorite nootropic stack is. And what I use every day. This post is a detailed response to that question.
NOTE: This review has been updated to reflect the changes to the Mind Lab Pro® formula which was refreshed in early 2017.
Mind Lab Pro® is by far the best nootropic stack I’ve ever used. And I’ve tried a lot of them over the last 12 years. Including ready-made stacks from the local vitamin shop to many of the well-known stacks found online.
Up to then, I took my brain for granted. And hadn’t considered that the health of my brain affected every single aspect of my life.
That point was also the beginning of a journey into how my brain worked. What was wrong, and an earnest search on how to fix it. I’ve read thousands of threads on Reddit, Longecity and nootropic blogs in this search for the ultimate nootropic stack.
Table of Contents
My Nootropic Stack Criteria
As this deep dive into neuroscience took shape, I started to develop a map of sorts on what my options were. Areas that I could fix on my own. And other areas that could be boosted and tweaked to get the most out of this amazingly complex organ in my head.
This is the list of cognitive improvements I eventually came up with:
- increase memory and recall
- eliminate brain fog
- support the stimulant I am using for Adult ADD
- ramp up motivation
- boost personal confidence
- help with concentration
- magnify my ability to learn and retain
- focus easily
- maintain a better mood – tone down depression
- improve vocabulary – words come easily
- reduce stress levels
- have better coordination
- improve sleep
It soon became clear that no prescription drug on earth could help achieve the results I was looking for. A completely optimized brain firing on all cylinders.
So I turned to natural supplements and started experimenting. Through trial and error things started to come together. My memory and recall got better. Confidence levels improved and I was in a better mood. Stress levels went down. And a better night’s sleep was finally within reach.
Anyone who has been down this path of brain optimization knows the expense and work involved. I’ve spent thousands upon thousands of dollars on supplements. Trial and error with different compounds. Buying ready-made stacks that promised a lot. But always fell short in some way.
Eventually I started buying nootropic supplements in bulk powder form and began making my own capsules. Still a costly way to boost my brain power but entirely worth the effort and expense. Both in my career and relationships with those I love.
Discovering Mind Lab Pro
But I was always on the lookout for the ideal nootropic stack that could help replace some of the many supplements I was taking. And in late 2015 I finally found it in Mind Lab Pro®.
I’ve been using Mind Lab Pro every day since then. And haven’t found another premade nootropic stack that comes anywhere close to what this stack can do.
Who Makes Mind Lab Pro?
This nootropic stack can be used by students, athletes, competitors in sports and games, working professionals and even those over 55.
So how can one stack promise so much in just two capsules per day? Let’s dig into the ingredients to see what they do in the brain, and how they work.
(Note that every ingredient in Mind Lab Pro listed here links through to a full review of each nootropic on Nootropics Expert. You’ll get more detail on the history, clinical studies, dosage recommendations, side effects and forms available).
Mind Lab Pro Ingredients
This is the formula that the team at Mind Lab Pro created that works so well for me. And thousands of other neurohackers around the world.
The active bacosides in Bacopa protects brain cells from free radicals which prevents cell damage and death. Bacopa also boosts acetylcholine, GABA and serotonin – all tied to focus, clear memory and better mood. Bacopa even helps boost cerebral circulation.
PS even increases nerve growth factor to help neurogenesis, cell maintenance and repair.
Lion’s Mane is the only mushroom that supports brain health. The active hericenones and erinacines stimulates Nerve Growth Factor which helps neurogenesis, and myelin axon sheath synthesis. Improving neuroplasticity which is involved in memory formation, and keeping cell membranes healthy.
Rhodiola boosts mood by influencing norepinephrine, serotonin and the feel-good opioids like beta-endorphins levels in your brain. It helps neurogenesis, activates the synthesis of ATP, and reduces the inflammatory C-reactive protein in your brain.
It settles excitatory neurotransmitters while promoting calming neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA. Sharpening attention, alertness and focus that help creative problem solving, learning and studying.
- Maritime Pine Bark Extract 75 mg standardized for a minimum of 95% proanthocyanidins. This extract helps increase levels of nitric oxide which helps dilate blood vessels. Delivering more oxygen and glucose to brain cells for more energy, better learning and memory, enhanced focus and elevated mood.
Pine Bark Extract is one the most potent antioxidants ever discovered. Scavenging free radicals to protect neurons from oxidative damage.
B6 also helps protect your brain from excess homocysteine that can damage blood vessel linings. And B6 helps form myelin which is the protective sheath that surrounds axons in your brain and body.
- Vitamin B9 100 mcg in the bio-identical form of NutriGenesis® vitamins. This vitamin participates in one-carbon transfers for the synthesis of DNA and RNA. And works with the other two B-Vitamins in this stack help regulate homocysteine levels.
Folate is also involved in gene expression, amino acid synthesis, and myelin synthesis and repair.
- Vitamin B12 7.5 mcg in the bio-identical form of NutriGenesis® vitamins which is required to regulate homocysteine levels in your brain and body.
B12 is also a cofactor in the synthesis of the major neurotransmitters dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine and serotonin. Low levels of Vitamin B12 has been linked to poor mood and cognition leading to cognitive decline at any age.[xi]
One of the things that stands out in this nootropic stack is the company chooses to use their proprietary NutriGenesis® form of vitamins. Which are nature-identical to ensure these B-Vitamins are completely absorbed and used by your body and brain.
Mind Lab Pro Dosage
The amount of each ingredient listed is for Mind Lab Pro’s recommended 2-capsules per day. You can safely increase your dose to 4-capsules per day. 2 in the morning and 2 early afternoon.
Like every nootropic, it’s always better to start low and see how your body and brain react before increasing your dosage.
Synergy of Nootropic Ingredients is Key
The key to making this nootropic stack work is two-fold:
- the exact amount required for optimal performance from each ingredient
- synergy or how they work together and complement each other for maximum results.
This idea of “synergy” is a big deal when putting together a nootropic stack. While each nootropic on its own could call for a higher dosage, when combined they work together better in the brain at smaller doses. But more on these doses in a minute.
Just Say “No” to Proprietary Formulas
One thing that irks me is the way many nootropic manufactures ‘hide’ the exact amount of each ingredient in their stack. They call it their “proprietary formula”.
But Mind Lab Pro chooses to disclose exact amounts on their packaging. So I know exactly what I’m taking. For me, this shows respect for me as a customer. Then I have the option of upping doses of certain nootropics that are unique to my condition and state of health.
For example, I’m Adult ADD and continue to use 20 mg of Ritalin twice a day. Ritalin works by blocking the reuptake and degradation of dopamine in my brain. Making more dopamine available to help my focus and concentration.
The problem for me, and for many with ADD and ADHD as we get older is there’s not enough dopamine in my brain to start with.
The result has been greater efficacy of Ritalin. I’ve never had to increase my dose of Ritalin due to tolerance. And at the end of my day, I don’t experience a stimulant ‘crash’ which is common when using these types of stimulants.
Do I consider this a ‘con’ for Mind Lab Pro? Absolutely not. Because while I need extra dopamine and acetylcholine in my brain, you may not. Unless you’re dealing with something like ADHD.
And I know exactly how much NALT and ALCAR to add to this stack because Mind Lab Pro tells me how much they are supplying in their stack. There is no guessing.
How Mind Lab Pro Works in Real Life
I love this nootropic stack. Two capsules in the morning with a tablespoon of organic unrefined coconut oil. And it launches my day. In my case with ADD and being hypothyroid, I take another two capsules at noon with coconut oil.
I also use 1,000 mg of DHA in the morning. Along with Aniracetam and Sulbutiamine. Since starting Mind Lab Pro my productivity has increased. My mood is better. Focusing on several projects is not a problem. Work seems to go faster. And I get more done in less time.
Everything just seems better. And life flows.
Mind Lab Pro is Impressive value
One of the things I’ve learned over the years of working with nootropics is it’s not cheap. In fact, taking each nootropic on its own in my case, can add up to a few hundred dollars per month.
But using Mind Lab Pro has dramatically reduced my nootropic budget. Here’s a breakdown of how much each of these nootropics would cost if purchased individually.
Note: These prices are from Amazon.com here in the USA at the time I write this. They’re usually competitive with other retailers online, and brick & mortar stores. Prices could be different in your part of the world, or when you read this.
Bacopa Monnieri (45% bacosides) 250 mg – 90 capsules $14.99
Citicoline (Cognizin®) 250 mg – 60 capsules $20.38
Phosphatidylserine (PS) (Sharp PS® Green) 100 mg – 120 capsules $48.97
Lion’s Mane Mushroom (full-spectrum) 500 mg – 60 capsules $8.99
Rhodiola Rosea (3% rosavins, 1% salidrosides) 250 mg – 60 capsules $7.86
L-Theanine (Suntheanine®) 100 mg – 60 capsules $11.49
N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT) 350 mg – 120 capsules $12.29
Pine Bark Extract (95% proanthocyanidins ) 100 mg – 300 capsules $18.52
Vitamin B6 (P-5-P) 25 mg – 100 capsules $17.95
Vitamin B9 (folate) 400 mcg – 90 capsules $7.21
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin) 1 mg – 60 capsules $18.95
The total of each of these evidence-backed nootropics when purchased individually comes out to $187.60.
Now I realize that the dosages in this comparison are often higher when used individually. The quantities per bottle are often higher than a monthly supply. And I’ve included supplements packed in vegetarian capsules which are often priced a little higher than regular capsules.
Sure, I could re-calculate each of the comparison prices by counting capsules per bottle to figure out the exact monthly dose.
Adjusting the price per capsule accordingly.
But my point here is the cost of buying each of these nootropics individually will be higher. Much higher than what the company charges for Mind Lab Pro.
Mind Lab Pro for a 30-day supply if you take the recommended 2 capsules per day is only $69.00 (+ shipping & handling).
You can also choose a 3-month supply (3 boxes) of Mind Lab Pro for $207.00 and get one box free (including free international shipping & handling). That works out to $51.75 per box.
Pros & Cons of Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro has taken an extra step to include NutriCaps® instead of regular vegetarian capsules in their stack. These vegan caps are made from tapioca.
Most competitors (including the nootropics listed above) use HPMC vegetarian capsules which are made from a semi-synthetic polymer.
Now, let’s look at what I think are the pros and cons of this premium nootropic stack.
- Full disclosure on the amount of each ingredient
- High quality branded ingredients (i.e. Cognizin®, Sharp PS®, NutriGenesis® vitamins, Suntheanine®)
- Vegan natural NutriCaps®
- Highly bioavailable B-Vitamins (P-5-P and methylcobalamin)
- No additives
- Organic when available, and always free of toxic heavy metals and other contaminates
- Tested prior to encapsulation for allergens, GMOs, microbes, pesticides and herbicides
- Batches are re-tested to confirm potency, purity and activity after encapsulation
- Ships in recyclable cardboard security boxes filled with biodegradable packing peanuts
- Competitively priced
- Only available on their website (more on this in a minute)
- Citicoline dose is too low if you’re using racetams
And because they fully disclose how much is in each 2-capsule dose, I have a better idea on what I need to add to this stack for my unique issues.
Nootropics Expert Recommendation
Pricing of Mind Lab Pro is very competitive for what you get. Some on reddit.com and other blogs have commented that the company only sells this stack from their site. And don’t offer a free trial.
I’ve been in internet marketing for many years and completely understand the hazards of offering a free trial. Especially when you’re selling a high-quality product at the best price you can to stay competitive. It doesn’t make sense to offer free trials when you back it up with a risk-free, “empty bottle”, money-back guarantee.
The company has also decided not to offer Mind Lab Pro on Amazon.com because they don’t want this stack to appear alongside low-quality junk products. I get that. Amazon can also be a place where reviews are easily manipulated by jealous competitors.
And for anyone looking to understand the methodology that went into developing this stack, Amazon.com is not the place for extensive product descriptions.
This is the best pre-made nootropic stack I’ve ever tried. And this after nearly 10 years of trying dozens of nootropics. Both individual ingredients, and various stacks by different manufacturers.
It’s certainly not the cheapest nootropic stack on the market. But it’s not unreasonably priced either at only $69 for a month supply. You can’t put this stack together individually for less than twice or even three times what Opti Nutra charges.
And for me, Mind Lab Pro went the extra mile by going top notch with everything in this stack. Product and packaging quality, brand name ingredients, testing and more testing, organic when they can. Right down to using and NutriGenesis® and NutriCaps®. Touches the average person wouldn’t even notice. Now that’s cool.
If you’d like to try Mind Lab Pro, or learn more about this premium stack, please go to their website for more:
[i] Carlo Calabrese, N.D., M.P.H., William L. Gregory, Ph.D., Michael Leo, Ph.D., Dale Kraemer, Ph.D., Kerry Bone, F.N.I.M.H., F.N.H.A.A., and Barry Oken, M.D. “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)
[ii] “Citicoline,” WebMD. www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements. Retrieved November 24, 2015
[iii] “Phosphatidylserine,” WebMD. www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements. Retrieved November 24, 2015
[iv] Wong, K.H., Naidu M., David, RP., Bakar R., Sabaratnam V., "Neuroregenerative potential of lion's mane mushroom, Hericium erinaceus (Bull.: Fr.) Pers. (higher Basidiomycetes), in the treatment of peripheral nerve injury (review)" International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. 2012;14(5):427-46. (source)
[v] ”Rhodiola,” Life Extension Magazine. www.lifeextension.com. December 2007. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
[vi] “Theanine,” Mitchell, Terri. Life Extension Magazine. www.lifeextension.com. January 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
[viii] “The “Other” Resveratrol,” Johnson, Tiesha D. RN, BSN. Life Extension Magazine. www.lifeextension.com/magazine. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
[ix] “Vinpocetine,” Life Extension Magazine. www.lifeextension.com. February 2006. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
[x] “Vitamin B6,” University of Maryland Medical Center. www.umm.edu. August 5, 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2015.