Updated: Feb 24, 2020
In your search for a supplements to improve your mental performance, you might have come across the term “Nootropics.” But do you really know what it means?
Nootropics, by its original definition, are substances which help to improve mental functions such as memory, concentration, intelligence, attention, and motivation, without causing any harm to the health.
These substances were initially used
or treating cognitive illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease. But today, many healthy individuals use nootropic supplements to increase their productivity and focus.
Currently, the definition of nootropics now includes any substance, natural, or pharmaceutical, that enhances brain power, regardless of its side effects or risks.
Safety Concerns of Nootropics
Most popular smart drugs like Modafinil, Adrafinil, Racetams, and Noopept are synthetic, and they often harmful, with long-term consequences.
But the natural nootropics (found from naturally-occurring substances) helps to promote peak mental performance safely, without the severe side effects or risks of synthetic smart drugs.
Benefits of the Natural Nootropic Supplements
Below are some of the ways the nootropic supplements can help to improve your brain health and fitness:
· Provides the needed nutrients which are absent in the average diet
· Promotes the circulation of nutrients to the brain
· Neutralizes the effect of free radicals on the brain
· Supplies the missing nutrients if you are a vegetarian
· Reduces brain inflammation
· Increases the flow of oxygen, energy, and/ or blood to the brain
· Provides the needed precursors to important neurotransmitters
· Reduces the effect of brain aging
· Protects the brain from dangerous toxins
· Stimulates the formation of new brain cells
· Increases resilience to stress
· Increases the ability of the brain to change (neuroplasticity)
Our top 5 Nootropics list
There is a wide range of natural substances that act as nootropics by protecting and nourishing the brain to perform better.
From the abundant options available, we’ve selected what we think are 5 of the best options based on track records of safety and effectiveness.
Check out the list of our favorite natural nootropics, and how they enhance mental performance below:
Caffeine is the psychoactive content present in coffee, and it is the most widely consumed nootropic in the world. It is also contained in tea, cocoa, guarana, kola nuts, and added to many energy drinks, sodas, and medication.
When you take caffeine, it blocks the adenosine receptors in your brain, thereby reducing fatigue.
Some studies have shown that a moderate intake of 40-300mg of caffeine can help improve alertness and decrease your reaction time.
You can combine it with other substances or take it as a supplement to promote your brain functioning.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that has been shown in some studies to improve energy levels and reduce stress. It is found most commonly in tea.
Studies show that when taken, L-Theanine crosses the blood brain barrier and increases the levels of the neurotransmitter’s serotonin, GABA, and dopamine This can have beneficial effects as it helps promote a relaxed state while maintaining alertness.
It has also shown to have protective effects on the brain by antagonizing glutamate toxicity.
Caffeine and L-theanine
Caffeine and L-Theanine aren't just good on their own – they also work synergistically. The combination of caffeine and L-Theanine is considered by many to be the best place for a beginner to start with nootropics.
Caffeine can increase your overall energy levels, improving attention, and focus. The downside is you can experience unwanted effects like increased heart rate, blood pressure, and anxious / jittery feelings. This is where L-Theanine comes in as it is a relaxant that may reduce heart rate and blood pressure, promote alpha brain waves (associated with relaxation) and provide balance for the brain to avoid jitters.
So you see how combining the two would work well? Get the positive effects of caffeine: focus, energy etc. without the fear of becoming anxious and jittery.
3. Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are one of the best natural nootropics you can take to enhance your brain. Omega-3s are commonly present in cold-water, fatty fish- this is the main reason why fish is often referred to as brain food.
More so, one omega -3 called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a key structural part of the brain. It is found mainly in the regions involved with attention, memory, judgment, emotion, and creativity.
Statistics show that about 70% of all humans are deficient in omega-3, which is an essential brain nutrient. However, you can take fish oil or krill oil to get an abundant supply of omega-3.
4. Alpha GPC
Alpha GPC or (L-Alpha glyceryl phosphorylcholine) is a natural choline compound found in the brain.
Alpha-GPC may prevent cognitive decline and can increase attention and memory. When supplemented, it’s been shown raise levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is essential for proper mental function and neuron health. If you are deficient in choline, boosting your levels can help to improved memory, learning, thinking, focus, and energy.
Alpha GPC has also been shown to increase power output by up to 14% during exercise, and even acutely raise levels of human growth hormone although more research is needed on this.
Ashwagandha is a plant in the nightshade family. Sometimes regarded as one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used since ancient time.
It is classed as an adaptogen. These are natural substances considered to help the body adapt to various emotional and physical stressors. Supplementation of ashwagandha may decrease stress, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.
Some of ashwagandhas others potential benefits include: Improved cognition by fighting the effects of stress, Reduced anxiety and enhancing mood, acts as a antioxidant and anti-inflammatory for brain protection and repair, increase testosterone levels in men, and it has even been linked to Increase in muscle mass and strength.
There are many nootropics to chose from. We have just listed our top 5 of what we think offer some of the best range of science backed benefits with the lowest chance of health risks. Nootropics can be very personal to you and you should decide what ones will benefit you best However they should all be taken with caution and if you have any concern you should speak to a GP before consumption. If you are looking for a complete nootropic stack be sure to check out our NRG+ formula.