Best Nootropics: Top 4 Products to Boost Your Mental Performance

person taking supplements while studying


You can make every effort to optimize your diet, sleep, training, and recovery, but sometimes your brain still feels sluggish. In an attempt to enhance cognitive output, some athletes and busy professionals turn to dietary supplements and ‘smart drugs' called nootropics.

Nootropics’ primary purpose is to enhance brain function by improving cognition, focus, alertness, and wellbeing. Common over-the-counter nootropics include caffeine, L-theanine, omega-3 fatty acids, ginkgo biloba, panax ginseng, and rhodiola. In addition, some nootropics require a prescription and oversight by a doctor. For the purpose of this article, we’ll be focusing on the over-the-counter versions.

Since nootropics are a rather new area of dietary supplements, some of these compounds lack thorough scientific backing, so being picky is a good thing. The best nootropics include a limited number of research-backed ingredients to give you the most bang for your buck. To help you make an educated choice when selecting one, the ACTIVE Reviews Team has reviewed the top options on the market to give you the best nootropics to boost your mental performance.

Why Trust Us?

The health and safety of ACTIVE’s readers is of the utmost importance to us. To ensure your well-being when consuming dietary supplements, the ACTIVE.com editorial team prioritizes products that are independently tested by a third party. We’ve consulted with a team of nutritionists and dieticians to ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. This helps us create the most accurate, authentic review content for our readers.

Disclaimer: Exercise caution when taking supplements. Always make sure to consult with your doctor before trying a new supplement or pill. Weight-loss supplements are not a substitute for a balanced diet and regular exercise. Any supplements taken should be used in accordance with a healthy lifestyle. Any weight loss more than a pound per week over a long period of time is unusual and should be monitored by a doctor.

The Best Nootropic Supplements - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Nootropic Supplement - NooCube Brain Productivity

NooCube Brain Productivity

SPECS

  • Price (Scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Ingredients: Lutemax 2020, bacopa monnieri, huperzia serrata, pterostilbene, resveratrol, l-theanine, l-tyrosine, alpha GPC, oat straw extract, cat's claw, vitamin B1, vitamin B7, vitamin B12
  • Dosage: 2 capsules daily

Check Price

At the top of our list for the best overall nootropic is NooCube Brain Productivity. Its comprehensive ingredient list of science-backed compounds can help you face a brutal training session or a slammed day at the office. An optimized brain is extremely important if you want to perform at a high level, and NooCube may help you get there.

NooCube Brain Productivity contains 13 cognitive-enhancing ingredients to help improve memory, alertness, focus, and problem-solving skills. The manufacturers claim regularly supplementing with this nootropic can also reduce negative stress and mental fatigue associated with all-day computer usage. Their formulation excludes caffeine, so stimulant-sensitive users won’t get jitters.

What We Like

  • Comprehensive list of effective ingredients
  • Uses transparent labeling
  • 60-day money back guarantee
  • Free shipping

What We Don't Like

  • Some ingredients have limited research
  • On the expensive side at just under $2 per serving

BUY: NooCube Brain Productivity

Best Nootropic Supplement for Memory - Life Extension Quick Brain Nootropic

Life Extension Quick Brain Nootropic

SPECS

  • Price (Scale of $-$$$): $
  • Ingredients: Gotu kola extract, BaCognize ultra bacopa extract, FloraGLO marigold extract, marigold extract
  • Dosage: 1 capsule daily

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When performing high level tasks on a daily basis, memory is often the first cognitive process to suffer. Memory is equally important for athletes who must remember complex routines as it is for professionals dealing with complex numbers or technical language. Our top pick for memory supplies four unique nootropic ingredients to support cognitive function and memory.

Life Extension Quick Brain provides a simple blend of nootropics:

  • Gotu kola extract: Ayurvedic herb that may improve cognitive function and memory
  • BaCognize ultra bacopa extract: Nootropic herb that has been shown to improve memory
  • FloraGLO Marigold extract: Limited animal research suggests it may improve memory, though more human research is needed

There’s no filler here. Unlike some other nootropics, this product contains only a limited amount of ingredients. At an economical price point, Life Extension Quick Brain provides an entry-level option for those looking to try a nootropic supplement without going over budget.

What We Like

  • Affordable price point
  • Uses only natural ingredients
  • Gluten free and non-GMO
  • Only requires one capsule per day
  • No stimulants for those that are sensitive

What We Don't Like

  • May lack well-known nootropic ingredients
  • Shipping is extra under $49

BUY: Life Extension Quick Brain Nootropic

Best Nootropic Supplement for Athletes - Jacked Factory Cognisurge - Energizing Nootropic Powder

Jacked Factory Cognisurge - Energizing Nootropic Powder

SPECS

  • Price (Scale of $-$$$): $$
  • Ingredients: Cognizin Choline, Neurofactor coffeeberry extract, ashwagandha, dynamine, caffeine anhydrous, lion's mane mushroom, L-tyrosine, L-theanine, huperzine-A
  • Dosage: 1 scoop (7.8 grams)

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Jacked Factory Coinsurge provides a research-backed blend of nine cognitive-enhancing ingredients to help keep your head in the game, without any side effects. Some of the most impactful nootropic ingredients include:

  • Cognizin citicoline: Compound that can help boost cognition and memory
  • Ashwagandha: Can help reduce stress and anxiety during demand tasks
  • Caffeine anhydrous: Well-known stimulant that upregulates central nervous system activity
  • Lion's mane: Mushroom known for its cognitive-enhancing benefits
  • Huperzine-A: Cognitive enhancer that helps maintain acetylcholine levels, a key neurotransmitter for muscle control

It's important to note that this product contains 125 milligrams of caffeine, which may be high for some users. For athletes looking for a well-rounded nootropic supplement to help break through mental blocks, Jacked Factory Coinsurge may be worth a try.

What We Like

  • Well-rounded selection of nine brain boosting ingredients
  • Uses transparent labeling
  • Produced in a GMPc facility
  • Naturally colored

What We Don't Like

  • May not be suitable for those who are caffeine sensitive
  • Only available in one flavor
  • Shipping costs extra

BUY: Jacked Factory Cognisurge - Energizing Nootropic Powder

How to Choose the Best Nootropics


What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics are a category of dietary supplements, sometimes called “smart drugs,” that stimulate your brain to improve cognition, focus, alertness, and well-being. Common nootropics include caffeine, guarana, citicoline, coffeeberry extract, adaptogenic mushrooms, ginseng, and marigold extract, just to name a few.

Many of these over-the-counter compounds have research to back their benefits, while others lack high-quality data. You'll want to do your research before purchasing any old nootropic off the shelf. Also, many nootropics contain caffeine, so it's important to read the label if you prefer to avoid stimulants.

Benefits

A nootropic’s benefits will depend on exactly which compounds it contains. Different brands of nootropic supplements may target particular brain functions, like focus or energy, so you'll want to determine your rationale for taking one. That being said, most nootropic supplements are designed to:

  • Promote better focus
  • Improve executive function
  • Increase alertness and reduce fatigue
  • Improve resilience to stress and anxiety
  • Enhance memory
  • Support energy levels

Potential Side Effects

While nootropics may help provide potential benefits, they also come with a fair share of risks and side effects. If you have a history of adverse reactions to certain dietary supplements, you'll want to proceed with caution when first trying a nootropic. Here are the most common side effects associated with nootropics:

  • Sleeplessness
  • Headache
  • Digestive issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Jitteriness
  • Fast heart rate
  • Dizziness

How We Rate Supplements


Price/affordability scale of $-$$$

Prices depend on a number of factors and tend to fluctuate over time, so we've kept our affordability rating scale simple so you can easily see how products compare:

$ = under $1 per serving
$$ = $1-2 per serving
$$$ = over $2 per serving

Flavor Options (scale of 1-3)

When it comes to dietary supplements that you take frequently, or even daily, options are important. And while your protein powder or pre-workout doesn't have to taste good to be effective, having several flavors to choose from can make it easier to stick with your fitness and health goals.

N/A = Unflavored
1 = 1-2 flavor options
2 = 3-4 flavor options
3 = 5 or more flavor options

FAQs About Nootropics


Will nootropics keep you awake?

In general, nootropics with stimulants are the only ones that may keep you awake. Some stimulating ingredients include caffeine, green tea extract, guarana, and yerba mate. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, so some users may react differently to these ingredients. Most nootropics are designed to be taken in the morning, so even if they have caffeine, it will likely have worn off by bedtime. If you are particularly sensitive to stimulants, a stim-free product might be right for you.

Can nootropics help with brain damage?

There's not enough evidence to definitively say that nootropics can help address brain damage. That being said, there are a few ingredients often found in nootropic supplements that may help alleviate symptoms of brain damage. The most notable ones include omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and creatine. High dose omega-3 supplementation has been shown to enhance cognitive recovery following a traumatic brain injury. There's also limited research to suggest that creatine may have a neuroprotective effect following a brain injury.

What are natural nootropics?

Natural nootropics are compounds derived from plants or other natural sources. Common natural nootropics include ginkgo biloba, panax ginseng, rhodiola, cat's claw, green tea, and lion's mane mushrooms. On the other side of the spectrum are synthetically produced pharmaceuticals, like Adderall, that may have cognitive enhancing benefits for certain individuals.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

About the Author

Daniel Preiato

Daniel Preiato is a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition and nutrition education. He is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and an avid strength athlete. He uses his background in clinical nutrition to dissect research and help individuals meet their health and fitness goals.

See More from Daniel

Daniel Preiato is a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition and nutrition education. He is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and an avid strength athlete. He uses his background in clinical nutrition to dissect research and help individuals meet their health and fitness goals.

See More from Daniel

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