Supplementing your body is no new trend. But supplementing your brain is.
In 2011, Hollywood blockbuster film, Limitless, popularized the idea of taking pills for cognitive enhancement.
The movie exaggerated the effects of smart drugs with a fictional brain pill known as “NZT-48.” As unrealistic as the film was, it was undeniably entertaining to watch.
You won’t find a drug that turns you into a super-genius in real life, but is there anything close?
What are Nootropics?
Entrepreneurs, business people, students, athletes and hard-working professionals can all benefit from improvements in mental performance.
The desire to gain an advantage in daily life is what leads many to the discovery of nootropics. What are nootropics?
They are a group of supplements (including both synthetic and natural nootropics) that look to improve various aspects of one’s mental cognition.
All nootropics have different effects on the brain. Some promise to improve your memory, while others promise to improve your levels of focus and concentration.
Advanced users stack various supplements together to compound their effects.
Do Nootropic Supplements Work?
The movie Limitless has caused some industry-wide skepticism as to the effectiveness of nootropic supplements.
Do nootropics supplements work? The short answer is, yes. They absolutely work. But you won’t become a millionaire overnight by taking a few pills.
Think of nootropic pills as nutrients for your brain to help it run at optimal efficiency—not wonder drugs that cure all of your problems.
The idea of consuming synthetic supplements that boost brain power can be scary for some. In this article, we’ll cover five of the best natural nootropics for cognitive enhancement.
Whether you’re looking to improve mental performance with a custom stack or have ambitions to start your own supplement company, these are ingredients to consider.
Best Natural Nootropics
All of the top natural nootropic stacks utilize a high-quality choline source.
Supplementing Alpha GPC will aid in your brain’s acetylcholine production.
Acetylcholine, the most important neurotransmitter in the brain, is strongly linked to memory and learning capabilities.
There are other choline sources available (Choline Bitartrate and CDP-Choline or Citicoline), but Alpha GPC is the most bioavailable.
Its high bioavailability means it is capable of quickly and easily penetrating the blood-brain barrier, allowing it to interact with acetylcholine production positively.
Alpha GPC supplementation has also been shown to improve fat oxidation in young adults and boost growth hormone production.
Phosphatidylserine (PS), mostly prevalent in neural tissue, is a vital compound for mental cognition.
It plays a significant role in improving neuron and cell membrane fluidity, as well as maintaining cellular function. Not only can it improve memory and cognitive capacity in older adults, but it can also be used as an effective natural ADHD remedy in young people.
Several studies have shown Phosphatidylserine’s ability to improve focus, concentration, memory, and processing speed and accuracy through regular supplementation.
Omega-3 Fish Oil (DHA & EPA)
Fish oil is perhaps the most well-researched top natural nootropic supplements on the planet.
There are two types of omega-3s to be concerned with: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
Each performs a very specific function. The type you select will depend on your goals. EPA is best when you’re looking to reduce bodily inflammation, or if you want to reduce symptoms of anxiety or depression.
In other words, EPA is ideal for mood enhancement and stabilization. DHA, on the other hand, is known for its ability to improve mental performance. It does this primarily by improving the rate and efficiency of communication between neurons in your brain.
Caffeine, extracted from coffee beans, is a stimulatory compound used to improve endurance, physical strength, and mental alertness.
Caffeine’s mechanism of action involves antagonizing adenosine receptors. These receptors are responsible for inducing relaxation and putting your body into a sedative state.
Caffeine counteracts or inhibits adenosine which causes wakefulness. If you’ve ever had a cup of coffee, you should be very familiar with the effectiveness of caffeine.
Many biohackers also use caffeine as part of their natural nootropic stack when trying to get more done at work or school.
Huperzine-A is one of the best natural nootropics that works hand in hand with Alpha GPC. As mentioned previously, acetylcholine is the brain’s most prominent neurotransmitter.
It is deeply involved in our ability to interpret, memorize, and learn new information. Huperzine-A does not produce acetylcholine, but it does allow more acetylcholine to build up in your brain.
This is because Huperzine-A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. Acetylcholinesterase is responsible for the rapid hydrolysis (chemical breakdown) of acetylcholine. By inhibiting its activity, more choline becomes available for the brain.
Final Thoughts on Brain Supplements
There are many great nootropic formulas on the market available from various supplement manufacturers.
Although the nootropic industry is only in its infant stages, it’s growth is exponential and there are no signs of it slowing down.
Due to potential unknowns from long term use of synthetic nootropics such as racetams, we recommend you stick with herbal or natural nootropics for your daily cognitive enhancement boost.