Best Nootropics: Key Factors For Effective Nootropic Supplements
Life would be easier if you had unlimited brain power. Unfortunately, especially as you get older, your cognitive function naturally begins to decline, and even tasks seemingly as simple as remembering what task you came upstairs to complete can prove to be difficult.
Is there anything you can do to slow this decline and promote better cognitive health?
Nootropics, or “smart drugs,” are gaining attention for the role they may be able to play in doing just that. Some prescription nootropics are already used to treat various cognitive conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
This article is instead going to focus on nootropic supplements that are available over-the-counter and have more general benefits.
So, what exactly are nootropics? What do nootropics do? And what are some of the most common nootropics you can use? Keep reading to find out!
What Are Nootropics?
Nootropics are supplements that have recently become much more popular and are used to promote better cognitive function.
Cognitive function refers to everything from memory and concentration to thinking, decision-making, and creativity. Basically, anything related to the brain and what it does for the body is the primary focus of a nootropic supplement.
Nootropic is a Greek word that means “to bend or shape the mind/intellect.” Of course, nootropics do not have the power to rework the brain or your level of intelligence (if they did, we would all be using them already!), so this name is not by no means literal.
However, nootropics really do offer specific benefits to your cognitive function, and can promote better quality in your day to day life.
Prescription drugs used to treat medical issues relating to cognition, such as Adderall for ADHD, are considered nootropics but should only be taken when necessary and with the close oversight of a doctor. There are also plenty of over-the-counter (OTC) nootropic supplements available, which do not treat certain health conditions but instead support overall brain health and function.
Below is a breakdown of some of the top nootropic supplements you can use to “bend your mind!”
Best Nootropic Supplements
Here you have some of the most popular and effective nootropic supplements!
Bacopa may have a peculiar name, but it’s found pretty much all over the place. A perennial herb native to wetland areas of southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America, Bacopa has been used since ancient times as a natural remedy for various things.
Green Tea Extract
It’s fairly common knowledge at this point that drinking tea provides a number of benefits to physical and mental well being. And green tea — a staple in China and other East Asian countries — is one of the most popular teas in the world. Along with its mild and inviting taste, green tea is also full of antioxidants that promote heart, brain, and liver function. The extract from the tea is highly concentrated and can be used for a number of different health and well being applications.
Green tea extract is especially popular in the beauty community because it has been shown to improve skin elasticity and help skin protect itself from UV rays, among other benefits. So next time you’re looking to “treat yourself,” look no further than a supplement that has some green tea extract.
L-theanine is a naturally-occurring amino acid most commonly found in caffeinated teas, i.e. green and black teas. It can have a soothing effect on the body, which supports better mental health and therefore better mental performance.
We like chocolate just as much as anyone else. But the chocolate at the grocery store is often saccharine and airy, a bland descendant of what it came from — the illustrious cacao bean.
Cacao is so much more than an ingredient in chocolate. It’s also an ancient remedy with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Cacao has been found to be so immensely helpful for some people that they participate in “cacao ceremonies” to promote wellness. Who knew eating a delicious bar of chocolate or taking a sip of hot chocolate could be beneficial to your health!
CBD, or cannabidiol, is considered a nootropic because of its role in supporting positive mental wellness.
Having intrusive thoughts or worrying compulsively not only negatively affects your mental wellness, it can also alter your cognitive function as well. This means that not only do you have to deal with poor mental health, you may also see a decline in memory, thinking, and concentration, among other things.
CBD works to promote a sense of calm in your day to day and promotes overall mental health. It may also promote more restful sleep, which in turn may help improve your cognitive function.
This strange-looking vegetable has long been a staple in Peruvian kitchens, not just as an ingredient in soup, but as a functional food. It’s important to note that there is still very little research on Maca’s benefits. However, Maca is highly nutritious with several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, copper, and iron. Not a fan of root veggies? Not a problem — the most popular way to consume Maca for daily consumption is by grinding it up into powder and adding it to smoothies, drinks, meals, or into a supplement. No sweat!
You may be surprised to learn that you may already take a nootropic regularly. That’s right -- caffeine is a nootropic! You can find caffeine in coffee, tea leaves, cocoa, guarana, and in other products as it can also be powderized and added to many things. Although caffeine addiction is a very real thing, caffeine is safe in moderation and actually offers many health benefits.
Typically, people drink caffeine in the mornings in order to help themselves wake up and prepare for the day. Other times, people consume caffeine to help them quickly focus on the task at hand. Both of these are excellent uses of caffeine, since it is a stimulant that helps optimize cognitive function and focus.
As long as you do not drink caffeine in excess, it is a healthy way to boost your concentration and cognitive performance! With that said, many people slowly and unknowingly become highly dependent on caffeine over longer periods of time and if you notice you can’t function without your coffee, have a bad attitude prior to your cup of coffee, or are requiring multiple cups to function you may want to slowly wean off so you can reduce your dependency and get back to a more reasonable level of daily intake.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is primarily found in fatty fish like salmon and anchovies. Unsaturated fats, unlike saturated and trans fats, are a particularly healthy fat that the body needs to survive and function normally.
Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important to your brain and nerve health, so they are considered a nootropic. More specifically, these fatty acids help regenerate neurons (brain cells), and in doing so, prevent rapid aging in the brain.
Since omega-3 fatty acids support overall brain health, it is fair to say they may also promote better cognition and brain function.
Other popular OTC nootropics include creatine, ginkgo biloba, rhodiola rosea, panax ginseng, and racetams (such as piracetam), and you’ll often see these as ingredients in wellness supplement focused on mental health, focus, and cognitive function!
Which Nootropic Supplement Should You Take?
When deciding on a new supplement to add to your daily regimen, your first step should always be to consult with your doctor. They may be able to help you decide which supplement is right for you. Your doctor can also tell you whether or not other medications you take may interact in any way with this new supplement. Finally, they may be able to help you choose the right dose for your needs.
Beyond that, you should take the nootropic supplement that best suits your specific and unique needs.
All of the nootropics listed above are effective in their own right, but some might be better for you than others. For example, if you want to support your cognitive function without risking the elevated heart rate associated with caffeine consumption, you could try CBD, which has the opposite effect of a relaxed focus versus an energetic one.
Whatever brand you do choose, make sure their products have been tested by accredited third-party facilities, which will ensure utmost quality. You should also select a brand that is specifically committed to utilizing optimal ingredients as there are different types of many of these ingredients which varying levels of active ingredients.
Here at Leafwell Botanicals, we’re proud to say that all of our products, including our CBD products, check both of these boxes.
How Else Can You Improve Cognitive Function?
Supplements are a great way to support your brain health, but they will be able to work best when they are combined with a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some things you can do everyday to promote better cognitive performance:
Get a full night’s sleep every night. We know -- between work, family, fun, and all your other responsibilities, sometimes it feels like there is not enough time in the day to sleep even for a couple hours, let alone seven to nine hours. However, your body, and especially your brain, needs the time when you are asleep to refresh, replenish, and prepare for a new day. Your brain also works to consolidate memories during sleep periods. Finally, you will feel more alert and focused throughout the day when you have gotten an adequate amount of sleep the night before.
Exercise regularly. Staying physically active offers the body innumerous health benefits, such as reduced stress levels and better heart health. And as it turns out, exercising often can even support your brain health. This may be because exercise facilitates better blood flow (including to the brain), or it also may be because exercise has certain anti-aging effects on the body. Whatever the case, staying active can keep your mind active as well.
Follow a healthy diet. Just like the rest of your body, your brain needs a certain amount of essential nutrients to keep it running the way it should be. When you eat an unhealthy diet full of processed and sugary foods, your brain will not attain all the vitamins and minerals it requires and will have less energy to perform its vital tasks. If you eat healthy foods and focus on getting the nutrients your body needs, your brain will thank you!
Minimize stress as much as possible. Unfortunately, stress seems to be one of those facets of life (like taxes!) that is simply unavoidable. However, doing what you can to avoid high levels of stress will benefit your brain health immensely. Cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, can significantly damage the brain when present at excessive levels for too long periods of time. Discover what helps you keep your stress levels under wrap--be it a bubble bath at the end of the day, a yoga session right when you wake up, or spending time in nature--and incorporate it into your daily/weekly routine.
- Train your brain. This may seem obvious, but one of the best ways to keep your brain sharp is to, well, use it! Puzzles, word games, video games, learning new things, and memory tests are all fun ways to test your intellect and improve your cognitive performance. There are plenty of free apps that you can download (or cheap puzzle books that you can purchase) which will help you do just that.
With these best practices plus the support of a nootropic supplement like CBD, you can safely support optimal brain performance and cognitive function for the long-run!