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Nootropics – Review of Best Memory Enhancement Supplements

Nootropics – Review of Best Memory Enhancement Supplements

Find out which supplements can help improve memory, brain health, and cognition.

best nootropic memory supplements

Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn a commission.

Brain Enhancement Supplements Overview

Brain enhancement supplements are called nootropics, and their goal is to improve cognitive skills like concentration, memory, knowledge processing, critical thinking, and language skills.

Nootropics come in two forms: those that are developed scientifically in a lab, and those that already exist in the natural world. These synthetic organic substances can often be found naturally in nootropic supplements.

Nootropics are in huge demand by people who are looking for ‘smart drugs.’ This includes students and executives alike, really anyone who is looking to boost their mental acuity. The concept of nootropics is actually quite controversial as many people feel that they provide users with an unfair edge and that this aspect is unethical.

However, many people are overwhelmed by the stress of daily tasks like studying and feel they need something to help them get through.

Why are cognitive enhancement supplements important?

Cognitive supplements are used to decrease the symptoms of a wide variety of medical conditions where current drugs on the market available to treat these various conditions have many side effects.

These conditions include:

  • stroke
  • dementia
  • schizophrenia
  • obesity
  • narcolepsy
  • sleep issues
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Which Ingredients To Look For In A Nootropic?

Bacopa Monnieri

This is an herb which has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. There’s a healthy body of research which shows that it can improve memory and cognitive functioning[1] in healthy individuals and in dementia patients[2]. This effect occurs if the herb is taken consistently on a daily basis.

St. John’s Wort

This is an herb which has been used successfully to treat depression. Research also shows that it can improve recognition memory and reduce cognitive impairments.

Huperzine A

It’s a chemical taken from a Chinese moss plant. There’s a large body of research showing that this substance has a positive effect on learning and memory.

DMAE

This is a liquid devoid of any color. It’s often included as an ingredient in skin care creams, as well as in supplements for improving cognitive functioning. Research shows that it prevents a decline in long term memory over time in otherwise healthy people.

L-Tyrosine

This amino acid can improve cognitive performance, including memory[3]. It’s directly responsible for producing the neurotransmitters dopamine and adrenaline.

L-Theanine

This is an amino acid that has the ability to induce relaxation and lessen stress and can aid in the achievement of more restful sleep. There’s also some evidence that it plays a role in the formation of new memories[4].

Alpha Lipoic Acid

This is a molecule that includes powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows that it has a positive effect on human cognitive functioning.

Guarana

This plant is also called Paullinia cupana. Research has shown an improved cognitive performance[5] in subjects after taking guarana extract.

Ginkgo Biloba

This herbal substance is taken from the tree of the same name. It’s believed to be an excellent brain-enhancing ingredient that improves blood flow to the brain. It accelerates memory and attention span (source).

What to Keep in Mind Before You Buy Any Memory Supplement?

Understanding the Label

There can be risks in taking some of these supplements. Sometimes there are hidden ingredients that are not included on the label, which can cause problems for people who have allergies and other intolerances.

Products that have an asterisk on the label are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This means considerable research has gone into testing both their efficacy and their safety.

Supplements that are not FDA approved have had less attention put into their development.

Consumer Reviews & Feedback

Reading consumer reviews and feedback at times can be a good way to find out the pros and cons of a product and whether it’s effective.

NOTE: Do read the reviews, but keep in mind that advertisers sometimes pay for good reviews.

Guarantee & Return Policy

Before you purchase a product, pay careful attention to the return policy and the guarantee listed by the seller. Realistically, a 30-day guarantee doesn’t allow you enough time to try the product and see if you like it in time to return it back to the company by the cut-off.

Look for a policy of a least 60 days. Another detail you want to look for is whether you have to return the product intact in the original packaging, or if you can return half or empty bottles.

What to Avoid – 3 ‘Most Important’ Points To Consider

1. Improper Dosages

It’s not enough to learn that a particular substance is safe and effective. You have to check the dosage. If there’s been research, look into this and examine the dose of the substance that was tested. Try to find out as much as you can about safe dosages of the ingredients in the supplement that interests you.

2. Trusting Amazon

When it comes to reviews on Amazon, keep in mind that they aren’t always legitimate. Companies pay writers to post positive reviews of products. Therefore you can’t rely on reviews alone anymore. You have to do as much research on the product and its ingredients as possible.

3. Fake “Free Trial” Offers

There are many free trials offers from supplement companies that are designed to get your credit card number. You sign up for the trial and pay a small shipping fee. Then they send you your free bottle. At that point, the company enrolls you in a subscription and begins to charge you every month. It’s very difficult to unsubscribe and to get your money back.

Most Promising Options Available In The Market

Qualia Mind

Active Ingredients: Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Velvet Bean Seed Extract, Theobromine, Citicoline, Gingko Biloba

Pros

  • This supplement can improve your mental performance
  • It improves your ability to concentrate
  • The product could get rid of that feeling of ‘brain fog’
  • It increases your energy level

Cons

  • If you take it in the evening, it could keep you awake
  • It contains 2 rice-based ingredients, which are allergens for many people
  • The caffeine may make you feel jittery and nervous
Price: $69.50 for the first shipment, and $119 thereafter

Brain Focus

Active Ingredients: Vitamin B12, Vitamin B3, Huperzine, Green Tea Leaf, Holy Basil, Kola Nut, Coffee Bean Extract, Caffeine

Pros

  • This product may improve your memory
  • It can enhance your attention span
  • This supplement can make you more alert

Cons

  • The product is very high in caffeine, which many people can’t tolerate
  • It contains soy, which is a very common allergen
  • This supplement may be dangerous if ingested by kids
Price: Currently $24.99 on sale, regularly $39.99

Nootro-Focus

Active Ingredients: Citicoline, L-Theanine, Bacopa Monnieri, Gingko Biloba, Rhodiola Rosea

Pros

  • This supplement could enhance your memory function
  • It can make your focus much sharper
  • The product may heighten your clarity

Cons

  • It contains rice extract, which is a very common allergen
  • This product has a very high price point and is branded like it’s a ‘designer supplement’
  • Nootro-Focus takes a few days to start working
Price: $85 if you buy once, and $68 if you subscribe. Free shipping and returns.

FAQ

Can a supplement really make you smarter?

As we have just mentioned, there are some natural substances that can legitimately enhance memory and general brain health. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence to show that they work.

One recent study showed that these supplements were actually quite ineffective. The reason for this lack of data may be the fact that the majority of the supplements on the market are not subject to much in the way of clinical trials.

They may include ingredients that have the intended effects, but the dosage of those ingredients included is also an important factor.

There certainly are both customers and practitioners alike who use these brain health supplements, including some people who suffer from the effects of dementia. It’s important to research any supplement you do choose carefully to make sure the ingredients and dosages seem reasonable.

Which supplements help improve memory?

There are some natural substances that can have a proven effect on memory.

These include:

  • fish oil
  • B vitamins
  • cocoa flavanols
  • curcumin (from turmeric)
  • huperzine A
  • vinpocetine
  • acetyl-L-carnitine

 

CoQ10 has been known to have a positive effect on memory loss (source).

Iron can improve memory, specifically in women who are iron-deficient (source).

In addition, some forms of choline can apparently improve cognition in Alzheimer’s patients with mild to moderate symptoms.

What else can you do to improve your memory? (Strategies to Try instead)

Not everyone wants to use cognitive supplements to enhance their memory and general brain health.

Fortunately, there are some natural ways to achieve this.

1. One of the best methods is regular physical exercise, and this is backed up by science.

Studies have shown that working out on a weekly basis can really enhance your memory, as well as staving off dementia and reducing your risk of developing some diseases.

2. Another great memory-enhancing strategy is eating healthy foods.

Research has proven that if you want a healthy diet with all of the key components, you do not even have to take a vitamin supplement.

The Bottom Line

Many of these natural ingredients do possess benefits and effects. Often, it’s a matter of dosage. That’s why it’s important to look at the dosage on the label carefully and compare it with the dosages used in research studies, or consult with your healthcare practitioner on the same.

Some supplements so have side effects associated with them. If you experience any serious effects, discontinue use immediately.

NOTE: Before you start taking any new supplement, see your healthcare practitioner for a comprehensive discussion as to whether this supplement is safe for you to begin.

Feedback:

References

[1] Indian Journal of Psychiatry https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2915594/ 2006 Oct-Dec; 48(4)
[2] US National Library of Medicine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24252493 J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):528-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.008. Epub 2013 Nov 16
[3] Cortex. 2016 Sep;82:217-224. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2016.06.010. Epub 2016 Jun 23 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27403851
[4] Neuropharmacology https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29944861 2018 Aug;138:331-340. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2018.06.030. Epub 2018 Jun 23
[5] Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior Volume 79, Issue 3, November 2004 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091305704002710
[6] WELLNESS https://www.huffpost.com/entry/mental-clarity-brain-supplements_l_5ce81abce4b05c15deabfac0 By Locke Hughes, HuffPost US
[7] By Julia Calderone February 05, 2018 Memory Supplements
[8] Do Brain Supplements Actually Help Memory Loss? | AARP https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-2018/brain-supplements-memory-loss.html
[9] Memory Boosters | Columbia Universtity Department Of Neurology http://www.columbianeurology.org/neurology/staywell/document.php?id=601
[10] What Supplements Help Improve Memory? | Consumer Lab https://www.consumerlab.com/answers/do-any-supplements-help-with-brain-function/supplements_for_memory/
[11] By Steven DeKosky June 29, 2019 https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/for-brain-health-skip-the-supplements-and-focus-on-a-healthy-diet/2019/06/28/885b61b4-9837-11e9-916d-9c61607d8190_story.html
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Caroline Duncan, M.D.

Caroline C. Duncan graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina in May of 2017, where her interests were primarily psychiatr...

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