What Are Nootropics? A Guide for the Unknowing

Are you looking for ways to improve your memory? Read this.

For those who may not be familiar with nootropics, the name is derived from the Greek language and roughly translated means “to bend or shape the mind.” And true to its name, the pills, supplements, and other substances marketed as nootropics are said to provide individuals with a cognitive boost. Some studies have gone as far as to say nootropics can lead to better decision-making and high-level brain function. But are any of these claims substantiated, or are they all rooted in conjecture? Nature’s Arc Organics is here to answer that question.

After all, the idea of taking a pill to achieve a mental boost has been the topic of science fiction for decades. Ironically, however, there is a good chance that you have been taking nootropics without even realizing it as many foods and supplements contain properties that are said to be effective when it comes to improving cognitive skills. In this article, we will take a look at some of these foods and supplements already widely available as well as those that will soon be on store shelves and available online.

What supplements contain nootropics?

Although researchers and scientists are all working collectively to improve upon brain-boosting supplements already on the market, those who are interested in trying nootropics can start today. One of Amazon’s best-selling supplements is an encapsulated cocktail consisting of B vitamins, omega-3s, and plant-derived compounds, all of which purportedly improves memory, concentration and focus.

Additionally, ginseng root, which has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, is believed to be effective when it comes to improving memory, focus, and clarity, according to Dr. Guillaume Fond, a psychiatrist with Aix-Marseille University Medical School based in France.

Of course, this is good news for those who take supplements religiously as they have probably been benefiting from the brain-boosting properties of these and other supplements all along without even knowing it. According to the National Institute of Health, 52 percent of Americans take at least one dietary supplement every day.

What foods contain nootropics?

If you’re not a fan of supplements but still want to benefit from nootropics, you will be happy to know that many of the foods you already eat contain properties that can improve overall cognitive function. For example, foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines, and others that contain omega-3s not only protects the body against certain disease but also improve cognitive functions as well. Beyond that, they taste delicious too. Also worth noting, foods that are rich in flavonoids like blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, and strawberries, for example, offer many of the same benefits. For those who may not be familiar with flavonoids, they are a subclass of anthocyanins that contribute to the blue, purple or deep red color synonymous with most fruits and vegetables.

Cumulative effects of nootropics

Whether you get your brain-boosting nutrients from whole foods or through supplementation, it is worth noting that the benefits do not come overnight. In short, the longer you consume these nutrients, the more likely you are to derive clarity, focus, and other benefits. Even still, more benefits can be achieved by opting for whole foods, according to many experts. In a 2015 study published in the National Institute of Health, Dr. David Hogan, a professor of medicine at Canada’s famed University of Calgary, states that supplements are not a viable replacement for whole foods as they do a poor job in replicating the complexity of the properties found in real food.

Age and the benefits of nootropics

In addition to taking a long time to work, nootropics appear to be more beneficial for younger individuals who consume these nutrients. According to Dr. Hogan, consuming these supplements after the age of 40 will offer fewer brain-boosting benefits compared to consuming them at a younger age. Of course, this is not to suggest that individuals who are 40 and above can’t benefit from nootropics at all. Even after the age of 40, individuals who took nootropics observed a marginal improvement in memory and focus, according to some studies. Many researchers and scientists theorize that the drop off in efficacy comes down to changes that occur in the brain as we age. To further put this into context, as we age, the frontal cortex and other areas of the brain begin to shrink. When this occurs, the risk of stroke and ischemia can increase immensely. And with these physiological changes in the brain, most individuals will experience a significant decline in memory. Unfortunately, nootropics cannot reverse these changes as they are permanent. However, they may be able to lessen the severity and provide individuals with a better quality of life than they would otherwise have.

Prescription-based medications and nootropics

Having already discussed the purported benefits of over-the-counter supplements and whole foods when it comes to nootropics, let’s turn our attention to prescription-based medications that also contain the nutrient. Studies show that stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin, for example, used to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) also contain nootropics, which may come as a surprise to those taking these medications to treat their disorder. The same applies to those who took the medications while pulling all-nighters in college in preparation for exams. For them, the benefits were multifaceted in that they enabled them to stay awake and focused while providing a much-needed cognitive boost. While stimulants are an excellent source of nootropics, they are also very addictive and should not be taken exclusively to boost cognitive function. However, if you’re taking them to treat ADHD and taking them as prescribed, you should be fine.

Other prescription-based medications that contain nootropics

Along with Adderall and Ritalin, medications like Provigil and others used to treat narcolepsy also contain nootropics. Approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), one of the most notable off-label benefits of medications in this class is their ability to provide individuals with a cognitive boost. According to a relatively recent study, Provigil proved to be effective in enhancing certain critical aspects of brain connectivity linked to alertness and decision-making. Of course, this in addition to their prescribed therapeutic use, which is to provide relief to those struggling with narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, or shift work disorder.

Nootropic supplements that actually work

For those who are still skeptical about nootropics, especially when it comes to supplementation, let’s take a look at a few brands that have been evaluated in clinical trials and have been shown to work:

Mind lab pro

Manufactured by Opti-Nutra Ltd, a maker of premium nutritional supplements based in London, Mind Lab Pro has been hailed as a viable alternative to stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin. And because it is considered comparable to these stimulants, it offers many of the same benefits when it comes to treating narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. More than that, however, it contains properties that can help boost cognitive function. In clinical trials involving Mind Lab Pro, several study participants reported experiencing significant improvements in both memory and problem-solving skills. Best of all, Mind Lab Pro does not contain caffeine, gluten, or GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Noocube

Manufactured and marketed by Bauer Nutrition, a purveyor of premium weight loss and beauty products, Noocube is a nootropic-based supplement that lives up to the hype. In clinical trials, it has been found to be effective in improving cognitive function. Even more impressive, Noocube was shown to help those certain brain diseases, namely Alzheimer’s and dementia.

What does the future hold for nootropics?

As far as the future of nootropics, the trend toward bringing more brain-boosting supplements to market shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. As it stands, there is a new nootropic-based supplement that was developed by UCLA-trained neuroscientists called TruBrain, which is expected to hit the market very soon. Unlike other nootropic-based supplements, however, TruBrain promises to deliver the same brain-boosting benefits with minimal amounts of caffeine. Although it seems like minimal amounts of caffeine would be a problem for a product intended to improve alertness, concentration, and much more, clinical trials show that it works. To compensate for the reduction in caffeine, TruBrain contains a variety of ingredients that gets the job done when it comes to providing focus, clarity, and overall brain power you need to take on the day. Some of these ingredients include

  • Caratine (500mg)
  • Centrophenoxine (250mg)
  • Citocoline (250mg)
  • Noopept (12mg)
  • L-Theanine

It is important to note that these ingredients can also boost energy levels as well by improving blood flow and enabling more oxygen and glucose to reach neurons, the cells within the nervous system that relays information to other cells, muscles, and glands in the body.

All in all, with products like TruBrain and those that already on the market or will soon in the market, it is safe to say that the future of nootropics is quite bright.