Best Nootropics 2020: Our Top-Rated Nootropics

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Nootropics are mainly natural cognitive enhancers used by high-achievers, students, entrepreneurs, managers, and others who need lots of brainpower for ultimate performance. In the past years, we have seen a massive increase in the popularity of nootropics and nootropic supplements. Since FDA (and other similar organizations across the world) does not regulate nootropics, people are often confused when choosing the most effective and safest nootropics. So in this post, we will share the best nootropics you can find on the market. 

best nootropics

Table of Contents

Which Is The Best Nootropic For You?

Before we dive into many different nootropics that can help you improve your performance and productivity, we want to clarify one important thing. If you ever decide to test individual nootropic compounds, you might experience quite different results as other people. Certain nootropics work differently on different people. So when talking about individual compounds, there is no “one best nootropic” for everyone. 

However, if you try nootropic stacks (multiple nootropics combined), most people experience very similar benefits. For some, those benefits are stronger, and for others, they are weaker, but they are still very similar. The reason for that is straightforward – as soon you combine multiple nootropic compounds, they simultaneously work on different brain pathways. 

Even if one particular nootropic does not work for you, ten nootropics combined will most likely do.

Now, let’s check the best nootropics. 

Best Nootropics

Before you buy a nootropic, you must ask yourself: “What am I looking for in a nootropic?” Am I a student and need to improve my memory while studying for my final exams? Or do I need my brain to be firing on all cylinders at all times as a professional with a highly demanding job?

To help you out, we divided them into different categories. 

top nootropics

Memory

The most commonly used nootropics serve the purpose of improving our memory.

When trying to improve our memory, we need to pay particular attention to the choline or acetylcholine content of the supplement. Nerves use choline to produce acetylcholine, which acts as a transmitter between the nerves. More of either one of these two chemicals means improved short- and long-term memory.

Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC is one of the most common and popular nootropics currently on the market because it is proven to increase acetylcholine levels. [1] Most manufacturers recommend a daily intake between 300-600 mg, but there are no studies that this somewhat low dosage improves cognitive abilities in any way. We recommend taking in up to 1200 mg per day, split throughout the day into three 400 mg doses.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri is an ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries. It can be taken in leaf, capsule, or powder form. The compound we need to keep an eye on here is called bacoside. This compound is responsible for information transfer at cell receptor sites, which in turn improves our long term memory. [2

When taken in capsules, take 300 mg of Bacopa Monnieri, but make sure it contains 20% of bacoside or more.

Centrophenoxine

Centrophenoxine is a popular memory enhancing nootropic because of its quick absorption in the form of choline. And as you’ve read earlier, choline and its successor acetylcholine are both critical for learning and improving memory. The best way of taking centrophenoxine is to ingest 1-3 doses of 250 mg split throughout the day.

Centrophenoxine shows a lot of potentials, but until more studies are done, we do not recommend supplementing it daily. 

Citicoline

Citicoline is a nerve nourishing nootropic commonly given to stroke victims or people suffering from cognitive decline. Taken up to 2 g per day, however, it is proven to be a great memory enhancer. [3] Citicoline (in the form of Cognizin) is excellent for improving attention as well. 

Gingko Biloba

Gingko Biloba is one of the oldest tree species on Earth, with its origins dating back to 270 million years. An extract of Ginkgo leaves, called Egb 761, helps neurotransmitters, protects brain cells from degeneration, and helps microcirculation in the brain. [4] Recommended daily dose is 40-80 mg 3-times per day.

We do not recommend supplementing Ginkgo Biloba as an individual compound due to the low efficiency. However, we do not mind if you take it as a part of a more complex stack.

If you want to check memory nootropics more in detail, you can do it here: Memory nootropics.

best nootropic pill

Cognition

What does the word cognition resemble? Many people would simply say a better memory. But a better memory is just one part of cognition. 

Nootropics can’t be split entirely up into separate categories, as one might say that memory is only a part of cognition, and others might claim it has to have its separate category. 

There are, however, a few nootropics that don’t fit the regular mold of a memory enhancer, that we would still like to include on our list. 

Acetyl L-Carnitine

Acetyl L-Carnitine is an amino acid found in high protein foods, such as meat and eggs. L-Carnitine is key in acetylcholine production; anything that improves our secretion of acetylcholine is a compound we want on our list. [5] 300-1000 mg per day should improve your focus, alertness, memory, and clarity.

Acetyl L-Carnitine may be beneficial, but it is far from a necessary compound. 

Creatine

If you’re a regular gym-goer, we are pretty sure you’ve come across this word before. Creatine is your body’s first source of fuel when you do strenuous exercise or hard labor. Up until now, creatine was only considered as a strength-building supplement, but recent studies show creatine also contributes to much improved cognitive function and quicker problem-solving. [6]

Creatine is entirely safe to use daily. It is recommended taking about 5 g per day. Take anything more than that, and your muscles will become oversaturated with creatine.

Creatine may be added for gym-goers, but until more research is done, we do not recommend taking it as a cognitive-enhancing supplement. 

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a highly concentrated extract from the Chinese club moss plant, highly regarded in traditional Chinese medicine. One study proved Huperzine A was responsible for visible improvement in the subjects’ memory and learning skills compared to the second group that was given a placebo. [7

Recent studies also reveal Huperzine A has a significant impact on an individual’s cognitive function for daily use as well as on suppressing overall symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. [8

Typical doses are 50-100 mg, twice per day. However, we do not recommend supplementing Huperzine A daily for more extended periods, because it can make you dependent. 

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane mushroom is a common ingredient in many Chinese cookbooks and is a staple in traditional Chinese medicine. Lion’s Mane is a mushroom which contains compounds called hericenones and erinacines. The two compounds have neuroprotective and cognitive enhancing properties by increasing the brain nerve growth factor, responsible for growth, maintenance, and survival of neurons. [9]

Phosphatidylserine

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid, a combination of lipids (fats) and phosphorus, essential for proper brain function and health. [10] It allows a more efficient transfer of nutrients, enzymes, and oxygen, and is also involved in building mitochondria in the brain cells. 

The recommended dosage is 100 mg, taken three times per day.

Pterostilbene

Pterostilbene is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in blueberry and grapes (two superfoods you can easily plug into your diet!). Pterostilbene is gaining a reputation in the nootropics circles for controlling brain inflammation, boosting dopamine production, and fighting brain cell aging. [11]

For cognitive benefit, take in 50 mg of pterostilbene. 

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen herb and nootropic used in traditional Russian and Scandinavian medicine. Adaptogens are herbs that help the human body adapt to stress. There were countless studies performed on Rhodiola Rosea, and all have a common thread – this herb is a good remedy for poor concentration, decreased memory, and mental fatigue. [12]

The recommended dose of Rhodiola Rosea is 150 – 200 mg per day but look for extracts that contain rosavins and salidrosides in a 3:1. This mimics the ratio that naturally occurs in the Rhodiola Rosea root.

Tyrosine

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid found in eggs, turkey, beef, soybeans, and Swiss cheese, which helps with our body’s natural dopamine and norepinephrine production. [13] The two neurotransmitters play a great role in improving our mood and slowing down cognitive decline. 

We wouldn’t put Tyrosine at the top of our list of must-have nootropics, but it is a compound worth trying out for yourself, especially if you are often under severe stress. 

Vinpocetine

Vinpocetine is a nootropic that comes from synthesizing Vincamine, a natural alkaloid found in the lesser periwinkle plant, and is one of the best selling nootropics in the world. [14

In places such as Mexico and Russia, it’s used as a prescription drug, while elsewhere, it can be found as an over the counter drug for impairing cognitive decline. It works by increasing blood flow to the brain and reducing oxidative damage. This means our brain cells will remain healthy for longer, and our synapses will be firing at full speed. [15

Poor cerebral circulation, in turn, will create a domino effect on our cognitive processes, and decrease our memory, decision making, and mood. 

Even though vinpocetine shows some benefits, we believe there are better nootropics on the market. 

To learn more about brain nootropics, click here: Best Brain Nootropics

mood

Mood and Well-being

We can be armed to the teeth with all the memory- and cognitive enhancing nootropics, but what good are those when we’re not in the mood for productivity? 

Nootropics and humans can be compared to racehorses, their blinkers, and the jockey. The nootropics are the young stallion, chomping at the bit, but it is up to us to channel that energy and focus on something productive, or you’ll find yourself diving deep into discussions on Reddit or finding realms of Youtube you never knew existed. 

Caffeine

As most people know it, caffeine comes from coffee beans, but it can also be synthesized in a laboratory. Regardless of which road you choose to take, caffeine is a powerful stimulant, capable of increasing your physical and mental strength and endurance. [16]

It works by blocking adenosine receptors, which are responsible for sedation and relaxation. When caffeine blocks these receptors, we usually feel more alert and awake. People can, however, develop resistance to caffeine to such an extent where adding more and more caffeine simply won’t cut it, and a month-long break is needed. 

When taken habitually, caffeine will give you a good kick when taken in doses anywhere between 100-200 mg per day. 

Cobalamin (Vitamin B12)

Cobalamin is along with Inositol and Sulbutramine, a member of the Vitamin B family. Cobalamin is a scientific term for vitamin B12, a vitamin that can be found in every single cell in your body. Cobalamin deficiency can lead to cognitive decline, sensory disturbances, and behavioral problems. [17]

By increasing cerebral circulation, Cobalamin flushes the brain with about 20% of our total blood volume, keeping it healthy and functioning correctly. Most importantly, in doses up to 1 mg a day, vitamin B12 helps with serotonin and dopamine production, fighting anxiety, depression, fatigue, and pain.

Fish Oil

Fish oil is an umbrella term for two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The two are usually found in fish and meat, but because modern diets promote foods that are high in omega-6 acids, additional omega-3 supplementation is recommended to achieve optimal 1:1 omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. [18]

Fish oil is not a stimulant, but it can have a stimulatory effect after long-term supplementation, rather than taking it on occasion. For general health, take 1 g per day, and for those looking to alleviate exercise-induced inflammation, spread up to 6 g over a day.

We recommended supplementing fish oil mainly for potential health benefits, but not so much for improving cognition. 

Inositol

Inositol is like the Pluto of vitamins. New studies show that Inositol or vitamin B8 is no longer considered a ‘true’ vitamin because our bodies can produce it on its own. 

Still, as a nootropic, Inositol is a sugar alcohol that works as a secondary messenger, facilitating processes inside the brain. Lack of vitamin B8 is often associated with a decrease in serotonin and dopamine levels, leading to a bad mood, anxiety, or even depression. [19]

Inositol is frequently used in antidepressants and is also proven to decrease mood swings, panic attacks, OCD, and slow down symptoms of bulimia.

Dosage ranges from 3-18 mg per day, taken in the morning, noon, and evening. As with many other nootropics, start at the lower end of the spectrum and add more Inositol if necessary.

L-Theanine 

L-theanine is another amino acid, but this one can’t be found in meat and dairy. L-Theanine is a relaxing agent found in green tea. 

Taking about 100-200 mg at once will reduce stress and anxiety levels without leaving you feeling drowsy or sleepy. [20]

L-Theanine is often used in combination with caffeine because it gives us the clarity of mind and reduces the potential jitters caffeine supplements might induce.

Sulbutiamine

Sulbutiamine is a synthetic derivative and is essentially two molecules of vitamin B1 (thiamine) joined together. Sulbutiamine helps fight a bad mood, brain fog, and lack of motivation. It is directly involved in the citric acid cycle, where the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the brain cell’s primary source of energy, happens. [21]

Along with that, it is an excellent antidepressant, as it significantly increases dopamine and serotonin levels. The recommended daily dose is 400 mg.

We recommend consulting your doctor before supplementing sulbutiamine for depression. 

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Best Nootropic Supplement

We just covered the best nootropics you can currently find on the market. Since we know that most of you are not interested in buying multiple nootropic compounds separately and making your nootropic supplements at home, we will now share with you the best nootropic supplement you can find on the market. 

How we choose the best supplement? First of all, it has to contain:

  • At least one nootropic from each of the categories that we mention
  • High-quality nootropics
  • Scientifically-proven dosages
  • An efficient formula
  • Absolutely zero GMOs, artificial colors, and other unnecessary compounds

Besides, we conduct advanced supplement tests with a group of neuro researchers to finally choose the best supplements on the market. 

So, which is the best nootropic supplement on the market?

Verdict

How is this list different from the best nootropics 2017, best nootropics 2018, and best nootropics 2019 list? From 2015 until today, a lot more research has been done, so we know more about nootropics than ever before.

With the current speed of research and development, we expect to know even more about nootropics in the next few years. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a pill that makes you smarter?

Sadly, no pill that can make you smarter. However, by taking nootropic pills, your performance can improve, which will make you achieve better results. 

Which nootropics works best?

You can achieve the best results by combining multiple nootropics such as herb extracts, amino acids, mushrooms, choline sources, vitamins, and other compounds.

Which are the best nootropics on the market?

There are many great nootropics you can currently find on the market. If we had to pick three of them, we would choose Bacopa Monnieri, Citicoline, and Lion’s Mane mushroom. 

Grega Gostincar

Grega Gostincar

Grega Gostincar, MSc, is the founder of Your Inception. He has been researching, testing, and experimenting with nootropics since 2015. Greg, a certified expert in nutrition and brain biohacking from Emory University, is one of the most recognized researchers in the field of nootropics.
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