According to research from Market Insight Reports, the global nootropics market is valued at $2.7 billion. It is set for rapid growth and could be worth over $6 billion by 2027. Sometimes called ‘smart drugs,’ nootropics are a class of substances linked with improved brain performance.
There are prescription nootropics such as Phenibut and Ritalin, used to manage a variety of conditions. For instance, Ritalin is used for ADHD and narcolepsy symptoms, while doctors may prescribe Phenibut for insomnia or anxiety. These are mainly lab-created substances that are illegal to purchase or use without a prescription.
However, there is also a growing market for over-the-counter nootropics, many of which are naturally occurring and found in foods and drinks. Some other nootropics are synthetic. The best-known OTC options include:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Ginkgo biloba
- Panax ginseng
However, when looking for the best natural nootropics, you must exercise caution. In the United States, the FDA doesn’t have a system to track new products on the market efficiently. There are increasing calls for tighter regulation amid concerns over nootropics with harmful ingredients.
This guide outlines the best nootropic supplement and provides details on what to consider when buying nootropics in general.
What Is the Best Nootropic?
Overall, there are hundreds of nootropics available. While there are plenty of reputable brands, there are many more that sell potentially dangerous products.
When looking for the best nootropics, bear in mind that most companies sell products that combine various substances. Using more than one nootropic is known as ‘stacking.’ Combining caffeine with L-theanine is one of the best-known examples of nootropic stacking.
There are natural and synthetic options, although you can only get the latter after receiving a prescription.
There are also natural and synthetic options, although you can only get the latter after receiving a prescription from a physician.
At WayofLeaf, we have researched the best nootropics on the market. We have considered various factors, including the brand’s reputation, the product’s ingredients, customer reviews, and advertised benefits. The next section outlines the top five brands we’ve uncovered, followed by providing an honorable mention to ten more. Let’s begin!
The Top Nootropics of 2021
1 – Mind Lab Pro
- All-natural ingredients
- It may be useful for individuals with neurodegenerative diseases and brain fog
- Includes a 30-day performance promise
- Relatively expensive compared to other brands
- It doesn’t necessarily stack well with other nootropics
Opti-Nutra is the company responsible for Mind Lab Pro. It consists of 11 vitamins, minerals, and nootropics, including L-theanine, lion’s mane mushroom, and Rhodiola rosea. Every completed batch goes through third-party quality control, and the brand fully outlines the ingredients and dosages.
Each bottle contains 60 capsules, and the brand recommends using 2-4 capsules a day, emphasizing the need to use two capsules first thing in the morning. It says that Mind Lab Pro works within 30 minutes, and customers claim the capsules help improve mental performance.
2 – NooCube
- Created by a reputable company
- Few reports of side effects
- Bulk purchases result in significantly lower prices
- Not suitable for children
- Shipping can take several weeks
Wolfson Berg Ltd created NooCube, and to date, the brand claims it has over 124,000 satisfied customers. It combines seven ingredients, including L-tyrosine, L-theanine, and Huperzine A, which are seemingly safe to consume. The company claims that NooCube can increase multitasking ability, cognitive function, and memory.
It suggests the ingredients get to work within 30 minutes, and a serving size is two capsules. Each bottle of NooCube contains 60 capsules, and the company offers a buy three, get three bottles free deal. There is also a 60-day money-back guarantee.
3 – Hunter Focus
- Free from a lengthy list of common allergens
- High-quality natural ingredients
- Strong formula with larger dosages than many rivals
- Fairly expensive
- A full serving size is four capsules
The Hunter Evolve range is designed to improve performance, and its ‘Focus’ offering is the brand’s high-dose nootropic. According to the company, Focus contains an all-natural blend of cognitive enhancers. The list of ingredients includes lion’s mane mushroom, ashwagandha, and phosphatidylserine.
While each bottle contains 120 capsules, it is still slightly inconvenient to consume four capsules as a dosage instead of two. Nonetheless, a bottle equates to a one-month supply, albeit at a higher price than many other brands. Please note that the 30-day return only applies to customers in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Customers from everywhere else must return their products within 14 days to claim a refund.
4 – SANE Vitaae
- 365-day money-back guarantee
- All ingredients are researched and lab tested
- Potential weight-loss properties
- It could take weeks to experience the effects fully
- Should not be used by anyone under the age of 21
SANE Laboratories created SANE Vitaae and claims its product contains four ‘super nutrients’ proven to improve brain health. The ingredients include Magnafolate C, a patented form of folate that is bioavailable to all humans. SANE Vitaae also includes the lab’s bioavailable form of CoQ10, called Microactive CoQ10, and a patented form of Cognazin.
There are 45 capsules in each bottle, although with a serving size of 3 capsules, you need two bottles to last a month. However, you can save over 50% by purchasing in bulk. Apart from free shipping on larger purchases, SANE Laboratories offers a 1-year money-back guarantee. If you aren’t impressed with the results, return the empty and unused portions.
5 – Nuzena Neuro Focus +
- Third-party API quality testing
- Relatively inexpensive
- The brand provides a quiz that enables customers to determine the best supplements for them
- Customers can only return unopened packages
- It can take up to 90 days to see the best results
Ryan Donald founded Nuzena in a bid to provide an integrated approach to improving health and wellness. Its Neuro Focus + offering is one of the numerous supplements sold by Nuzena. The list of ingredients includes a proprietary blend, including Green Tea Extract, Choline, and L-Glutamine. The product also contains a vast array of vitamins and minerals.
There are 60 capsules per container, with the serving size set at two capsules. It is among the most affordable products on our list, and Nuzena also offers discounts on bulk purchases. On the downside, although there is a 30-day money-back policy, it only applies to unopened packages. Even so, most customers are extremely happy with the effects of Neuro Focus +.
Best Nootropics List – Honorable Mention
Apart from the top five products we’ve reviewed, it is important to note that there are plenty of high-quality options. Here are ten more that you might find in other best nootropics lists:
- Brain Pill
- Performance Lab Mind
- Ageless Brain
- Onnit Alpha Brain
- Qualia Mind
- Brain Boost
Best Natural Nootropics
Whether someone looks for natural or synthetic top nootropics depends on their needs. Natural nootropics are not FDA-regulated, but they are easier to purchase. There is also a suggestion that brain cells find it easier to recognize the chemical makeup of natural nootropics than their synthetic counterparts. The result is potentially a greater level of improvement in cognitive performance.
Research is ongoing, but some studies suggest certain nootropics have beneficial effects. A study published in Psychopharmacology (Berlin) in 2002 looked at the effects of caffeine on mood and performance. It found that consuming 4 x 65mg doses of caffeine or a single 200mg dose (via coffee) increased alertness and reduced anxiety. The volunteers also showed improved performance on several tasks, including a cognitive vigilance one.
Meanwhile, a study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology in 2012 investigated the effects of L-theanine on blood pressure under physical and psychological stresses. The researchers found that the amino acid could control stress and anxiety. It might also help reduce elevated blood pressure levels triggered by stress.
A study published in PLoS One in 2014 looked at the impact of Rhodiola rosea on mental and physical fatigue in nursing students. Students who consumed 364mg of Rhodiola daily for 42 days reported decreased mental and physical fatigue compared to those who used a placebo. These are studies relating to just three popular nootropics. Indeed, there is research suggesting benefits for the following nootropics:
- Panax ginseng
- Ginkgo biloba
- CDP choline
- Vitamin B12
- Maritime pine bark extract
- Bacopa monnieri
- Lion’s mane mushroom
Many of the top nootropics on the market contain several of the above ingredients.
Best Nootropic Supplement
One thing that the top nootropics found online or in a local store have in common is the brand’s reputation. Many of the highest-rated sellers have been around for several years, and there are hundreds of positive customer reviews for each one. They also tick all the boxes with regards to the following factors to consider.
First and foremost, make sure the products in question are free from GMOs, artificial colors and have a full list of ingredients. It is also wise to ensure that there are no common allergens in the nootropic.
The nootropic supplement market is new, and the FDA has yet to get a handle on it. In September 2020, the President and CEO of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), Steve Mister, said that the organization supports mandatory product listing.
This would enable the FDA to discover which company is using a certain ingredient, the claims being made on the label, and whether there is adequate contact information for reporting an adverse event.
At present, the lack of oversight means there are sadly many nootropics on the market of dubious quality.
A study published in Neurology Clinical Practice in 2021 reported finding five unapproved pharmaceutical drugs in OTC cognitive enhancement supplements. Moreover, the researchers found doses of certain unapproved drugs four times higher than a standard dose. They discovered aniracetam, omberacetam (both are analogs of piracetam), phenibut, picamilon, and vinpocetine.
Occasionally, brands include analogs with a similar but slightly different chemical structure to a drug to bypass laws. The study didn’t even look into all of the unapproved drugs marketed in nootropics. It seems likely that the FDA will ultimately introduce tighter regulation. However, at present, the lack of oversight means there are sadly many nootropics on the market of dubious quality.
Analyze the ingredients and research each one’s likely effect on your body. Ideally, you will stick to products that include the natural nootropics mentioned above. It is also a good idea to check the potency of what you’re taking, not to mention where the ingredients are sourced.
Try to avoid supplements loaded with caffeine. Instead, focus on products with ingredients that could potentially improve your mental performance. Research indicates that humans can safely tolerate up to 400mg of caffeine a day, although women of reproductive age should stick to a maximum of 300mg.
The FDA has cautioned against caffeine in powder or liquid form as it could provide toxic levels. Therefore, carefully check the caffeine content of any product you purchase. A teaspoon of powdered caffeine could contain the equivalent of 28 cups of coffee, for example.
If a brand doesn’t offer a cast-iron money-back guarantee on their products, it is wise to be wary. At the very least, you should get a 30-day guarantee. After all, it can take months for a nootropic supplement to show consistent beneficial effects.
You can expect to pay at least $40 for a monthly supply of almost any nootropic supplement. Indeed, some cost close to $100. If you find brands selling products for suspiciously low prices, it is important to investigate further before purchasing. The company’s supplement could contain low-quality ingredients or low potency.
Final Thoughts on the Best Nootropics of 2021
After going through the top nootropics above, we have determined that Mind Lab Pro by Opti-Nutra is among the best products on the market. However, it has stiff competition, and each of our top 5 is worth strong consideration. We also included ten other products that you should consider investigating.
The use of nootropics amongst patients with a condition such as dementia is not new. However, there is a growing trend towards their usage for improvements in cognitive function amongst the rest of the population. At present, the evidence that the OTC nootropics supplements available offer their purported effects isn’t especially strong. Certainly, users shouldn’t expect to develop superhuman mental abilities.
However, the sensible use of high-quality OTC nootropics could provide a slight boost. Without question, prospective users should look at their sleeping, dietary, and exercise habits first before trying nootropics. If you have your lifestyle in check, perhaps the right nootropic could enable you to think more clearly or decrease the risk of cognitive decline associated with aging.