Best Natural Nootropic Ingredients & Foods

Author: Lee Bell

February 7th 2019

Improve the way you think, function and focus with the best brain-boosting nootropic ingredients and foods.

Nootropics are a new breed of natural supplement that harness the power of mental performance. They supercharge your cognitive abilities, add muscle to your brain power and enhance every aspect of your central nervous system.

Are you the kind of person that struggles to motivate themselves to hit the gym, stay focused at work or can’t stop procrastinating when you should be revising for exams?

Or can’t retain information or focus for more than a few minutes before your mind wanders and you lose track of what you were doing?

If you are, nootropics will help.

Imagine being able to fight the stresses of daily life, optimize creativity and turn the intelligence dial up to 11.

You’ll sleep better, be bursting with energy and hit the gym with unrelenting motivation and drive day after day.

That’s what the best nootropic supplements do.

Brain Power: The Importance of Central Nervous System Health

Your brain forms part of the central nervous system. It processes all incoming information from the environment and coordinates all emotions, thoughts and movements.

Nootropic supplement

Your brain is the most important organ in your body. It’s what makes you, you.

Every thought you have and decision you make is down to what happens in your brain.

That 3 lb mushy blob in your head is made up of over 100 billion neuronal cells that act within microseconds of being stimulated.

It’s designed to process and store an infinite amount of information. Memories, skills, emotions and knowledge – it’s all in there somewhere.

Your brain is remarkable… and it’s all yours.

The central nervous system ‘master computer’

Along with your spinal cord, the human brain forms the central nervous system (CNS).

It’s this super-fast communication hard drive that controls the peripheral nervous system. It feeds every part of your body like branches of a tree.

Your CNS has two very important roles:

  1. Motor control: Your brain pings messages around your body at super-lightning speed. It controls all movements, whether that’s to play sports, scribble notes from lectures, talk fluently during an important work presentation or read life-changing articles like this one.
  2. Sensory control and processing incoming information: It helps you make important decisions, and form thoughts, feelings, emotions.

If you value your health, you need to put your brain first.

Working hard in the gym and eating a nutrient-rich diet are great ways to control the quality of your life, but without looking after that master computer in your head, you’re only fighting half the battle.

Key Point: It’s your brain that controls who you are, how you act and what you feel. You need to look after it just as much as you do your muscles or waistline.

What Are Nootropic Supplements?

Nootropics are brain-boosting supplements that enhance everything from memory and decision making skills, to mood, energy and stress-management.

In the quest for better cognitive health and performance, nootropic supplements provide the answer. They’re designed using all-natural nutrients to improve cognitive functions.

The word nootropic was first used by psychologist and chemist C.E. Giurgea and means to turn or bend. 

Known as ‘brain pills’, ‘cognition enhancers’ and ‘smart drugs’, nootropics are part of an innovative, trailblazing supplement movement. They have one aim – to improve cognition.

The best nootropic supplements offer a safe alternative to cognition-enhancing prescription medications or drugs.

Nootropics are a new breed of smart drug, designed to help you take control of your life…

Over the last few years, nootropics have become the supplement of choice for a wide range of people:

  • Athletes and those that take the gym seriously
  • Professors, influencers and professionals
  • Thinkers and artists
  • Older adults

Men and women with busy lifestyles are using nootropics to optimize productivity, keep motivated and smash through their day with energy and purpose.

Nootropics are especially prevalent among students and pro gamers who need to concentrate optimally, boost memory and speed up cognitive processes for long periods of time. 

In 2015 alone, the nootropic industry was worth more than 1 billion.

That’s testament to how reliable these wonder supplements are.

The benefits of nootropic supplementation

If you want to boost muscle mass, you need a protein supplement or testosterone booster. To blow the lid off a tough workout you’ll need a pre workout. But to take control of your whole life and master your central nervous system you need a nootropic.

Here’s a snapshot of some benefits of nootropic supplementation:

  • Memory and focus
  • Motivation and drive
  • Reduced anxiety and restlessness
  • Creativity
  • ‘Controlled wakefulness’
  • Fluid intelligence and logical problem solving
  • Executive functions such as attention, planning and reasoning

The benefits of these revolutionary supplements can be split into short-term and long-term based on their effects.

  • Short-term benefits include: Cognitive power, memory recall and optimized energy. They help improve everything from sports, athleticism and gaming performance to exam revision and stress relief.

If you need to enhance focus, beat brain fog, maintain concentration for long periods of time or want to improve reasoning power, nootropics could help.

Or whether you’ve got a pile of assignments to get through, a few hours of competitive gaming or want to maximize physical and neuromuscular performance.

Nootropics even help you manage anxiety and stress.

  • Long term benefits include: Improvement in brain tissue cell health, retention of mental clarity, healthy aging and brain structure integrity.

Quality of life is important.

According to research, your brain shrinks as you age. As your neurons change in structure and morphology, you’re at a higher risk of cognitive decline, neurological disease and even cardiovascular illness.

Nootropics help protect you against brain health decline and provide a solution to leading a longer, healthier life.

Nootropics for sports performance

Key Point: The best nootropic supplements provide both short- and long-term benefits. These range from boosting your mood, motivation and energy, to reducing anxiety and restlessness.

The Best Nootropic Ingredients

If you want to harness the power of your brain and take your cognitive processes to the next level, you need the best supplements. Like anything, without the highest-quality products you won’t see optimal results.

In this list we’ve compiled the exact research you need to make informed decision about the best nootropic supplements. Check it out…

#1. Lion’s Mane Mushroom

As the only mushroom with nootropic effects. Lion’s mane boosts focus, memory and mood.

Lion's mane mushroom nootropic

Used for hundreds of years as a brain tonic and cognition supplement, lion’s mane has both short- and long-term nootropic benefits.

The unique-looking medicinal fungus contains two powerful brain-enhancing compounds that regulate neuronal health.

  • Hericenone helps your cells produce a protein called nerve growth factor (NGF) which helps with brain cell growth, regulation and maintenance.
  • Erinacine directly stimulates the production of new neurons by passing into the central blood flow of the brain.

Lion’s mane mushroom as a nootropic

With a wealth of positive, clinical research behind it, lion’s mane has fast become the go-to nootropic of choice. It not only improves memory recall, concentration and focus; it also boosts mood, energy levels and reduces anxiety too.

It’s a great all-rounder.

A detailed review suggests that due to its power as a bioactive nootropic, ‘Hericium erinaceus’ is able to improve a series of neurological health risks when taken daily; from stroke and depression, to Parkinson’s and ‘Alzheimer’s.

And a study published in Phytotherapy Research found that when a group of men and women were given an extract of lion’s mane over a 16-day period, their cognitive functions improved significantly.

Interestingly, brain power got stronger as the days passed – who knows how powerful they’d have been after another week or so taking the nootropic?

#2. Ashwagandha

This Ayurvedic herb improves physical performance, cognitive power and offers neuroprotective benefits.

Ashwagandha supplement

Ashwagandha is a herb that’s been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. Not only is it a potent aphrodisiac (that’s why you find it in all high-quality testosterone booster supplements) and libido tonic, it also enhances energy levels and strength.

High in alkaloids and steroidal lactones, ashwagandha is classed as an adaptogen – it helps you manage your mood and protects you against physical, emotional and psychological stressors.

Ashwagandha as a nootropic

Your brain can only tolerate so much anxiety and stress. Much like a muscle can only hold a weight for so long, constant worry and concern will eventually take its toll.

Studies show that ashwagandha acts as a natural barrier to stress, helping you better manage mental strain, tension and anxiety that can lead to long-term cognitive decline and illness.

Optimal cognitive state all comes down to balance between brain chemicals. The most important of these is acetylcholine which promotes both motor and cognitive performance. When you’re under stress there’s an increase in an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase – it’s acetylcholine’s worst enemy because it inhibits it doing its job.

But ashwagandha has been shown to inhibit the build-up of acetylcholinesterase itself, restoring cognitive balance and allowing maximum brain power to occur.

#3. Citicoline

Citicoline energizes brain function, balances mental clarity and helps develop grey matter.

Red beet

As a building block of your brain cells citicoline is a naturally occurring chemical that optimizes higher cognitive functions. It’s a mediator of another nootropic compound called phosphatidylcholine – a chemical that regulates cell metabolism, protects the axons of your neurons and forms a major part of your CNS called grey matter.

5′-Cytidine diphosphate choline as it’s known in the realms of scientific research, has been used to treat several cognitive disorders, ranging from attention deficit to memory loss.

Citicoline as a nootropic

During cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s, choline levels begin to plummet.

Cells lose their ability to produce the all-important acetyl-choline. They therefore have to produce it by breaking down cell membranes for fuel. This has a knock-on effect, leading to reductions in brain function, mental clarity and memory.

Citicoline is a natural cholinergic supplement with the ability to protect neurons long-term, but at the same time boost brain function in the short-term.

And if you’re a fan of the gym, citicoline offers additional benefits by boosting strength and neuromuscular function too.

#4. Passion Flower

Promotes sleep, relaxation and calm by triggering the GABA neurotransmitter system.

Passion flower

Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata) is an evergreen, exotic plant with brightly-colored flowers and fruits. It can grow as tall as 30 ft and has a long history as a treatment for hot flashes, sleep problems and hyperactivity disorders.

The name of passion flower is steeped in history. It’s said that during the 15th century when missionaries first discovered the flower growing freely in central America, named it ‘passion’ in reference to Christian theology.

For example, its 10 petals were said to represent the apostles of Jesus and shape of the flower represents the crown of thorns.

Passion flower as a nootropic

Studies have reported that passion flower is a viable treatment for stress-induced high blood pressure, inflammatory diseases and depression.

But its main role in clinical medicine is to produce gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – a neurotransmitter that promotes calm and relaxation. As such, passion flower helps to reduce anxiety and improves both sleep quality and general stress coping.

One clinical study of passion flower found that when supplemented it reduced symptoms of anxiety, insomnia and improved sleep quality in a group of 36 adults suffering from high levels of stress.

#5. Bacopa Monnieri

High in bioactive antioxidants, bacopa improves learning and memory, as well as protecting against cell degeneration.

Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monnieri is a perennial, creeping herb that grows beautiful, white flowers. Also known as brahmi, bacopa has similar properties to ashwagandha in that it offers powerful, stress-busting adaptogen benefits.

It’s considered a ‘wonder herb’ in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. High in active ingredients such as bacopasaponins, flavonoids and alkaloids, this plant extract should be high on your list of best nootropic supplements.

Bacopa monnieri as a nootropic

The most important benefits of bacopa relate to its memory-enhancing properties. If you’re in the middle of exam period, have facts and figures you need to remember, or are just terrible when it comes to memory and learning, bacopa is your solution.

One research study reported that when 76 adults used a bacopa supplement for 3 months, a significant improvement in memory was seen. Participants not only improved learning but managed to slow down the rate at which they forgot new information too.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of nearly 60 men and women found that with 12 weeks of bacopa supplementation, cognitive improvement improved when assessed with a variety of learning tasks and state-dependent scale tests.

#6. N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine

This bioactive form of L-tyrosine fights fatigue, boost focus and helps you deal with stress.


N-acetyl-L-tyrosine (NALT) is a modified, more soluble form of the amino acid L-tyrosine. You’ll find it in foods such as milk, yogurt, soybeans and meat. It helps to produce and regulate epinephrine levels, helping you feel focused, energized and alert.

Amino acids work like building blocks, combining to make the proteins needed for muscle tissue, skin, hair and bone. They’re essential for promoting overall health and wellness.

NALT is different to L-tyrosine because it has an additional acetic acid bond, making it the most bioavailable form of the amino acid. When ingested, more of it is absorbed and enters your bloodstream.

Healthy thyroid function depends on tyrosine because it’s this chemical that joins with iodine to make thyroid hormones. Without it you’d be at higher risk of weight gain, low heart rate, depression and reduced sex drive.

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine as a nootropic

The most important benefit of NALT as a nootropic is its ability to fight fatigue and boost focus and alertness.

Studies show that when supplemented, N-acetyl L-tyrosine improves the way you deal with ‘severely’ stressful situations. It acts like a suit of armor, defending you against the things that daily life throws at you.

Working memory, feelings of well-being and fatigue all improve too.

#7. L-Theanine

An amino acid compound found in tea leaves that enhances your mood… and your cognitive skills.

Green tea L-theanine

L-theanine is famous for its ability to boost your mood and help you relax.

It’s often added to pre-workout supplements as it helps to reduce jitters and loss of concentration from high amounts of caffeine. This concept of ‘smart caffeine’ is becoming a potent combination for athletes wanting the power of caffeine stimulants mixed with the focus and calming effect of L-theanine.

L-theanine boosts levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) – a brain compound that inhibits central nervous system hyperactivity. Not only does this lead to pinpoint motivation and laser-like focus, it also reduces anxiety.

L-theanine as a nootropic

The increase in GABA from L-theanine supplementation increases alpha brain wave activity. This helps to keep you alert but relaxed. Randomized, double-blind studies have shown that L-theanine has a significant nootropic effect, leading to better attention, memory and focus.

#8. Phosphatidylserine

A lipid with multivitamin properties, this compound is the athlete’s choice supplement.

Vitamin D3 testosterone boosting

Phosphatidylserine is a lipid-based compound that contains both DHA and EPA fatty acids. It also contains amino acids too.

Due to its chemical arrangement, phosphatidylserine is important for cell integrity, making up the membrane that covers each brain cell. For that reason, it’s critical for cell protection but also communication from one to the next.

Phosphatidylserine levels decrease with age, leading to cognitive decline.

However, research shows that you can keep your levels topped up with nootropic supplementation, meaning better regulation of mood, cognition and memory. It essentially keeps your brain ‘sharp’.

Phosphatidylserine as a nootropic

In as little as 4 days, phosphatidylserine supplementation has been shown to enhance beta brain wave arousal. This is important for promoting ‘wakeful calm’ and reducing stress.

When a group of athletes supplemented phosphatidylserine over 24-days, cognitive ability improved dramatically. Task efficiency increased by 20% and errors made during tough testing decreased by a massive 40%.

In a large review published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal, experts reported that athletes are likely to experience positive adaptations from phosphatidylserine supplementation.

These benefits include:

  • Better recovery
  • Enhanced mood
  • Stronger immune system
  • Better decision making skills
  • Sharper accuracy

#9. Maritime Pine Bark Extract

High in antioxidants, maritime pine bark protects against inflammation and brain toxicity.

Maritime-pine-bark - best nootropic ingredient

Obtained from the French maritime tree, pine bark contains the bioactive compound pycnogenol. 

Composed of procyanidins and phenolic acids, maritime pine bark is known to have a ‘diverse clinical pharmacology‘.

Health benefits include anti-inflammatory properties, improved lung function in asthmatics and better blood vessel dilation in those with cardiovascular disease.

Maritime pine bark as a nootropic

The biggest benefit of maritime pine bark relating to the brain is blood flow – it’s able to improve metabolism and nutrient delivery with the blood brain barrier, as well as enhance mental energy and health.

Studies show that pine bark provides more ‘fuel’ for the brain, helping to improve overall function and cognitive ability. This includes better mental performance and clarity, a stronger barrier to fight against neurotoxicity and significantly better attention skills.

Summary – Brain-Boosting Nootropic Power

Nootropic supplements are like strength training for your brain. Not only do they enhance brain health, productivity and task efficiency, they also promote long-term neural health improvements too.

If you want to improve the way you think, feel and perform… nootropics are the answer.

Comments are closed