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What Are Nootropics? (Benefits, Usage & Side Effects)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers | Senior Coach
Last updated: July 5, 2023
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Nootropics, or cognitive enhancers, can provide a wide range of cognitive benefits, from improved memory and concentration to enhanced creativity and overall mental performance.

Despite their widespread use, nootropics are still a mystery to some individuals.

I teamed up with our dietitian and spent two weeks researching how nootropics work and some of the potential benefits and side effects associated with them.

Quick Summary

  • Nootropics are natural, prescription, or synthetic substances that have stimulant effects.
  • There are three types of nootropics: ADHD medications, Eugeroics, and nootropics supplements.
  • A cognitive enhancer may have many benefits, such as enhancing memory, focus, and overall mental function.
  • While most individuals generally tolerate nootropic supplements, some may experience some adverse effects, such as headaches and stomach pain.

What Are Nootropics?

Nootropics are from these scattered supplements

Nootropics are natural, synthetic, and prescription substances that can enhance cognitive performance and counteract symptoms of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [1].

Racetams, caffeine, and creatine are also considered nootropics and are sold individually or as combinations.

While creatine supplementation does not cure cognitive diseases, it can improve short-term memory in healthy individuals [2].

What Are the Types of Nootropics?

Pouring varieties of nootropics on hand

The types of nootropics are Eugeroics, ADHD medications, and nootropic supplements.

Let’s take a look at each one in more detail and see how each nootropic works.

1. Eugeroics

Eugeroics are drugs that promote wakefulness and alertness without causing stimulation or jitteriness, as stimulants like caffeine do.

These drugs can help with cognitive function, attention span, memory recall, and mood swings [3].

Common eugeroic drugs include modafinil (Provigil), armodafinil (Nuvigil), adrafinil (Olmifon), and phenylpiracetam (Phenotropil). Each of these drugs has its own unique set of benefits.

2. ADHD Medications

ADHD medications are typically prescribed for people who suffer from attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

However, they can also be used as nootropics, as they have been shown to improve concentration, focus, and memory recall in some individuals [4].

Some of the most common ADHD medications include Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, Concerta, Focalin XR, and Strattera. 

It is important to note that these medications should only be taken under the supervision of a doctor, as there can be severe side effects if not handled properly.

3. Nootropic Supplements

Nootropic supplements also known as smart drugs, are over-the-counter dietary supplements that can improve cognitive function. Common ingredients found in these supplements include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil or krill oil
  • B vitamins
  • Antioxidants like vitamin E and resveratrol
  • Amino acids such as L-theanine
  • Herbs like Ginkgo Biloba
  • Minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium
  • Caffeine or green tea extract for an extra boost in energy levels

“Nootropics are natural supplements or drugs that have a beneficial effect on brain function in healthy people. Many of these can boost memory, motivation, creativity, alertness and general cognitive function. Nootropics may also reduce age-related declines in brain function.”

- Helen West, BSc in Nutrition and Editor at

Do OTC Nootropics Actually Help With Cognitive Performance?

Research process of a health professional about the effectivity of nootropics

Yes, nootropics help with cognitive performance due to the presence of efficient ingredients, such as L-tyrosine and Panax ginseng.

Quality nootropic supplements can help individuals improve brain memory, function, focus, and mood.

Many active individuals and athletes use these nootropics to improve their technique and skills.

Natural nootropics can activate cognitive functions by eliminating free radicals from the body and enhancing blood flow to the brain [5,6].

However, it's worth noting that it takes time to get noticeable results because substances need to cross the blood-brain barrier, so you won't see improvements in mental health immediately.

What Are the Benefits of Nootropics?

Woman drinking plenty of water while holding nootropics pill

The benefits of nootropics are energy, improved focus, and executive function.

1. Enhanced Focus and Attention

Nootropic supplements can help people increase productivity and feel more focused and alert by protecting brain cells from damage caused by toxins and improving cerebral blood flow.

Some research suggests that certain nootropics may even help reduce symptoms associated with ADHD. However, more research is needed in this area before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.

Also Read: Mind Vitality Review

2. Improved Mood, Memory, and Energy Levels

Certain popular nootropics may also help boost energy levels by increasing dopamine production. Some studies suggest that certain types of nootropic supplements may effectively reduce fatigue related to stress and neuroinflammation [7].

This can be particularly helpful for people who lead busy lives and need an extra boost of energy to get through their day.

Additionally, some nootropics, like acetyl-l-carnitine (ALCAR), can boost memory and learning abilities by increasing acetylcholine receptors. ALCAR can also help with mild cognitive impairment and raise dopamine levels [8].

“ALCAR is an anti-aging nootropic, or smart drug, meaning it helps your brain perform better. The acetyl group on it lets it pass your blood-brain barrier and reach your brain and nerves, where it can improve your mood, learning and memory.”

- Spencer Brooks,  Scientific Advisor and Science Writer.

3. Boosted Executive Function

A man thinking thoroughly

Another potential benefit of nootropics is improved executive brain function skills such as planning, organization, decision-making, problem-solving abilities, etc.

These skills are important for anyone looking to succeed in both their personal and professional life as they allow us to make better decisions faster while also improving our ability to think critically about difficult problems or challenges we face each day.

Here are some recommended nootropics supplements for each benefits:

What Are the Side Effects of Nootropics?

A woman with an upset stomach

The side effects of nootropics are headaches, nausea, anxiety, and stomach pain. But natural nootropics are usually safe, well-tolerated and lower risk for most users, including cognitive impairment patients.

For example, citicoline, a common nootropic compound, is believed to cause headaches, stomach discomfort, and insomnia.

It may also interact with certain medications [9].

Users can also become dependent on nootropic supplements due to dopamine production in the brain, resulting in irritability, mood swings, insomnia, and reduced focus.


What Are Nootropics Good For?

Nootropics are good for preventing cognitive decline. This can include things like increasing focus, memory, creativity, and motivation. Additionally, some nootropics may also help to protect the brain from age-related damage and improve overall brain health.

Are Nootropics Safe?

Yes, nootropics are safe because they pose virtually no risk of addiction or overdose. With the right dosage and formulation, nootropics can be a safe and effective way to improve cognitive function. But it's always essential to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

Can Nootropic Drugs Help With ADHD?

Yes, nootropic drugs can help with ADHD by increasing focus and concentration. Some nootropics work by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, while others work by enhancing the brain's protective mechanisms.

What Foods Are High In Nootropics?

Food that are high in nootropics are those with a high level of antioxidants, such as blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. Other foods good for cognitive function include salmon, walnuts, and olive oil. All of these foods have been found to improve cognitive performance and protect the brain from age-related damage.

Find The Right Nootropic For You

Nootropic supplements can have a wide range of benefits, including helping you stay motivated and focused during your training and achieve your fitness goals.

Simply combine a healthy diet, a good workout routine, and one of the nootropics on this list:

My team and I have tried hundreds of products before coming up with a list of the most efficient nootropics supplements on the market. We have tested all these cognitive enhancers and have witnessed drastic changes in motivation, memory, and overall brain performance.


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