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Want to dig a little deeper into the best version of yourself? Nootropics can be life-changing – but it’s important you know what makes a quality product. Here are the best nootropics available today, as researched and tested by nootropics expert James Dixon.
Nootropics are becoming big business. They represent a fast-growing, highly innovative corner of the supplements market.
Very few people naturally function at their best. If you’ve got a fast-paced life, a demanding job, or you simply want to be the best version of yourself that you can be, then you need to be functioning at your best.
Nootropics could help. ‘Smart drugs’, they are designed to help people maintain the cognitive health and function they need to live their best lives.
Any form of supplementation can be tricky for consumers, however. There are a lot of charlatans out there, out to make a quick buck without giving you any kind of benefits. Nootropics are no different – it can be hard to know which to choose when there are so many options.
Happily, we’ve done the heavy lifting, here. We’ve looked into some of the best-known nootropics (and some lesser-known ones) and compiled a shortlist of fantastic supplements that will deliver everything they promise.
Before we take a look at the best nootropics available in the UK, let’s get a full idea of what they do and how they work.
Quick Picks: Top 3 Nootropics
What Do Nootropics Do?
Nootropics can function in a few different ways. Firstly, they will help you to maintain high levels of focus, creativity, and cognitive power in your day-to-day life.
Secondly, they will often help you to ringfence your long-term cognitive health and mental wellbeing, offsetting many of the negative cognitive effects of ageing.
Finally, they will often give you a good boost of natural energy, keeping you going at the pace you want without having to rely on stimulants like caffeine (though many will also contain caffeine as a cheeky bonus.)
In short, they help to keep your brain healthy and your cognitive processes working as optimally as possible. You will find yourself enjoying improved focus, motivation, memory and energy levels both in the long and short run.
Nootropics generally do this through a combination of natural ingredients, though some use synthetic ones. Either way, the ingredients used should improve cognitive performance by improving the performance of pathways in the brain, inspiring long-term health, and getting plenty of blood (and thus oxygen and energy) to the brain.
Nootropics represent a widely researched part of the supplement market. The scientific underpinning they enjoy is almost uniquely robust, with proven results pretty much across the board.
Everything included in our list below comes with a track record of data-driven creation and solid customer satisfaction.
Our Top Nootropics
So this is what we are after when looking at the best nootropics – something that can give all the above benefits, with one, several, or even all of the ingredients we’ve listed at the bottom of this guide.
As I’ve already said, there are plenty of charlatans out there, pretenders to the throne. However, we’ve found what we think are eight of the best nootropics available on today’s market.
The following list is near enough infallible, the products are that good:
Forget nootropics – NooCube is one of my favourite supplements of all time, in any category. It is fantastic, managing to be both profound and understated at the same time.
It is caffeine free. I quite like caffeine-free supplements simply because I really like drinking coffee and I don’t want to double up.
This is always something worth considering. Every ingredient in NooCube is completely natural and data-driven – everything it purports to do, and does, is scientifically backed.
NooCube aims to improve your cognitive health and function across a range of areas. These include focus and concentration, memory, mental energy, and general executive function. It does this very ably.
It is on the pricier side. However, it has such a good ingredients list, so well blended, that this is completely fair enough. You very much get what you pay for.
Ingredients include Huperzine A, Alpha GPC, bacopa monnieri, cat’s claw, oat straw, and both l-tyrosine and l-theanine. This is a bit of a who’s who of the nootropic world – every ingredient is fantastic at doing what it does.
You get a slow-releasing energy boost, mild yet very noticeable. Everything ticks upwards – your thought process, your ability to focus, your memory and recall, all optimised. It feels subtle – there is no onrush of energy. However, you will be clearer headed and smarter within just a short while.
Though it is pricey, NooCube does come with some good bulk-buy offers. Each bottle contains a month’s supply of 60 capsules. You can find three-for-twos, plenty of discounts, and even an option to buy three and get three for free.
Hunter Focus is another incredible supplement, bringing three fantastic compounds into one overall stack. It is designed primarily for men, with a strong emphasis on boosting testosterone – though, of course, it can work well for most people.
Though it isn’t cheap, as with NooCube, you are very much paying for top drawer stuff. They also offer some great deals when you buy several months’ supply at once, so it needn’t be too ruinous. The three different supplements stack together incredibly ably, too.
The three supplements are Hunter’s Memory Matrix, Mood Amplification, and Concentration Activation.
The Memory Matrix includes lion’s mane mushroom, maritime pine bark, and bacopa monnieri. All of these are common compounds for memory improvements, so represent a solid opening salvo.
Then you get the Mood Amplification. This contains ashwagandha, a well-known mood enhancer and testosterone booster, alongside passionflower and phosphatidylserine, which perform much the same kind of function. They give you a great sense of confidence, calm, and positivity.
The Concentration Activation brings this all together using citicoline, n-acetyl, l-tyrosine and l-theanine. It aids with your focus and keeps you level-headed.
The quantities of each ingredient found in Hunter Focus are pretty generous and as such this is a pricey supplement. If you don’t think you need the super high dosages then stick with NooCube as it will serve you just as well.
Mind Lab Pro V4.0
Mind Lab Pro V4.0 has taken over 7 years to come to fruition. Brought to us by OptiNutra, a UK-based company that focuses solely on highly impactful, natural health supplements, Mind Lab Pro V4.0 is the most potent version of their nootropic to date.
Mind Lab Pro is a fantastic all-round nootropic. It doesn’t gear itself to one area of cognitive functioning and is rather seen as a complete solution to improving the functioning of the brain – whether that be memory, focus, reaction times, stress relief, creativity, motivation or mood.
Our own experience with Mind Lab Pro has been very positive. It is easy to take, with 2 capsules first thing in the morning being the optimal dose and timing. These can then be followed up with 2 more capsules around lunch time if you feel you need for a mental boost through the afternoon.
They are completely stimulant free too (no caffeine here), which means the energy boosting properties are long-lasting and slowly released without giving the jitters or crashes associated with caffeine.
It also means that if you still want a caffeine boost, you can stick to your morning coffee and not worry about taking on too much caffeine.
The ingredients found in Mind Lab Pro are top tier, are 100% natural and are vegan friendly too. Absolutely everything that goes in to Mind Lab Pro is clinically backed and there are extensive details on their website that show numerous studies that back their inclusion.
We also love that there are no proprietary blends with it – so you know exactly how every ingredient is dosed.
Each two-capsule dose includes vitamins B6, B9 and B12, 250mg of Citicoline, 150mg of Bacopa Monnieri, 500mg of Lions Mane Mushroom, 175mg of N-Acetyl L-Tryosine, 100mg of l-theanine as well as a couple of other notable inclusions.
Although there is nothing in Mind Lab Pro that we don’t see elsewhere, it has a top-tier list of nootropic ingredients that will have an impact on your mental abilities – it certainly did for us.
We found that results were kicking in after around 4-5 days, with more profound results after taking Mind Lab Pro for around 6-7 weeks.
Like pretty much all nootropics, it is a supplement that you will need to take consistently to see results so you will need to commit to taking it for the longer term – but if you do, then you will giving yourself a huge cognitive boost and protecting your long term brain health.
It’s a fair-priced nootropic for what it contains. We prefer the likes of NooCube and Hunter Focus by a whisker but it is still a top choice.
Relax – By Innermost
We’ve looked at a couple of supplements that can genuinely be said to supercharge you. We’ll look at a couple more below. However, this needn’t always be the case with nootropics. Relax, by Innermost, is designed to enhance your end-of-day recovery and improve your overall wellbeing.
If you’re looking for something to diminish symptoms of anxiety and stress and help you get a better night’s sleep, whilst keeping you clear headed, Relax might be the nootropic for you.
You take a couple of capsules before bed each night and the ingredients included all work together to relax you (as the name suggests) and leave you feeling better rested in the morning.
It is, of course, entirely free from stimulants like caffeine or guarana. Everything is natural and completely suitable for those following plant-based diets.
Each capsule gives you a generous, 350mg dose of lion’s mane mushroom, 200mg of Ashwagandha, 100mg of l-theanine, 250mg of l-glycine, and 100mg of Valerian Root.
You also get 100mg of 5-HTP, one of my favourite ingredients of all time. It is a naturally occurring amino acid that helps you to maintain healthy body composition and optimised serotonin levels. In short, it will make you happier and more switched on whilst helping you to keep body fat levels down.
You should be able to notice the effects within a week or so. This is longer than some nootropics. However, that’s fair enough – by its nature, Relax doesn’t aim for any kind of acute reaction. It isn’t like dropping 200mg of caffeine and getting a buzz fifteen minutes later.
Rather, it builds slowly, then, one day, you notice yourself sleeping well, having calm energy to spare, and being pretty stress free.
Though the focus is of course on relaxation, Relax is still a potent nootropic – the amount of lion’s mane, Ashwagandha, and l-theanine can attest to this. It will leave you thinking more clearly, with improved attention span and focus, and improved memory and recall.
It really is a lovely supplement for those feeling the push of modern life.
When we think of supplements, we generally think of pills. That’s true of most nootropics – you get little capsules filled with herbs, vitamins, and minerals, and so on. However, London Nootropics have gone in a different direction, one which I really do love.
They sell a simple-looking coffee blend. That’s it.
However, it’s no ordinary coffee, of course. They have done their homework and found some of the highest-quality adaptogens and nootropics from around the world and combined them into three different coffee blends. Each serves a slightly different purpose to the other.
You can drink them as you would your normal coffee. This is what I’ve done when I’ve used them in the past – a strong cup in the morning, mid-morning, and after lunch.
Their basic blend, Grind Coffee, contains adaptogenic and nootropic ingredients like lion’s mane, rhodiola rosea and Siberian ginseng. This, alongside the natural caffeine kick from the coffee itself, should be more than enough to wake you up, keep you alert, and focus your mind for the day. It tastes lovely either black (my preference with this one) or with your choice of milk (still nice).
Then there is Zen Coffee, perhaps my favourite of the line. It has a bit of a calming element added in to take the edge off that harsh caffeine buzz.
It does this mostly by making use of organic ashwagandha root extract alongside a natural, water soluble CBD derived from organic hemp. It keeps you in a more mellow high, evening out your mood and heightened attention throughout the day.
If you want a really good kick, though, they have you covered with their aptly named Mojo Coffee. The Mojo blend is designed to give you that extra kick of vitality alongside some long-lasting, high-endurance energy.
This is where the Siberian ginseng comes into its own. The Mojo blend also uses organic cordyceps mushroom extract. Cordyceps is a fantastic antioxidant, making it a worthwhile addition into any diet. It also increases your blood flow, thus boosting your aerobic capacity and the volume of oxygenated blood going to your brain, cutting through fatigue.
The coffee blends come in sachets, so all you need to do is add hot water. I would rather loose ground coffee, giving you the option of preparing it how you want, but the sachets still make a nice tasting brew.
It’s not too expensive, either – each cup works out at less than you would pay at a high street coffee house.
I love the innovative approach they have taken, here. It’s perhaps a little bit more niche than some of the other entries on this list, but it works wonderfully and is fantastically inventive.
Brainzyme Focus Pro
Brainzyme are a real heavyweight in the nootropic world. They’ve been featured across several major UK publications and have plenty of A-list clientele.
Set the hype aside, however, and you are left with a range of very good supplements with a variety of uses. In fact, they sell three main distinct product lines.
I want to turn my attention to their middle line, the fantastic Focus Pro. It’s very reasonable and very good, giving you everything you need of a top shelf nootropic without breaking the bank. You will find a good energy spike when taking it, accompanied by improved focus, mood, memory, and overall cognition.
This is all achieved through an impressive 19-ingredient strong formula. This includes ginkgo biloba, guarana seed (for a good energy kick), l-tyrosine and l-theanine as part of a matcha green tea blend which also gives you a good dose of antioxidants, maca root, zinc and vitamins B12 and C.
There is no caffeine, as they rely instead on the guarana, so it’s perfect for those who are oversensitive to it yet who might be looking for a bit of a pick-me-up.
As it relies so heavily on guarana, Focus Pro’s effects are very much acute. You will feel the difference within half an hour of taking them. This will include a bit of an energy spike, though nothing as harsh as you might get with caffeine, as well as improved focus and attention.
These effects should last you about eight hours, so you may need to take a top-up towards the end of the day, or skip doing so if you struggle to sleep.
Brainzyme offer some decent bulk deals, though it is pretty reasonably priced to begin with. For example, when I was looking, you could buy a six-month supply with £30 off – very good considering the quality of their ingredients list.
Bulk Powders Complete Nootropic
If you want something that is really affordable, Bulk Powders might be the best place to look. Their Complete Nootropic is designed to give you great value for money whilst still delivering a fantastic ingredient and nutrient profile.
Starting things off a little cheap and very effective, they’ve contained a full 200mg of caffeine. This is about the same as a strong cup of coffee. I personally like to use products with this kind of caffeine content as a good pre-workout supplement (though not for an evening training session as I’d never get to sleep afterwards!).
Given the boost to focus and concentration that you’ll also get with Complete Nootropic, you would end up having the best gym session of your life.
This is because they use an additional 16 high-quality ingredients to back up that initial caffeine splurge.
These include 600mg of gingko biloba, 400mg of panax ginseng, and 200mg and 500mg of l-theanine and l-tyrosine, respectively. You also get a good dose of micronutrients, with vitamins B5, B6, B12, and zinc. This will cover every base and will help men to optimise their testosterone levels.
That caffeine will kick in acutely within a half hour. You’ll get a good boost to your energy, as you would from a shot of espresso, with the improved clarity, focus and drive that the additional ingredients promise.
It’s a bit of an unwieldy supplement. This is simply by virtue of the wide range of ingredients and the hefty doses of each. You’re looking at nearly 2 grams worth of product, which is insane for a single supplement. The result is that each dose is made up of 6 capsules.
However, if that’s the only price you pay for getting so much goodness into you, it’s a fair trade. Complete Nootropic is an excellent, very well-priced nootropic supplement that I would encourage anyone to try out.
Finally, we come to Centrapeak, a male vitality support geared towards optimising testosterone production and aiding cognitive health and wellbeing.
First things first, Centrapeak is most beneficial to men, of course, as is any testosterone-focused supplement. However, women also need to optimise their testosterone output, and will also benefit from the cognitive aspects, so I would recommend anyone give it a go.
There are a great many benefits to having increased, or at least optimised, testosterone levels. Again, most of the benefits apply to men – or, at least, they apply most strikingly to men.
With optimal natural testosterone output, you will have more energy, with an improved mood and sense of wellbeing. You will be physically stronger and more athletically capable, with a greater ability to maintain healthy body composition. You will also have a greatly enhanced libido, with improved sexual function.
Anything that can help you to optimise your natural testosterone production will therefore represent a great benefit to your overall health, wellbeing, and athleticism.
However, there are plenty of natural testosterone boosters out there, many of them fantastic. What sets Centrapeak apart? Well, the fact that it’s on this list at all – it is also an excellent nootropic supplement.
Centrapeak uses natural botanicals like phosphatidylserine, ashwagandha, and rhodiola roseate improve mental clarity and give all the benefits of a good nootropic. It also contains plenty of pine bark extract, l-tyrosine, ginseng, and luteolin, all of which we have seen are common nootropic aids.
You also get a good micronutrient profile with Centrapeak. It includes vitamins B6, D3, K2, zinc, boron, and magnesium. These, combined with the ashwagandha, should help to boost testosterone levels.
This couples with 200 mg of Indole-3-Carbinol Dosage (I3C), which is typically found in brassica and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, kale, and broccoli. I3C inhibits estrogen production, tipping the balance in favour of testosterone.
Centrapeak take this further by also including 75 mg of Mucuna Pruriens, or velvet bean. Velvet bean is a traditional ingredient used in Ayurvedic medicine. It helps to raise testosterone levels, especially free testosterone.
Put all of this together and you have a potent mix. Centrapeak will leave you with more testosterone together with the increased energy and cognitive wellbeing inherent to any good nootropic. It’s an incredibly clever formula.
Do Nootropics Have Side Effects?
Nootropics should not have side effects in general. In those that do, the side effects are minor and generally pass within the first few days of using them.
Everything included in our list above is made from natural, safe ingredients. As long as you stick within the specified dose, you should be absolutely fine.
Plenty of nootropics come with some kind of stimulant, whether it be caffeine, guarana, or anything similar. This can present some problems for some. It can cause you to get a bit jittery if you’re sensitive to stimulants. It can also lead to a little digestive discomfort in the first few days.
However, the jitters will generally be evened out by herbal energy enhancers such as ginkgo biloba and amino acids, so they shouldn’t be too bad.
Some supplements may have very positive side effects, above and beyond simply improving your cognitive and brain health. For example, many contain plenty of micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – and antioxidants that are great for your general health. Many will help you to maintain healthy levels of testosterone.
Which Ingredients Should I look For in Nootropics?
You’ll find plenty of different ingredients in plenty of different nootropics. There are myriad compounds and combinations that can help you to maintain peak cognitive performance with long-lasting brain health.
Some nootropics will contain a small handful of potent ingredients. Others will have laundry lists 50 ingredients strong in their formulas.
However, there are a few key ingredients that crop up time and time again.
You will often see bacopa monnieri in nootropics’ ingredients lists. It’s a tropical plant often used in ancient Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for hundreds of years, at least, for its cognitive and mood benefits.
Regular doses should help to improve memory and recall whilst decreasing symptoms of anxiety. You will generally want to see it in doses of around 300mg or more per serving, and it needs to be taken over an extended period of time for benefits to occur.
Ginkgo biloba is also fairly common. There is limited definitive research surrounding it. However, there is enough data to back up the idea that ginkgo biloba can aid focus and memory – which users have known for a long time. It has also been linked to an improvement in thinking skills, particularly for those in middle age.
Caffeine obviously comes up a lot. It is the world’s most widely used brain stimulant. Billions of us take it every day, mostly through drinks such as coffee and tea. Too much is a bad thing. It can increase anxiety levels, leave you jittery, and cause energy crashes.
However, daily doses of 100mg-200mg should be absolutely fine. You will often find it balanced with calming ingredients like l-theanine (see below) in nootropics, which should counteract the worst of the side effects. It is also easy to find caffeine-free nootropics if you are sensitive to it.
L-theanine is an amino acid. It is found naturally in tea and is known to be calming, reducing anxiety and stress levels. Taking in 100-200mg daily should help to keep you stress free whilst improving cognitive function.
Finally, l-tyrosine (aka tyrosine or 4-hydroxyphenylalanine) is a key amino acid. It is one of the standard 20 aminos that our cells use to synthesize proteins and is often found in bodybuilding and other athletic supplements.
In this context, however, we are looking at its ability to boost brain function whilst helping you to manage stress, in much the same way as l-theanine – they are often paired for optimal results.
L-tyrosine also plays a key role in synthesizing three important neurotransmitters – norepinephrine, adrenaline, and dopamine. You should be looking for around 150mg daily.
James is a full time personal trainer and an award winning writer with over 10 years of experience behind him. So far, he has helped hundreds of people with their health and fitness through his career.