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Updated November 16, 2020

The Best Nootropics Supplements 2021 {10 Smart Drugs Compared}

I need your attention and focus stat…wait, you made it to my best nootropics list because focus is exactly what you are struggling with. It is normal for memory, focus, and concentration to suffer the consequences of living in a modern society that tends to push our brains to the absolute limits of the universe.

My guide points to ten pretty solid nootropics this year. Quite frankly, there’s really no contest between the top rated nootropic and the remaining options. The #1 ranked is the best supplement by a landslide, but the rest of them are still solid supplements.

Nootropics comparison chart (top 10 highest rated nootropics)

Product

TSR Tested? (Y/N)

Best for

Rating

Pricing

NooCube

Yes

Cognition, focus, productivity

5.0/5.0

Mind Lab Pro

No

Focus, energy

4.5/5.0

Qualia

No

Productivity, focus

4.0/5.0

Alpha Brain

No

Energy boost

3.9/5.0

OptiMind

No

Focus, mood

3.9/5.0

Rise

No

Energy, mood

3.8/5.0

New Mood

No

Energy, mood

3.7/5.0

Elevate

No

Focus

3.6/5.0

Cognitex

No

Overall cognition

3.4/5.0

Neuriva

No

Energy

3.3/5.0

What are nootropics?

Nootropics are natural supplements designed to enhance brain function. Nootropic supplements, also known as “smart drugs,” have become very popular due to the positive effect they have on cognition, productivity levels, and overall brain function.

Many people abused prescription drugs such as Adderall for a long time in order to enhance their cognition, but drugs like these are extremely dangerous and addictive. Nootropics were born out of a need for natural alternatives to prescription cognitive enhancers.

These natural smart drugs are much better for you overall than prescription drugs. Plus, they can be just as effective if not more effective in some cases. Natural nootropics also generally do not produce severe side effects and are non-addictive.

What are smart drugs good for?

We certainly are not telling you that you should replace your prescription drug with a nootropic, but smart drugs can certainly produce a lot of benefits for users. Studies have shown that smart drugs have the potential to dramatically increase productivity, concentration, and cognition.

Smart drugs can be compared to coffee in a lot of ways…you drink coffee to boost your energy levels and mental clarity so that you can get more done throughout the day. Well, think of these smart drugs as a significantly more potent and more powerful version of coffee.

Don’t get me wrong, nootropics usually don’t contain caffeine and are not meant to replace coffee. My point is that the benefits they produce can be compared to that of coffee, but WAY more powerful. Nootropics are designed to help your brain function optimally and reach its absolute maximum potential (think NZT from the movie Limitless).

What are the different types of nootropics?

  • Racetams (example: Piracetam)
  • Ampakines (example: Sunifiram)
  • Acetylcholine intermediates (example: Alpha GPC)
  • Peptide nootropics (Example: Noopept)
  • Natural nootropics (Example: Huperzine A)
  • Vitamin B derivatives (Example: (Pyritinol)

What are the best nootropics ingredients?

We always recommend sticking with strictly natural nootropics. There’s a great deal of super effective 100% natural nootropics ingredients. The problem with other types of nootropic ingredients such as Racetams or Ampakines is that they can cause side effects and can be addictive as well.

Therefore, we strictly recommend supplements like NooCube (see below) that contain 100% natural ingredients. This way, you can get all of the benefits nootropics have to offer without having to worry about side effects or habit-forming effects.

Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC is a natural Acetylcholine intermediate, which means that supplementing with Alpha GPC can help boost your Acetylcholine levels. Acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for learning, focus, and memory. Therefore, having higher Acetylcholine levels is believed to enhance process related to focus and memory.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a plant extract that has been shown to inhibit Acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholinesterase essentially destroys acetylcholine, which is why it’s crucial to make sure it is inhibited. If you want your acetylcholine levels to increase, you must make sure you are preventing acetylcholinesterase from interfering…that’s where Huperzine A comes in.

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri is an Indian herb that has been studied for it’s ability to improve memory retention. Studies have shown that people who supplement with this herb are typically better able to retain information and can more efficiently memorize information. This is a key benefit, especially for people with intense, high-paced lifestyles or jobs.

L-Theanine

L-Theanine is an amino acid whose primary purpose is to help relieve stress. It does not directly impact neurotransmitter levels like other ingredients, but it can significantly improve cognition by relieving stress and promoting mental clarity.

Oat Straw

Oat straw is a completely natural ingredient that is derived from wild green oats. Studies have shown that people who supplement with oat straw are able to perform tasks faster and more efficiently. There is also research that suggests oat straw may help improve memory and performance on memory-related tasks.

What are the best nootropic supplements on the market? Here’s our 2021 top 10 list:

After extremely thorough research and testing, we created our official list of the best nootropics as listed below. It’s important to note that while all of these smart drugs are good choices, the top rated nootropic on this list is the only one that contains every single ingredient listed above and is therefore significantly more powerful than the rest on this list.

noocube

1. NooCube (best nootropics supplement overall)

NooCube is a brain supplement that’s easily the most popular on the list, and for good reason. The formula is an absolute powerhouse and contains every one of our top nootropic ingredients

NooCube has had the assistance of rather large advertising budgets to help them find their way to being such a big brand. However, it’s a well deserved popularity in its own right. Learn more about NooCube below.

Ingredients:

  • Alpha GPC
  • Huperzine A
  • Cat’s Claw
  • Oat Straw
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • L-Theanine
  • L-Tyrosine

NOOCUBE REVIEW

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mind lab pro

2. Mind Lab Pro (best for memory)

“Powerful” and “robust” are two words we often hear associated with Mind Lab Pro, one of our top ranked nootropics. I don’t believe Mind Lab Pro’s formula warrants it overtaking the #2 spot anytime soon, however, its a worthy top 5 nootropic.

Its a clean, natural brain supplement found at a reasonable, fair price. This is certainly a formula worth trying if you’ve already purchased it. Otherwise, heavily consider the higher ranking insertions on my list.

Ingredients:

  • Citicoline
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom
  • L-Theanine
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Rhodiloa Rosea

MIND LAB PRO REVIEW

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Qualia bottle

3. Qualia (best for energy)

Yes, the name sounds like something CSI Miami would use to figure out if a murder took place in a dingy apartment. The good news is, it isn’t THAT type of chemical. In fact, Qualia is no chemical at all, rather its a natural formula that serves to help people increase their memory and focus.

And it pretty much does just that. Its basic, but it isn’t bloated with junk fillers, either. One of the major problems with Qualia however, is that it’s extremely overpriced. Qualia is a good supplement with a lot of great qualities, but there’s simply no reason to pay this much for a nootropic.

Ingredients:

  • Citicoline
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Taurine
  • L-Theanine
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine
  • Alpha GPC

QUALIA REVIEW

 

4. Alpha Brain (best for memory)

Alpha Brain reviewExpect good things, but not great things, from Alpha Brain. Much like the elite top-shelf nootropics ranked above this one, Alpha Brain has a very good formula that produces above average benefits.

It is composed of natural ingredients and has pretty good reviews online. Alpha Brain has also benefitted tremendously from Joe Rogan talking about it on his podcast since he has a vested interested in the company that makes it, Onnit.

However, don’t buy into the hype! This stuff is not as good as it originally appears. The dosage sizes are all hidden within proprietary blends, which is very discouraging. It’s really a mid-tier product.

Ingredients:

  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Theanine
  • Cat’s Claw
  • Alpha GPC
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • L-Leucine

ALPHA BRAIN REVIEW

5. OptiMind (best for motivation)

Optimind bottle

OptiMind is another very well known Nootropic supplement with a lot to offer in terms of nutrients and benefits. It contains excellent ingredients with a lot of clinical proof, but the problem is it uses a giant proprietary blend.

In other words, the dosages of all the ingredients are hidden within a proprietary blend, which means we don’t know exactly what is in this supplement, and that’s bad news. For that reason, we recommend avoiding OptiMind.

Ingredients:

  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • L-Taurine
  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Caffeine
  • GABA
  • L-Tyrosine
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Huperzine A

OPTIMIND REVIEW

6. Rise (best for depression)

Rise nootropic jar

Rise, which used to be called Nootrobox Rise, is a pretty solid supplement. In fact, it’s a good enough nootropic that HVMN felt it was worth buying out Nootrobox, which is why Rise is no longer a Nootrobox supplement.

With that being said, Rise still lacks what it takes to be a truly top-shelf smart drug. It only has three active ingredients, and the overall potency is less than 1,000 milligrams per serving. It’s a good nootropic, but it simply isn’t top shelf.

Ingredients:

  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • Choline
  • Ashwagandha

7. New Mood (best for anxiety)

New mood supplement bottle

New Mood is another nootropic manufactured by the company Joe Rogan made famous, Onnit. Onnit is a great company with a lot of solid products, and New Mood is probably one of their better supplements. It isn’t a traditional nootropic because it’s not necessarily designed to boost focus and enhance productivity.

New Mood is formulated more for relief of anxiety and depression symptoms, which is a cool and unique take on nootropics. We love New Mood, but it is simply nowhere near as effective of a nootropic as the top options on this list.

Ingredients:

  • Valerian root
  • Chamomile
  • Lemon balm
  • Jujube extract
  • L-Tryptophan
  • 5-HTP

NEW MOOD REVIEW

8. Elevate (good for focus and concentration)

Elevate jar

Elevate is a great nootropic supplement that contains many effective natural ingredients. One of the most common problems with supplements in general, and nootropics are no exception, is the use of proprietary blends.

Elevate uses what’s called a proprietary blend, which means they don’t disclose some of the dosage sizes for certain ingredients. This is a big problem for us as supplement analysts. Elevate has a promising formula, but we can’t feel comfortable recommending it at the end of the day.

Ingredients:

  • Citicoline
  • L-Theanine
  • Green tea extract
  • Bacopa
  • Turmeric
  • Bioperine

ELEVATE REVIEW

9. Cognitex (best for studying)

Cognitex bottle

Cognitex takes a very unique approach to cognitive enhancement. It’s an interesting approach, but we don’t see it as being a very effective one. The entire formula is essentially a combination of berry extracts…there are really no actual nootropic ingredients in this formula except for phosphatidylserine.

While we really appreciate this attempt at a 100% natural and healthy ingredients, we simply feel the ingredients selected are not powerful enough to really get the job done. Cognitex may help improve memory, but it’s not a top-shelf nootropic.

Ingredients:

  • Alaska blueberry
  • Oval leaf blueberry
  • Alpine blueberry
  • Dwarf bilberry
  • Phosphatidylserine

COGNITEX REVIEW

10. Neuriva (good for people on a budget)

Neuriva box

Neuriva really isn’t that great of a nootropic to be honest. However, it’s pretty inexpensive, and we felt it necessary to add a solid budget option to this list. If you are on a super tight budget and need a cheap nootropic, Neuriva is a decent choice.

Ingredients:

  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Folate
  • Coffee fruit extract
  • Phosphatidylserine

NEURIVA REVIEW

 

 

What are the best cognitive enhancement supplements for you? Our conclusion

NooCube is the clear winner of this race. NooCube is the most potent, contains the most active ingredients, doesn’t use proprietary blends, and has been successfully tested by our experts, who got excellent results. It has hands down the single best supplement for cognitive enhancement.

All of the supplements listed above are natural and non-pharmaceutical. It’s a solid list of TSR approved manufacturers. Be careful buying just any “smart drug.” There are lots of scams online looking to take advantage of people who aren’t super versed in how nootropic formulas work.

FAQs on the best smart drugs

Are nootropics safe?

Generally speaking, yes, nootropics are safe. However, the answer is only yes assuming you are taking a natural and clinically tested nootropic. We strictly recommend smart drugs that are natural and have been tested because these supplements are safe.

What do nootropics do to the brain?

Nootropics essentially help to alter your neurochemistry in a way that is going to be more beneficial to you with regard to focus, memory, and cognition. The most important goal of a nootropic supplement is to increase Acetylcholine levels in the brain.

Are nootropics natural?

Not all nootropics are natural. There are many different types of nootropic supplements. However, we only recommend the natural ones. Non-natural nootropics can cause side effects and can be addictive in some cases.

Can you take nootropics every day?

Yes, most nootropics are generally designed to be taken every day. As long as it is a safe and natural nootropic, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to take it every day. This is of course just our opinion, and you should always consult your doctor.

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Joe Costello
Nutrition & Wellness Consultant
Joe Costello is a Nutrition & Wellness Consultant, certified by the American Fitness Professionals & Associates (AFPA), author, and internet blogger. Joe has more than 9 years of experience in the sports nutrition industry and over 3 years of experience as a supplement and nutrition blogger. As a certified NWC who specializes in dietary supplements, Joe strives to deliver accurate, comprehensive, and research-backed information to his readers.

You can find more of Joe’s work including his E-Books about fitness and nutrition at his official website joecostellonwc.com, or connect with him on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, or YouTube. Joe Costello is one of the founders of TheSupplementReviews.org and years after the creation of the site, partnered with TEK Naturals, a nutritional supplement company.