You want to improve your brain health and boost your cognition, so you are looking for the best nootropic supplement brand out there. Let’s be honest, with the number of products on the market, this process can become overwhelming and confusing.
You have to know that not all nootropic supplement brands are created equal. Fancy bottles may not always mean quality, safety, and full health benefits. Some supplements are simply low quality, not organic, or full of artificial additives.
To receive the best cognitive benefits, make sure that you buy from a trusted company that uses high-quality ingredients. Read this guide to help you find the best nootropic supplement brand for your needs.
- 1 What Are Nootropics and Why Do You Need Them
- 2 14 Tips for Choosing the Best Nootropic Supplement Brands
- 2.1 1. Brand Names
- 2.2 2. Read Reviews and Check Ratings
- 2.3 3. Supplement Facts
- 2.4 4. Quality Assurance
- 2.5 5. Certificate of Analysis (CoA)
- 2.6 6. Active Ingredients
- 2.7 7. Serving Size
- 2.8 8. Therapeutic Dosages
- 2.9 9. Other Ingredients
- 2.10 10. Bioavailability
- 2.11 11. Extracts vs Whole Herbs
- 2.12 12. Natural vs Synthetic
- 2.13 13. Storage and Expiration Date
- 2.14 14. Allergies, Sensitivities, and Health Concerns
- 3 What NOT to Pay Attention To
- 4 Nootropic Supplement Brand Evaluation Checklist
- 5 Final Thoughts
What Are Nootropics and Why Do You Need Them
Nootropics is an umbrella term for chemicals that may provide cognitive benefits to the human brain. Nootropics may be natural or synthetic. They are used for therapeutic and cognition-boosting purposes.
The most common benefit of all nootropics is that they may boost cognitive health and brain function. They may boost your memory, improve your ability to learn, improve your brain function, and protect your brain with little or no side effects.
Natural nootropics include naturally derived supplements extracted from foods, herbs, plants, and animals. They have a greater concentration of the active nootropic per weight than eating the whole food instead. Natural nootropics may be safer and many prefer them over synthetics.
Taking nootropics may be incredibly beneficial for your brain and cognitive health. Some nootropics may have other non-nootropic health benefits as well. As with every natural supplement, it is important that you select a safe, trusted brand for the best benefits.
14 Tips for Choosing the Best Nootropic Supplement Brands
You are ready for some nootropics benefits. But you are not sure how to select the best nootropic supplement brand. Don’t worry. Follow these 14 tips to guide you on how to choose the best nootropic supplements for your needs.
1. Brand Names
Choosing the right brand of nootropic supplement starts by looking at the brand name on the bottle. It may tell a lot about the brand you are buying.
The general rule of thumb is to stay away from any supermarket, drug store, or a department store brand. Why? Because they don’t specialize in nootropics.
The main source of revenue of drug stores is pharmaceuticals. They have no incentive to develop or sell quality nootropic or other nutritional supplements that would compete with these pharmaceutical drugs.
Department stores sell everything from clothes to appliances. Supermarkets specialize in selling food and drinks. Neither have the real incentive to ensure the quality of their nootropic supplements. For them, nootropics may be nothing more than money-maker items.
In fact, back in 2015, the New York Attorney General demanded a number of stores, including Wal-mart, Walgreens, Target, and GNC to stop selling some of their dietary supplements. This was based on the analysis of the packaging label of select supplements.
According to their investigation using DNA barcoding, most of their supplements contained either unrecognizable DNA or a substance from a different plant listed on the label. Other products were made from other plants than they were claimed to be on the label.
Once you’ve eliminated supermarket, drug store, and department store brands, you should look at the website of the brands you are interested in. Make sure to check out their ‘about us’ page and learn about their philosophy toward manufacturing nootropic supplements.
Make sure that their customer service options are clearly listed. Check their return policy. If you don’t see a way to ask questions, file a complaint, or return damaged supplements, it’s a red flag. Reputable companies are always there to address your potential concerns.
Make sure that the brand offers a current Certificate of Analysis (CoA). This verifies the purity and quality of their products. Also, check for a Quality Assurance Certificate from a 3rd party lab. We’ll go into this in more detail later.
2. Read Reviews and Check Ratings
One of the best ways to make sure that the nootropic brand you are choosing is reliable and effective is by looking at first-hand experiences of customers who have actually used these nootropic supplements. This is what reviews are for!
Make sure to read customer feedback and online reviews on the brand’s website. Also read reviews on outside sources, including Amazon, iHerb, Swanson, and other nootropic supplement vendor sites.
By reading reviews and feedback, and checking ratings you can learn a lot about a company and their products. You may learn not only about the quality of their products but also their customer service.
Not all reviews are created equal, however. Take Amazon’s reviews and ratings with a grain of salt though and use critical thinking. According to a 2013 Natural News investigation, Amazon reviews and ratings may not be always the most reliable.
It turns out that 3rd party sellers may sell counterfeit dietary supplements because Amazon simply cannot police tens of thousands of sellers. Their star rating system may not be reliable either since Amazon assigns the same star for the same product regardless of their seller.
You may check reviews from bloggers and influencers. Though if they are sponsored reviews, it is best to use critical thinking. Unpaid and non-sponsored reviews on smaller blogs may be more reliable in some cases.
Search for any social media chatter. Read comments below blog articles and social media posts. Check Reddit. You may search for pros and cons.
If you have nootropic-enthusiast friends and family, it’s even better. Ask for their experience in person. Talk to your doctor, holistic or alternative healthcare professional, or dietitian. They may have some tips and favorite, trusted brands.
Lastly, check the Better Business Bureau for any customer complaints. You may Google for negative reviews, media reports, and lawsuits.
You will find that some recognizable brand names may not be as trustworthy or effective as you would think. Other, sometimes smaller or newer brands, may have better products for you. Reading reviews and doing Google searches may help you to narrow down your options.
This may sound overwhelming, but trust me, it’s important and worth it. Buying nootropic supplements is not only a financial investment but an investment in your health. You want to make sure that you are buying the best brand for you.
Once you find the nootropic supplement brand that you can trust, you may buy them in bulk to save money. You will thank yourself for all the initial effort to search for the best brand possible.
3. Supplement Facts
Always read the Supplement Facts on any nootropic or dietary supplement you are considering. These labels are regulated by the FDA and are there to teach you about the nutritional benefits of a supplement.
Since supplement labels often include nutritional information, you may wonder why are they not called Nutrition Facts. This is simply due to FDA regulations.
Dietary supplements, including nootropics, have a label called Supplement Facts that may or may not include nutrition information along with other facts. Nutrition Facts are listed on food and nutrition products, such as protein bars.
The FDA requires companies to list all their ingredients, including active and inactive ingredients on their labels. Companies are required to list the quantity of their ingredients even if there isn’t an established daily value for a particular ingredient.
Reading the Supplement Facts and the supplement label, you can learn a lot about your nootropic brand. You may learn about its ingredients, dosage, form, quality assurance, certificates, storage instructions, and more. In this article, you will learn about all these factors.
4. Quality Assurance
You may or may not know that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not oversee and control all supplements as they do with pharmaceuticals. However, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) they regulate them to a certain extent.
Marketing misbranded or adulterated supplement products is prohibited by law. While it only happens after a certain misbranded or adulterated product reaches the market, the FDA does take action against brands and companies selling them.
However, dietary supplements, including nootropics are not approved for safety and effectiveness by the government before they reach the shelves. They only take action when a bad product is reported.
As a result, it’s the responsibility of the supplement brands to make sure their products are not defective. As a buyer, it is your responsibility to check the label of your nootropic supplements and make sure where they come from.
Some supplements coming from China, Mexico, India, and other countries have shown toxic ingredients, even in the case of prescription pharmaceuticals. In some cases, US products have shown defects and issues.
To make sure that your nootropic or other dietary supplements are safe, the FDA provides a list of tainted supplements. You may check this updated list any time before considering buying a nootropic supplement brand.
It is crucial that you select reputable brands with a track record of high-quality products. Reliable companies are upfront on their website and on their marketing materials about their supply chain from farm to capsule, including purity testing before and after encapsulation.
Always pay attention to the label on the nootropic product you want to buy. Check if it’s USDA-Certified organic. Make sure it’s free from toxins, pesticides, and herbicides. Look for certification seals on the label that are signs of independent lab testing.
If you are in doubt you can always contact the manufacturer. You may request a lot-specific Certificate of Analysis, find out if their raw ingredients are sourced from their farms directly or from other distributors, and ask any questions you have.
5. Certificate of Analysis (CoA)
It is important that your nootropic or other dietary supplements are tested for quality, potency, and toxicity. There are several qualified independent labs that can do that.
The US Pharmacopeia is the company that provides the USP Verified seal for supplement labels. They also offer supplement companies Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) facility auditing, product quality control, product testing, and product documentation review.
You may check their website for a list of products that are USP Verified here. Besides a USP Verified seal, you may look for other certifications.
NSF International is an independent non-profit organization. They provide an NFS Certification for dietary supplements. Their certification process is detailed and reliable.
They provide label reviews to verify any product formulation and marketing claims. They check for formulation reviews to ensure that the right dietary ingredients are listed on product labels. They also do contaminant testing and GMP facility review.
Labdoor is an independent company. They buy supplement products online and off retail shelves and send the send them off for FDA-registered lab analysis. Their request for measurements of active ingredients, as well as potential contaminants.
If you are curious about the results Labdoor has found so far, you may visit their website. Their rankings of each product are listed on their website free for the public.
Consumer Lab is another independent company. They provide a subscription-based service for testing dietary supplements. They accept submissions from supplement companies and also select products themselves for review and analysis.
They do comprehensive spectrum labs tests and a GMP review. However, if a company pays them a $4,000 yearly fee, Consumer Lab does not disclose its brand name if their products fail their testing. They also heavily favor conventional and mainstream medicine and products.
6. Active Ingredients
The label on any nootropic or dietary supplement should list all ingredients found in your supplement. The active ingredients in your nootropics are the ones that are responsible for the desired cognitive and other health benefits.
Some nootropic supplements only have one ingredient, for example, Lion’s Mane Mushroom or Melatonin. Other active ingredients work better together than alone, such as curcumin from turmeric and piperine from black pepper.
There are also powerful nootropic blends on the market. They may be a good choice to achieve specific benefits through the combination of several active ingredients without having to spend money on many different supplements.
Read the supplement label carefully to make sure that all active ingredients you need are listed and you understand what you’re getting. To receive full benefits of these active ingredients, it is important that you know what therapeutic dosage is right for each nootropic.
7. Serving Size
Any nootropics or dietary supplement should include the serving size and the amount per serving in a bottle. Always read this carefully on your supplement label. It’s listed there to guide you to take the appropriate serving size recommended.
It’s important to know that not all dietary supplements have an established daily value yet. You simply have to rely on what a particular company suggests on their label.
The supplement label should also include the amount per recommended serving in common units of measurements, such as International Units (IU), milligrams (mg), and micrograms (mcg).
Mg and mcg refer to units of mass. IU refers to units of measurements used for biologically active ingredients, including minerals and vitamins. The unit of measurement used always depends on the type of supplement and its active ingredients.
As you will learn in the dosage section, you may need more than the suggested serving size to receive full cognitive benefits. However, it is always smart to start with a small serving and increase it gradually. It is also a smart idea to talk to your healthcare professional for guidance.
Lastly, the label should also list how many servings are in one bottle. This simply helps you to know how long your nootropics bottle may last and how much you are getting for your buck.
8. Therapeutic Dosages
When it comes to nootropics and other dietary supplements, there isn’t an established specific dietary dosage. What you find on labels simply provides commonly used and safe dosage recommendations.
In some cases, however, these recommended doses are too low to provide cognitive benefits. The right dosage for nootropic benefits always depends on the specific supplement and your personal health and needs.
Always check for dosage recommendations based on clinical trials from reputable nootropics and health sources. Read user reviews and personal experiences. Talk to your healthcare professional for guidance.
If you are new to a specific nootropic, start with the lowest suggested dose. See how you react and increase it gradually until you reach the desired benefits. Since active ingredients may differ per brand, this is a good practice, even if you’re familiar with the nootropic but new to the brand.
9. Other Ingredients
You already know the importance of active ingredients in your nootropics supplement. They are the ones providing you with all the cognitive and other health benefits. However, you should also watch out for other ingredients in your supplement.
Supplement labels should list so-called inactive ingredients in your supplements. They are often listed as other ingredients. You may also notice chemical-sounding names on the list you are not familiar with or can’t even pronounce.
Inactive or other ingredients in your nootropic and other dietary supplements may have a variety of functions. They may bind tablets together, improve consistency, help moisture resistance, increase shelf life, add color and flavor, or add bulk to fill a capsule.
The good news is that the FDA does regulate these other ingredients as food additives. They consider them safe in small quantities.
Here is a list of some of the most common other ingredients you may find in your nootropic supplement:
- Cellulose: This is a binding or thickening agent that helps the consistency of the ingredients
- Magnesium stearate, or vegetable stearate, or stearic acid: This is a lubricant or flow agent that enhances the manufacturing process and ensures that the pill is easier to swallow. However, it may also suppress your T-cells, which are natural killers and an essential part of your immune system.
- Titanium dioxide: This is a pigment responsible for the color of your supplement. However, it may lead to mitochondrial dysfunction, may damage astrocyte cells, may result in oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage in glial cells, and as a result, may damage your cognition and brain health.
- Silica, or silicon dioxide: Silica is an anti-clumping agent. It ensures an even distribution of ingredients within your supplement and ensures that ingredients don’t stick to mechanical equipment during processing.
- Rice flour: This is a filler used to fill the rest of the capsule to add bulk along with the active ingredients.
These other ingredients are the main inactive ingredients in well-known nootropics and other supplements. However, you may see other FDA-approved inactive ingredients on your product.
It is important that you know that not all nootropics have other ingredients. The best nootropic supplements have no extra ingredients, or only have a few whole-food-based other ingredients when it’s absolutely necessary.
When it comes to your food and supplements, bioavailability is extremely important. No matter what you are eating or what you are taking, if you are not absorbing it well or at all, it has little to no benefits. To benefit your brain, you must absorb it.
Turmeric is one of the most powerful nootropics and superfoods. Yet, it is poorly absorbed. However, when taken together with black pepper, or rather its active ingredient piperine, the bioavailability of curcumin, the active ingredient of turmeric, becomes 2,000 times stronger.
If you are interested in learning more about how to boost the bioavailability of curcumin with piperine, watch this video. It is full of science-backed information on the topic.
L-tyrosine, an amino acid is used as a nootropic since it is directly involved with the synthesis of dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in your brain. However, it is also poorly absorbed on its own. N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT), however, is a much more bioavailable choice.
The bottom line is that some nootropics depend on the right form or their combination with other nootropics or ingredients to work as effective brain boosters. Make sure to read nootropic supplement reviews and articles to understand what forms and combinations are the best.
11. Extracts vs Whole Herbs
You may be confused about the difference between choosing an extract versus a whole herb, and how to know what’s best for you. Deciding between a capsule, a tablet, or a tincture can become overwhelming if you are new to nootropics.
The answer is not that simple. Each nootropic and each herb works differently. It truly comes down to each specific nootropic and your needs. You may need a different form for nootropic and other health benefits.
Turmeric, for example, has so many benefits. It may work best as a ground powder for autoimmune conditions, inflammation, pain, or arthritis. However, for cognitive benefits, it may work better as a curcumin extract from turmeric.
Resveratrol is a powerful nootropic for cognitive benefits. However, the purity of your Resveratrol supplement is crucial. There are various Resveratrol extracts out there, but the extract from Japanese Knotweed seems to work best for your cognition.
Ashwagandha comes in various forms as a standard ground powder, or as a standardized extract with different dosage recommendations for both. On the other hand, the dosage of Lion’s Mane Mushroom depends on the strength of the extract.
CBD oil comes in a variety of forms. You may take CBD oil capsules, use sublingual CBD oil, vape CBD, or use CBD topicals. You may choose either form or a combination of several depending on your goals. The dosage depends on each form and your needs.
Choosing an extract or a whole herb, and choosing the right form of supplement is crucial. In most cases, extracts are the most effective. However, do your research and read recommendations and talk to your healthcare professional in order to make the right decision.
12. Natural vs Synthetic
Nootropics can be natural or synthetic, or lab-made. Many nootropic-enthusiasts prefer natural nootropics for their safety and natural cognitive benefits.
Natural nootropics are substances that are sourced naturally and have been shown to enhance cognition. They include natural herbs, amino acids, mushrooms, vitamins, minerals, and other natural substances.
Synthetic nootropics are chemically synthesized. They are designed to enhance cognition. They include the racetam family and smart drugs such as Adderall and modafinil.
Natural nootropics are classified as dietary supplements. The downside of this is that manufacturers can produce, sell, and market them without demonstrating much safety and without full regulations.
Nootropic supplements, just like other dietary or herbal supplements do not have to demonstrate safety or efficiency. Their labeling must include ‘This supplement is not intended for the treatment of any disease.’
Still, natural nootropics may be incredibly powerful and beneficial for your health. In most cases, they are a safe choice. However, as you’ve learned, this makes researching your brand very important.
It is essential that you select the right brand and right nootropic to your needs. Speak to your healthcare professional if you are taking medications or have health issues, to avoid drug interactions or side effects.
When it comes to synthetic nootropics, many of them, such as racetam, are legal to sell and buy in the US as long as the company states that ‘This substance is not for human consumption. Research purposes only.’ This itself may bring up some safety concerns.
Others, such as Adderall are FDA approved and designed for humans. However, they are designed for specific health concerns, such as ADHD in the case of Adderall. Hence the safety for others without these issues may not be clear and potential side effects may be concerning.
With some other synthetic nootropics, such as modafinil, professionals are not exactly yet clear on how it works. This may be concerning to know.
There have been examples in the past that some synthetic drugs were declared safe then turned out to have serious side effects or consequences. Some drug companies have faced legal claims for adverse effects of specific drugs.
Overall, the safety of natural nootropics may significantly exceed the safety of synthetic nootropics. Herbal compounds in natural nootropics may generally be considered safe until proven otherwise. On the other hand, synthetics are considered unsafe until proven otherwise.
There is increasing research on the benefits of natural nootropics. The most information, however, still comes from anecdotal evidence.
Much of the nootropics community is also interested in natural healing methods, biohacking, or holistic health, and prefers natural nootropics. As said earlier, it’s important that you always do your research and consult your doctor before choosing or starting to take any nootropics.
13. Storage and Expiration Date
Any supplement label should include storage instructions and the expiration date on the bottle. It is incredibly important that you check these out.
Different nootropics and different brands need to be handled differently. Some products may need to be refrigerated. Others may have to be kept in a cool or dry place. Depending on your lifestyle and other circumstances, you may have different storage preferences.
Make sure to check the instructions for after opening. Some supplements may be okay kept anywhere or under cool and dry conditions before opening. However, they may need to be handled differently, for example, refrigerated after opening.
Read and follow all storage instructions. When nootropic supplements are kept under improper conditions, they may lose some of their benefits.
Some nootropics have a longer shelf life than others. Certain ingredients, especially vitamins, may lose some of their potency over time. After expiration, the supplement may be less potent or not effective at all.
Always check the expiration date on your nootropic and other dietary supplements to make sure that you receive full benefits. Make a note of it, and make sure to finish your supplement within the suggested time period.
14. Allergies, Sensitivities, and Health Concerns
While a nootropic brand or a specific nootropic may be fantastic on its own, it may not be right for you. We are all different with different needs, bodies, and health issues.
Check the label for potential ingredients you may be allergic or sensitive to. If you are taking any medications, talk to your doctor about potential interactions. If you have any health concerns, check with your healthcare professional for advice.
If you are new to a specific nootropic or nootropic brand, always try a small dose first. Check your reactions. If you notice negative reactions, check with your healthcare professional and stop using the supplement in the meantime.
What NOT to Pay Attention To
When it comes to selecting the right nootropic supplement brand, there is a lot to consider. However, there are a few things you should not pay attention to.
1. Pretty Labels
Some supplement labels look pretty. Some brands have beautiful designs, logos, and colors. I understand. However, it is important that you consider the quality of the brand instead of its looks. If it has a pretty bottle, as well, it’s a bonus but it should not be a deciding factor.
2. Marketing Gimmicks
Brands want you to buy their products. However, the brands that have the best marketing campaigns, the flashiest websites, and the best promos, are not always the best. They can be, but may not be. Do your research, and select a quality brand, not just a nice marketing page.
3. People Who Don’t Take Nootropics
When you want to better your health, you can’t escape at least some unsolicited advice. Listen to knowledgeable professionals, friends, and family who take nootropics, and online reviews. However, forget about the advice of those who have no experience or professional expertise.
4. Price Tag
Of course, money is important. You want to invest it well. However, the price tag doesn’t always correlate with quality. Some expensive brands may not always be the best, whereas more affordable ones may also offer quality. Do your research and choose a quality supplement.
Nootropic Supplement Brand Evaluation Checklist
Your health is important. So you want to choose a nootropic supplement brand that is reputable, safe, pure, authentic, and beneficial. You want to select the right nootropics and the right brands, then follow dosage recommendations for the best benefits.
To achieve this, you may use this quick checklist, or cheat sheet to help you with your nootropic supplement shopping:
- Brand name: Choose reputable brands.
- Reviews: Read reviews, check ratings, listen to personal experiences, and ask for professional advice.
- Supplement Facts: Read the Supplement Facts label carefully for detailed information about your nootropics.
- Quality: Look for quality ingredients, certifications, and the word organic.
- Certification: Look for seals such as USP Verified or NSF International.
- Active Ingredients: Know what ingredients you get for powerful cognitive and health benefits.
- Serving size: Check for serving size, amounts per recommended serving, and the number of servings in a bottle.
- Therapeutic dosage: Do your research on therapeutic dosage. Start gradually to find the best dosage for you.
- Bioavailability: Check online reviews and information on reputable nootropics sites (hint: ours).
- Other ingredients: Select nootropics supplements with no extra ingredients or in some cases, a very few necessary other ingredients.
- Extracts: In most cases, standardized extracts are the best.
- Natural: Choose natural nootropics.
- Storage and Expiration: Check for storage instructions and expiration dates to receive full benefits.
- Health concerns: Consider your personal allergies, sensitivities, and health concerns.
- Don’t: Don’t pay attention to pretty labels, marketing gimmicks, and those who don’t take nootropics. Know that the price tag doesn’t always correlate with quality and brand reputation.
Choosing the right nootropic supplement brand may be overwhelming and confusing. There are so many products on the market, but they don’t have equal quality or benefits.
If you want to improve your brain health, boost your cognition, and receive optimal benefits from your nootropic supplement, make sure to buy from a trusted brand with high-quality ingredients. Ensure that they are certified, tested, natural, safe, and preferably organic.
We created this guide to help you navigate the process of choosing the right nootropic supplement. Use our Nootropic Supplement Brand Evaluation Checklist as a cheat sheet whenever shopping for new nootropics as the first step for cognitive health.
Kat Gál is a professional holistic health writer who helps health, wellness and nutrition businesses to market their products and services through quality online content. Kat is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. Reach out if you are looking for amazing blog content at katgalwriter.com. Check out nobsfreelancer.com for freelance writing tips.