No matter whether you’re an entrepreneur or gunning for a promotion at your company, being more focused is only going to help you move forward in your career.
You may get a new laptop every few years with a larger processor, but you’re mostly stuck with the brain that you were born with. Your intelligence is formed through a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Obviously, you don’t get to choose your parents, but you can choose what you put into your body and how you spend your time.
Including nootropics into your daily supplement regime can help you maximize your brainpower. If you’re not familiar with nootropics, they’re a collection of drugs and supplements that enhance your cognitive ability.
Many supplements can be loosely considered nootropics, but they don’t all have the same capability to enhance your focus. Below, we’ve listed some of the top nootropics that you can use to achieve the same level of focus as top CEOS and other people who have reached the pinnacle of their careers.
Are you ready to learn how to unlock your full potential?
Let’s start by discussing some ways you can improve your focus even before you think about taking any nootropics.
Boost Your Focus by Removing Yourself from Distractions
You shouldn’t underestimate the way your environment affects your focus.
If you want to get quality work done, you’re going to have to relocate yourself somewhere without distractions.
Imagine you’re trying to study at home but your family is watching TV loudly in the next room, your phone keeps buzzing every thirty seconds, and the sound of a jackhammer is reverberating from across the street.
How much of your brainpower does that leave for the task at hand? Probably not very much.
Compare the above scenario to sitting in a quiet room with only a desk, no access to social media, and your phone in another room. There’s a good chance that in this scenario you’ll be more productive and your mind won’t wander as quickly.
Research backs this idea that removing yourself from distractions can improve your focus.
In one study published in Frontiers of Psychology, researchers tested child participants’ memory in four ways. In each situation, the children watched a five-minute video that showed a thief.
The researchers asked the children to recollect what they saw in one of four ways:
1. The children closed their eye
2. They stared at a blank screen
3. They watched a distracting visual stimulus
4. They listened to a distracting audio stimulus
Which children do you think could recall the most information?
You’d be correct if you guessed the children with their eyes closed and those who stared at a blank screen.
Give Your Brain a Break and Boost Focus
How does your brain feel at the end of the day when you get off work? Most of us have just enough mental energy left to plop ourselves onto the couch.
Imagine you go to the weight room and you load up the maximum amount of weight you can lift on a barbell in the squat rack. You’re able to lift it, but it takes all your energy. You grind out the rep with the help of two of your friends yelling at you to get it up.
The next day, you brag to one of your friends about how much weight you lifted, but they don’t believe you. The two of you go back to the gym and try to lift the same amount of weight. This time, you can’t lift near as much.
What gives? You were able to lift it yesterday. Why can’t you lift it today?
The neurons that control your muscles get fatigued when you stress them. The result of this fatigue is obvious in the context of the weight room.
The neurons in your brain fatigue in the same way. However, it’s not as easy to monitor the decline of your cognitive function.
Researchers in China examined the effect of mental fatigue on visual attention.
The researchers gave participants the mentally draining task of tracking a ball randomly moving on a square screen for 63 minutes. The participants had to keep the center point of a tracking ball as close to the center of the ball as they could by using a joystick. Periodically, a red dot appeared on the screen and participants had to respond as soon as they noticed it.
The researchers found that the participants’ mental fatigue increased with time (as expected). When mental fatigue accumulated, participants became slower at reporting the presence of the red dot that appeared on the screen.
If you want to maximize your focus, make sure you keep your mind fresh by starting your work with a fresh mind.
If You Eat Garbage, Your Focus Will be Garbage!
In the same way that your muscles need protein to repair themselves, your brain needs nutrients to perform optimally.
According to this literature review published in the journal Nature Reviews Neuroscience, the following nutrients play a role in supporting your brain health and may have benefits for increasing your cognitive function.
● Omega 3 fatty acids
● Curcumin (active ingredient in turmeric)
● Flavonoids (phytonutrients in fruits and vegetables)
● Saturated fat
● B vitamins
● Vitamin D
● Vitamin E
● Beta-carotene (vitamin A)
● Vitamin C
How can you make sure you’re getting all of these nutrients in your diet?
Minimize your consumption of processed foods and stick to whole foods like fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish. As long as you’re eating a balanced diet, there’s no need to count your micronutrients.
Supplementing nutrients that are difficult to get in your diet like curcumin and omega 3s may also increase your focus and mental function.
Omega 3 fatty acids, like those found in fatty fish such as salmon, decrease inflammation in your brain and body. In fact, more than half the weight of your brain is fat, and the majority of that fat is the omega 3 DHA.
If you want to learn more about why omega 3s are vital for your brain health, check out this great YouTube video that explains the science:
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory that is thought to prevent your risk of developing Alzheimer’s and may improve attention and memory.
Keep reading to find out why you should be taking these two nootropics and learn which other nootropics boost your attention and concentration.
Take Omega 3s to Support Your Brain
Processed foods made from hydrogenated vegetable oils increase inflammation in your body and brain. People who eat a typical Western diet get far too many of these unhealthy oils and not enough anti-inflammatory omega 3s.
The two types of omega 3s you’ll find in a fish oil supplement are called EPA and DHA.
In 2014, researchers investigated the effect of Omega-3 supplementation on the cognition of young adults.
In this double-blind crossover study, the researchers gave participants either an EPA or DHA supplement and measured their cognitive function. After a 30-day washout period, the participants took the opposite supplement.
The participants found that taking an EPA supplement led to the participants achieving better cognitive performance.
Use omega 3s for the following:
● Improving focus
● Supporting brain aging
● Improving cognitive ability
Use Curcumin to Reduce Brain Inflammation
Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Besides helping you managing joint pain and reducing your colorectal cancer risk, curcumin has several benefits for your mental health.
These benefits include improving cognitive strength, reducing cognitive decline, and improving mood.
Curcumin probably won’t give you the same kind of acute concentrations as some of the supplements on this list, but it can help support your brain throughout your life.
In one double-blind study, the effect of curcumin supplement on the memory decline of people over 50 years old was tested.
The researchers found that taking a daily curcumin supplement daily significantly reduced forgetfulness with age.
Use Curcumin for the following:
● Supporting brain aging
● Improving cognitive ability
● Improving mood
Try Aniracetam to Stimulate Your Brain
Aniracetam is known to increase your mood, focus, and memory. By binding to receptors in your brain known as AMPA receptors, it may prolong the among of time you can use your brain for mentally stimulating tasks before it becomes fatigued.
In a study published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers found that aniracetam might be particularly effective at decreasing desensitization in the hippocampus, which means it likely has benefits for improving memory formation as well.
Aniracetam has a fairly low bioavailability, so the daily dosages are large compared to some other nootropics. A standard dose is about 750mg per day divided into three daily servings.
In research, even dosages around 400 mg have been found to have a slight cognitive boosting effect.
Aniracetam is generally safe and rarely leads to side effects. The most common side effects are stomach discomfort and mild headaches. It’s also thought to potentially increase blood flow to your associative cortex, which is used in complex mental tasks.
Use aniracetam for the following:
● Improving focus
● Delaying cognitive fatigue
● Increased mental clarity
Improve Your Brain Health with N-Phenylacetyl-L-Prolylglycine
N-Phenylacetyl-L-Prolylglycine is often sold under the brand name Noopept.
Noopept is a powerful nootropic that’s thought to have benefits for increasing concentration, learning capacity, and memory. It was invented in Russia and has only recently become available in North America.
It’s been associated with improvements in almost every part of your brain health including short term and long-term memory.
Research on rats shows that taking 0.5mg/kg (equivalent to about 38mg for a 165 lb person) was associated with significant improvements in memory by stimulating the release of the two neurotrophic factors NGF and BDNF.
A neurotrophic factor is a substance that regulates the growth or survival of neurons in your brain.
A daily dose of 10-30mg is enough to have a neuroprotective effect.
Mild side effects may include fatigue, nausea, and headaches. Cutting back on the dosage may help reduce these symptoms.
Use N-Phenylacetyl-L-Prolylglycine for the following:
● Improve problem-solving
● Improve mental clarity
● Improve focus
Take Adrafinil to Reduce Sleepiness and Improve Mental Clarity
Adrafinil was originally invented to combat narcolepsy.
When your body metabolizes adrafinil, it becomes modafinil so the two nootropics have similar effects.
Adrafinil is a stimulant that fights against sleepiness. It’s known to increase wakefulness and feelings of alertness. It may also improve your memory.
Adrafinil may have neuroprotective effects that help with its effects of wakefulness.
Canine research has found that the effects of a single dose are long-lasting, and adrafinil seems to be effective over multiple dosages without losing its impact. The researchers also concluded that adrafinil might have cognitive enhancing potential.
The standard dose for adrafinil is roughly 300-600 mg taken daily. You shouldn’t take it in the late afternoon because it can affect your sleep.
Adrafinil is banned for athletes because of his stimulant properties, so keep that in mind if you compete professionally or collegiately.
Use adrafinil for the following:
● Decreasing sleepiness
● Improved concentration
● Feeling more awake
Boost Your Brain with Pramiracetam
Pramiracetam’s concentration-enhancing benefits are thought to be due to its ability to increase blood flow to your brain. It may also help increase mental energy by enhancing oxygen uptake and glucose metabolism in your brain.
Specific effects you can expect are an improved attention span, better focus, and improved thinking rate.
Unlike some other supplements that rely entirely on animal studies, pramiracetam has some human evidence to back its usage.
One study published in Brain Injury examined the effect of pramiracetam on young males who suffered from head injuries. The researchers gave the four young men in the study 400 mg three times per day. They found that the participants had improved rate of recall when compared to a placebo.
In another study, researchers injected participants with scopolamine hydrobromide, a substance that can induce amnesia. Participants given 600mg of pramiracetam twice a day had improved memory-recollection compared to a control group.
Use pramiracetam for the following:
● Improve memory recall
● Increase attention
● Faster thinking speed
Improve Focus and Muscle Strength with Alpha GPC
Alpha GPC is a precursor to choline, which is a vital nutrient that your body needs for survival. It seems to have various brain-boosting properties. It’s also of interest to athletes for its potential to increase muscular power output.
In a study published in Clinical Therapy, researchers examined the effect of Alpha GPC on people with Alzheimer’s. The researchers found that 1200mg of Alpha GNC significantly improved the symptoms of this degenerative brain disease over six months.
In another study, American researchers found that Alpha GNC taken along with caffeine and phosphatidylserine significantly increased the attention and reaction time of people who self-reported chronic stress. In the study, participants consumed 1500mg of the supplement.
Use alpha GPC for the following:
● Improving focus
● Slowing cognitive decline
● Increasing muscle power
This Well-Studied Nootropic Modafinil May Improve Your Focus
Modafinil is closely related to adrafinil and is one of the most common nootropic supplements on the market. It’s considered one of the best drugs for improving concentration.
The effects of modafinil are similar to Adderall except causes fewer side effects. Adderall also has the potential to lead to addiction. When you take modafinil, you can expect to feel like you took a very powerful caffeine supplement. It can also lead to feelings of motivation.
In a study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Sleep Research, researchers examined the effect of modafinil on 64 hours of sleep deprivation.
Military personnel who missed two straight nights of sleep took 300mg of modafinil daily. The researchers found that the 41 participants had less of a decline in mood and cognitive function compared to a placebo. The effect was similar to taking about 20mg of an amphetamine.
In another double-blind placebo study, researchers compared the effect of 200mg of modafinil daily in people suffering from multiple sclerosis. The intervention group that took modafinil had significantly higher measures of alertness compared to the control.
Researchers think that modafinil may also be useful for people with a cocaine addiction ease off of the drug.
Use modafinil for the following:
● Improving concentration
● Reducing drowsiness
● Enhancing alertness
How to Start Taking Nootropics to Improve Your Focus
Including nootropics into your diet can greatly enhance your brainpower and allow you to become more productive. Try to slowly incorporate nootropics into your diet to enhance your brain function.
Which nootropics should you include first?
Fish oil and curcumin are two supplements that almost everybody can benefit from. You’re not going to notice any acute changes with these supplements, but they work by reducing inflammation in your brain and may help your brain become a slightly more efficient.
Think of taking these two supplements like ‘eating your vegetables.’ They support your health over the long-term with few short-term effects.
If you’re looking for something more acute—like a stronger caffeine—try modafinil. Modafinil is well-research and proven to increase alertness and diminish symptoms of fatigue.
Alpha GPC is the best of the rest of the supplements. It has documented health benefits for improving both your mental and physical health.
You can experiment with all the supplements on this list if any of them sound particularly interesting to you. Everyone’s body is different, so you don’t know how these supplements are going to affect you until you try them.
Daniel grew up in Halifax, Canada. He completed his Honours Kinesiology degree at Dalhousie University where he received an education in topics such as nutrition, exercise physiology, strength training, and sports psychology. He graduated with his MFA in Writing from the University of Saskatchewan in spring 2019. Through his writing career, he’s developed a particular interest in endocrine and mental health research.