Best Nootropics and Smart Drugs in 2021

Looking for the best nootropics of 2021? In this article we take you through the top nootropics of the year that can aid with memory and learning.

These are all natural options, and not to be confused with some of the “smart drug” options on the market. By this we mean your Modafinil, Adderall, Provigil etc. These are all natural alternatives that still have the research to promote brain power, without the risk or side effects associated with their smart drug counterparts.

They’re ideal for helping you with cognitive function, and a general sharpness you wouldn’t get from your standard cup of morning coffee.

If you’re a biohacker, in a competitive environment, a student, a business professional or maybe someone who wants to protect (and even improve) their mental agility as they get older – this is the article for you.

Before we get started however, you should note that this article should not be taken as medical advice. We are not medical professionals and you should speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about nootropics.

Best Nootropics Stack Premade

Best Nootropic Supplements (Pre-Made)

Below are the best nootropic supplements of 2021 if you are looking for a premade stack. These are 100% done for you nootropic stacks that boost cognitive performance, short term memory, long term memory, mood, mental agility, and everything else in-between.

They all have their ingredients backed by clinical studies, and from my personal experience, I can tell you that they are very effective when it comes to improving overall cognition.

What’s the advantage of a premade stack? Think of it like meal-prep. You don’t have to spend the time formulating and perfecting your stack, as someone has already done the research, and hard work for you. On top that they’ve already packed it into easy to consume capsules that you take daily with minimal to no effort.

Again, these are totally natural nootropics, and do not provide the negative, and sometimes severe side effects often reported with a smart drug.

If you want more information about the ingredients in the below listed nootropics, we have a list of our top individual choices which will give you more detail descriptions.

#1 Mind Lab Pro – Best Overall / Memory, Learning etc.

Mind Lab Pro - Best Overall Nootropic

Mind Lab Pro by made by Opti-Nutra, and is by far the best nootropic that we have come across on the market.

Containing 11 nootropics overall, it is widely reviewed as one of the most effective premade stacks money can buy.

Retailing at $65.00 a bottle ($2.17 a day), Mind Lab Pro removes all the guesswork from your nootropic stack to give you exactly what you’re looking for: results.

Containing the following ingredients:

  1. Vitamin B6 – 2.5 mg
  2. Vitamin B9 – 100 mcg
  3. Vitamin B12 -7.5 mcg
  4. Citicoline (as Cognizin) – 250 mg
  5. Bacopa Monnieri (24% Bacosides with 9 Bioactives) – 150 mg
  6. Lion’s Mane Mushroom – 500 mg
  7. Phosphatidylserine (as Sharp-PS Green from Sunflower Lecithin) – 100 mg
  8. N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine – 175 mg
  9. L-Theanine (as Suntheanine) – 100 mg
  10. Rhodiola Rosea (3% Rosavins, 1% salidrosides) – 50 mg
  11. Maritime Pine Bark Extract (95% proanthocyanidins) – 75 mg

Mind Lab Pro has the all the main natural nootropics to support whole brain optimization and peak performance mentally.

It not only helps you with short-term cognitive performance, but it can also provide with long term cognitive function and brain health by helping with the overall maintenance of the organ.

When using it consistently, I personally feel huge gains in my:

  • Memory Formation – Boosts in recall, storage, learning and just generally sharper when it comes to remembering.
  • Mental Agility – Reading faster, quicker understanding of concepts and better at verbal fluency / articulating my point.
  • Outlook – More motivated, better mood, less stress, more relaxed and more creative in my problem solving.

Not only that, Mind Lab Pro has contains numerous ingredients which are potent in antioxidants which help fight brain degeneration, as well as promote injury repair, as well as helping out with the maintenance of brain structure and plasticity.

I don’t experience side effects when using this nootropic, and can’t seem to find any report that has.

If you’re new to nootropics, and you don’t want the hassle of creating your own stack and want something that works right off the bat before making you’re own – Mind Lab Pro is the best nootropic stack to start with.

You should check out their website below and see if this is the best nootropic supplement for you:

P.S. Discounts are available if you buy more than one box!

#2 Performance Lab Mind – Best for Additional Stacking

Performance Lab Mind - Best nootropic for stacking

I’m sorry, but the best way to describe Performance Lab Mind, is “Mind Lab Pro Lite”. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it contains plenty of the ingredients that make Mind Lab Pro effective for cognition, just not all of them. I still count it as one of the best when considering premade nootropics on the market.

Although it doesn’t have everything that Mind Lab Pro has – it has enough. And at $49.00 a bottle ($1.63 a day) it’s a lot lighter on your wallet.

Performance Lab Mind contains the following ingredients:

  1. Citicoline (as Cognizin) – 250 mg
  2. Phosphatidylserine (as Sharp-PS Green from Sunflower Lecithin) – 100 mg
  3. L-Tyrsoine (as Ajipure) – 250 mg
  4. Maritime Pine Bark Extract (95% Proanthocyanidins) – 75 mg

Great options for the price – and being more minimal, Performance Lab Mind gives you the opportunity to use it as part of a bigger stack.

Personally when I used Performance Lab Mind, I stacked it with Performance Lab Stim – which is a caffeine supplement from the same brand, and the effects were phenomenal.

The main things I experienced were:

  • Focus – Big boost in my attention span, as well as my overall motivation to get stuff done.
  • Calm – Despite the caffeine, I had a controlled sense of calm allowing me to take a step back and prioritize tasks.
  • Long lasting effects – I could work for longer hours without having a dip in concentration (Pomodoro I feel helps this).

Again, there’s also the high level of antioxidants in this this nootropics stack too, which again can have some protective effects for brain structure, repair and maintenance. It’s not often that you see nootropics make the effort i this department so we were glad both of our top choices did.

Like we say, Performance Lab Mind is “Mind Lab Pro Lite” – it’s cheaper, but it may require some additional stacking. Fortunately, there are plenty of supplements on the Performance Lab site which stack well with Mind. My preference for maximum focus is Stim.

You should visit the Performance Lab site to learn more about this nootropics capabilities:

They have numerous supplements that stack well with Mind.

How to choose the Best Nootropics Supplements?

How we chose the best nootropics for memory

When choosing the best nootropics, there were several factors we were looking for to ensure that the user was going to get the best results.

Natural – The nootropic in question should be completely natural. We are not looking for a smart drug. You want a safe, natural option with minimum side effects and maximum results.

Universal Use – We wanted the nootropics that we were looking for to be as universal as possible. By that we mean that anyone from any walk of life could take them.

Transparent – With some nootropics, there’s a lot of ambiguity as to the ingredients. If we don’t see a full list of dosages of what’s being used in a pre-made stack for nootropic supplements we walk away, no matter how big the critical acclaim is.

Effective – Marketing hype is one thing, but clinical studies are another. We wanted to make sure that all brain supplements that we looked at had the science to prove that their ingredients boosted mental performance – no questions asked.

After using these methods to knock out the weaker competitors, we could focus on the handful of winners which we recommended above.

These nootropic supplements managed to boast the following qualities:

  • High Potency Clinical Dosages
  • No Proprietary Blends
  • Legal
  • Third-Party Tested
  • 100% Natural
  • Vegan
  • GMP Certified
  • Caffeine-Free
  • Non-GMO
  • Synthetic Additive Free
  • Soy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Allergen Free
  • Banned Substance Tested
  • Non Irradiated

Making them some of the highest quality prospects on the market. This also drives their side effect risk down to a minimum. We haven’t heard reports of either Mind Lab Pro or Performance Lab Mind causing problems when supplemented on a daily basis for cognitive performance.

Which is what you can’t say about some of the smart drug options out there like Adderall or Modafinil that people use to focus.

Not only that, both of our winners are available globally and should be able to ship to you, regardless of your country or whereabouts. They’re about as universal as you can get when it comes to nootropic supplements – in both dietary restrictions and global accessibility.

Best Nootropic Supplements (Individual for Stacking)

If you are looking to make your own nootropics stack for focus, memory, learning or whatever other cognitive goals you have in mind, here’s our shortlist of the top choices out there.

Going the individual route can get expensive. If you’re a beginner we strongly suggest the premade options. However if you’re experienced and really want master and tailor-make your stack, this list may be a great help to you.

1. Citicoline

Citicoline is arguably one of the best natural nootropics that you can acquire on the market. It’s great for your brain health, energy, focus and cognitive performance.

This nootropic achieves this via optimizing your brain’s neural electrical impulses – which is essentially the source of your brain’s power. This also helps your brain’s neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine.

It also helps you to synthesize Phosphatidylcholine which is a phospholipid which is found the membrane of your brain cells.

Citicoline by helping both these factors can help you with the regeneration and repair of your brain cells. It also helps protect your brain by it’s high antioxidant content too.

In short, adding citicoline to a nootropic stack may help improve the following:

  • Long and Short Term Memory
  • Mood
  • Attention
  • Focus
  • Concentration
  • Long Term Brain Health
  • Fight of Age Related Cognitive Decline

To date, the most effective form of citicoline has been seen to be Cognizin Citicoline, which has been able to improve membrane formation by up to 26% while boosting brain energy by 13.6%.

2. Lion’s Mane Mushroom (Yamabushitake)

Lion's Mane Mushroom as a nootropic

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is another must to a mental performance cognition stack. Containing the nootropics hericenones and erinacines, Lion’s Mane Mushroom has the potential to improve your brain’s Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) production.

Good levels of NGF can help with the synthesis of your brain’s myelin nerve sheath, as well as neural regeneration. Chasing a better Nerve Growth Factor production is incredibly effective for brain plasticity which is ideal if you’re looking to improve your overall learning as well as short and long term memory.

A better NGF can also help with your brain cell replication and better brain function of cell membranes.

To summarize, a good supple of Lion’s Mane Mushroom may help you with the following:

  • Improves Memory Performance
  • Learning
  • Focus
  • Mental Processing
  • Mood
  • Mental Clarity

This has been seen to be the case in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials on adults aged 50 – 80 who suffer from cognitive impairment.

What’s more interesting, after supplementation of Yamabishitake ceased, the cognitive improvements began to decline, strongly suggesting that Lion’s Mane Mushroom may have been the cause of the benefits.

3. Maritime Pine Bark

Maritime Pine Bark in brain supplements is more for your brain’s protection. It is a complex of proanthocyanidin antioxidants which cross your blood-brain barrier which can help reduce the effect of damaging toxic free radicals.

This can help make your brain be a safer and healthier environment for optimal brain function.

In addition to this, Maritime Pine Bark can also help raise your body’s levels of Nitric Oxide (NO) which helps dilate blood vessels and improve overall flow to the brain. This allows more oxygen, nutrients, and best of all glucose to travel to your brain to nourish it.

There has even been some research which shows that supplementing Maritime Pine Bark extract may help to provide brain regeneration support via the bioactivities of the proanthocyanidin. This could help to reduce age-related cognitive decline.

Again, in summation, here’s what Maritime Pine Bark may improve for you:

  • Mental Energy
  • Brain Function
  • Attention
  • Improve Memory Function
  • Learning
  • Focus
  • Mental Clarity
  • Brain Health

In terms of what to look for when searching for Maritime Pine Bark supplements, focus on the highest percentage of active proanthocyanidins you can find, 95% and upwards is ideal.

4. Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa Monnieri Nootropic

Bacopa Monnieri is a natural herb which has plenty of nootropic benefit. The reason being is that this nootropic contains bacosides which are antioxidants which strengthen other antioxidants in your brain such as superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx).

These antioxidants are great for helping to protect your brain from free radicals which can accelerate aging in your brain.

Bacopa Monnieri’s bacosides are also good for helping positive brain chemicals in your body too such as serotonin, GABA and acetylcholine. These can all help you get that better memory, mood and overall faster focused thinking.

Fortunately, there is plenty of human research available when it comes to Bacopa Monnieri. It has mainly been seen to support learning and memory. Research finds to help improve memory retention and even accelerate your brain’s mental processing, and even boost your overall cognition under stress which can help to increase focus and relaxation.

Here’s some of the benefits that have been associated with supplementing Bacopa Monnieri:

  • Enhanced Memory Recall
  • Stronger Learning
  • Faster Mental Processing
  • Mood and Relaxation
  • Brain Protection via Antioxidants

It’s very much a memory nootropic with some added benefits. Ideally, when getting a Bacopa Monnieri brain supplement you need as many of the herb’s bacosides with a high yield of them to boot.

If you can find Bacopa Monnieri with 20% bacosides and containing 9 of the top bacoside compounds – you’re headed in the right direction.

5. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is a great amino acid that works well as one of the best nootropic supplements. Typically found in small amounts in Green Tea, this amino acid can promote the activity of your alpha brainwaves.

Boosting alpha brainwaves can help to promote a condition known as wakeful relaxation, which is essentially to feel more calm and relaxed without feeling sedated. L-Theanine also has links to boosting creativity.

A large way in which it does all of this by toning down neurotransmitters in your brain which are linked to making you excitable, while also increasing your levels of serotonin, GABA and dopamine – which are all neurotransmitters which can help to calm you.

It’s an ideal candidate if you’re looking to improve your attention levels. Not only that, it may also protect your neuron’s from damage via it’s antioxidant properties which could definitely help you with any potential aging effects the brain may be undergoing.

Here’s a brief rundown of what you may experience when using L-Theanine as a biohackers nootropic:

  • Calmness without the drowsiness
  • Sharper Attention
  • Better Focus
  • More alert
  • Boost in Creativity
  • Problem Solving

If you’re not already aware, there’s an added bonus of taking L-Theanine with caffeine. By handling these excitable neurotransmitters it can help to negate the jittery effects of caffeine and give you cleaner, more focused control of your energy levels while under the effects of the stimulant.

6. Caffeine

Caffeine as a Nootropic

There’s a right way and a wrong way to use caffeine as a nootropic. It does have benefits, but you should avoid taking it on it’s own.

Caffeine is a stimulant that is found in most energy drinks, and stimulating products and it works by inhibiting your brain’s adenosine receptors. Adenosine is a byproduct of your brain’s neural communications and once it binds to your brain’s receptors – it makes you feel sleepy.

Caffeine has a similar structure to adenosine, and in doing so can take the place of it in your brain. The benefit of this being that the byproduct that makes you fatigued and sleepy – can no longer bind to your brain.

This makes it great for alertness, focus, working memory and even physical performance and fitness competitions.

However, to get the best results you should always stack it with another nootropic. Caffeine alone can deplete your alpha brain waves, B Vitamins and even causes energy crashes which can affect your cognition once the effects have worn off – especially after all that left out adenosine can finally get back in.

Ideally, combining caffeine with some L-Theanine and B Vitamins such as B6, B9 and B12 – you can greatly increase the overall effect of this stimulant and reduce the brain fog.

In short, when used correctly caffeine can help improve (in the short term):

  • Energy
  • Focus
  • Improves Memory
  • Physical Performance
  • Alertness

But may cause side effects when not balanced with other nootropics, like L-Theanine and Vitamin B. Ideally, you want to be using natural caffeine for the best effects and avoiding impure synthetic versions that you would get in the traditional energy drinks.

7. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is a Scandinavian herb which gets a lot of praise in the nootropic community. It can offer wide support when it comes to supporting and stimulating neurotransmitters which are critical to your overall cognition such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine.

There’s also some though that it may even help to improve the overall transport of these neurotransmitters across your blood-brain barrier. Which can definitely help improve your overall cognition.

It also may hold some benefit when it comes to age-related cognitive decline, mainly because Rhodiola Rosea has antioxidant properties and acetylcholine-protective properties to help brain function.

Another good benefit from Rhodiola Rosea is it’s ability to help fight stress. This herb can help reduce the release of the stress hormone cortisol which can help you feel less stressed and more energized, which can contribute to your overall feeling of well-being.

These effects can last up to 6 hours and are good for giving you that mood boost.

Breaking it all down, here’s how Rhodiola Rosea may be able to help you:

  • Reduce Mental Stress
  • Brain Energy
  • Calmness
  • Improved Mood
  • Enhanced Learning and Memory
  • Attention Span
  • Cognitive Performance and Mental Agility

To make sure you get the most out of Rhodiola Rosea, ensure that it contains rosavins and salidrosides, which provide a lot of the benefits here. Most have 3% rosavins and 1% salidrosides – which doesn’t sound like much, but it makes all the difference.

8. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba as a nootropic

Ginkgo Biloba is a nootropic that you see more and more in stacks aimed at fighting cognitive decline. A lot of this is due to two compounds in the herb which are glycosides and terpenes.

The reason these compounds help is because they can help improve your overall blood flow and circulation, which means there is more flow of oxygen, glucose and nutrients to your brain.

It’s also been gaining momentum among the elderly, with some research suggesting that Ginkgo Biloba may help to some extent with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

A handful of studies have shown that Ginkgo Biloba has helped reduce the overall rate of cognitive decline in dementia patients – however, it should be noted that not all studies have been able to replicated these results.

In the long-term however, continued use of Ginkgo Biloba would increase the overall blood flow to your brain which could help with brain health – and that’s never a bad thing.

It’s a good supportive nootropic to our list – but it should always be stacked with something if you want more noticeable effects.

Here’s a quick rundown of what you could experience with a Ginkgo Biloba:

  • Better brain blood flow
  • Reduced Anxiety
  • Decrease in Cognitive Decline

It’s not a big deal if this isn’t in your stack, but it could lend a helping hand if you’re looking for extra blood flow to your brain.

9. Vitamin B6, B9 and B12

Believe it or not, getting ample amounts of Vitamin B6, B9 and B12 can be key to your nootropics experience. This is down to how they effect homocysteine metabolism.

B6, B12 and B12 can help regulate your levels of homocysteine. When you homocysteine levels are high, and your Vitamin B levels are low, you get an increased risk in brain generation, mood imbalance, decline in cognition and even potential for cerebrovacsular issues.

Keeping your Vitamin B levels high can help balance your homocysteine and even boost your overall mental performance. It helps reduce your levels of homocysteine which allows your brain to perform better chemical synthesis and brain blood flow. This may lead to boosts in areas such as:

  • Mental Energy
  • Memory
  • Long-Term Brain Health
  • Mood Balance

Vitamin Bs are just good to have in general. They have numerous other benefits too such as improving your levels of monoamines, brain chemical conversion, brain energy metabolism, supporting the mood balancing brain protector S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAMe) and even myelin production, which is the protective sheath around your brain.

10. N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine (NALT)

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid that is big in the nootropic world. This compound can help synthesize catecholamine neurotransmitters such as dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.

As you’ll know by now, this trio can help your mood, memory and overall mental agility.

One of the areas that L-Tyrosine works well for is stress resistance in the brain. When you’re in a high pressure environment like work, where you need to think fast and hard, it can be very demanding on the neurotransmitters that we’ve just mentioned. By helping with the synthesis of these neurotransmitters, L-Tyrosine can help manage that stress and lighten the load.

This has even been seen to be the case on some clinical trials with L-Tyrosine, it can help manage the stress. In human testing, L-Tyrosine has been seen to help working memory and mental performance when under intense multitasking conditions. This included being under high stress, and sleep deprived fatigue.

There’s also some though that this amino acid nootropic can help with the overall optimization of focus and attention.

Here’s our rundown of why we feel L-Tyrosine is good for a nootropic stack, with it’s potential to support:

  • Mental Stress Resistance
  • Memory
  • Multitasking
  • Focus
  • Attention

It’s a great one to have in the workplace when you have a lot to cover for that day and you don’t want to burnout. You also want to ensure you’re getting N-Acetly-L-Tyrosine not just standard L-Tyrosine. NALT is far easier for your body to absorb and more bioavailable from it’s non-N-acetyl counterpart.

11. Phosphatidylserine (PS)

Phosphatidylserine is a must-have to any nootropic stack that’ll take you to the next level. It’s phospholipid compound which already makes up 15% of the fats in your brain.

Phosphatidylserine is primarily located in your brain cell membranes. In your brain it can help optimize the neurotransmitters dopamine and acetylcholine. While also helping to maintain your brain’s fluidity and support your receptors.

It even has the ability to enhance your glucose metabolism, which in turn boosts your brain cell energy production (mitochondria).

Another added benefit is that it can contribute to nerve growth factor which helps with brain cell creation, repair and general maintenance. Finally, another one of the main functions of phosphatidylserine is that it can help your immune cells to remove damaged brain cells without affecting your still healthy cells.

In terms of what it can do for you regarding the nootropic experience, you may experience a sharper memory, better mood and a slower decline of cognition. Some research shows that elderly subjects with brain degradation have their memory loss slowed when using phosphatidylserine, as well as a boost in mood, mental clarity and even less anxiety.

Using it may help improve your:

  • Memory
  • Mood
  • Brain Health
  • Brain Energy
  • Fight with Declining Cognition

Unlike other brain supplements, Phosphatidylserine is the only natural nootropic that has an FDA qualified claim for helping with risks of reductions in cognition with age.

Memory Nootropics

The Best Nootropics Summary: Improve memory, focus, cognitive function and brain health

We hope this article has cleared up a few things when it comes to the world of nootropics.

As we’ve said, we believe the best option for focus, memory, learning and just overall cognition, has got to be Mind Lab Pro. It has a majority of the best options on the market when it comes to nootropics and is incredibly easy to take.

That said, if you decide to make your own stack, just be wary of how much caffeine you’re using – and always be sure to balance it out with some L-Theanine and Vitamin B to make sure you don’t run into any depletion of catecholamines.

To find out more information, you should check out the Mind Lab Pro website, to see if this is the nootropic for you: