You may have heard about executives or elite athletes using nootropic supplements to enhance their performance. Or perhaps you had a classmate in college who used them during exams. But what are they exactly? What's a nootropic "stack?" And, if you decide this kind of supplementation is for you, how would you build the best nootropic stack for your needs?
The daily stresses of life run our bodies down. Sometimes we can't be as productive as we would like to be. Nootropics help with concentration so we can focus longer, beat fatigue and brain fog, and work faster and more creatively. However, to reap the benefits of these supplements a healthy lifestyle is imperative. Nootropics aren't a cure for binge drinking, sleepless nights, or overexertion. And there are still a lot of questions about their safety, legality, and effectiveness.
Frequently Asked Questions
It's important to research anything you plan to ingest, especially if it alters the way your mind or body works. When it comes to building the best nootropic stack for your needs, there are some very specific considerations.
What's the difference between nootropics and smart drugs?
Simply put, smart drugs are medications prescribed to treat a cognitive deficiency. Nootropics are naturally occurring cognitive enhancers that people use to boost performance in the absence of a medical condition. Although many believe that you can use nootropics safely, they do have side effects and may interact with medications that you're already taking. Moreover, you should never take prescription drugs that have not been prescribed to you by a doctor.
Do I need a doctor's approval to use nootropics?
The FDA classifies some cognitive-enhancing substances as drugs. For these, you will need a doctor's prescription. The FDA classifies others as supplements, which means that no prescription is necessary. Either way, it's important to have a candid talk with your physician about any supplement or medication you plan to take.
Just because you can buy something without a prescription doesn't mean it's safe for everyone under all circumstances. Many nootropic supplements have side effects. And there's always the possibility that any supplement may have a negative interaction with other medications you may be taking.
Are they illegal substances?
That depends on a lot of things. There is no one set of worldwide laws governing "nootropics." But that doesn't mean that no one regulates them. You have to consider each substance individually, because your country may classify each one differently. You also have to look at the laws where you are. What's legal in the United States may be restricted in Canada or Europe, and vice versa.
Is there an age limit for buying nootropics?
There is no age limit restriction in many places, although people under 21 should never take any drug unless prescribed by a physician. Young people without medical concerns should be able to boost their cognitive skills through natural methods like meditation, exercise, and a healthy diet.
Parents who are considering giving their children nootropics should always consult a physician first.
What Makes the Best Nootropic Stack?
So you've researched the laws in your area, and your doctor has given you the green light. How do you build the best nootropic stack? There are quite a number of brands and each promises high-quality products. But how do you know whom to believe?
Here are four metrics we used to review each of the nootropic stacks we have featured below. These brands continually perform exceptionally in these metrics making them the favored options on the market.
Each of the brands we featured has a credible quality assurance footprint. This shows the quality of the products from their raw form to the purification and testing process before they go into the end product.
The best nootropic stack should have a USDA certified organic label. This will prove that the products are naturally organic without traces of herbicides or insecticides. Certification from the Banned Substances Control Group will testify to the purity of the supplement. All the brands we have reviewed have either sourced their raw products directly from the farm or via trusted distributors.
The brands we have reviewed are readily available on the market and have had a consistent market presence for years.
Clinical trials, testing, and consumer reviews
All our reviewed products have undergone independent product testing or clinical trials. Such testing includes contaminant testing and testing the measurements of the declared dietary ingredients. We also relied on consumer reviews as they are honest opinions of end users. We looked for products that gave clients value for their money and the best results.
The stacks we have reviewed contain ingredients that work together effectively and efficiently and also come in the best form for optimum absorption whether as a tablet, drink or a capsule. Professionals and ordinary people alike have test them looking to enhance their cognitive performances and they have scored highly on both fronts.
Overall Price Range of a Nootropic Stack
The price range for all these products is between $15 and $220. Ingredients and the quantity make the difference in the pricing: The better the quality and scientific research behind the ingredients the higher the price range.
The Best Nootropic Stacks of 2018
Here are our top contenders for the best nootropic stack, presented in no specific order.
Where to Buy
Mind Lab Pro is arguably the best nootropic stack on the market today. Each of the supplements included in it is backed by research and proven to work exceptionally in cognitive enhancement. Some of those benefits include memory, focus, aging, and creativity. Certain controversial additives are not present in this stack, including gluten, soy, and caffeine. Active ingredients include:
The ingredients are all sourced from organic raw products. The parent company of Mind Lab Pro, Opti-nutra, has purposely declined to sell this product on Amazon because they do not want it to lack authenticity. It is only available for purchase from the official Mind Lab Pro website.
Some of the pros of this product are that it is safe and works incrementally. It works this way because it doesn't have caffeine which other nootropic stacks use for a kick. Unfortunately, there are still side effects like dizziness and nausea experienced by some users. It is also expensive.
Mind Pro Lab's best nootropic stack costs between $65 and $195, depending on the supply you buy.
When tested against Mind Lab Pro, Qualia performs even better because of the 42 ingredients in the stack. In fact, some users have pegged it to be the best nootropic stack of 2018 but we'll let you decide for yourself. Testing and clinical trials are available on the website as well as all the information pertaining to the ingredients used.
Created by nootropics firm, NeuroHacker, Qualia is actually a system with two separate stacks. You take one an empty stomach and the other after a meal. The cognitive effects including anxiety relief, increased attention, focus, and memory last throughout the day. You begin to feel them within 15 minutes of taking the first stack. It is available on Neurohacker.com. The ingredients include:
The advantage of the two-prong approach is that it ensures the effects begin to set in faster. Additional pros include the ability of the stack to target numerous cognitive areas due to the various ingredients used and the use of high-quality ingredients. However, the number of ingredients is also its major con because with so many ingredients it is hard to recognize which one doesn't work for you. It is also expensive and there are quite a number of pills to swallow.
The price ranges between $99 to $149 depending on the supply you buy.
This is a sleep formula nootropic stack from Alternascript. Some animal research has pointed to the effectiveness of the ingredients in this product. You can learn more about the ingredients at the company's website.
While some people would refer to this melatonin formulation as a sleeping aid, it goes far beyond that. The fact that it uses nootropics means that it impacts cognitive indicators so, the company claims, you wake up feeling refreshed, energized and mentally alert. Its benefits also include lessened stress, anxiety and mood enhancement. The laboratory used in preparing this stack is GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) certified. You can buy it on alternascript.com. Some of the ingredients include:
Rest Up's advantages include its ability to induce sleep very naturally providing deep restorative sleep and the lack of side effects upon waking up. The shortcoming is that they do not provide the exact amount of every ingredient in their formula and it is an expensive option.
The price range for this product is between $79 to $129 depending on the supply you buy.
Optimind is another nootropic stack from Alternascript. It gained wide popularity for its ability to energize and help with focus as well as improve memory and attention. It contains caffeine so you will feel a smooth boost of energy a few minutes after you take it.
This is a great starter nootropic stack because it does not overwhelm you. Unlike Mind Lab Pro and Qualia which are excellent for people already used to the effects of nootropics, Optimind gently transforms your cognitive senses allowing you to ease into a more alert state. It can is available on alternascript.com.
It is the ideal stack for those experimenting with nootropics for the first time or those trying something gentler. Made in a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certified lab the ingredients are high quality including:
A major pro that elevates Optimind to the best nootropic stack is its mild and gentle effect. It is also affordable compared to competitors in the same category. The cons are that it also does not provide the exact measurements of the ingredients used in the formula and it has caffeine which can interfere with your sleep.
The price ranges between $43 to $89.31 depending on the supply you buy.
Elite athletes or workout enthusiasts who are looking for something to help with endurance may find Focus Mode to be the best nootropic stack for their needs. It works quite well when taken in the morning. Avoid taking it in the evening because it contains guarana seed extract which is high in caffeine.
This product from EVLUTION helps your brain concentrate and your body perform by increasing your focus, energy, and attention. The company offers primarily athlete oriented products but with this stack, they have bridged the gap between brain and brawn. You can buy it on bodybuidling.com.
Athletes geared products are notorious for hiding their ingredients but EVLUTION are transparent about what you will find in this nootropic stack including:
This product's biggest pro is that it's aimed at both physical and mental functions. For example, during a workout, the mind focuses on the task at hand as the body's ability to endure the strain of the workout increases. Part of the effectiveness, according to the company, comes from high-quality ingredients. The con lies in one specific ingredient: the guarana seed extract. It contains a lot of caffeine which can have side effects.
The price ranges between $15 to $29.99 depending on the supply you buy.
Our next choice for the best nootropic stack comes from Onnit and is a favorite among professional athletes as well as CEOs and elite performers. One small study shows this product's promise for enhancing cognitive abilities like focus, memory, attention, and speed. It is important to note that some of the ingredients used are less well-researched as those in Mind Lab Pro or Qualia. This, however, has not lessened its popularity.
According to the company, this product should show results within the first week of taking it. They recommend taking it after a light meal. It is available on Onnit.com.
Alpha Brain has been certified to be drug-free by the Banned Substances Control Group. It also has undergone clinical trials and the results shown on the Onnit website. It is gluten and caffeine free and includes ingredients like:
Pros of this product include Its gluten free and caffeine free formulation and its quick effect once taken. It has a straightforward formula to enhance cognitive performance which gives users the confidence that they are not ingesting more than they really need. On the flip side, it uses less researched ingredients which may have side effects on consumers.
The price range is between $29.71 to $67.96 depending on the supply you buy.
CLITEP aims at improving memory and focus. It claims to help you work faster and improve your concentration in addition to boosting your mood. Developed by Natural Stacks, it's backed by reviews from various users who say it may be the best nootropic stack.
Natural Stacks say that they have partnered with medical providers worldwide (though specific information about their partners is not available). They are, however, happy to give back a full refund within the first 30 days if you find their product doesn’t work for you. It i on naturalstacks.com. Some of the ingredients include
The first pro is the full money back guarantee that this product comes with. Additional pros include its use of high-quality ingredients and its ability to naturally allow the body to ease into heightened cognitive performance. However, it can cause sleeplessness when taken too late in the day. Another major con is that the number of capsules only last 20 days, fewer days than other nootropic stacks on this list.
The price range for this product is between $43 to $216 depending on the supply you buy.
Qualia Mind is an improvement on the original Qualia stack. NeuroHackers took all the feedback from users of the original Qualia and improved on the product ending up with Qualia Mind which comes with a 100-day money back guarantee.
Qualia Mind is easier to take because there are fewer pills. Basically, the two-step process of the original Qualia iscondensed into one stack in Qualia Mind. The target areas include focus, motivation, reasoning, and memory. This stack has 22 ingredients which include nootropic compounds, neuro vitamins, anti-oxidants, Adaptogen extract, and amino acids.
This product has several pros including a marked improvement in nutrient absorption compared to the original Qualia. There are also fewer pills to take which is convenient. Despite the improvement, there are Incidences of minor side effects.
The price range for this product is between $89 to $119 depending on the supply you buy.
Nootrobox is another popular nootropic in the league of Mind lab Pro and other premium offerings. It is also known as HVMN.
HVMN combines four separate stacks as part as a nootropic system (much like Qualia original) and you can take one of the four capsules as you need or all. The four specific stacks are Rise, Yawn, Sprint and KADO-4. They are available for purchase on hvmn.com
The stacks offer you quick results especially with Sprint, KADO-4 and Rise as a combination. Yawn is a bit more understated regarding its effects perhaps because it is more of a sleep nootropic stack. Rise wakes you up, Sprint motivates you and gets you more productive and KADo-4 gives you a kick when your energy starts to wane.
Each in its own right can stand alone to be the best nootropic stack for specific needs. They combine to enhance focus, attention, mental endurance and concentration using ingredients such as:
The main pro for this product is the ability of the four capsules to work perfectly in tandem or separately to give great results. The drawback is that it has a higher dosage than most of the nootropic stacks we reviewed. It can also be inconvenient to take different capsules instead of just one for everything.
The price range is between $53.95 to $59.95 depending on the supply you are buying.
TruBrain has nootropic stacks for athletics and cognitive enhancement. It's not cheap, but you can sign up for a trial before committing to buy. Their products come in drink and capsule form. Two Neuroscience PhDs founded the company. The product has gotten quite a bit of press from places like Shark Tank, Bloomberg and Buzzfeed. You can purchase their products at TruBrain.com.
The active ingredients include:
TruBrain's biggest pro is the sample trials for all customers. The option of choosing it as a drink or a capsule is another advantage. Unfortunately, it is expensive.
The price range for this nootropic stack is between $49 to $85 depending on which supply you buy.
The Best Nootropic Stack For You
So you have decided that you want to give nootropics a try. But which is the best nootropic stack? It's a tough call to make. I appreciate the value of all these products but I find the Qualia Mind quite impressive. It's the most advanced and complex stack on the market today, and while it may be expensive it is worth buying.
Do you have a favorite nootropic stack that we missed? Or have you had experience with any of these? Let us know in the comments!