True or False: Nootropics Make You Smarter

Let’s take a dive into the science behind nootropics, and evaluate exactly how they can boost your cognitive performance. 

Have you ever had a task that you really needed to complete, but no matter how hard you tried to focus, you just couldn’t get your brain to cooperate and concentrate well enough to get it done? 

You aren’t alone. In a world where we’re constantly juggling multiple things at once and putting a ton of focus on productivity, many of us tend to experience “brain fog” every once in a while: a frustrating phenomenon where we just can’t seem to think clearly no matter how much coffee we drink.  

On the days that we’re feeling a little fuzzy, it’s easy to become frustrated that we aren’t able to perform at our max potential, while the days that we are on our A-game have us feeling smarter and on top of the world. 

It may leave you wondering how you can start feeling that smart every single day.  

One potential solution to give your computing power an edge may lie in nootropics. This “brain hacking” method involves taking supplements that are meant to give your brain a boost. 

But it begs the question: does popping a “smart pill” actually make you smarter?  

Let’s take a dive into the science behind nootropics, and evaluate exactly how they can boost your cognitive performance. 


What are Nootropics, Anyway? 

Nootropics are a broad range of supplements that are intended to enhance your brain function. This can work in a variety of ways, but they are best known for supporting your memory, creativity, ability to focus, and have even been found to be good for boosting your motivation levels. (1) 

Nootropics can be either natural or synthetic compounds, and many of these compounds are nutrients that you may already be getting from your diet. In fact, many nootropic supplements are made of vitamins, minerals, and other key nutrients that are important for brain function but that you may not be getting from your food alone. 

Remember, proper nutrition is key for many of your bodily functions, including brainpower, so nootropic supplementations can oftentimes bridge the gap, providing the nutrients you need for optimum brain function! 

Will Taking Nootropics Make Me Smarter? 

Because they’re often touted as “smart pills,” there is some confusion as to whether including nootropics in your supplementation routine can actually make you smarter.  

The answer? Not exactly. 

Remember, nootropics are meant to enhance your cognitive performance – they aren’t “magic pills” that you can take and instantly superpower your intellect.

However, what nootropics can do is increase your cognitive function and keep you at that A-game level that you experience on your best days. This is great news for anyone who feels like they are constantly encountering brain fog. Being able to maximize your existing brainpower can certainly translate to improved performance throughout the day.

They can also help to manage your response to stress, which can certainly get in the way of your ability to think clearly. 

Take ginseng, for example. This adaptogen, which can be found in our supplement Daily Adrenal, is a natural herb that has been found to improve memory, energy, and other cognitive functions (2).  It might not necessarily result in making you smarter, but it’s a natural way to get your brain firing on all cylinders and maximizing its potential to work! 

So no, nootropics won’t necessarily give you the super-cognition you might see in the movies, but they can absolutely work for maximizing your cognitive potential. 


How To Stay Sharp And Maximize Your Cognitive Performance With Nootropics 

These supplements and nutrients have been shown to enhance your brain function when taken regularly. 

Omega-3s 

Omega-3 fatty acids are well-known for their importance in supporting inflammatory reactions, and it turns out that they are also incredibly important for maintaining your brain health as well. 

Because the majority of your brain is made up of fatty tissue, it’s been shown that getting an adequate amount of the dietary omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are especially important for nourishing your brain (3). 

The best dietary source for EPA and DHA would be fatty, oily fish. If you find that fish is either rarely or never on the menu, taking an omega-3 supplement is a way to bridge that gap. BalanceGenics Krill Oil is not only a great source of omega-3s that is shown to be more absorbable than fish oil, it also includes the antioxidant, astaxanthin, which contributes to supporting a healthy inflammatory response.

L-Theanine 

The power of a good night’s sleep can’t be underestimated on the quest to maximize your brain function. High-quality sleep can help reduce your stress hormones and regulate your circadian rhythm, leaving you well-rested and ready to take on the next day. Taking a natural sleeping aid could be an option for you if you have trouble turning your brain off at night to sleep.

BalanceGenics Natural Sleep supplement is formulated with natural ingredients that help your body and mind relax at nighttime. One of these ingredients is L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to significantly boost brain activity, improving both mental alertness and attention span (4).

Ubiquinol 

One potential reason that we may not be operating at the top of our game cognition-wise might be due to oxidative stress. Over time and especially with aging, the stress on our brain cells from the impact of free radicals can lead to a decline in our cognitive function.  

Ubiquinol, which is the active form of the enzyme Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), is a powerful antioxidant that can help neutralize free radicals to support our central nervous system during oxidative stress. Ubiquinol also plays a role in helping our cells generate energy, which is essential when trying to maximize your brainpower! (5) 

Other tips for staying sharp: 

  • Stick to a healthy, balanced diet. The right nutrition is important for all aspects of your health, mental health included. Eating well can keep you at a healthy weight level to help support inflammatory reactions that could affect your brainpower, and nootropic-rich diets have even been shown to slow down the aging process of the brain! (6) Make sure you’re getting plenty of vitamins and minerals by including plenty of fruits, vegetables, and nuts in your regular eating plan. 
  • Manage your stress. The daily stresses of work and life can really take a toll on your mental capacity: not only does it take energy away from concentration and focus, but it can also have an effect on your brain tissues and may even completely “rewire” your brain in the long run! (7) To gain control over the more stressful parts of your to-do list, make sure to get a good night’s sleep, ask for help to lessen your load if needed, and incorporate some healthy coping mechanisms like exercise or and meditation.  
  • Exercise your brain often. Your brain is a muscle just like any other in your body – it needs to be regularly exercised in order to stay strong. Try reading more, doing puzzles, or learning new skills regularly to keep your wits sharp! 

Key Brain Health Takeaways 

Our brain is one of the most important muscles in our body. It dictates everything from our work performance to the mechanisms of our beating heart and everything in between, so it’s important that we keep it primed with the right nutrients to function at its best. 

They may not make you “smarter,” but nootropics can certainly bridge any gaps you may have in your brain performance and maximize its potential so that you can use it to its fullest. 

Quick Disclaimer‍

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. Readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither the author(s) nor the publisher of this content take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All readers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

Sources

  1. Suliman, Noor Azuin et al. “Establishing Natural Nootropics: Recent Molecular Enhancement Influenced by Natural Nootropic.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2016 (2016): 4391375. doi:10.1155/2016/4391375


  1. Oliynyk, Sergiy, and Seikwan Oh. “Actoprotective effect of ginseng: improving mental and physical performance.” Journal of ginseng research vol. 37,2 (2013): 144-66. doi:10.5142/jgr.2013.37.144


  1. Kidd PM. Omega-3 DHA and EPA for cognition, behavior, and mood: clinical findings and structural-functional synergies with cell membrane phospholipids. Altern Med Rev. 2007 Sep;12(3):207-27. PMID: 18072818.


  1. Nobre AC, Rao A, Owen GN. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8. PMID: 18296328.


  1. Stough, Con et al. “CoQ10 and Cognition a Review and Study Protocol for a 90-Day Randomized Controlled Trial Investigating the Cognitive Effects of Ubiquinol in the Healthy Elderly.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience vol. 11 103. 29 May. 2019, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2019.00103


  1. Onaolapo, Adejoke Yetunde et al. “Brain Ageing, Cognition and Diet: A Review of the Emerging Roles of Food-Based Nootropics in Mitigating Age-related Memory Decline.” Current aging science vol. 12,1 (2019): 2-14.doi:10.2174/1874609812666190311160754

  1. Harvard Health Publishing. Protect Your Brain From Stress. (2018).


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