Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. Please consult with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.
Most people are aware of supplements used for sports performance or addressing specific health issues, but many people don’t know there is an entire class of supplements designed to improve your mental performance. These supplements are called nootropics. Anyone who listens to Joe Rogan’s podcast or reads various entrepreneur forums has probably heard about them. In this post I’m going to cover the basics of what nootropics are and why you might be interested in them.
What Are Nootropics?
The term nootropic was coined by Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian psychologist and chemist, in 1972. Giurgea first synthesized Piracetam in 1964, which is one of the most popular nootropics to this day. According to Giurgea, for a supplement to be classified as a nootropic it must possess the following qualities:
- Enhance learning and memory
- Enhance the resistance of learned behaviors/ memories to conditions that tend to disrupt them
- Protect the brain against various physical or chemical injuries
- Increase the efficacy of the tonic cortical/ subcortical control mechanisms
- They should lack the usual pharmacology of other psychotropic drugs (sedation or motor stimulation) and possess very few side effects and extremely low toxicity
The most common benefits reported are increases in focus, memory retention, memory recall, and decreases in anxiety and stress.
The term nootropic is used more loosely today to include drugs such as caffeine, adderall and modafinil. It’s important to look at the individual compounds instead of looking at nootropics in general when deciding which ones you might benefit from.
How do Nootropics Work?
Nootropics aren’t miracle pills like some marketers might want you to believe. They won’t instantly improve your intelligence or give you magic powers.
However, they will boost your brain’s performance and therefore increase your ability to learn. It is believed that some nootropics offer health benefits with long-term use, but for the most part the noticeable benefits will go away when you stop taking the supplements. The benefits are noticeable though, unlike other supplements where many complain that they don’t “feel” anything.
Our brains are comprised of networks of neurons that connect through synapses. Communication between these neurons is made possible through chemicals called neurotransmitters. Nootropics benefit the brain by increasing the production of various neurotransmitters.
More neurotransmitters = better memory, mood elevation, improved concentration, and improved mental performance over longer spans.
Some nootropics benefit the brain by improving blood flow to the brain, which increases the supply of oxygen, nutrients and glucose for the brain to use. These nootropics immediately boost memory capacity and the ability to focus.
There are nootropics that are believed to have anti-aging qualities as well. This is accomplished by increasing the production of brain cells and slowing the destruction of brain cells, which can decrease the effects of aging on memory over time.
Are Nootropics Safe?
So far this all probably sounds too good to be true, right? That’s what I thought when I first stumbled upon nootropics several years ago.
I’m hesitant to label nootropics as safe because they have not been studied as much as other drugs such as aspirin or alcohol. However, the general consensus seems to be that for most people using nootropics in moderate amounts there seems to be little downside.
With all the various nootropics I’ve personally experimented with I have only experienced a light headache as a noticeable negative side effect. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t experience something worse so please consult with your doctor first.
Always apply the ‘less is more’ principle with nootropics. You should use the minimum recommended dosage and increase it as needed to get the desired effect. Once you reach a point that increasing the dose doesn’t improve the desired effect then stop increasing the dose. Twice the dose won’t always mean twice the benefits. The idea is to find the minimum dose that works for you and stick with that.
I rarely have to use much more than the recommended starting dose to see the benefit from most nootropics. In the cases where I use more, I have never even come close to the maximum recommended doses. Again, I’m not telling you what to do, but I’m just showing what my experience has been.
I know most people won’t actually go talk to their doctor before taking nootropics, so you should at least do your research. Check out the forum Longecity and the nootropic subreddit to get detailed answers to any questions you may have.
Where to Buy Nootropics?
The best way to buy nootropics is in bulk powder form. This is the cheapest way to buy them and allows you to experiment with different dosages until you find what you like.
You need to be careful where you get your nootropics from because quality control is a big problem with many sources. I buy all my nootropic powders in bulk from Powder City. So far I haven’t had any issues with them. They back their products with third party lab tests and ship orders promptly. I usually get my order within a few days and so far there haven’t been any errors.
There are other reputable sources, but I can’t recommend them because I haven’t used them firsthand. Just do your research before using a different source because you don’t want to get ripped off.
I have a lot more to write about the topic of nootropics, but I wanted to get this basic introduction out of the way. From my experience, nootropics have been some of the most effective supplements I’ve ever used. I truly believe that many people could benefit from them because our mental performance is crucial in all areas of life. What else would you like to know about nootropics? Let me know in the comments.
Until Next Time,
What do you think? Do you agree, disagree or have any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments below.
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