Today's best brain supplements boost brainpower and enhance brain health.
Memory, attention, concentration, mental energy, stress resistance: The most effective brain supplements of 2020 (also called nootropics) can help you to perform better in many different ways.
But today's performance-driven biohackers want more. They want supplements that are backed by abundant research, can propel you to peak performance without crashing afterwards, and stack together to produce even greater results -- all while supporting brain health.
Some of today's top brain supplements that meet these criteria are:
- Citicoline - 2-in-1 nootropic shown in research to boost brain energy by 13.6% and neural regeneration by 26%1
- Phosphatidylserine - Supports neuron cell membrane fluidity and brain energy; most evidence-backed nootropic for memory2
- L-Tyrosine - Master precursor to multiple performance-oriented brain chemicals; enhances cognition under stress3
- Maritime Pine Bark Extract - Supplies a protective antioxidant complex that is 50X stronger than vitamin C4
- Caffeine - Classic nootropic boosts alertness, mood, concentration, working memory, mental revitalization5
- L-Theanine - Enhances caffeine stimulation; raises Alpha brainwaves to promote attention and “wakeful relaxation”6
- MCT - Raises levels of ketones, which serve as a fast-acting alternative fuel source for powering cognitive energy7
- PQQ - Cell powerhouse mitochondria booster shown to support brain health and memory, attention span8
- ALCAR - Funnels fatty acids (fuel) into mitochondria, regulates cell-to-cell signaling plus neuroprotective bioactivities9
This guide explains why this list of nootropics are leading the way in 2020, as well as discussing some of the specific nutrients forms that work better at boosting brainpower.
We conclude with the single most effective brain supplement and add-on supplements that supply all of these nootropic ingredients and may be stacked together for a massive brainpower boost.
- See the Best Nootropic Brain Supplement of 2020 -
How do Brain Supplements Work?
There’s not a single nootropic that can handle all of our cognitive demands. This is why we stack multiple nootropics to boost more areas of mental health and performance.
The most effective brain supplements and stacks will optimize a wide range of bioactivities to meet complex cognitive needs. Some of the key bio-benefits promoted by nootropic supplements include:
As the most energy-demanding organ, the brain requires more energy support for peak performance and long-range health than other organs.
Some nootropics help keep the cognitive cogwheels turning by promoting and protecting mitochondria activity, ensuring that the brain’s ATP energy-producing organelles are well-fueled and smoothly operating.
Brain Chemical Optimization
Neurons send each other informational messages via electric transmission. Neurotransmitters, also known as brain chemicals, facilitate this cell-to-cell communication.
Nootropics can optimize neurotransmitters in many ways, from providing precursor material for increased neurotransmitter synthesis to sharpening cells' neurotransmitter receptor sensitivity.
The brain needs oxygen and food fuel to function. Bad cerebral circulation harms both cognitive performance and long-range health.
Supplements that boost cerebral blood flow help nourish and oxygenate the brain for energized high-level cognitive performance.
Brainwaves refer to the electrical frequency of neurotransmissions occurring at any given moment. Some nootropics can modulate brainwaves. Brainwave frequencies are:
- Gamma Brainwaves, 38-40 Hz
- Beta Brainwaves, 12-38 Hz
- Alpha Brainwaves, 8-12 Hz
- Theta Brainwaves, 3-8 Hz
- Delta Brainwaves, 0.5-3 Hz
Alpha brainwave-boosting nootropics put you “in the zone,” where you’re mentally keyed in yet also relaxed enough to let new ideas and associations flow right through your creative process.
Free radicals, amyloid plaque, homocysteine—there are plenty of neurotoxins to list that may seriously impact brain health and cognitive performance over time.
Neuroprotective nootropics help to fight neurotoxins. In doing so, they support cognition and health, as well as strengthening memory and mental sharpness against age-related decline.
Nootropic supplements can optimize the activity of growth factors associated with neuronal repair, growth, and development, including nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
In addition, some nootropics can provide raw materials for new brain cell formation as well as promoting brain energy production for the power-intensive task of neurogenesis.
Let's take a closer look at today's leading nootropics that deliver all these cognition-sharpening, brain-healthy bioactivities.
Top Nootropic Ingredients in Brain Supplements
Citicoline (CDP Choline)
Citicoline may be the ultimate 2-in-1 cognitive enhancer for improved mental energy, attention, memory and even long-range brain health.
As part of a class of nootropics called cholinergics, citicoline is somewhat of a 2-in-1 nootropic due to its structural bond between two bio-active cognitive enhancing compounds:
- Choline: Building block for neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine (ACh), associated with memory and learning; and phosphatidylcholine, a phospholipid that helps build the cell’s bilayer membrane.
- Cytidine: this compound is what makes citicoline stand out; it is a precursor to uridine, a nootropic that seems to improve ATP energy levels and synaptic plasticity
The combined bioactivities of choline, a precursor to ACh, and cytidine, a precursor to uridine, make citicoline a powerhouse cognitive enhancer—perhaps the most effective nootropic overall.
Best form of Citicoline to look for: Cognizin®. Patented, allergen-free and water-soluble form of citicoline, Cognizin® has been shown to be safe and effective in several well-designed human clinical trials.
The Cognizin® form of citicoline has been clinically shown to:
- Increase brain energy by 13.6% and neural cell membrane turnover (repair, rejuvenation and replacement) by 26%.10 Researchers have suggested that this dual-activity of Cognizin® may help to boost brain energy and raise levels of phospholipid membrane "raw materials" that are required needed to form, maintain and optimize cell membranes.11
- Improve cognitive performance and attentional performance. In this study, researchers concluded that 28 days of supplementation with Cognizin® may enhance cognitive function and attentional performance. Researchers further suggested Cognizin® may help with central nervous system-related attention problems.12
Most concentrated in the brain, PS is a phospholipid (healthy fat) required for the creation and healthy function of neuron membranes.
When taken as a nootropic supplement, PS seems to improve mental performance by optimizing the following bio-pathways:
- Neuroregeneration: May promote nerve growth factor (NGF).13
- Neurotransmissions: Helps transmission of neurotransmitters acetylcholine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and more.14
- Brain Energy Metabolism: Shown to boost glucose metabolism 20.3% in the basal ganglia/thalamus and 19.3% in the visual cortex.15
PS has been suggested to help with many different aspects of cognition, including mood, concentration, problem solving, language, focus, attention and more.However, PS is most known as the greatest research-backed memory-boosting nootropic.
Researchers have suggested that PS may help with:16
- Formation of short-term memory
- Consolidation of long-term memory
- Ability to create new memories
- Ability to retrieve memories
Best form to look for: Sharp-PS® Green. Many supplements supply soy-derived PS. Sharp-PS® instead sources their PS from sunflower—a clean, eco-friendly and superior-quality form.
Usage Tip: PS is a fat-soluble nootropic compound. Take PS with a healthy fat like MCT oil (which is another great nootropic) to enhance its absorption and maximize its benefits.
L-Tyrosine is a fast-acting nootropic associated with enhanced mood, concentration and cognitive performance during stress and fatigue.
Our ability to concentrate, to remain focused on the task at hand in the face of environmental distractions, is dependent on our catecholamine neurotransmitters—e.g., norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine.
Under conditions of high stress, intense cognitive output, sleep deprivation and multitasking, the brain burns through catecholamines faster. This may lead to cognitive fog, inattention, and mental burnout.
L-Tyrosine is a precursor used to synthesize catecholamines.
As a nootropic, L-tyrosine is used to promote sharper focus and attention, mood and motivation, in the face of potential catecholamine burnout.
Research has shown L-tyrosine to promote and protect cognitive performance under the following distracting, high-stress conditions:
- Loud Noise Exposure: Tyrosine improved cognitive performance on tasks while subjects were exposed to loud (90 dB) noises.17
- Multitasking: Tyrosine improved working memory performance during multitasking situations.18
- Sleep Deprivation: Tyrosine protected against cognitive performance decline associated with extended wakefulness.19
L-Tyrosine may be beneficial for people with hectic, stressful lives who still must maintain consistent cognitive productivity.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract
Maritime Pine Bark Extract is a leading nootropic because it supports antioxidant defenses and cerebrovascular function, both of which are important for brain health and peak mental performance.
The brain is constantly bombarded by cell-damaging free radicals.
Maritime Pine Bark extract helps by supplying a complex of antioxidants called proanthocyanidins that are suggested to be 20 times more potent than vitamin E and 50 times more potent than vitamin C.20
This high antioxidant activity protects the brain against free radical-induced damage, thereby supporting long-range health and cognitive performance.
Maritime Pine Bark Extract also raises nitric oxide (NO), a compound that signals blood vessels to relax and widen.21,22
This bioactivity helps promote bloodflow to the brain, which may in turn assist with delivery of micronutrients, glucose and oxygen that are needed for energized mental function and healthy cognitive performance.
Research has suggested that antioxidant flavonoids like those in Maritime Pine Bark may support cognition in additional ways, including:23
- Promoting neuroplasticity, an aspect of neural health that is strongly tied to memory and new learning;
- Stimulating neurogenesis, the regeneration of neurons that contributes to long-range brain health and mental clarity
Form to look for: 95% Proanthocyanidins. Maritime Pine Bark standardized to supply 95% proanthocyanidins is the strongest potency available in nootropic supplements today.
- See the Top Brain Supplement with Cognizin®, Sharp-PS® Green,
High-Potency Maritime Pine Bark and Ajipure® L-Tyrosine -
Caffeine is one of the most popular nootropics, due to its ability to enhance alertness, mental energy and focus. Caffeine may work by:
- Blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter associated with drowsiness;
- Stimulating adrenaline to sharpen focus and energize performance;
- Regulating dopamine receptors to promote wakefulness
Caffeine has been shown in research and reviews to boost mental performance, reaction time, mood and other aspects of cognition.24,25
Caffeine does have some drawbacks as a nootropic. It may be associated with jitters, crashes and side effects, and may also deplete some vitamins.
However, our next nootropics can be combined with caffeine to help minimize typical caffeine side effect concerns.
L-Theanine is an amino acid in green tea that promotes relaxing brain chemicals and raises Alpha brainwaves to produce calm alertness.26
L-Theanine's ability to promote relaxation without drowsiness is helpful for calm, clear thinking and peak productivity, especially under pressure.
Additional brain benefits associated with L-Theanine include:
- Stress reduction without sedation: Shown to reduce physical and mental stress while supporting healthy attentional performance.27
- Long-range mental clarity: Green tea is linked with sharper cognitive function later in life; researchers suggest L-Theanine's neuroprotective effects may be part of the reason why.28
Form to look for: Suntheanine®. This 100% pure L-isomer form is backed by human research and protected by 40+ patents. It is made with a fermentation process that produces potent, nature-identical L-Theanine. 125 mg Suntheanine® supplies the L-Theanine of 10 cups' green tea.
Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCT)
Popularly sourced from coconuts, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are healthy fats that increase ketone bodies, which serve as a clean, efficient fuel for brainpower and metabolic function.
There are four MCTs, ranging from 6 to 12 carbon atoms in length. The two most effective are C8 and C10. Researchers have suggested that C8+C10 MCTs and the ketones they raise are:
- Fast acting: Ingesting MCT oil produces a rapid and large increase in blood ketone levels that returns to baseline in about 3 hours.29
- Energy efficient: Glucose is the primary energy substrate for the brain. Ketones are an alternative energy source for brainpower with higher inherent energy than glucose.30
Beyond helping to fuel the brain, ketones help to support the powerhouse mitochondria that produce energy within neurons (and all other cells in the body). Researchers have suggested that:
- MCTs appear to stimulate the production of fresh new mitochondria within cells (also known as mitochondrial biogenesis).31
- Ketone bodies may optimize mitochondrial function and help to protect mitochondria.32
For anyone seeking a new way to fuel brainpower, MCT oil is a top pick brain supplement for 2020 and beyond.
PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone)
PQQ is a bioactive compound related to the B-vitamins with antioxidant potency suggested to protect brain cells against damaging, age-accelerating free radicals.33
PQQ may be even more notable in 2020 for its potential to optimize brain cells’ mitochondria power plants:
- Researchers have suggested PQQ protect mitochondria, stimulates them into high activity, and supports their replication in brain cells.34
Some research suggests that in addition to neuroprotective and mitochondria-boosting effects, PQQ may promote cerebral blood flow. Researchers suggest this combination of bioactivities may help to:
- Improve overall cognitive function in older adults, especially in the areas of attention and working memory.35
- Enhance broad-range cognitive measures including mental vitality, mood, mental clarity, short-term memory and attention.36
PQQ's combination of energy-, performance- and health-related brain bioactivities position it as a leading nootropic for 2020.
Acetyl L-Carnitine (ALCAR)
This supplement is helpful in nootropics due to its roles in cell energy, neuron membrane composition, transport of fatty acids across brain cell membranes, and ability to fight a variety of brain toxins.37
In animal research, it has been suggested to exert neuroprotective effects throughout the central nervous system, including the brain.38
Acetyl l-carnitine is also a precursor to the acetylcholine. It is capable of crossing the blood brain barrier, so it can perform these various bio activities on-site as it promotes overall cognitive health and sharp cognitive function.
ALCAR has been suggested in human research reviews to assist with symptoms of mild-cognitive impairment, mood, memory and higher cognitive functions.39
Now, let's take a look at the industry-leading supplements that supply all these nootropics and stack together seamlessly for a powerful boost.
Best Brain Supplement of 2020:
Performance Lab® Mind
Performance Lab® Mind unites several of today's leading nootropic supplement ingredients into one quality formula:
- Cognizin® Citicoline, 250 mg
- Sharp-PS® Green (Phosphatidylserine), 100 mg
- Ajipure® L-Tyrosine, 250 mg
- Maritime Pine Bark Extract (95% proanthocyanidins), 75 mg
Performance Lab® Mind is unique among supplements in that it boosts mental performance, helps you bounce-back from intense brainpower sessions, and nourishes long-range health over time.
Mind is Designed to Perform
- Supports focus, memory, motivation, mood, multitasking*
- Encourages blood flow to the brain, helping oxygen, glucose and neuronutrient delivery for mental energy and health*
- Promotes peak mental performance under pressure*
- Stim-free mental energy for a clean cognitive lift with no crash*
Mind is Healthy for Daily Use
- Restores neurotransmitters for faster, healthier and sharper bounce-back from mental exertion*
- Enhances neural regeneration for long-range health and mental clarity*
- Helps optimize neural membranes for efficient function and long-range health*
- 100% natural prebiotic-infused NutriCaps® made from pullulan (fermented tapioca)
Performance Lab® Mind is not available at Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens or Amazon. You can only get it here, at the Performance Lab® website.
Best Caffeine Pill for Cognition:
Performance Lab® Stim
Performance Lab® Mind is caffeine-free by design. If you prefer caffeine in your nootropic stack, then simply add Performance Lab® Stim. This ultramodern caffeine formula supplies:
- Natural Caffeine, 50 mg
- Suntheanine® L-Theanine, 100 mg
- Ajipure® L-Tyrosine, 250 mg
- NutriGenesis® Caffeine Balance B-Complex
Performance Lab® Stim L-Theanine (Suntheanine®) boosts caffeine benefits while reducing its jitters, crashes and other drawbacks. Ajipure® L-Tyrosine + NutriGenesis® B-Complex then add stimulation counterbalance, stress resistance and neurotransmitter recovery.
With this advanced design, Performance Lab® Stim elevates caffeine to its performance-enhancing peak while promoting a healthier, more enjoyable stimulation state.
Performance Lab® Stim stacks seamlessly with Mind and all Performance Lab® formulas.
Stim is designed to perform:
- Cleaner, healthier and more productive stimulation*
- Caffeine enhanced for brainpower and athletic performance*
- Revitalizes cognition during multitasking, stress and fatigue*
- Raises Alpha brainwaves to balance caffeine energy with relaxation, creativity and clarity*
- Helps reduce jitters, crashes and other negative effects of caffeine overstimulation*
Stim is healthy for daily use
- Restores what caffeine takes away, so you can use it every day*
- Promotes balanced physiological responses to caffeine stress*
- 50 mg caffeine serving size for stim precision, safety and control
- 100% natural, vegan-friendly and prebiotic-infused NutriCaps®: The cleanest caffeine delivery in the world
Performance Lab® Stim is smarter, cleaner caffeine for cognition.
Best MCT Oil for the Brain
Performance Lab® MCT
Performance Lab® MCT Oil supplies medium-chain triglycerides Caprylic Acid (C8) and Capric Acid (C10) sourced from 100% Organic, Non-GMO Coconuts.
C8+C10 provide fast-acting brainpower fuel that optimizes metabolic function for gym training, fat burning and weight management.
Performance Lab® MCT delivers superior performance benefits:
- Fast-acting fuel for cognitive and metabolic performance*
- Protects neurons’ energy-generating mitochondria*
- Promotes vitality during high-intensity and fasted training*
- Enhances fat burning across all weight programs*
- Excellent choice for supporting all ketogenic lifestyles*
Performance Lab® MCT is the cleanest MCT in the world:
- More potent, effective and easier to digest than coconut oil
- Clean, pure, triple-filtered: Highest quality on market
- Precision-calibrated to 60% C8 and 40% C10
- Quick to absorb and utilize; cannot be stored as fat*
- Neuroprotective for long-range cognitive health*
Add Performance Lab® MCT as a fast-acting brain fuel that fits perfectly with Performance Lab® Mind.
Best Energy Supplement for Brain: Performance Lab® Energy
Cell energy is a crucial contributor to both peak cognitive performance and overall brain health.
Performance Lab® Energy is a revolutionary stim-free cell energizer that's perfect for nootropic stacking. It supplies 3 leading nootropics plus extra energy boosters to charge-up cognitive performance:
- MicroActive® Q10 (CoQ10), 100 mg
- BioPQQ® (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone), 10 mg
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR), 750 mg
- BioPerine® Black Pepper Extract, 2.5 mg
- Bio-Enhanced® R-Lipoic Acid, 150 mg
Because it features all of the most effective mitochondrial enhancers, Performance Lab® Energy can effectively boost energy in the brain, where mitochondria are most densely clustered.
Performance Lab® Energy is designed for performance:
- Powerful stim-free mitochondria booster energizes neurons*
- Helps to multiply, protect and supercharge mitochondria*
- Helps meet demands of highest-energy organ: The brain*
- Optimizes training results by maintaining energy in muscle*
- Supports efficient metabolic performance in all the body's cells*
Performance Lab® Energy is healthy for daily use:
- Safe, natural and legal way to revitalize mental performance*
- Stim-free energy for those who prefer to avoid or limit caffeine*
- Plant-based, prebiotic-infused NutriCaps® from pullulan
The most sophisticated stim-free energy booster ever developed, Performance Lab® Energy is a must-have supplement for all mental performance-enhancing stacks.
Optimizing the brain is the single best way to enhance every aspect of your performance: At work, in the gym, your social life... everything.
In 2020, driven individuals, consumers, students and professionals are seeking nootropic supplements that do more than ever before: Boosting all aspects of mental performance while supporting health and accelerating cognitive recovery from intense brainpower sessions.
To achieve maximum cognitive gains, consumers must combine several of the best supplements for the brain. But this can be challenging with multiple products from multiple brands that simply don't fit together well.
In this guide, we present a solution: Performance Lab® Mind, the single greatest nootropic supplement on the market today.
Stack Mind with Performance Lab® formulas for stimulation, brain fuel and energy, and you get a nootropic program that is made to go together and uniquely capable of unlocking peak cognitive performance.