Published on October 19, 2018

Do Memory Supplements Work? 10 Supplements to Boost Brain Power

Do Memory Supplements Work? 10 Supplements to Boost Brain Power

What are memory supplements, you ask? You know that moment when you take that first sip of coffee, and the caffeine begins to pulse through your body and awaken a clearer mind, sparking you into more efficient state of productivity?

Our ability to remember information and produce high quality work efficiently is heightened when we consume caffeine. Even non-coffee drinkers are well aware of the effects.

In this article, we’ll look into what memory supplements are and how you can use such supplements to boost your brain power.

Caffeine vs Memory Supplements

So what role does caffeine have when we consider what memory supplements are? Well, coffee is actually considered a nootropic. If you haven’t heard this term before, basically, a nootropic is defined as a substance that produces a brain boosting effect, which can enhance cognitive abilities such as reaction times, focus and memory.

In our busy lives that demand so much from us in our professional and personal responsibilities, the familiar feeling of brain fog many of us suffer from can really hinder our ability to move through all facets of life with ease and efficiency.

For productivity seekers and life hack enthusiasts, nootropics are definitely a new wave of supplements that are becoming more sought after and widely used, because of their brain boosting benefits.

This term was coined by Romanian psychologist Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea in the 1960s, who came up with certain characteristics of what a pure nootropic is defined as:

  • Cognitive function enhancement (focus, memory, learning)
  • Improved reactions in thought and cognition when under stress
  • Protects decline of brain cells
  • Chemical protection against brain injury
  • More efficient neural pathway communication
  • Research driven proof
  • Minimal or no side effects with low-to-no toxicity

Although not every nootropic on the market will contain all of these characteristics, you’ll generally find that the more pure the substance is and higher the quality, the more characteristics will be ticked of this list in each supplement.


In our context, the amount of characteristics each memory supplement displays (no side effects, protection of brain cells, etc.), will affect how pure and effective it will be on your system.

The mechanism of nootropic supplements interacting with our brain pathways are various, depending on the type of supplement you take and the concentration of each supplements. Generally, these are the main ways that they work:

  • Circulation – the cerebral area circulation affects the way the brain performs. These supplements assist in oxygenating the blood, which supports your vessels to deliver nutrients to our brain needed to function smoothly.
  • Brainwaves – nootropics can change brain wave frequencies to shift your cognitive state. Depending on the supplement, this can be a effect of deep calm, or high focus and concentration (like that coffee effect).
  • Energy availability – the brain is the most energetically demanding body organ, using 20% of the body’s energy. The cell’s energy creation center (mitochondria) are affected to create a boost in the way they metabolize energy. This means you can access more mental energy, faster.
  • Repair and protection – the antioxidant effect on the brain gives more support for the brain to defend against free radicals and toxicity. Cell repair and maintenance has also been found to be enhanced with nootropic use, allowing the body to regenerate. This is especially relevant to memory supplements being used in conditions like age-related decline that comes with dementia, for example.
  • Brain chemicals – the balance of chemicals in our brain shift with nootropic use, enabling enhanced communication and cognitive abilities, such as memory and response.

10 Best Brain Boosting Supplements

There are a ton of nootropics in the market, and not all are just memory supplements. Over 200 drugs are cited to affect cognitive ability, and though the research is still recent, what has been found so far is encouraging.

The nootropics are all extracted from natural sources, though there are two classes of these supplements: either in natural form, or extracted for synthetic creation into more of a ‘drug’ (often coming in the form of a powder or pill).

The bottom line is, yes, these memory boosting supplements do work. Below we’ll outline some of the best brain boosting supplements and the research that demonstrates the benefits

1. Panax Ginseng

Traditionally used in around Asia and North America for centuries, this herbal medicine has been known to boost attention, memory and focus. It has even been used as a calming supplement for people suffering anxiety.[1]

2. Ginkgo Biloba

Dating as far back as 270 million years, this herbal supplement aids cognition by allowing more blood flow to move through the brain. The main reported benefits have been focus and concentration enhancement and memory boosting.

One study found that it could benefit age-related cognitive deficits in older populations.[2] Another study found higher instances of memory recall for people taking the supplement.[3]


3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Two types of Omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA are found in supplements like fish oil. The function of DHA is to maintain the health of brain cells in their structure and function, reducing brain inflammation and improving brain cell growth.[4] Memory, reaction time and problem solving skills are increased by taking DHA supplements,[5] and the essential fatty acid EPA has also been linked to improving mood in people experiencing depression.[6]

4. Amino acids

There are a wide range of amino acids that the body requires to support its physical metabolism of energy and balance of muscle mass. L-Tyrosine is one example of an amino acid that is also used as a cognitive enhancer due to the effect it has on calming the system and how your brain reacts to stress.[7] As it is very bioavailable (highly absorbent in the body), only a small amount is needed to produce a powerful effect.

Similarly, Acetyl-L-carnitine is an amino important for energy production in the body. Reports of feeling more alert and focused have been found in the research,[8] whilst also being a beneficial supplement used to treat cognitive decline in those suffering mild dementia or Alzheimer’s.[9]

5. Bacopa Monnieri

Another traditionally used nootropic is this ancient Ayurvedic herb, Bacopa Monnieri. For healthy adults, as well as subject suffering from brain function decline, it’s been found to improve memory and thinking skills.[10]

Memory recall was also improved in another study of this supplement, though more studies are still needed to determine the effects at different dosage levels.[11] This one has been a well known memory supplement for quite some time.

6. Resveratrol

Found naturally occurring in grape, raspberry and blueberry skin, this antioxidant is also found in peanuts and chocolate.

These supplements are still being research in humans, though the effects so far are encouraging, with a long-term 26 week study noticing improved memory in healthy older adults when taking resveratrol supplement.[12]

7. Phosphatidylserine

This compound is found in the makeup of our brains structure, and tends to decline the more we age.


To preserve brain health and assist with age related decline, research has found beneficial effects for people taking Phosphatidylserine supplements.[13] Response time and memory have also been improved in healthy populations studies.[14]

8. Rhodiola Rosea

This herb is known to assist the body to handle stress more efficiently. Research has indicated that taking Rhodiola Rosea supplements can decrease burnout symptoms and improve overall mood in people suffering from stress and anxiety.[15]

For people experiencing brain fog and fatigue – which is many of us in our fast paced, busy lives, this natural herb is a beneficial supplement to take to create a more easeful state of mind.

9. Noopept

As one of the most popular nootropic supplements, it increase cognitive functions such as learning ability, working memory enhancement, and logical thinking. It’s also a known mood boosting supplement.[16]

10. Modafinil

Another well known name on the market of nootropics, this synthetic supplement has been used especially for people needing a boost in energy when studying or working long hours.

Generally, this supplement is used most widely by people with sleep disorders, though has been also taken by healthy individuals looking to boost a sense of alertness and increase in energy.[17]

How to Take the Supplements

It’s always best to talk to your pharmacists or doctor when beginning any new supplement to determine the right dosage for you.

When you take nootropic memory supplements daily, overtime it has been found that some people can develop a tolerance to them.


It’s suggested to cycle your dosage, for example, 5 days on, 2 days off. In this way, you can reduce the chance of becoming ‘numb’ to the effects, whilst still reaping the health benefits and feeling the shift in your cognitive abilities.

Brain Boosting Recipes

Depending on which nootropic supplement you choose to take, and the form it comes in, you can make some interesting concoctions when you use them in drinks and foods.

Below are some favorite memory enhancing supplement recipes you can try at home.

Amino Smoothie

Blend your favorite frozen fruit up with a cup of amino powder.[18] The fruits will mask any taste of the powder, and it’s easy to remember to drink in the morning to start your day.

Fish Oil Dressing

Salads can be easily spiced up with a dressing, and the addition of fish oil as the base gives an extra kick of nutrients. Whisk your choice of fish oil with balsamic vinegar and crushed garlic for a tangy salad topper.

Ginkgo Tea

Boil water in a saucepan, remove from head and add fresh ginkgo biloba leaves to steep for up to ten minutes. Strain and drink to absorb the infused hot tea and reap the memory boosting benefits.

The Bottom Line

So if you’ve been suffering brain fog, fatigue, or generally want to boost your brain power and see just how much productivity you are capable of, then memory supplements and other nootropics could offer you some great benefits.

Featured photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via


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Last Updated on July 11, 2019

10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind

10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind

If you have watched movies like Limitless[1] (both the movie and television series) and Lucy,[2] then you have likely come across smart drugs or nootropics. In the movie Limitless, you are introduced to NZT-48 (known as MDT-48 in the book The Dark Fields), which grants heightened intellectual abilities allowing one to pattern-match at lighting speed.

In the movie Lucy, you are introduced to the drug CPH4, which is actually based on a molecule that a pregnant woman produces after six weeks of pregnancy. The director of Lucy, Luc Besson, remarked,[3]

“But it’s totally real, and it’s true that the power of this product for a baby is the power of an atomic bomb. It’s real. It’s totally real. So its not a drug in fact, it’s a natural molecule that pregnant women produce.”

NZT-48 is fictional and CPH4 is a fictional drug based on a real substance. So, are there any real life smart drugs or brain boosters similar to either fictional drug? The answer is no. But powerful cognitive enhancing drugs do exist. And they are Nootropics.


Nootropics was coined by Romanian psychologist Corneliu E. Giurgea in 1972. The etymology of the word is nous or mind and trepein or to bend.[4] According to Smart Drug Smarts, nootropics is an umbrella term for a class of chemicals, some naturally-occurring and some man-made, that give cognitive benefits to the human brain. To be a nootropic, Giurgea found that the substance must meet five specific criteria:[5]

  1. Enhance memory and ability to learn.
  2. Help the brain function under disruptive conditions.
  3. Protect the brain from chemical and physical assaults.
  4. Increase the efficacy of neuronal firing control mechanisms.
  5. Possess few or no side effects and be virtually non-toxic.

Let’s now examine the 10 best brain power supplements that will supercharge your mind and 4 bonus tips (in no particular order – meaning #1 is not better than #2 nor #10). Very few of the brain boosters listed can be purchased in a local brick and mortar store.

For most, you will have to place an order online. However, be extremely cautious and diligently research each prior to ordering.

For a more detailed breakdown of each brain booster in the form of a wiki, I recommend visiting the website BrainTropic[6]. I will provide a summary for each smart drug below. Summaries will be from BrainTropic unless otherwise stated. In addition, visit my website (you can find the link in my bio) as I regularly write and provide advice on nootropics.

*Some of the supplements listed require a prescription and could be harmful. Consult with your doctor before consumption.

1. Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind is an extremely powerful smart drug created by Neurohacker packed with a variety of nootropics. It is a multi-nootropic leading to potential neurochemical and physiological enhancements.

Qualia Mind is specifically designed to lift brain fog, amplify willpower, upgrade energy, heighten creativity, and promote mental clarity. No prescription is required.


Side effects: headaches, sleep disturbance, muscle tightness, and upset stomach.

  • Type: Multi-Nootropic (crucial ingredients include: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, DL-Phenylalanine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Taurine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Citicoline, Anhydrous Caffeine, Huperzine A, and more)
  • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning, Memory, Motivation, and Physical Performance
  • Typical Dose: 7 capsules per day (maximum of 12)
  • Half-life: 4-6 hours

You can learn more about Qualia Mind in Neurohacker.

2. Modafinil

Modafinil is a stimulant to treat narcolepsy and has been shown to enhance our cognitive functions. Sold under the names Vigil, Nuvigil or Provigil, has became one of the most popular cognitive enhancing drugs on the market.

Bio-hacker and founder of Bulletproof Coffee, Dave Asprey, is just one of many advocating the drug. Some think Modafinil inspired the movie Limitless. For more on this discussion, read I Spent a Week on Nuvigil, the Drug From ‘Limitless’ and Modafinil: My Experience with the Real Life Limitless Pill by Joen Rude Falsner. Falsner remarked about Modafinil, it’s “Sort of like a real life pop-up blocker…”

In the US, Modafinil is classified as Schedule IV Controlled Substance and a prescription is required for it. Potential side effects: headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, nervousness, and trouble sleeping.

Bonus Tip: Top Modafinil researchers have found that Modafinil combined with coffee can create a powerful combination.[7]

  • Type: Stimulant
  • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning, Memory, Motivation, and Physical Performance
  • Typical Dose: 50-200mg
  • Half-life: 15 hours

3. Adrafinil

Adrafinil is a stimulant that can increase energy and prevent fatigue. It is metabolized and converted into Modafinil. In fact, the effects are similar to Modafinil; however, it is not as strong. No prescription is required for Adrafinil in the US, Canada, or the UK.

Potential side effects: headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, nervousness, and trouble sleeping.

  • Type: Stimulant
  • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning, Memory, Motivation, and Physical Performance
  • Typical Dose: 150-600mg
  • Half-life: 1 hour

4. Noopept

According to, Noopept is a powerful synthetic nootropic with cognitive enhancement and neuroprotective properties. It was developed in Russia in the mid-1990s and is used as a prescription treatment for cognitive impairments. Researchers found that, in animal studies, Noopept has been shown to stimulate the expression of two chemicals: Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).[8]

Potential side effects: headaches, restlessness, dizziness, and irritability.

  • Type: Peptide
  • Good for: Anxiety, Energy, Focus, Learning and Memory
  • Typical Dose: 10-20 mg
  • Half-life: 30-60 minutes

5. Adderall

Adderall is a stimulant used to treat those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adderall primarily increases the release to two specific neurotransmitters involved with ADHD: dopamine and norepinephrine.


For an interesting read on what Adderall does to the brain – to include a good discussion of the benefits and side effects of the drug – read What adderall does to your brain by Daniela Hernandez. Similar to Modafinil, some think the movie Limitless was inspired by Adderall.

For more on this discussion, read Limitless: The Brain-Doping Movie We All Know Was Inspired by Adderall and The Drug From Limitless Is Available for Purchase on Your College Campus.

Adderall is considered a Schedule II Controlled Substance and a prescription is required for it. This means anyone caught in possession of it without a prescription could face criminal charges. Potential side effects: irregular heartbeat, paranoia, headaches, restlessness, dizziness, lack of appetite, high risk of dependency, and irritability.

  • Type: Stimulant
  • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning, Memory, Motivation, and Physical Performance
  • Typical Dose: 5-40 mg (Adderall XR is 5-60 mg)
  • Half-life: 4-6 hours (Adderall XR is 6-8 hours)

6. Oxiracetam

Oxiracetam was developed in the 1970s and is a synthetic derivative of the original nootropic – Piracetam. However, according to, Oxiracetam is more potent than Piracetam. Oxiracetam has been studied for treatment with those suffering from Alzheimer’s or memory.[10] No prescription is required for Oxiracetam.

Potential side effects: no serious side effects – the most commonly reported side effect is headache.

  • Type: Ampakine and Racetam
  • Good for: Energy, Focus, Learning and Memory
  • Typical Dose: 400-2400 mg
  • Half-life: 8 hours

7. Bulletproof Coffee

Dave Asprey (also an advocate for Modafinil) is the creator of Bulletproof Coffee. Asprey contends that Bulletproof Coffee is clean and tested for toxins.

However, when you first read about Bulletproof Coffee, you hear about the combination of Butter – Oil – Coffee. That can’t be a good combination, right?

Wrong. It is.

Bulletproof Coffee has been found to help with weight loss, boost cognitive functioning, maintain mental clarity, and decrease brain fog. For more on Bulletproof Coffee, read What It’s Like To Drink Bulletproof Coffee Every Morning For Two Weeks by Chris Gayomali. Potential side effects: restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, and rapid heart rate.

  • Type: Stimulant
  • Good for: Mental Clarity, Decrease Brain Fog, and Weight Loss
  • Typical Dose: Varies by type of coffee (e.g. Coffee Pods or Brew)
  • Half-life: Varies

8. Cellucor C4 Ultimate

Cellucor C4 Ultimate is a powerful pre workout supplement. It provides an instant cognitive boost so that you can not only get the most out of your exercise training sessions, but also maximize your ability to learn (even during exercise).

C4 Ultimate should be consumed 20-30 minutes prior to training. No prescription is required for C4 Ultimate.


Potential side effects: insomnia, diarrhea, dehydration, headaches, high blood pressure, and tingly or prickly sensations. To counter these side effects, read Pre-Workout Supplements: 6 Side Effects and How To Avoid Them by Matt Weik.

  • Type: Pre Workout (crucial ingredients include: Vitamin C, Vitamins B6 and B12, Niacin, Citrulline Malate, Caffeine Anhydrous, Taurine, Beta-Alanine, Creatine Nitrate, and N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine)
  • Good for: Energy, Pumps, Endurance, and Physical Performance
  • Typical Dose: 1 scoop with water
  • Half-life: Varies

You can get Cellucor C4 Ultimate at Cellucor.

9. Piracetam

Piracetam is the first synthetic smart drug developed and is the compound that inspired the term nootropic. It was invented by the same individual who coined the term nootropic – Dr. Giurgea.

According to Brain Tropic, Piracetam works by improving blood flow in the brain, boosts the production of crucial brain chemicals, and increases synaptic plasticity.[13] It requires a prescription in the UK and Australia and cannot be legally marketed in the US as a dietary supplement.

Potential side effects: no serious side effects – the most commonly reported side effect is headache.

  • Type: Ampakine and Racetam
  • Good for: Learning and Memory
  • Typical Dose: 1600-4800 mg
  • Half-life: 4-5 hours

10. Qualia Focus

Qualia Focus is another product offered by Neurohacker. It too is a multi-nootropic with powerful cognitive enhancements. While it is not as strong as Qualia Mind, it still upgrades your energy, heightens creativity, and promotes mental clarity at a lower cost than Qualia Mind. No prescription is required.

Side effects: headaches, sleep disturbance, muscle tightness, and upset stomach.

  • Type: Multi-Nootropic (crucial ingredients include: Acetyl-L-Carnitine, DL-Phenylalanine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, Taurine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Citicoline, Coffeeberry Energy, Ginko Biloba Leaf Extract, Huperzine A, and more)
  • Good for: Focus and Concentration, Memory, and Energy
  • Typical Dose: 5 capsules per day (maximum of 9)
  • Half-life: 4-6 hours

You can learn more about Qualia Focus in Neurohacker.

While the brain boosters listed above are not the smart drugs in Limitless or Lucy, they still provide you phenomenal results. To find out which of the 10 are the best for you, I suggest you do the following:

  1. Research each one diligently
  2. Test them out for yourself
  3. Try the following Bonus Tips along with your brain booster. In doing so, you will discover a pop-up blocker for your brain!

Bonus Tips

1. Take antacids to increase potency

To increase the potency of a brain booster, ingest alkaline substances like antacids such as Tums or Alka-Seltzer. Read A Brief Guide to Non-medical Psychostimulant Use for more information.

You should consult with your doctor as there could be serious side effects.


2. Take on an empty stomach

You should take your brain booster on an empty stomach as this will further potentiate both the duration and effect of the drug. The exceptions are Qualia Mind and Focus. I recommend taking both with food as this will cause an upset stomach.

However, you should consult with your doctor prior to taking any of the brain boosters listed and to identify the proper way to take each.

3. Adderall alarm clock

There is an interesting definition in the crowd-sourced online dictionary Urban Dictionary:[14]

The Adderall Alarm Clock is defined as setting an alarm for an hour before you have to get up; upon waking, roll over and take your prescription stimulant of choice and go back to sleep. In about an hour, you wake up naturally with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

This actually works. Choose one of your brain boosters and try this out.

However, you should consult with your doctor prior to attempting this as there could be serious side effects.

4. Exercise sparks neurogenesis

Exercise alone will provide similar benefits and could be substituted for any of the brain boosters listed. Exercise plus brain boosters provide even more cognitive enhancing benefits.

One of the most powerful benefits exercise provides is that it sparks the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which brings about neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is the process by which new neurons are formed in the brain.[15]

Dr. John Ratey discusses both neurogenesis and BDNF at length in his book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Ratey dubbed BDNF the master molecule and refers to it as “Miracle-Gro for the brain”. Linda Gabriel writes about BDNF in BDNF – Miracle-Gro for the Brain, “BDNF binds to receptors in the synapses between neurons, increasing voltage (yes your brain is electric!), and improving signal strength.”

Featured photo credit: Josh Riemer via


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