“Nootropic” refers to any substance that can enhance cognitive functions such as memory, focus, and overall mental performance. Certain supplements may have this effect.

Some natural compounds, vitamins, minerals, and synthetic compounds are nootropic. These include fish oil, caffeine, resveratrol, Rhodiola rosea, and bacopa monnieri.

This article lists 10 nootropic supplements that may help boost focus and memory.

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Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids. Research suggests these acids have several cognitive benefits. One 2022 review indicates that supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can improve mental performance by enhancing blood circulation in the brain.

Additionally, the research findings suggest that omega-3 consumption helped both younger and older survey participants with memory and learning deficits.

Read more about the benefits of fish oil and omega-3.

Creatine is a naturally occurring compound found in small amounts in certain foods, such as meat and fish. The body produces it in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. However, it is also available in supplement form.

One 2018 study suggests that creatine supplementation may help improve short-term memory and intelligence in people in good health. Additionally, the findings indicate that creatine may benefit older adults experiencing high stress levels.

Learn more about creatine supplements.

Resveratrol is a natural compound in various plants, such as grapes, berries, and peanuts. It belongs to a class of compounds called polyphenols, known for their antioxidant properties.

A 2019 review of several studies on resveratrol supplementation and cognitive health concluded that long-term supplementation with resveratrol might have protective effects against cognitive decline.

Read more about resveratrol.

Phosphatidylserine is a natural phospholipid compound found in high concentrations in the brain. Phospholipids are a type of fat present in all living cells.

Phosphatidylserine plays a crucial role in maintaining the structure and function of brain cells. It is available as a dietary supplement derived from soybeans or bovine brain tissue. Researchers are still examining the effectiveness of supplementing with this compound for brain health. Previous studies present conflicting results.

Caffeine is a natural stimulant that belongs to a class of compounds called methylxanthines. It is present in various plant forms, including:

  • coffee beans
  • tea leaves
  • cacao beans
  • kola nuts

Manufacturers also produce caffeine synthetically, and it is available in supplement form. Research suggests that caffeine can enhance cognitive functions. However, low doses are more effective than moderate or high doses.

Learn more about the benefits and risks of caffeine.

Ginkgo biloba is a type of tree native to China that has long been in use in traditional medicine. Commonly known as ginkgo or the maidenhair tree, it is one of the most common herbal supplements people take, and research suggests it may enhance short-term memory.

Read more about the health benefits of ginkgo biloba.

Acetyl-L-carnitine is a naturally occurring compound derived from the amino acid L-carnitine. It plays a vital role in energy metabolism and helps transport fatty acids into the mitochondria, which are the energy-producing powerhouses of cells.

One study on acetyl-L-carnitine found a correlation between supplementing with this compound and enhanced episodic and working memory.

“Episodic memory” refers to the ability to recall specific events and experiences from the past, such as personal experiences or particular details of a previous event. “Working memory” refers to temporarily storing and manipulating information needed for cognitive tasks, such as problem-solving or decision-making.

Read more about L-carnitine.

Rhodiola rosea, also known as golden root or arctic root, is a herb that grows in cold regions, including the Arctic, Europe, and Asia. People take it in supplement form for enhanced learning and memory function. Some research backs up this claim.

Researchers credit this to its ability to improve cerebral metabolism, which refers to the chemical and energy processes that occur in the brain’s cells to maintain its function.

Learn more about Rhodiola rosea.

S-Adenosyl methionine (SAM-e) is a naturally occurring compound in the body. It is involved in various biochemical processes.

SAM-e is also available as a dietary supplement. Manufacturers market it for liver, joint, and brain health. However, taking too much SAMe can pose a health risk.

Learn how SAMe may benefit those with depression.

​​Bacopa monnieri, also known as Brahmi, is a herb native to India with antioxidant and potentially cognitive-enhancing properties.

Some research indicates that it may protect the brain against oxidative damage and enhance the activity of certain neurotransmitters involved in cognitive function.

Nootropic supplements may improve memory, focus, and mental performance. Research suggests fish oil, creatine, and resveratrol may all have these benefits. Further examples include caffeine, ginkgo biloba, acetyl-L-carnitine, and Rhodiola rosea.

Researchers are still studying the effectiveness of phosphatidylserine. S-Adenosyl methionine is involved in various biochemical processes, but its use requires caution. Bacopa monnieri possesses antioxidant properties and may have cognitive-enhancing effects.

It is always best to speak with a healthcare professional before using any supplements.