“How can I improve my memory,” you ask yourself after you miss a doctor’s appointment or forget to call the office for an important work meeting. When you can’t recall the basic and often vital details of your everyday life, it can get frustrating. Is it old age, a hectic lifestyle, brain fog and mental fatigue, or a little of everything? With nootropics, we may finally have the memory boosting supplements we’ve always wanted for developing a sharper mind. Students, entrepreneurs, and business executives rejoice.
With multiple options on the market for memory enhancement, choosing one supplement can be difficult. To clear up any confusion, we’ve selected only the best nootropics for memory to review. This article features extensive information on various brain supplements to help you create the best nootropic stack for memory, learning, and studying based on your personal preferences.
Single nootropic supplements can work wonders for your brain and your ability to interpret complicated concepts and processes stored information. However, these supplements work best when stacked with other nootropics to enhance their effectiveness. Before we dive in, let’s discuss the core concepts behind how memory works and how it can be improved.
Synaptic Plasticity & Memory Retention
In neuroscience, synaptic plasticity is considered a vital neurochemical foundation for memory and learning. It involves the strengthening or weakening of your brain’s synapses. In other words, it is your brain’s ability to maintain old neural connections and develop new ones over time, creating new neural pathways to retain learned information. This critical process is what our list of nootropics below has been proven to accomplish.
Studying and learning have been shown to induce positive plastic changes in your brain’s synapses by strengthening glutamatergic synaptic transmission. Therefore, the more you challenge yourself to learn new information, the greater your synaptic plasticity will become. The rich get richer in a sense.
Acetylcholine & Memory Retention
Acetylcholine, known as the “learning neurotransmitter” supporting cognitive function, was the first neurotransmitter discovered in the human body. It acts as a “neuromodulator,” which means it can easily influence the way your brain retrieves and processes information. Whether you’re studying at school or performing at work, a choline supplement should be a part of every nootropic stack for memory.
Unfortunately, many people are choline deficient, mainly due to their poor dieting choices. A choline supplement positively affects neuroplasticity, decision-making, and learning skills. If something can produce, release, or influence acetylcholine levels in the brain, it is considered a “cholinergic” substance. The three primary acetylcholine supplements for memory enhancement are:
An example of an acetylcholine agonist is Piracetam, along with other members of the racetam family of nootropic supplements. They work to stimulate the receptors in your brain causing them to release more acetylcholine. This neuronal stimulation leads to memory enhancement and improved synaptic plasticity.
This group includes Alpha GPC (Alpha-Glycerophosphocholine/Choline Alfoscerate), CDP-Choline (Citicoline), and Choline Bitartrate (Lecithin). High-quality choline supplements contribute to the increased production of acetylcholine in the brain. This increase can enhance learning, studying, and memorization skills.
Acetylcholinesterase (AChE or acetylhydrolase) is an enzyme that occurs naturally in the human body and is responsible for breaking down acetylcholine in the brain. By slowing its production using inhibitors (or antagonists), the amount of neurotransmitter acetylcholine will increase naturally.
Now that we’ve covered the three best supplements to influence acetylcholine, let’s cover the best nootropics for memory retention in 2018. In our list, we will cover: Bacopa Monnieri, Huperzine A, Alpha GPC, Phosphatidylserine, L-Theanine, Vinpocetine, Aniracetam, Oxiracetam, Piracetam, and Ampakines.
Best Memory Boosting Supplements & Pills 2018
1. Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri is one of the more popular natural nootropic supplements for memory enhancement. It also serves as an effective stress and anxiety reliever, and brain protectant. Considered an adaptogen and antioxidant, Bacopa stimulates the growth of nerve endings which enhances neuron communication.
Studies suggest Bacopa monnieri has the potential to increase memory recall and treat ADHD naturally. Although, more research is still being done to determine the full extent of its effects across all cognitive abilities in humans. Many studies have shown the significance of Bacopa in boosting memory in the elderly or those on the cognitive decline. This improvement is most evident in those with Alzheimer’s disease or other neurodegenerative diseases.
2. Huperzine A
Huperzine A is a chemical purified from a firmoss plant known as Chinese Club Moss, referred to scientifically as Huperzia Serrata. This potent nootropic has been proven to have multiple benefits for memory function and neuroprotection. It is in the “acetylcholinesterase antagonist” class of choline supplements, meaning it inhibits enzymes from breaking down acetylcholine.
Inhibiting choline breakdown increases the levels of acetylcholine and improves memory retention, mental clarity, and neuroplasticity. When stacked with a good choline source such as Alpha GPC, the benefits of Huperzine A are amplified. This memory booster is preferred as a cholinergic due to having less cholinergic-related side effects, but also due to its long half-life.
3. Alpha GPC
In our review of Alpha GPC, we go into detail on why this is considered the best choline source. Alpha GPC is like Huperzine A in that it will boost acetylcholine levels in the brain. However, Alpha GPC is an actual choline source, not an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. This Cholinergic compound has the highest bioavailability with a choline by weight ratio of 40-50%. This means that a 1,000mg dosage confers to 400-500mg of usable choline.
Alpha GPC is a much higher quality choline source than its counterparts Choline Bitartrate (Lecithin) and CDP-Choline (Citicoline). Besides Alpha GPC’s ability to enhance memory and neurotransmission, this nootropic can also reduce mental and physical fatigue, cut brain fog, and improve physical power output. These features make it ideal for entrepreneurs, students, and athletes.
Using Phosphatidylserine for memory retention is a common practice among experts in the nootropic community. Phosphatidylserine (or PS) is an amino acid derivative that is highly prevalent in mammalian brains. PS and other phospholipids are responsible for providing protection and structure to our cells. As an integral factor in the maintenance and growth of neurons, Phosphatidylserine is also highly capable of improving cell-to-cell communication.
These characteristics make PS ideal for boosting memory and recall, stabilizing mood, improving focus and concentration, and enhancing processing speed and accuracy. Phosphatidylserine is also an excellent neuroprotectant with an innate ability to slow age-related cognitive decline. Like choline, many individuals are deficient in Phosphatidylserine. This makes supplementation highly beneficial for those who lack dietary PS intake.
L-Theanine is a natural amino acid found in tea leaves. It doesn’t directly impact memory and learning, but it indirectly helps. Here’s why: Most people take L-Theanine for stress relief because it is such a powerful relaxant. However, evidence shows that when combined with caffeine, there are notable positive cognitive effects. L-Theanine works to help take the edge off when caffeine consumption is high. When both nootropic supplements are combined, you can expect to have increased cognitive function when performing attention-demanding tasks. Also, you’ll be less susceptible to outside distractions which could impact memory retention and information recall.
Vinpocetine is a natural substance extracted from the seeds of the periwinkle plant. Studies have confirmed its ability to improve both long and short-term memory formation. Vinpocetine can also enhance other cognitive functions by increasing cerebral blood flow. These functions include verbal fluidity, reaction time, and subjective well-being. Taking Vinpocetine for memory retention has various other health benefits as well. These advantages include neuroprotection and reduced neuroinflammation, like that of an omega-3 fish oil supplement (EPA and DHA).
Aniracetam, perhaps the best racetam for memory, is known to increase and improve the cognitive processes of the brain. Taking Aniracetam for memory may also impact other areas of the user. Many people have reported an increase in information recollection, concentration, and mental stimulation with feelings of relaxation and calmness.
This synthetic nootropic supplement helps in the regulation of sleep and wake cycles as well. Aniracetam also increases dopamine and serotonin levels, which are responsible for sending “feel good” signals to the brain. Much like other smart pills in the racetam class, this effect on neurotransmitters is why many people use this supplement for improving energy levels. It’s an effective nootropic with a broad range of effects, making it a reliable addition to any memory or studying stack.
Oxiracetam has shown to have positive effects on the thinking ability and other critical reasoning skills in elderly patients or those with Alzheimer’s disease. However, there is currently little evidence to support improvements in neuroplasticity and information retention in young adults without cognitive impairment.
With that said, Oxiracetam, while similar to both Aniracetam and Piracetam, may have an additional benefit. Oxiracetam increases glutamate and acetylcholine release in active neurons. Glutamate assists in the transmission of signals between nerve cells which plays a significant role in memory and learning abilities. If you’re feeling experimental, Oxiracetam may be worth a try.
Piracetam is another well-known nootropic that enhances cognitive functions and is perhaps the most widely used of all the racetams. When putting together a nootropic stack for studying or memory retention, Piracetam is a popular synthetic choice among students and professionals.
When taken with a choline supplement, it can show great improvements in memory and information recall. Piracetam can also increase neurotransmission efficiency and the fluidity of ideas. Considered as one of the best nootropics for creativity, Piracetam potentially increases levels of acetylcholine in the brain as well.
Ampakines are responsible for having stimulating effects on glutamate receptors in the brain. Glutamate plays a major role in improving your brain’s neuroplasticity and the connections between different neurons. Enhancing neuroplasticity can increase focus and concentration, attention span, learning, memory, and studying capabilities. Ampakines boost energy and improve alertness when taken in moderation with other nootropic supplements.
Keep in mind that Ampakines are considered the strongest nootropics available, but they’re still very new. Much smaller doses are required to notice their cognitive enhancing effects compared to other memory nootropics. The two most popular supplements in this class are Sunifiram and Unifiram.
Final Thoughts on Supplements & Pills for Improving Memory
Although the infamous limitless pill NZT-48
is fictional, science has given us plenty of realistic alternatives for boosting and improving memory. It’s difficult to choose a single best nootropic memory stack with so many great supplements on the market. Most users prefer to avoid synthetic nootropics such as racetams and ampakines and would rather go the all-natural route.
We've found that a combination of Huperzine A and a quality choline source such as Alpha GPC can work wonders for long-term and short-term memory formation. What do you think is the best nootropic for memory retention and learning in 2018? Let us know what you use in your studying stack!
Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero
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