Nootropics, or smart drugs and cognitive enhancers as they are known, are marked by their ability to improve mental health, focus and concentration, and memory among other things. People of all age groups, all around the world, are using nootropics to boost their health and daily mental performance. Suitable users include young adults, working professionals, as well as students and entrepreneurs looking for a “brain boost” so to speak. Healthy individuals, as well as people affected by diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ADHD, can utilize these focus and concentration supplements.
What is the best nootropic for focus? The truth is, there may not be just one. Nootropics are capable on their own, but they give the best results when taken in a stack with other drugs or brain fog supplements. Smart drugs come in many forms, like capsules or pills, or even in powder form instead of a traditional tablet. Let’s take a look at the different types of supplements for concentration and focus. In our list, we will cover: Phosphatidylserine, Alpha GPC, Huperzine A, L-Theanine, Aniracetam, Pramiracetam, Noopept, Phenylpiracetam, Modafinil, Adrafinil, and Armodafinil.
Best Focus Supplements & Nootropics
The health benefits of Phosphatidylserine are numerous. This nootropic is a phospholipid that is highly prevalent in the cell membranes of neurons within the human brain. PS plays an integral role in the growth and maintenance of neurons and offers a broad range of cognition benefits. Phosphatidylserine can improve the symptoms of ADHD, increase focus and concentration levels, boost memory, enhance processing speed and accuracy, and even reduce age-related cognitive decline.
In other words, it’s almost everything a college student would want out of a supplement. Unfortunately, due to dietary abnormalities, most of us are deficient in Phosphatidylserine, and we may not even know it. Phosphatidylserine is considered the building block of healthy cell membranes and is a vital nutrient for optimizing brain function and improving focus.
2. Alpha GPC
Alpha GPC (Choline Alfoscerate) is a choline source that works by increasing the levels of learning neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, in the brain. Like Phosphatidylserine, many people are deficient in choline intake through food, which can lead to memory and learning problems later in life.
Have you ever wondered why health professionals refer to fish as “brain food”? The answer is simple. Fish is high in choline, which when consumed, raises the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. Acetylcholine is crucial for efficient neurotransmission, making Alpha GPC one of the best nootropics for focus and concentration. Additionally, Alpha GPC benefits neuroprotection, memory formation, fat oxidation, mood, and mental endurance.
3. Huperzine A
Huperzine A is an herbal compound extracted from Chinese Club Moss (Huperzia Serrata), a firmoss plant used in Chinese medicine for centuries. Much like Alpha GPC, Huperzine A benefits the brain by helping to boost levels of acetylcholine.
While both supplements are technically considered cholinergic in nature, Huperzine A is not a choline source. Huperzine A is an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (AChEI). Acetylcholinesterase is also known as the enzyme primarily responsible for the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. By inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, a subsequent increase in acetylcholine occurs within the brain. This increase will boost levels of focus and concentration, improve memory, provide neuroprotection, and promote the growth of important nervous tissue.
L-Theanine is a non-essential amino acid found exclusively in Camellia sinensis, a species of evergreen shrub whose leaves are used to make tea. L-Theanine is not dietarily available outside of green tea ingestion, which means that all of us are in short supply unless we’re taking a supplement.
L-Theanine can reduce stress levels by increasing the concentrations of dopamine and serotonin in the blood. However, not at high enough levels where addiction would be a concern. Dopamine and serotonin are chemicals that help to maintain mood and motivation balance. Not only does this nootropic contribute to lower stress levels, but it also diminishes the unpleasant side effects of caffeine (namely sleeplessness, nervousness, and anxiety) which enhances its benefits. The reduction of these adverse side effects is why most people choose to take L-Theanine for focus by stacking it with caffeine. Caffeine provides the energy boost, and L-Theanine takes the edge off, so you gain clear focus and concentration without the jitters.
While it is a supplement that causes a feeling of relaxation, it is not known to be a sedative. Though, L-Theanine does appear to be relatively commonplace in over the counter sleeping pills. When using L-Theanine for anxiety, stress, depression, or focus, make sure to adjust your dosage according to your personal tolerance until you achieve the desired effect.
A lipid-soluble nootropic of the racetam chemical class, Aniracetam, is known for its ability to boost mental energy and improve holistic and collective thinking. It is an effective option for reducing anxiety and depression and is also one of the best nootropics for creativity. Aniracetam does this by acting as a positive modulator of AMPA receptors that are involved in memory and learning capabilities. AMPA receptors are primarily glutamate receptors, the body’s most prominent neurotransmitters, playing a huge role in plasticity and synaptic transmission in the brain. In simpler terms, improvements in the process of neurotransmission by Aniracetam allow for greater focus, concentration, memory, and learning abilities in the user.
Other benefits of this drug are a reduction in stress levels, reduced damage done to cognitive processes by various traumas, and reduced feelings of anxiety and depression. Something that makes it arguably one of the best nootropics for focus is that it has mild to no side effects when using the proper dosage. It’s also quite inexpensive compared to other cognitive enhancers and focus supplements found in the racetam family. Our list of the best mood enhancing supplements and nootropics also makes mention of Aniracetam.
One thing to keep in mind is that Aniracetam is fat soluble. This attribute means it’s better able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier allowing for it to take effect more quickly than other racetams. Believed to be nearly ten times more potent than Piracetam, Aniracetam’s effects are also more short-lived because it’s rapidly metabolized. The half-life for Aniracetam is between 100-125 minutes, which makes it ideal for short but intense workloads while still being able to shut things down before bed.
Pramiracetam is another popular nootropic supplement of the racemic chemical class, used as a drug for concentration and focus improvement. Pramiracetam’s effects are nearly the same as Aniracetam’s. It lowers stress levels, improves mental alertness and enhances your memory and learning capabilities. However, many suggest it is 10-30 times stronger than Aniracetam.
Pramiracetam has a mechanism of action which involves increasing the uptake of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that attaches itself to receptors on the post-synaptic membrane. Our brain uses neurotransmitter molecules to carry out its normal functions. Therefore, even a minuscule improvement in the activity of acetylcholine can lead to a much sharper mind.
Noopept is one of the best supplements for focus and concentration. It is perhaps the most powerful synthetic brain-boosting nootropic that has been discovered by neuroscientists. It has a close association to Piracetam, but some studies suggest that it might be a thousand times stronger than many other cognitive enhancing supplements in the racetam family.
This high-performance nootropic provides improved ability to learn, rapid data processing, longer concentration span and more efficient neurotransmission. Also, users require a smaller dosage to improve their cognitive processes as compared to other brain boosters, making Noopept more cost effective. All of these benefits make Noopept very popular among students and working professionals looking for improved concentration and focus.
If you’re in the market for supplements or pills that help you focus, Phenylpiracetam comes in both capsule and powder form. It’s best known for its ability to decrease the negative effects and speed of cognitive decline. Animal research has shown that the compound Phenylpiracetam (Phenotropil) might have the capacity to act as an antidepressant, to reduce the severity of epileptic seizures, to reduce anxiety, and even treat psychotic disorders. It also prevents the onset of retrograde amnesia and serves as an effective neuroprotectant.
When used in healthy individuals, Phenylpiracetam improves focus, concentration, memory and cognitive function due to its psychostimulatory properties. People that use Phenylpiracetam supplements will experience boosts in their capacity to learn, concentrate, and retain information, similar to other smart pills. Oddly, this particular cognitive enhancer has been reported to enhance physical performance and can even make its users more cold-resistant. These benefits led the drug to be added to the list of banned substances by the world anti-doping agency, making it illegal for use during athletic competition.
Modafinil is a smart drug nootropic that induces wakefulness and is considered by many the best nootropic for concentration. Modafinil compared to Adderall is a hot topic that we’ve covered extensively in the past. With that said, we won’t get into too much detail about the differences between the two in this article. Modafinil (Provigil) is prescribed to patients that suffer from sleep disorders, such as narcolepsy and sleep apnea/hypopnea. The mechanism of action of this drug is still somewhat of a mystery. Studies claim that histamine release may be a factor in its ability to improve cognitive functioning.
Modafinil provides its users with an ability to focus on the task at hand, like all other nootropic supplements mentioned so far. It improves the mood, reduces exhaustion and makes the user more vigilant. Modafinil is a very popular smart drug among college students who use it to get an edge in their studies without risking the amphetamine-like side effects that come with an Adderall dependency.
Adrafinil is a synthetic nootropic drug which acts as a prodrug (precursor) to Modafinil. As a prodrug, Adrafinil increases concentration levels of Modafinil in the human body once ingested. Regular doses of Adrafinil will lead to improved wakefulness and the ability to stay alerted when you need to. Unlike other stimulants, these focus and concentration supplements don’t leave their users feeling restless and agitated. Instead, they help fight lethargy.
Adrafinil supposedly assists in developing a better memory, but further research is yet to authenticate this statement. Adrafinil also decreases the adverse effects of schizophrenia. However, there seems to be some gray area on its safety. There may be some unknown side effects that come with long term use. Since it’s metabolized in the liver, more studies need to be done to confirm any potential dangers. If you’re using Adrafinil for the treatment of ADHD, we recommend reviewing our list of natural Adderall substitutes.
Armodafinil is a wakefulness-promoting agent which, like other nootropics, enhances the ability to focus and concentrate. It’s as close as you’ll get to NZT-48 from Limitless through prescription medications. It is also used to combat narcolepsy, a condition that causes excessive tiredness in the daytime. Armodafinil is also known to treat excessive sleepiness caused by sleep apnea/hypopnea. Sleep apnea/hypopnea is when the person doesn’t properly breathe when sleeping and suffers from a lack of rest as a result.
Keep in mind that Armodafinil is potentially habit-forming. It’s advisable that you take this focus supplement in small doses. Modafinil and armodafinil are prescription medications. We do not condone the use of prescription drugs for off-label use without the supervision of a qualified doctor or physician.
Best Nootropic Stack for Improving Focus and Concentration
Of the compounds listed above, the best nootropic for focus would be Phosphatidylserine. If you’re using multiple supplements, the best nootropic stack for focus and concentration improvement would be Phosphatidylserine combined with a high-quality choline supplement, such as Alpha GPC or Huperzine A. What do you think the best focus and concentration supplements are? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
- Aniracetam reduces glutamate receptor desensitization and slows the decay of fast excitatory synaptic currents in the hippocampus.
- The original novel nootropic and neuroprotective agent noopept
- Modafinil improves cognition and attentional set shifting in patients with chronic schizophrenia.
- Adrafinil: A Novel Vigilance Promoting Agent
- The effect of pramiracetam (CI-879) on the acquisition of a radial arm maze task.