Ask The Expert

What Are Nootropic Supplements And What Do They Do?

We spoke to Jack Weekes from Bulk Powders to learn more about the world of Nootropic supplements

We receive free products to review and may earn commissions on purchases made through links on this page. Find out more
Nootropic supplements
Nootropic supplements have been gaining popularity recently (Photo: Adobe Stock)

Nootropic supplements have been gaining popularity in recent years.

But what are these increasingly-popular supplements all about and what are some of the ingredients to look for?

We had a chat with Jack Weekes, who is the new product development manager at Bulk Powders, to discuss all things Nootropics and find out a bit more about this intriguing dietary supplement category.

Editor's note: The content on this website is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The content of our articles is not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always best to speak with your doctor or a certified medical professional before making any changes to your lifestyle, diet or exercise routine, or trying a new supplement.

For someone who’s unfamiliar with the term, what is a ‘Nootropic’ supplement?

The term “nootropic” is ultimately derived from the Ancient Greek words νόος (nóos) meaning “mind” and τροπή (tropḗ) meaning “a turning“. Nootropics are substances, natural or synthetic, that are usually used to ‘change’ one or more functions in the brain.

For example, depending on the supplement, they may use ingredients that can contribute to cognitive and mental performance, concentration, relaxation and more.

In what situations can they be most useful?

Nootropic supplements can be useful for a variety of situations, the most common example would be when a boost of focus and concentration is needed for work or studying, or whilst gaming. Gamers seem to be particularly large consumers of nootropics.

A focus-heavy nootropic could also be used as a pre workout supplement, whilst one geared towards relaxation could be taken post-workout, before bed or after a stressful meeting.

What are some of the key ingredients to look for in a Nootropic supplement and what are some of their benefits?

Nootropics tend to have a few key ingredients to look out for. These tend to be grouped under the categories of stimulants, relaxants, cholinergics, adaptogens, amino acids, vitamins and minerals.

A few examples of each of the above are as follows:

• Stimulants – the obvious choice here is Caffeine. In focus-heavy nootropics, this well-known stimulant will feature prominently. However, some nootropic users also have a love of strong coffee, which will lead to them looking for caffeine-free alternatives.

• Relaxants – Saffron Extract is an interesting ingredient with some decent research behind it.

• Cholinergics – Choline is a component of Acetylcholine, a very important neurotransmitter. Sources of choline are frequently of interest when it comes to nootropics. Cognizin® (CDP-Choline) is a compound that converts to both choline and cytidine upon ingestion. Cytidine later converts to uridine in the body.

• Adaptogens, such as Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera Extract), are a key ingredient in Nootropic supplements.

• Amino Acids of interest include N-Acetyl L-Carnitine, which is a naturally-occurring amino acid compound and N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine, which is a specific form of Tyrosine that can’t be obtained via the diet.

There are also several vitamins and minerals to keep an eye out for, including:

• Niacin, which contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism.

• Pantothenic Acid, which contributes to normal mental performance.

• Magnesium, which contributes to normal psychological function.

• Vitamin B12, which contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system.

Editor's note: The health claims about the ingredients mentioned in this article are listed as authorised on the EU Register at the time of publishing.

Tell us about some of Bulk Powders’ Nootropics…

There are three products within our nootropic range: Complete Nootropic, Complete Daily Nootropic and Complete Zen.

The Bulk Powders range of Nootropic supplements (Photo: Bulk Powders)

The Bulk Powders range of Nootropic supplements (Photo: Bulk Powders)

Complete Nootropic is our heavy-hitting formula. It is intended to be used prior to getting into a major task at work, a massive workout or a gaming session.

It features 17 active ingredients, including 6000mg Ginkgo Biloba, 200mg Caffeine, 250mg Cognizin®, 250mg DMAE Bitartrate, 1.4mg P-5-P (the active form of Vitamin B6), 50mg AstraGin® and 300mg KSM-66® Ashwagandha.

Complete Daily Nootropic is our caffeine-free formula. This has been designed to be taken on a daily basis and can be used either in the morning, or later in the day.

It contains 600mg KSM-66® Ashwagandha, 300mg Rhodiola Rosea, 350mg Synapsa® Bacopa Monnieri, 500mg Gotu Kola, 500mg Lion’s Mane Mushroom and 100mg Trans-Resveratrol.

Complete Zen can be taken whenever a period of calm is required, either after a stressful meeting, after a huge workout or before bed.

The formula features 10 active ingredients, including 1200mg Lemon Balm, 600mg KSM-66® Ashwagandha, 400mg Panax Ginseng, 100mg Phosphatidylserine, 200mg L-Theanine, 200mg Turmeric Extract, 100mg Magnesium and 28mg Affron® Saffron Extract.

The Bulk Powders Complete Zen supplements (Photo: Bulk Powders)

The Bulk Powders Complete Zen supplements (Photo: Bulk Powders)

Is there anything else we should be aware of when it comes to Nootropic supplements?

Many of the ingredients in nootropic supplements have been around for centuries. A large amount of the herbs and adaptogens that feature in nootropic formulas are rooted in traditional medicine.

However, the field of nootropics is still relatively new and is rapidly growing. This means there’s a few things to keep an eye out for, the most important of which is to read the label.

This goes without saying, but it really pays to know the supplements you’re putting into your body. There are genuinely some fantastic supplements on the market, but there are also some that provoke the response of ‘are you even trying?’

Always take a look at the active ingredients and their respective doses to make sure that someone’s claims can be substantiated. If a supplement promises you the world, doesn’t provide a full declaration of ingredients and sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Another thing to be aware of is that there are some very heavy stimulant-based formulas out there. Keep an eye on the Caffeine content of the supplement you’re taking, especially if you’re not a habituated consumer of coffee or energy drinks.

Finally, if it’s of interest, it can be really useful to do your own research on nootropic ingredients.

There’s a huge amount of ongoing research and as this sector is rapidly expanding, I would expect there to be a lot of new studies published over the coming months. This will also help you to make informed choices as to the supplements that would be best for you.

The information on this website is intended for entertainment purposes only and does not constitute professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis.

Article History
• Updated on 31 July 2020
Max Lowery
How Nature Can Help To Combat Occupational Burnout
Best Pre Workout Supplements
Best Pre Workouts 2020 – Your Ultimate Guide
Kate Maxey
Kate Maxey On Fitness As A Lifestyle, Finding Motivation And Food Diaries
Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses 2020 – Your Ultimate Guide
Simon Jurkiw
Performance Nutritionist Simon Jurkiw On Tracking Macros And The Role Of Supplements
Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses for Sleep
Best Blue Light Blocking Glasses For Sleep in 2020
Best Multivitamin Supplement
Best Multivitamin Supplements 2020 – Your Ultimate Guide
Best Fat Burner Supplement Guide
Best Fat Burners 2020 – Your Ultimate Guide
Best Nootropic Supplement
Best Nootropic Supplements 2020 – Your Ultimate Guide