Staying Sharp: 2018's Top 5 Cognitive Enhancers | Smarter Reviews

Staying Sharp: 2018's Top 5 Cognitive Enhancers

Being on top of your game for the long-term means you have to combat the cognitive degeneration natural to the aging process.

Staying Sharp: 2018's Top 5 Cognitive Enhancers

It’s a fact. Our cognitive abilities, particularly memory, reasoning, and processing speed, gradually decline with time. (1) However, you don’t have to resign yourself to the inevitable.

Cognitive enhancers, also referred to as nootropics or smart drugs, are supplements, drugs, and other substances that have demonstrated an ability to improve cognitive function, especially in the areas of memory, concentration, alertness, and motivation in healthy people. (2) Interested?

Here's a quick introduction to cognitive enhancers, as well as what to look for and avoid in supplements. Below, you'll also find reviews of five of the top options currently on the market.

What are Cognitive Enhancers?

Cognitive enhancers range from all-natural supplements to drugs that are entirely made from synthetic ingredients. (3) Natural supplements often include a variety of nutrients and herbs, such as:

Acetyl-l-carnitine

Plays a key role in the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is crucial in cognition, memory, and learning

L-theanine

A compound that promotes alertness, attention, and concentration (4)

Taurine

An amino acid that increases electrical activity in your nerve cells, helping mitigate age-related memory loss

Gingko

Plant with a long history of being used to protect the brain from free radical damage and improve short-term memory

Citicoline

Helps build healthy brain cell membranes, while reducing the effects of free radical damage (a common cause of brain aging)

Vitamins B12 (cobalamin) and D

Essential brain nutrients that are thought to increase alertness, improve memory, and enhance concentration and attention span (5)

Bacopa

A potent neuroprotector that balances neurotransmitters, increases cerebral blood flow, and enhances memory

Rhodiola

Increases serotonin levels and is highly neuroprotective against toxins

What to Avoid in a Cognitive Enhancer

When shopping for a cognitive enhancer, here are a few reasons why you should check the label, and maybe try another brand.

questionable manufacturers

If you aren’t sure about a manufacturer, look them up online. Look for product reviews, as well as the official website. If anything makes you suspicious, keep looking.

Be wary of most supplements made overseas

Designer handbags, clothes, and shoes aren’t the only cheap knockoffs made overseas. Supplements can be, too, which could be dangerous, as quality standards may be lower or even nonexistent.

Drastic difference in price compared to competition

If you come across a nootropic that is significantly cheaper than its counterparts, alarm bells should start to go off in your head. Remember: quality costs money.

What to Look for in a cognitive enhancer

Not all cognitive enhancers are the same, even if they share many similar ingredients. Here's what you want to keep in mind when shopping:

Start simple

You don’t necessarily need a nootropic that contains a long list of ingredients. You may find that a cognitive enhancer with just a few nutrients and herbs works perfectly for you.

Consider your specific goals

If you are most concerned about memory, look for a nootropic with ingredients geared toward enhancing your memory. If your major concern is attention and focus, look for ingredients that target these areas.

Opt for a reputable brand

Keep in mind that supplements are not regulated by the FDA. This is why it is important to look for brands you can trust.

OUR SPECIALIZED RANKING SYSTEM

Now, that you have a better understanding of cognitive enhancers and how you can benefit from their use, it’s time to look at some of the most popular products on the market.

At Smarter Reviews, we employ a comprehensive evaluation system to analyze and measure the full value of products. This is based on component quality, safety, potential effectiveness, return policies, and overall customer satisfaction. We call our method the Smarter Reviews Ranking System.

TOP 5 Cognitive enhancers

Using our ranking system and other research, here are the Smarter Reviews Picks for 2018's Top 5 Cognitive Enhancers.

1. Neuro Optimizer

Total Ranking

621 votes

9.8/10

A+

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9.8/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9.8/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    9.6/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    9.7/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    9.6/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Doesn’t contain caffeine or any other stimulants, meaning it shouldn’t affect your sleep
  • Well-established reputation
  • Contains 7 scientifically-proven neuro-nutrients and protectants

CONS

  • Some users do report headaches after taking them
  • One serving requires swallowing 4 capsules
The Bottom Line

Jarrow Formulas has been manufacturing high-quality, effective, and safe supplements for decades. That trend continues with Jarrow Formulas Neuro Optimizer.

Jarrow Formulas' safety reputation is stellar. They use a state-of-the-art cGMP facility for production and third-party labs that are USDA- and ISO-accredited to test quality, potency, and purity. Optimizer contains 7 neuro-nutrients and protectants. It is free of gluten, dairy, and eggs.

Based on the ingredients, which include L-glutamine, citicoline, and taurine, as well as customer reviews, it is highly likely this supplement will be effective.

Many customers have nothing but good things to say about Optimizer. They often point out “they work quickly” and result in a “big improvement in concentration, memory, and function.” Others report they are “calm, cool, and focused” and have definitely experienced enhanced mental clarity and memory.” Several customers state they have been taking this supplement for years.

There are a small number of reviewers who report “no discernible effects.” There are also a few complaints of side effects, particularly headaches.

Neuro Optimizer includes ingredients that have been shown to provide cognitive enhancing benefits, while avoiding the use of any stimulants. Customers speak highly about it and its affordable. All-in-all, it's easy to see why this choice tops our list.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

Learn About Our Top Pick

2. Nootropic Brain Booster

Total Ranking

315 votes

9.4/10

A

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9.5/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9.4/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    9.3/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    9.4/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    9.3/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Only take 1-2 capsules a day
  • 100% free trial through their website
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

CONS

  • A bit expensive when compared to similar supplements
  • Contains caffeine, a stimulant
  • It can take as long as 12 weeks to feel the full benefits
The Bottom Line

All of the ingredients in OptiMind's Nootropic Brain Booster supplement have been deemed safe and beneficial for brain health. All OptiMind products are manufactured in a cGMP facility that is also FDA approved. According to the company, they only use high-quality ingredients.

OptiMind offers a 100% free trial through their website, allowing you to try it out before making a purchase. (However, you do have to enter your credit card information.) They also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

According to the label, you won’t experience the long-term benefits, which includes improved cognitive function and enhanced memory, until you have been taking the supplement regularly for as long as 12 weeks.

Customers are pretty divided when it comes to OptiMind. While some report that it is “better than a prescription when it comes to my concentration, alertness, focus, and productivity,” others report an overall ineffectiveness.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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3. Brain Essence

Total Ranking

328 votes

9.2/10

a-

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9.3/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9.2/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    8.9/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    9.2/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    9.3/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • 100% natural and suitable for vegetarians
  • Most customers rave about its effectiveness

CONS

  • A bit expensive
  • Some users report unsettling side effects, like diarrhea
The Bottom Line

Pure Essence Labs has established a reputation for manufacturing top-quality, safe supplements. Brain Essence is free of sugar, soy, yeast, dairy, gluten, nuts, shellfish, and GMO. It is a vegetarian supplement.

Brain Essence consists of eight ingredients, including ashwagandha (decreases the effects of chronic stress that damages neurons), rhodiola, and acetyl-L-carnitine. All of these ingredients have been proven to benefit memory, cognition, and clarity in various scientific studies.

Around ¾ of customers report being extremely satisfied with Brain Essence, referring to it as a “great product” that has “sharpened my memory.” Several report “quicker recall of details and memory.” However, there are multiple customers who admit to experiencing GI distress, specifically nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping, when taking the supplement. Some reviewers did say that these side effects lessened over time.*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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4. rise

Total Ranking

581 votes

8.8/10

b+

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    8.9/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    9.1/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    8.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    8.7/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Is OK for vegans
  • Fewer reports of adverse side effects compared to other brands
  • Free of preservatives and artificial flavors

CONS

  • Exceptionally large pills
  • Contains soy
  • Needs to be taken with food
The Bottom Line

According to statistics made available by the manufacturer, RISE by Nootrobox will raise your verbal learning rate by 12.28% and your inspection time by 17.67%, while reducing your anxiety 33.3% and your mental fatigue by 3.43%.

Nootropox also reports that the amount, concentration, and ratio of each ingredient, including bacopa and rhodiola, have been drawn from double-blind, peer-reviewed journal studies to ensure effectiveness and safety. All supplements are GMP and FDA compliant.

Around half of the customers who have reviewed RISE report that it is absolutely fantastic, resulting in “an overall improvement in mental wellness, reduced stress, and an amazing night of sleep.” One customer stated it gave her the same mental focus as when “I used to take medication for ADD, but without the jitteriness.” Others report a more neutral experience, stating “it doesn’t seem to offer any benefit or difference in energy, sharpness, etc.”*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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5. Alpha brain

Total Ranking

576 votes

8.8/10

b+

Overall Grade

  • Product Safety
    8.4 Avg.

    9/10

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.1 Avg.

    9.2/10

  • Value
    8.2 Avg.

    8.8/10

  • Return Policy
    8.8 Avg.

    8.5/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    8.4/10

    Vote and Review

Vote and Review

5/10

PROS

  • Boasts clinical evidence of efficacy
  • Third-party tested

CONS

  • Large percentage of negative reviews
The Bottom Line

Made entirely from "earth-grown nutrients," Alpha Brain by Onnit is certified drug-free by the Banned Substances Control Group, a leader in third-party dietary supplement certification and testing. The vegetarian capsules are non-GMO and free of caffeine. To make a long story short, you can rest assured this is a safe supplement.

Despite being an Amazon best seller, only 66% of customers give it a ranking of three stars or higher. Those who do “absolutely swear by it.” They report “improved memory and focus," appreciate how it "makes it easier to come up with the right words, and feeling really productive.”

Others report they “felt nothing (either positive or negative).” A few referred to it as “completely ineffective” and others reported side effects, such as upset stomach and “just feeling strange.”

The manufacturer reports that this is one of just a few nootropics to have undergone rigorous clinical testing and has been shown to boost clarity, memory, and focus. In a study completed at the Boston Center for Memory, benefits were seen after just a single dose. (6) With that being said, you still have to factor in that quite a few reviewers report it had “no effect whatsoever, even after taking it for a month.”*

*Results are based on the Smarter Reviews Ranking System and do not necessarily reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please visit product websites for more information.

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Citations

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4015335/
  2. https://bebrainfit.com/cognitive-enhancers/
  3. https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/natural-brain-boosters#1
  4. https://bebrainfit.com/brain-supplements/#ginkgo
  5. https://nootriment.com/vitamin-b12/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595564/

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