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Nootropics – should we take them or leave them?

It’s that time of the year when we all look over what we’ve achieved. For most of us, the start of a new year is a good time to review our achievements. Motivation to change runs high, and so we start looking at ways to become a better version of ourselves.

We eat properly, start to exercise, and look into alternative ways to boost our productivity. Nootropics promise to help us maintain our peak mental and physical performance. Should you consider taking them? Are they truly helpful, or just another way for companies to get their share of the $19,417.55 million vitamin supplement industry?

The supplements promise a lot, but do they deliver? In this post, we’ll look at that.

What are nootropics?

The word sounds strange and exotic, doesn’t it? All they really are, however, are drugs or substances that can enhance cognitive function. The substances can be manmade or natural. As long as a substance has the ability to help you improve cognitive function, it qualifies.

Under that definition, your morning cup of coffee qualifies as a nootropic. It helps you to focus and so qualifies. A lot of companies use caffeine as one of their ingredients.

Supplements of the standard vitamins and minerals we take are also often put in the mix. The difference here is that you’re more likely to get mega-doses. Take Vitamin B2, for example. You need a minimum of between 1,100 and 1,300 mcg a day.

A nootropic supplement will often contain various types of Vitamin B. Here, though, you might get double or triple the minimum recommended daily allowance.

Is it a good idea to take mega-doses of vitamins?

With vitamins, it’s dangerous to play the “If one dose is good, a double dose is better” game. It’s not such an issue when it comes to water-soluble vitamins, like the B vitamins, or vitamin C. If your body has more than it needs, it can simply just excrete the excess.

Fat soluble vitamins, like Vitamin A and E, however, are more problematic. These are stored in the body’s fat tissue and can, therefore, build up to toxic levels.

So, no, it’s not always a good idea to take mega-doses of vitamins.

Other ingredients that might be added

Nootropics often contain some kind of herbal supplement in conjunction with the caffeine and vitamins. Herbs that act as adaptogens, i.e., those that help you deal with stress, are often included. Examples here include Rhodiola rosea and Ashwagandha.

Do they work?

That’s the big question, isn’t it? There’s no question that some of these supplements can supply you with more energy. You’ll be able to work longer and be better focused. These gains, however, are only short-term and the effects are likely to wear off quickly.

Our verdict – if you decide to give them a try be careful and don’t let them become a crutch. They are no substitute for a healthy lifestyle which includes a balanced diet. Take a look at the following infographic designed by to discover more about vitamins and their healthy levels.