What are Nootropics?
Nootropics are a relatively new term designated to a whole range of drugs, supplements, nutraceuticals and functional foods that are said to support and improve mental function. A wide variety of nootropic ingredients exist and this umbrella term is designated to any ingredient that can support aspects of mental function such as attention, cognition, motivation, memory, intelligence, concentration, focus and even wakefulness. Nootropic drugs, nootropic supplements, nootropic foods and nootropic ingredients are gaining in popularity thanks to an increased desire by populations to have the mental energy to do more with less time. Still somewhat of a niche market, the nootropic market is one of the fastest growing categories of supplements in the industry.
Where do Nootropics Come From?
Nootropics come in a variety of forms. Natural nootropic ingredients can easily be found in the foods that we consume, but have also been extracted and turned into supplements as well. Nootropic drugs are also widely available; some of which are over the counter (OTC), while are prescription only. For a full listing of nootropic ingredients, head to our article – Nootropic List.
The mechanism of action of nootropics varies depending on the substance, food, supplement or drug that you are using. But all nootropics aim to do one thing, and that is to support and improve aspects of mental function. Nootropics do so in three main ways:
- Altering the availability and supply of brain neurochemicals including neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, enzymes and hormones.
- Improving the supply of oxygen to the brain
- Support and stimulate nerve growth
The majority of nootropic supplements and ingredients improve mental function via the first two methods, while only a small handful work via the third method. Currently, nootropics are most commonly used to support increased attention, focus and concentration for education purposes, but are also often used for work in order to stay alert for longer shifts or maintain longer workouts. Nootropic ingredients have also been researched for supporting a range of diseases and disorders such as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.
Nootropic Benefits for Bodybuilding
One of the most common forms of nootropics; stimulants such as caffeine has long been used in supplements, especially pre-workouts and fat burners for their ability to enhance physical performance and metabolism as well as mental performance. Many other nootropics are also making its way into pre-workouts, intra-workouts and fat burners as cognition and mental function is increasingly seen as a factor which affects compliance to both workouts and diets.
Nootropic Negatives and Side Effects
As there are so many nootropic ingredients, supplements and drugs around, it’s hard to make a blanket statement regarding potential negatives and side effects. Generally speaking, nootropics are fairly safe and do not come with severe side effects. Some nootropic drugs such as nicotine and stronger stimulants can be addictive, so care needs to be taken with long term supplementation of these nootropics.
Nootropic Dosage and Ingredient Timing
Each nootropic ingredient has their own recommended dosing levels, so it is best to read up on each ingredient individually to see what may be the best dose for you. Generally nootropics in the sports supplement industry are either taken before and during a workout, as well as during the earlier parts of the day.
Nootropic supplements and ingredients can be stacked with almost any other type of supplement including protein powders, testosterone support supplements, HGH boosters and amino acid supplements to name a few.
Colucci L, Bosco M, Ziello AR, Rea R, Amenta F, Fasanaro AM. (2012). Effectiveness of nootropic drugs with cholinergic activity in treatment of cognitive deficit. Journal of experimental pharmacology, Vol 2012:4 Pages 163 – 172