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What are nootropics and do they work?

Nootropics—what are they? These supplements are growing in popularity but might not work as well as they claim.

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Joel Freeman
June 29, 2022
4 min read

Increased creativity, sharper focus, endless bursts of energy, and a cheery mood even before your morning coffee— Nootropic supplements are touted as the best way to boost brain function. Let's look at what are nootropics, whether they are safe, and what may be a better alternative.

Article breakdown

What are nootropics?

Nootropics are billed as any substance that alters the brain, and—although often used as prescription medication—over-the-counter and natural options are gaining traction with claims of boosting concentration and sharper focus.

Okay, but what EXACTLY are nootropics?

While the thought of popping a pill for a quick way to supercharge your output sounds like an easy solution, everything from nicotine and caffeine through to vitamin powders and synthetic drugs can be classed as a nootropic, leaving the space wide open to unregulated substances.

The different types of nootropics

Nootropics can be split into two categories—natural and synthetic. Natural examples are often based around caffeine, or other plant derivatives. These can work to some extent, but are often limited in their effects and long-term impact.

Synthetic nootropics tend to have more range. Some are highly effective, and available on prescription only—amphetamines (sold under the brand name Adderall) being one of the most famous.

Modafinil is another common synthetic, and while it was found to enhance performance in the immediate term, it comes with the long term risk of altering brain plasticity and impairing cognitive function in the long run.  

Other synthetic nootropics can be completely untested. In one instance, a study by “biohacking” HVMN found that its nootropic supplement SPRINT was less effective than coffee (but with a heftier price tag).

Another piece of research discovered that several brain boosting supplements contained various levels of piracetam—an unapproved drug which can lead to diarrhoea, anxiety, insomnia, and potentially kidney problems. These nootropics side effects are pretty nasty.

What do nootropics do to the brain?

For the moment? Not much. They may promise a ‘brain boost’, but if you are feeling a kick, it may be due to the large amounts of caffeine in some supplements. This will only last as long as the substance is in your body.

They are only a short-term brain booster and do not work in the long run.

Are nootropics safe?

Nootropic supplements do not have to prove their claims and that they work, meaning many of the ingredients have not been scrutinised or subject to rigorous testing. This means that not all nootropics are as safe as they may seem.

Are nootropics addictive, though?

Well, caffeine, a common natural nootropic ingredient, IS extremely addictive. While small doses have been shown to help with memory and concentration, experts recommend no more than 400mg per day to be safe.

Read what a neuroscientist recommends for ultimate brain health.

A smart supplement that works for the long term

Unlike many nootropics, Height’s supplements have been formulated using the latest studies to ensure improved metabolism and brain function in the long term—rather than a quick-hit caffeine kick.

Our capsules have been designed by leading neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart and clinical dietitian Sophie Medlin, who review the formula every three months to reflect the latest research.

Read the research that goes into our formula.

Heights Smart Supplement bottle with blueberries, sugar snap and seeds
Heights Smart Supplement with blueberries and a snap pea
Our formula

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The best nutrients for your brain

All the ingredients found in Heights have been included to help your brain perform at its best. What’s more, the health claims are backed by the European Food Safety Authority, along with the latest scientific data. 

The three highest impact ingredients we’ve included for improved brain function are: 

Check out the rest of our ingredients here.

Every ingredient counts when it comes to looking after your brain. We’ve done our research which means everything in our capsule has gone in for a reason. Working with experts, our capsule contains meaningful doses of high quality, plant-based ingredients—all of which are encased in omega 3 algae oil to ensure absorption in the gut.

So, are nootropics good for you?

Given the unregulated space, often overstated marketing claims, and opaque supply chain, there are options that are much better for you.

That’s one of the reasons that we developed the Smart Supplement—to provide an alternative to nootropics with the best, natural ingredients, that focuses on making a long-term change to nutritional health, rather than a quick fix. 

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