8 Best Nootropics For Beginners In 2023

Written on January 1, 2023 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

In this article, I'll look at the 8 best nootropics for beginners. I'll also cover the potential risks and side effects you may run into and the benefits you can expect.

Nootropics have exploded recently as people have become more interested in improving their mental performance. And while many people still consider them to be "new" technology, the truth is that they have been around for centuries.

From Russian scientists experimenting with Siberian Ginseng to Ayurvedic medicine promoting the benefits of Ashwagandha, many cultures have relied on nootropics to help boost mental performance.

Today, you can find various supplements online and in brick-and-mortar stores claiming to offer all kinds of benefits.

But how do you know which ones are the best nootropics for beginners? I've compiled a list of my top 8 choices and some important information about each.

The 8 best nootropics for beginners, according to scientific evidence, are:

  • Mind Lab Pro
  • Creatine
  • Alpha GPC
  • Modafinil
  • Caffeine
  • L-Theanine
  • Theacrine
  • Rhodiola Rosea

1. Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is what we call a "universal nootropic" or "nootropic blend."

It contains 11 science-backed ingredients that have been shown to improve various aspects of mental performance, such as memory and focus. This makes it an ideal choice for beginners interested in experiencing the benefits of nootropics.

When these nootropic ingredients are combined, or stacked, they work synergistically to provide even more benefits. The ingredients are:

  • Citicoline
  • Phosphatidylserine (PS)
  • Bacopa Monnieri
  • Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom
  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract
  • L-Tyrosine
  • L-Theanine
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B9
  • Vitamin B12

Mind Lab Pro contains Citicoline (CDP-Choline), which is an essential part of the process of creating phosphatidylcholine from choline. This biochemical process occurs in cell membranes, and helps maintain proper brain function [1]Synoradzki, Kamil, and Paweł Grieb. “Citicoline: A Superior Form of Choline?.” Nutrients vol. 11,7 1569. 12 Jul. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11071569.

When used as a nootropic, citicoline can help boost focus and memory, two important factors for beginners. However, it also protects the brain from age-related cognitive decline and has been shown in studies to help improve sleep quality [2]Gareri, Pietro et al. “The role of citicoline in cognitive impairment: pharmacological characteristics, possible advantages, and doubts for an old drug with new perspectives.” Clinical … Learn more.

Mind Lab Pros

  • 11 all-natural nootropic ingredients
  • Makes the perfect foundation for beginners
  • Includes powerful ingredients like phosphatidylserine and mind-boosting adaptogens

Mind Lab Cons

  • Can be expensive for people on a budget

Mind Lab in Summary

With natural nootropic ingredients that work synergistically to improve mental performance, Mind Lab Pro is a great choice for beginners. It's an excellent foundation to build on as you gain more experience and want to try other nootropics.

2. Creatine

Creatine is not a supplement that is regularly associated with brain health. Instead, it is more commonly known for its ability to help improve athletic performance and build muscle mass.

However, research has suggested that creatine actually does a lot more than that.

Studies have shown that creatine can improve short-term memory [3]Avgerinos, Konstantinos I et al. “Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.” Experimental gerontology … Learn more and focus, two essential skills for beginners attending classes or working on projects.

Creatine is important for the brain in many ways, including providing energy, improving mitochondrial efficiency, protecting against oxidative stress, and reducing neurodegeneration.

The bottom line is that creatine can be an effective nootropic for beginners, helping them to improve their short-term memory and focus while reducing the risk of brain health issues in the long term.

Creatine Pros

  • Improves focus and memory
  • Supports brain health in many ways
  • Helps beginners improve their performance in class or at work
  • Well-established safety record

Creatine Cons

  • Not as effective for long-term memory or other advanced brain functions

Creatine in Summary

Creatine is widely known as an effective supplement for increasing muscle mass and athletic performance, but research has also suggested that it can be a powerful nootropic for beginners. If you're new to the world of nootropics or simply want to boost your mental performance, then creatine may be a great choice for you.

3. Alpha GPC

Alpha GPC (L-alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine) is a naturally occurring choline molecule that is found in the brain.

It is used by the body to create new neurons and improve communication between existing ones. It also releases acetylcholine (ACh), a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in memory and learning.

As a result, Alpha GPC has been shown to improve cognitive function in healthy adults and those with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia [4]De Jesus Moreno Moreno, Maria. “Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, … Learn more.

In addition, it has been shown to be effective in treating symptoms of ADHD and improving athletic performance [5]Bellar, David et al. “The effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strength.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 12 42. 17 Nov. 2015, … Learn more.

Alpha GPC Pros

  • Naturally occurring in the brain
  • Improves focus, memory, and learning
  • Reduces symptoms of mental conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and ADHD
  • Improves athletic performance
  • Beginner-friendly nootropic

Alpha GPC Cons

  • Most people need high doses to experience the full benefits

Alpha GPC in Summary

If you're looking for a beginner-friendly nootropic that can improve your mental performance and help manage symptoms of mental conditions, then Alpha GPC may be right for you. It is well-researched, reliable, and effective when used as directed. However, high doses are generally required to experience the full benefits.

4. Modafinil

Modafinil is a eugeroic, or wakefulness-promoting drug, that was originally developed to treat narcolepsy and shift work sleep disorder [6]Erman, Milton K et al. “Modafinil for excessive sleepiness associated with chronic shift work sleep disorder: effects on patient functioning and health-related quality of life.” Primary care … Learn more.

However, it has also been shown to improve cognitive function in healthy individuals, and as a result, it has become popular as a so-called "smart drug" or "nootropic."

Modafinil increases levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain [7]Volkow, Nora D et al. “Effects of modafinil on dopamine and dopamine transporters in the male human brain: clinical implications.” JAMA vol. 301,11 (2009): 1148-54. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.351 which leads to improved focus and alertness. Additionally, Modafinil has been shown to increase histamine levels, which helps keep the mind alert [8]Ishizuka, Tomoko et al. “Modafinil increases histamine release in the anterior hypothalamus of rats.” Neuroscience letters vol. 339,2 (2003): 143-6. doi:10.1016/s0304-3940(03)00006-5.

While the exact mechanisms by which Modafinil improves cognitive function are not fully understood, there is no doubt that this drug can be an effective tool for beginners looking to improve their mental performance.

Modafinil Pros

  • A powerful wakefulness-promoting drug
  • Improves focus and alertness
  • Well-studied and reliable when used as directed
  • Beginner-friendly nootropic

Modafinil Cons

  • Modafinil is a prescription drug in many countries

Modafinil in Summary

Originally made to treat narcolepsy and other sleep disorders, Modafinil is also a popular nootropic due to its ability to improve focus and alertness.

However, it is a prescription drug that requires careful dosing and administration. If you are looking for a beginner-friendly nootropic that can help you stay sharp and focused for hours without any crashes, then Modafinil is a good choice.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that increases alertness and wakefulness. It works by blocking adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep [9]Ribeiro, Joaquim A, and Ana M Sebastião. “Caffeine and adenosine.” Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD vol. 20 Suppl 1 (2010): S3-15. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-1379.

By blocking adenosine, caffeine prevents drowsiness and keeps people awake. Caffeine also increases the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood and motivation.

In addition, caffeine has been shown to enhance memory and cognitive performance [10]Lieberman, Harris R et al. “Effects of caffeine, sleep loss, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during U.S. Navy SEAL training. Sea-Air-Land.” Psychopharmacology vol. 164,3 (2002): … Learn more. For these reasons, it is often used as a nootropic, or cognitive enhancer.

Beginner users are advised to start with a low dose of caffeine and increase it gradually as needed. When used in moderation, caffeine can be an effective tool for improving cognitive function.

Caffeine Pros

  • Widely available and inexpensive
  • Improves focus, motivation, and alertness
  • Enhances cognitive function
  • Well-studied and reliable when used as directed

Caffeine Cons

  • Easy to overdo
  • Tolerance to caffeine can develop over time

Caffeine in Summary

Caffeine is the most studied and widely used nootropic on the market today due to its ability to improve focus, motivation, and alertness. It works by blocking adenosine which leads to improved cognitive function. However, it is easy to overdo caffeine, and tolerance can develop quickly.

6. L-Theanine

L-Theanine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in green tea leaves. It is also available as a dietary supplement. L-Theanine has been shown to have various health benefits, including reducing anxiety and improving mood [11]Owen, Gail N et al. “The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood.” Nutritional neuroscience vol. 11,4 (2008): 193-8. doi:10.1179/147683008X301513.

Some research suggests that L-Theanine may also have nootropic properties, as it has been shown to improve cognitive function in various ways.

For example, one study found that L-Theanine can increase alpha brain wave activity which is associated with a state of deep relaxation and increased focus [12]Nobre, Anna C et al. “L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition vol. 17 Suppl 1 (2008): 167-8..

L-Theanine shines when it is combined, or stacked, with Caffeine. L-Theanine acts as a buffer against Caffeine, preventing it from causing jitteriness and other side effects while allowing you to feel the benefits of productivity and focus.

If you are a beginner looking for an easy-to-use nootropic that can help reduce stress and anxiety while improving your focus, then L-Theanine is an excellent choice.

L-Theanine Pros

  • Widely available and inexpensive
  • Relaxing and improves mood
  • Improves alpha brain wave activity
  • Can be stacked with Caffeine for increased focus

L-Theanine Cons

  • Can cause drowsiness

L-Theanine in Summary

Found in green tea, L-Theanine is a natural nootropic that promotes relaxation and improves cognitive function. It works best when stacked with Caffeine to limit side effects while improving focus and motivation.

7. Theacrine

Theacrine is a stimulant that is structurally similar to caffeine. It is found naturally in some plants, including the Camellia Kucha plant.

Unlike Caffeine, which is intended for use as a coffee bean extract, theacrine is typically consumed in its pure form. Theacrine has stimulant effects on the central nervous system and has been shown to improve mental performance and endurance [13]Bello, Marissa L et al. “The effects of TeaCrine® and caffeine on endurance and cognitive performance during a simulated match in high-level soccer players.” Journal of the International Society … Learn more.

Theacrine operates similarly to caffeine by affecting the body's adenosine receptors, which are associated with cognition and sleep.

However, Theacrine does not affect blood pressure or heart rate like Caffeine, making it a safer choice for those sensitive to caffeine.

If you are looking for an alternative to Caffeine to help improve your focus, endurance, and motivation while reducing the risk of side effects, then Theacrine is worth considering.

Theacrine Pros

  • Increases focus, endurance, and motivation
  • Does not affect blood pressure or heart rate like Caffeine
  • Easy to find and purchase online

Theacrine Cons

  • Can cause jitteriness at high doses

Theacrine in Summary

Like Caffeine, Theacrine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system, improving cognition and endurance. Unlike Caffeine, Theacrine does not affect blood pressure or heart rate and may be safer for those who are generally sensitive to Caffeine.

8. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is an herb that grows in cold, mountainous regions of Europe and Asia. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to help alleviate stress and fatigue.

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogenic plant known for its ability to help the body resist stress.

One study, in particular, looked at the role of Rhodiola Rosea in stress management and found that it fulfills important requirements. Rhodiola Rosea was found to influence the release of stress hormones while boosting energy metabolism [14]Anghelescu, Ion-George et al. “Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review.” International journal of psychiatry in clinical practice vol. 22,4 (2018): 242-252. … Learn more.

It offers a comprehensive treatment of stress symptoms and can prevent chronic stress and stress-related complications, making it an ideal choice for beginners looking to manage stress and boost their focus.

Rhodiola Rosea Pros

  • Helps the body cope with stress
  • Enhances mental performance in stressful situations
  • Widely available and inexpensive

Rhodiola Rosea Cons

  • Can cause mild side effects such as nausea and dizziness

Rhodiola Rosea in Summary

Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogenic herb that helps the body resist stress. It has been shown to be effective at enhancing mental performance, making it a great choice for beginners looking to manage stress and improve their focus.

What Are the Best Nootropics for Beginners?

best nootropics for beginners

The best nootropics for beginners, according to my market research, are:

  1. Mind Lab Pro
  2. Creatine
  3. Alpha GPC
  4. Modafinil
  5. Caffeine
  6. L-Theanine
  7. Theacrine
  8. Rhodiola Rosea

The list contains a mix of natural, synthetic, and blend-based nootropics. Natural nootropics are generally considered to be safer and easier for beginners to use, while synthetic nootropics can offer stronger effects.

Choosing a combination of natural and synthetic nootropics may provide the best results for beginners looking to optimize their cognitive function and focus.

That being said, a nootropic blend like Mind Lab Pro makes the perfect foundation for beginners. It combines various proven nootropics ingredients to deliver comprehensive results without any major side effects.

What Are the Benefits of Nootropics for Beginners?

If you're completely new to the world of nootropics, there are many benefits to using these brain supplements.

Some key benefits of nootropics for beginners include:

  • Improved focus and concentration
  • Increased mental clarity and cognition
  • Reduced stress and fatigue levels
  • Better ability to cope with stressful situations or environments
  • Overall improved cognitive function and brain health

Whether you're looking to boost your performance at work, school, or in competitive environments, using nootropics can help. As a beginner to nootropics, starting slowly and consulting your doctor or healthcare provider before using any of these supplements is important.

Overall, nootropics offer a range of benefits for beginners looking to optimize their cognitive function and mental performance.

What Are the Side Effects of Nootropics for Beginners?

The most common reported side effects of using nootropics for beginners are:

  • Headaches
  • Jitteriness
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Mild nausea

These side effects are usually only experienced in the early stages of nootropic use and typically fade over time as your body adjusts to the supplements.

Side effects also depend on the specific nootropic that you are taking and your tolerance levels, so it is important to start slowly when using nootropics for the first time.

It's also important to note that stacking different nootropics together can increase the risk of experiencing side effects.

Final Thoughts: Do Nootropics Really Work for Beginners?

So do I personally think that nootropics are worth using for beginners?

Yes, I do. While nootropics come with a range of potential side effects and should be used cautiously and under the guidance of your healthcare provider or doctor, they can offer significant benefits for those just starting in the world of nootropics.

Whether you're looking to boost focus and concentration, improve your mental clarity, or simply optimize your cognitive function, nootropics can help.

With the right approach and selection of nootropic supplements, beginners can experience significant results with minimal risk of negative side effects.

If you're looking to get started with nootropics, I highly recommend looking into Mind Lab Pro for the best results.

You can read more about it right here:

References

References
1Synoradzki, Kamil, and Paweł Grieb. “Citicoline: A Superior Form of Choline?.” Nutrients vol. 11,7 1569. 12 Jul. 2019, doi:10.3390/nu11071569
2Gareri, Pietro et al. “The role of citicoline in cognitive impairment: pharmacological characteristics, possible advantages, and doubts for an old drug with new perspectives.” Clinical interventions in aging vol. 10 1421-9. 3 Sep. 2015, doi:10.2147/CIA.S87886
3Avgerinos, Konstantinos I et al. “Effects of creatine supplementation on cognitive function of healthy individuals: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.” Experimental gerontology vol. 108 (2018): 166-173. doi:10.1016/j.exger.2018.04.013
4De Jesus Moreno Moreno, Maria. “Cognitive improvement in mild to moderate Alzheimer's dementia after treatment with the acetylcholine precursor choline alfoscerate: a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” Clinical therapeutics vol. 25,1 (2003): 178-93. doi:10.1016/s0149-2918(03)90023-3
5Bellar, David et al. “The effect of 6 days of alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine on isometric strength.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 12 42. 17 Nov. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0103-x
6Erman, Milton K et al. “Modafinil for excessive sleepiness associated with chronic shift work sleep disorder: effects on patient functioning and health-related quality of life.” Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry vol. 9,3 (2007): 188-94. doi:10.4088/pcc.v09n0304
7Volkow, Nora D et al. “Effects of modafinil on dopamine and dopamine transporters in the male human brain: clinical implications.” JAMA vol. 301,11 (2009): 1148-54. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.351
8Ishizuka, Tomoko et al. “Modafinil increases histamine release in the anterior hypothalamus of rats.” Neuroscience letters vol. 339,2 (2003): 143-6. doi:10.1016/s0304-3940(03)00006-5
9Ribeiro, Joaquim A, and Ana M Sebastião. “Caffeine and adenosine.” Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD vol. 20 Suppl 1 (2010): S3-15. doi:10.3233/JAD-2010-1379
10Lieberman, Harris R et al. “Effects of caffeine, sleep loss, and stress on cognitive performance and mood during U.S. Navy SEAL training. Sea-Air-Land.” Psychopharmacology vol. 164,3 (2002): 250-61. doi:10.1007/s00213-002-1217-9
11Owen, Gail N et al. “The combined effects of L-theanine and caffeine on cognitive performance and mood.” Nutritional neuroscience vol. 11,4 (2008): 193-8. doi:10.1179/147683008X301513
12Nobre, Anna C et al. “L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.” Asia Pacific journal of clinical nutrition vol. 17 Suppl 1 (2008): 167-8.
13Bello, Marissa L et al. “The effects of TeaCrine® and caffeine on endurance and cognitive performance during a simulated match in high-level soccer players.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 16,1 20. 18 Apr. 2019, doi:10.1186/s12970-019-0287-6
14Anghelescu, Ion-George et al. “Stress management and the role of Rhodiola rosea: a review.” International journal of psychiatry in clinical practice vol. 22,4 (2018): 242-252. doi:10.1080/13651501.2017.1417442