8 Best Nootropics For Seniors & The Elderly In 2023

Written on January 21, 2023 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

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

As we age, our brains lose some of their capability and power. This can lead to slower reaction times, difficulty concentrating, and even depression. For seniors who want to stay sharp and alert, nootropics (or "smart drugs") offer potential benefits that can help slow the process of cognitive decline.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) among adults aged 65 years and older is 11.7% compared to 10.8% among adults 45-64 years of age [1]“Subjective Cognitive Decline - a Public Health Issue.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Feb. 2019, … Learn more.

Let's look at what Science says and how we can mitigate cognitive decline and its effects.

The best nootropics for seniors and the elderly, according to scientific evidence, are:

  • Vyvamind
  • Piracetam
  • Ginkgo Biloba
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) 
  • Coenzyme Q10 
  • Creatine
  • N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC)
  • Ashwagandha

1. Vyvamind

Vyvamind is a nootropic blend. This means it combines multiple nootropics that work synergistically to improve overall cognitive functioning. It contains 6 powerful nootropic ingredients:

  • Vitamin B6 2.5 mg
  • Vitamin B12 50 mcg
  • L-Tyrosine 300 mg
  • CDP-Choline 200 mg
  • L-Theanine 150 mg
  • Caffeine Anhydrous 75 mg

CDP-Choline (cytidine-5'-phosphocholine) is especially effective for senior citizens and is known to help improve memory and learning. CDP-choline is a phospholipid utilized to treat neurological disorders, restoring and preserving neuronal membranes.

It has been scientifically proven to amplify cholinergic neurotransmission by activating the α7 nicotinic receptor (α7 nAChR) of choline and increasing acetylcholine production (ACh). As such, it can regulate brain oscillations responsible for cognitive performance [2]Knott, Verner et al. “Effects of acute CDP-choline treatment on resting state brain oscillations in healthy volunteers.” Neuroscience letters vol. 591 (2015): 121-125. … Learn more.

When CDP-Choline is combined, or stacked, with other nootropics like Caffeine and L-Theanine, the effect is even more pronounced.

Vyvamind Pros

  • You get more bang for your buck (6 natural ingredients in one formula)
  • It helps prevent cognitive decline
  • Improves mental clarity and focus
  • Provides energy boost
  • Legal and non-prescription

Vyvamind Cons

  • Not ideal for people on a tight budget

Vyvamind in Summary

Vyvamind is a nootropic blend that contains 6 powerful ingredients, such as CDP-Choline and Caffeine. It helps to prevent cognitive decline in seniors, improve mental clarity and focus, and provide an energy boost. While it may be too expensive for some people on a tight budget, for those who can afford it, Vyvamind is an excellent choice to help preserve cognition in the elderly.

2. Piracetam

Piracetam (2-oxo-1-pyrrolidine acetamide) is a nootropic drug in the racetam group used to treat cognitive decline in multiple neurological conditions.

Studies have indicated it increases ATP production, strengthens mitochondrial membranes, and promotes neuron growth - potential pathways for improved brain health associated with aging or injury-related neurological disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s [3]Stockburger, Carola et al. “Improvement of mitochondrial function and dynamics by the metabolic enhancer piracetam.” Biochemical Society transactions vol. 41,5 (2013): 1331-4. … Learn more.

Piracetam increases blood flow to the brain, improving its overall functioning. It also stimulates acetylcholine receptors and restores their activity, leading to improved learning and memory [4]Pilch, H, and W E Müller. “Piracetam elevates muscarinic cholinergic receptor density in the frontal cortex of aged but not of young mice.” Psychopharmacology vol. 94,1 (1988): 74-8. … Learn more.

Piracetam Pros

  • One of the oldest nootropics available
  • Improves mood, focus, and cognition
  • Enhances overall brain health
  • Increases blood flow to the brain
  • Great nootropic for cognitive decline

Piracetam Cons

  • Hard to find high-quality Piracetam online

Piracetam in Summary

Piracetam is one of the oldest nootropics on the market and can improve mood, focus, and cognition and enhance overall brain health. It increases blood flow to the brain, improving its overall functioning. As such, it is great for cognitive decline in seniors.

3. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba is an herbal supplement derived from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine and is known to improve cognition, memory, and focus.

Recent studies have revealed a remarkable impact of Ginkgo on cerebral blood flow. It does this by stimulating the production of Nitric Oxide (NO), which has been known to widen and improve circulation through veins and arteries [5]Mashayekh, Ameneh et al. “Effects of Ginkgo biloba on cerebral blood flow assessed by quantitative MR perfusion imaging: a pilot study.” Neuroradiology vol. 53,3 (2011): 185-91. … Learn more.

In doing so, it facilitates better elimination of free radicals while reducing oxidative stress, providing vital oxygen and glucose to neurons for improved cognitive function.

This makes Ginkgo Biloba an ideal nootropic for seniors looking for a natural solution to improve their mental clarity, focus and prevent cognitive decline.

Ginkgo Biloba Pros

  • Improves cognitive function
  • Increases circulation through veins and arteries
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • A natural solution for improved mental clarity and focus

Ginkgo Biloba Cons

  • Not as potent as other nootropics on the market
  • It takes time to take effect

Ginkgo Biloba in Summary

Ginkgo Biloba improves cognition, memory, and focus by stimulating Nitric Oxide production (NO), which widens and improves circulation through veins and arteries. This reduces oxidative stress while providing vital oxygen and glucose to neurons for improved cognitive function. Thus, it is an ideal nootropic for seniors looking for a natural solution to improve mental clarity, focus and prevent cognitive decline.

4. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) 

Alpha Lipoic Acid (α-lipoic acid) is a remarkable antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in water- and fat-soluble environments due to its sulfur composition [6]Poon, H Fai et al. “Free radicals and brain aging.” Clinics in geriatric medicine vol. 20,2 (2004): 329-59. doi:10.1016/j.cger.2004.02.005.

It stands out among other antioxidants for this exclusive quality - making it a potential powerhouse for combating oxidative stress (OS).

Alpha Lipoic Acid has been found to provide powerful protection against oxidative damage, with the potential even to diminish brain cell harm resulting from stroke [7]Panigrahi, M et al. “alpha-Lipoic acid protects against reperfusion injury following cerebral ischemia in rats.” Brain research vol. 717,1-2 (1996): 184-8. doi:10.1016/0006-8993(96)00009-1.

Additionally, its ability to increase acetylcholine synthesis and glucose uptake in the neurons of our brains could prove highly beneficial for cognitive function over time.

Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful regenerative antioxidant that can help form an able defense in the body.

Not only does ALA replete other frequently depleted antioxidants (Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Glutathione), but it also assists with CoQ10 recycling – significantly reducing inflammation while eliminating heavy metals to boost cellular energy levels, thus resulting in improved memory retention.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) Pros

  • Neutralizes free radicals
  • Protects against oxidative damage
  • Increases acetylcholine synthesis and glucose uptake in neurons
  • Reduces inflammation and eliminates heavy metals to boost cellular energy for improved memory retention

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) Cons

  • Not ideal for people with diabetes (it can lower blood sugar levels)

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) in Summary

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a remarkable antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in water- and fat-soluble environments due to its sulfur composition. It stands out among other antioxidants for this exclusive quality, making it a potential powerhouse for combating oxidative stress.

5. Coenzyme Q10 

CoQ10 is an integral part of your body and brain due to its role as a natural antioxidant. It's found in every cell, ensuring the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

This energy source helps power your brain cells with nutrients from fat and other substances transformed via mitochondria. CoQ10 fights against oxidation and the aging process, providing beneficial effects for improved memory, concentration and focus.

CoQ10 is an amazing supplement for cognitive health, as demonstrated by studies. It can increase energy levels in brain cells to protect against damage and preserve overall function- a great benefit to find if you're looking to maintain good mental health or reduce the effects of migraine headaches.

And there are two varieties - ubiquinone may be suitable for those under 25 due to its cost efficiency, whereas over that age, it's better suited with the more expensive Ubiquinol form (electron-rich form) instead.

Coenzyme Q10 Pros

  • Fights against oxidation and the aging process
  • Increases energy levels in brain cells
  • Protects against damage to preserve overall function

Coenzyme Q10 Cons

  • Ubiquinol is the more expensive form

Coenzyme Q10 in Summary

CoQ10 is an integral part of your body and brain due to its role as a natural antioxidant. It's found in every cell, ensuring the creation of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which helps power your brain cells with nutrients from fat and other substances transformed via mitochondria. CoQ10 fights against oxidation and the aging process, providing beneficial effects for improved memory, concentration and focus.

6. Creatine

Creatine (CNCH₂CO₂H.) plays a pivotal role in the cellular energy cycles of vertebrates. This organic compound is essential for recycling adenosine triphosphate (ATP), predominantly within muscle and brain tissues - ensuring that these cells keep up with their demanding day-to-day activities.

Creatine has been found to increase working memory and short-term memory in the elderly [8]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. It can also reduce oxidative stress, protect neurons from excitotoxicity and even help reduce age-related cognitive decline [9]Genius, Just et al. “Creatine protects against excitoxicity in an in vitro model of neurodegeneration.” PloS one vol. 7,2 (2012): e30554. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030554.

Creatine Pros

  • Increases working memory and short-term memory
  • Reduces oxidative stress
  • Protects neurons from excitotoxicity
  • Readily available and affordable

Creatine Cons

  • Not ideal for people with kidney diseases

Creatine in Summary

Creatine (CNCH₂CO₂H.) plays a pivotal role in the cellular energy cycles of vertebrates. It's essential for recycling adenosine triphosphate (ATP), predominantly within muscle and brain tissues - ensuring that these cells keep up with their demanding day-to-day activities.

7. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC)

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC or N-acetylcysteine) is an amino acid derivative that replenishes the body's primary detoxifier, glutathione (GSH). This nootropic compound facilitates GSH production and supports your system with antioxidant activity.

Its antioxidant effect can help protect against oxidative damage and even reduce inflammation [10]Uraz, Suleyman et al. “N-acetylcysteine expresses powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities resulting in complete improvement of acetic acid-induced colitis in rats.” Scandinavian … Learn more.

As we age or suffer from chronic illnesses, our body chemistry and energy metabolism can undergo dynamic changes.

These disruptions in the delicate balance of biochemical processes lead to increased free radicals, which damage neurons and impair dopamine receptors, leading to a decline in Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) and mitochondrial energy.

These factors potentially contribute to the risk of major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia, or Alzheimer's/Parkinson’s disease. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine has been found effective at mitigating these consequences by reducing oxidative stress within brain cells.

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) Pros

  • Replenishes primary detoxifier, glutathione (GSH)
  • Fights against oxidative damage and inflammation
  • Reduces risk of major depressive disorder (MDD), schizophrenia, or Alzheimer's/Parkinson’s disease

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) Cons

  • It can take a while to start working

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) in Summary

N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC or N-acetylcysteine) is an amino acid derivative that replenishes the body's primary detoxifier, glutathione (GSH). This nootropic compound facilitates GSH production and supports your system with antioxidant activity. It's been found effective at mitigating the consequences of reduced energy metabolism by reducing oxidative stress within brain cells.

8. Ashwagandha

For centuries, Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been a widely recognized remedy in Ayurvedic medicine used for its potent stress-relieving effects.

Research indicates that it can be as effective at combating depression and anxiety than some of the most powerful pharmaceuticals available today [11]Speers, Alex B et al. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia.” Current neuropharmacology vol. … Learn more.

On top of reducing the hormone cortisol related to psychological distress, this extract also lowers blood sugar levels and improves lipid profiles in those consuming it [12]Durg, Sharanbasappa et al. “Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng) in diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis of scientific evidence from experimental research to clinical … Learn more.

Furthermore, an increase in acetylcholine production brought on by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase helps boost memory and cognition while aiding neural networks affected by neurodegenerative diseases [13]Gautam, Akash et al. “Assessment of Cholinergic Properties of Ashwagandha Leaf-Extract in the Amnesic Mouse Brain.” Annals of neurosciences vol. 23,2 (2016): 68-75. doi:10.1159/000443573.

This herb is considered to be a gentle and safe nootropic for seniors, and its effects are long-term.

Ashwagandha Pros

  • Reduces cortisol and other hormones linked to stress
  • Improves cholesterol and lipid profiles
  • Increases acetylcholine production for better memory and cognition
  • A natural herb used for centuries

Ashwagandha Cons

  • It can take a while to start working

Ashwagandha in Summary

Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for its potent stress-relieving effects. It has been found to reduce the hormone cortisol and improve lipid and cholesterol profiles. In addition, it can increase acetylcholine production for better memory and cognition.

What Are the Best Nootropics for Best Seniors & The Elderly?

best nootropics for seniors and the elderly

The best nootropics for seniors and the elderly, according to the scientific literature, are:

  1. Vyvamind
  2. Piracetam
  3. Ginkgo Biloba
  4. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) 
  5. Coenzyme Q10 
  6. Creatine
  7. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC)
  8. Ashwagandha

The list contains a mix of natural and synthetic nootropics. Still, all these nootropics offer a wide range of cognitive benefits that could aid seniors in keeping their brains healthy and improving overall performance.

Each has its unique set of pros and cons, so it's important to research and talk to your healthcare provider before starting any supplementation program.

How to Choose the Right Nootropic Supplement for Seniors & The Elderly?

To choose the best nootropic supplement for seniors and the elderly, you'll need to consider their individual needs.

It's important to talk to your healthcare provider about how the nootropic may affect any other medication they are taking and the potential side effects of each ingredient.

You should also consider serving size and dosage instructions for each particular nootropic. Finally, you'll want to ensure the supplement is from a reputable company with quality control measures to ensure safety and potency.

I recommend starting with a nootropics blend like Vyvamind, which contains all-natural ingredients clinically proven to improve cognition and brain function in seniors and the elderly.

What Are the Benefits of Nootropics for Seniors & The Elderly?

The benefits of nootropics for seniors and the elderly are numerous.

Nootropics can help improve memory, focus, concentration, mental clarity, and overall cognitive function. Additionally, some nootropics have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, and cognitive decline.

Many natural nootropics like Ashwagandha and Ginkgo Biloba have been used for centuries in traditional medicine to improve brain health, reduce stress, and boost cognitive performance.

In recent years nootropic blends have become increasingly popular as they offer a wide range of benefits in one convenient package.

Nootropic blends can be an excellent addition to any senior's health regimen but need to be part of an overall holistic approach to improving mental well-being for seniors and the elderly.

What Are the Side Effects of Nootropics for Seniors & The Elderly?

While nootropics are generally safe, there can be side effects associated with taking them. Some common side effects include:

  • Gastrointestinal upset: Nootropics can sometimes cause digestive issues, such as nausea and diarrhea.
  • Insomnia: Some nootropics may have stimulating effects, leading to difficulty sleeping in some people.
  • Mood changes: Some nootropics may cause minor mood shifts or irritability.
  • Interactions with prescription medications: Nootropics can interact with some prescription medications.

It's worth pointing out that nootropics that increase acetylcholine levels may interact negatively with some antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs.

Similarly, an interaction between nootropics and blood thinners can put the patient at risk of serious complications, including excessive bleeding or clotting. It is strongly advised to consult your doctor before taking any nootropic supplements, as interactions can have serious consequences.

Do Nootropics Really Work for Seniors & The Elderly?

Seniors and the elderly can benefit from nootropics, as these supplements can positively impact cognitive health and overall well-being.

Many seniors and elderly individuals have reported positive results from taking nootropics. These supplements appear to help improve mental clarity, focus, memory recall, and concentration in those who take them.

It's important to note that all supplement use should be discussed with a doctor before taking them - but for seniors and elderly individuals looking for an edge in their cognitive health, nootropics can be an effective addition to their wellness routine.

Final Thoughts

So what do we know about the best nootropics for seniors and the elderly?

Nootropics can benefit seniors and the elderly as they help improve cognitive health, reduce stress, and boost mental clarity. Some nootropics target specific aspects of brain health, such as memory or focus.

Cognitive decline is one of the most common issues among seniors and the elderly, and nootropics can be a valuable tool for managing this. It's important to remember, however, that supplement use should always be discussed with a doctor beforehand - and it is essential to choose a quality product from a reputable company with quality control measures to ensure safety and potency.

If you're looking for a place to start, I highly recommend looking into nootropic blends like Vyvamind. They offer an effective, comprehensive nootropic blend designed specifically to help improve cognitive health and mental clarity.

References

References
1“Subjective Cognitive Decline - a Public Health Issue.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 27 Feb. 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/aging/data/subjective-cognitive-decline-brief.html.
2Knott, Verner et al. “Effects of acute CDP-choline treatment on resting state brain oscillations in healthy volunteers.” Neuroscience letters vol. 591 (2015): 121-125. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2015.02.032
3Stockburger, Carola et al. “Improvement of mitochondrial function and dynamics by the metabolic enhancer piracetam.” Biochemical Society transactions vol. 41,5 (2013): 1331-4. doi:10.1042/BST20130054
4Pilch, H, and W E Müller. “Piracetam elevates muscarinic cholinergic receptor density in the frontal cortex of aged but not of young mice.” Psychopharmacology vol. 94,1 (1988): 74-8. doi:10.1007/BF00735884
5Mashayekh, Ameneh et al. “Effects of Ginkgo biloba on cerebral blood flow assessed by quantitative MR perfusion imaging: a pilot study.” Neuroradiology vol. 53,3 (2011): 185-91. doi:10.1007/s00234-010-0790-6
6Poon, H Fai et al. “Free radicals and brain aging.” Clinics in geriatric medicine vol. 20,2 (2004): 329-59. doi:10.1016/j.cger.2004.02.005
7Panigrahi, M et al. “alpha-Lipoic acid protects against reperfusion injury following cerebral ischemia in rats.” Brain research vol. 717,1-2 (1996): 184-8. doi:10.1016/0006-8993(96)00009-1
8Avgerinos, 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
9Genius, Just et al. “Creatine protects against excitoxicity in an in vitro model of neurodegeneration.” PloS one vol. 7,2 (2012): e30554. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030554
10Uraz, Suleyman et al. “N-acetylcysteine expresses powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities resulting in complete improvement of acetic acid-induced colitis in rats.” Scandinavian journal of clinical and laboratory investigation vol. 73,1 (2013): 61-6. doi:10.3109/00365513.2012.734859
11Speers, Alex B et al. “Effects of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) on Stress and the Stress- Related Neuropsychiatric Disorders Anxiety, Depression, and Insomnia.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 19,9 (2021): 1468-1495. doi:10.2174/1570159X19666210712151556
12Durg, Sharanbasappa et al. “Withania somnifera (Indian ginseng) in diabetes mellitus: A systematic review and meta-analysis of scientific evidence from experimental research to clinical application.” Phytotherapy research : PTR vol. 34,5 (2020): 1041-1059. doi:10.1002/ptr.6589
13Gautam, Akash et al. “Assessment of Cholinergic Properties of Ashwagandha Leaf-Extract in the Amnesic Mouse Brain.” Annals of neurosciences vol. 23,2 (2016): 68-75. doi:10.1159/000443573