8 Best Nootropics For The Aging Brain In 2022

Written on August 16, 2022 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci

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

Are you concerned about the health of your aging brain?

Do you worry that cognitive decline is inevitable? Fear not, my friend! Several nootropics can help keep your brain healthy and functioning at its best.

In this article, I'll take a look at some of the best nootropics for the aging brain. So put down that Sudoku puzzle, and let's dive in!

The best nootropics for the aging brain in 2022, according to scientific evidence, are:

  • Mind Lab Pro
  • Gingko Biloba
  • Piracetam
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
  • Creatine
  • N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) 
  • Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) 
  • Ashwagandha

1. Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro is a nootropics blend containing 11 ingredients that support cognitive health.

It includes well-known nootropics like Lion's Mane Mushroom, Citicoline, and Bacopa Monnieri, as well as lesser-known but equally effective ingredients like Maritime Pine Bark Extract.

Mind Lab Pro has been shown to support memory, focus, attention, and brain health in aging adults. The ingredients work synergistically to provide comprehensive support for cognitive function.

One of the ways Mind Lab Pro works for the aging brain is by supporting healthy levels of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine (ACh) is a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning. As we age, our levels of acetylcholine decline, which can lead to cognitive decline.

Mind Lab Pro also helps to protect the brain from oxidative stress with its antioxidant-rich ingredients. Oxidative stress is a major contributing factor to age-related cognitive decline.

Additionally, Mind Lab Pro's ingredients for brain circulation help to keep oxygen and nutrients flowing to the brain. This is important because the aging brain is less efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells.

Mind Lab Pros

  • An all-in-one nootropic blend
  • Features 11 ingredients that support cognitive health
  • Only natural ingredients
  • Keeps acetylcholine levels healthy
  • Protects the brain from oxidative stress
  • Supports brain circulation

Mind Lab Pro Cons

  • It can take some time to notice the effects
  • Pricier than some other nootropics

Mind Lab Pro in Summary

With Mind Lab Pro, you get a comprehensive nootropic blend that supports all aspects of cognitive function. It's an excellent choice for the aging brain, as it helps to keep acetylcholine levels healthy, protect against oxidative stress, and support brain circulation.

2. Gingko Biloba

Gingko Biloba, also known as maidenhair tree, is a common ingredient in nootropic supplements. It's been shown to improve cognitive function in aging adults [1]Barbalho, S. M., Direito, R., Laurindo, L. F., Marton, L. T., Guiguer, E. L., Goulart, R. de, Tofano, R. J., Carvalho, A. C., Flato, U. A., Capelluppi Tofano, V. A., Detregiachi, C. R., Bueno, P. C., … Learn more

One of the ways it does this is by increasing blood flow to the brain. This is important because the aging brain isn't as efficient at delivering oxygen and nutrients to cells.

Gingko Biloba also has antioxidant properties, which help to protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are one of the major contributing factors to age-related cognitive decline [2]Achete de Souza, Gabriela et al. “Effects of Ginkgo biloba on Diseases Related to Oxidative Stress.” Planta medica vol. 86,6 (2020): 376-386. doi:10.1055/a-1109-3405.

Additionally, Gingko Biloba has been shown to have direct cholinergic effects, which help keep acetylcholine levels healthy [3]Nathan, P. “Can the cognitive enhancing effects of ginkgo biloba be explained by its pharmacology?.” Medical hypotheses vol. 55,6 (2000): 491-3. doi:10.1054/mehy.2000.1099.

Gingko Biloba Pros

  • Shown to improve cognitive function in aging adults
  • Increases blood flow to the brain
  • Has antioxidant properties
  • Direct cholinergic effects

Gingko Biloba Cons

  • It May take a few weeks to notice the full effects

Gingko Biloba in Summary

Overall, Gingko Biloba is an excellent choice for the aging brain. It helps to increase blood flow, protect against oxidative stress, and keep acetylcholine levels healthy.

3. Piracetam

Piracetam has been found to enhance the fluidity of brain mitochondrial membranes. This, in turn, has led to the hypothesis that piracetam might improve mitochondrial function, resulting in increased ATP synthesis [4]Leuner, Kristina et al. “Improved mitochondrial function in brain aging and Alzheimer disease - the new mechanism of action of the old metabolic enhancer piracetam.” Frontiers in neuroscience … Learn more.

The assumption has been supported by several observations showing enhanced mitochondrial membrane potential, enhanced ATP production, and reduced apoptosis sensitivity in various cell and animal models for aging and Alzheimer's disease.

As a result, there is evidence that neuronal plasticity is enhanced by Piracetam. Neuronal plasticity is important for the aging brain because it helps the brain to adapt and change in response to new information and experiences.

Piracetam has also been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which is important for cognitive function [5]Akopian, V P, and L S Balian. “O nekotorykh mekhanizmakh deĭstviia piratsetama na mozgovoe krovoobrashchenie” [Mechanism of action of piracetam on cerebral circulation]. Farmakologiia i … Learn more.

Piracetam Pros

  • Enhances fluidity of brain mitochondrial membranes
  • Improves mitochondrial function
  • Shown to increase blood flow to the brain
  • Neuronal plasticity is enhanced

Piracetam Cons

  • It's hard to find high-quality Piracetam
  • Not sold in stores

Piracetam in Summary

Piracetam is one of the best nootropics for the aging brain. It has been shown to improve mitochondrial function, increase blood flow to the brain, and enhance neuronal plasticity.

4. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)

ALA is a fatty acid that's found in every cell in the body. It's an important antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.

ALA has been shown to improve cognitive function in aging adults and effectively slow the progression of cognitive decline [6]Fava, Antonietta et al. “The Effect of Lipoic Acid Therapy on Cognitive Functioning in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease.” Journal of neurodegenerative diseases vol. 2013 (2013): 454253. … Learn more. ALA works by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.

ALA has also been shown to improve blood sugar metabolism, which is important for cognitive function [7]Akbari, Maryam et al. “The effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation on glucose control and lipid profiles among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of … Learn more.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) Pros

  • Easy to find and relatively cheap
  • Shown to improve cognitive function in aging adults
  • Reduces oxidative stress and inflammation
  • Improves blood sugar metabolism

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) Cons

  • Not as effective as other nootropics like Piracetam

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) in Summary

ALA is a good choice for the aging brain. It's easy to find and relatively cheap. It has been shown to improve cognitive function in aging adults, reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, and improve blood sugar metabolism.

5. Creatine

Creatine is commonly known in bodybuilding circles for its ability to help increase muscle mass and decrease lactate levels during exercise. However, creatine also has cognitive benefits.

The brain requires a constant supply of energy to function optimally. The mitochondria provide this energy, which produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary energy source for cells.

As people age, their mitochondrial function declines, leading to decreased brain ATP levels and impaired cognitive function. Creatine is a molecule that can be converted into ATP, providing an alternate energy source for the brain.

In addition, creatine can cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain, which can help to protect neurons from damage caused by oxidative stress. Several studies have shown that creatine supplementation can improve cognitive function in older adults due to its ability to increase ATP levels and protect neurons from damage [8]Rawson, Eric S, and Andrew C Venezia. “Use of creatine in the elderly and evidence for effects on cognitive function in young and old.” Amino acids vol. 40,5 (2011): 1349-62. … Learn more.

Creatine Pros

  • The safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation have been well-studied
  • Shown to increase ATP levels and protect neurons from damage
  • Can improve cognitive function in older adults

Creatine Cons

  • Hard to get sufficient amounts from the diet alone

Creatine in Summary

When people think of creatine, they usually think of its ability to help build muscle mass. However, creatine also has cognitive benefits. It can increase ATP levels and protect neurons from damage, both of which can lead to improved cognitive function in older adults.

6. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) 

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a precursor of L-cysteine that results in glutathione elevation biosynthesis. It acts directly as a scavenger of free radicals, especially oxygen radicals [9]Mokhtari, Vida et al. “A Review on Various Uses of N-Acetyl Cysteine.” Cell journal vol. 19,1 (2017): 11-17. doi:10.22074/cellj.2016.4872.

NAC is an antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is increased in the aging brain and contributes to the pathology of age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

NAC has been shown to protect neurons from death in animal models of neurodegeneration [10]Arakawa, Motoki, and Yoshihisa Ito. “N-acetylcysteine and neurodegenerative diseases: basic and clinical pharmacology.” Cerebellum (London, England) vol. 6,4 (2007): 308-14. … Learn more. It also improves cognitive function and reduces inflammation in the brain. Thus, it may be beneficial for preventing and treating age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) Pros

  • An antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative stress
  • Shown to protect neurons from death in animal models of neurodegeneration
  • Improves cognitive function and reduces inflammation in the brain

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) Cons

  • Not as potent as some other antioxidants

N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) in Summary

N-acetyl cysteine is a great antioxidant that has been shown to protect neurons from death in animal models of neurodegeneration. It also improves cognitive function and reduces inflammation in the brain, making it a promising treatment for age-related neurodegenerative diseases.

7. Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) 

Pine bark extract is a natural compound that is derived from the bark of the maritime pine tree. The extract contains several beneficial compounds, including procyanidins and phenolic acids. Pycnogenol is a patented form of pine bark extract that has been extensively studied for its health benefits.

Pycnogenol has been shown to have several beneficial effects on the brain. A 12-week study in healthy adults showed that Pycnogenol improved cognitive function and reduced oxidative stress [11]Belcaro, G et al. “Pycnogenol® improves cognitive function, attention, mental performance and specific professional skills in healthy professionals aged 35-55.” Journal of neurosurgical sciences … Learn more.

Oxidative stress is one of the biggest contributors to the decline in cognitive function that occurs with age. By reducing oxidative stress, Pycnogenol helps to prevent or slow down age-related cognitive decline.

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) Pros

  • Derived from the bark of the maritime pine tree
  • Contains procyanidins and phenolic acids
  • Shown to improve cognitive function and reduce oxidative stress

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) Cons

  • Relatively expensive

Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) in Summary

Pine bark extract is a great natural compound that has been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce oxidative stress. It is relatively expensive, but its potential benefits may be worth the cost.

8. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an herb that has been traditionally used in Ayurveda for centuries. The plant's root is most commonly used and has many benefits, including reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, and improving brain function.

One of the most important benefits of Ashwagandha is its ability to improve cognitive function and memory in seniors. There are a few mechanisms by which Ashwagandha can improve brain function in aging adults.

First, Ashwagandha has been shown to have free radical scavenging activity in animal models, which means it can help protect the brain from oxidative stress [12]Panda, S, and A Kar. “Evidence for free radical scavenging activity of Ashwagandha root powder in mice.” Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology vol. 41,4 (1997): 424-6.

Second, Ashwagandha extract has been shown to bind to and activate GABA receptors, which may be one of the ways that it exerts its beneficial effects on neurological disorders [13]Candelario, Manuel et al. “Direct evidence for GABAergic activity of Withania somnifera on mammalian ionotropic GABAA and GABAρ receptors.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 171 (2015): 264-72. … Learn more.

By activating these receptors, Ashwagandha may help to improve GABA signaling, which could lead to relief from symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disturbances, muscle spasms, and seizures.

Finally, in animal models, Ashwagandha has been shown to increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels. BDNF is a protein that plays an important role in the growth, development, and maintenance of neurons [14]Konar, Arpita et al. “Protective role of Ashwagandha leaf extract and its component withanone on scopolamine-induced changes in the brain and brain-derived cells.” PloS one vol. 6,11 (2011): … Learn more.

Ashwagandha Pros

  • Traditionally used in Ayurveda
  • Shown to improve cognitive function and memory in seniors
  • Can help protect the brain from oxidative stress
  • Binds to and activates GABA receptors
  • Increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels

Ashwagandha Cons

  • Can be hard to find high-quality Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha in Summary

Ashwagandha is an herb that has been used traditionally in Ayurveda for centuries. It has many potential benefits, including reducing inflammation, boosting the immune system, and improving brain function. Ashwagandha may be especially beneficial for seniors, improving cognitive function and memory.

What Are the Best Nootropics for The Aging Brain?

The best nootropics for the aging brain are:

  1. Mind Lab Pro
  2. Gingko Biloba
  3. Piracetam
  4. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
  5. Creatine
  6. N-Acetyl L-Cysteine (NAC) 
  7. Pine Bark Extract (Pycnogenol®) 
  8. Ashwagandha

I chose these nootropics because they have all been shown, through scientific research, to be effective at improving cognitive function and memory in seniors. These nootropics can help to protect the brain from oxidative stress, increase BDNF levels, and improve GABA signaling.

If you are looking for a natural way to improve brain function and memory, then these nootropics may be a good option for you.

How to Choose the Right Nootropic Supplement for The Aging Brain?

There are a few things to consider when selecting a nootropic supplement.

First, what are your specific needs? Are you looking to improve memory, focus, or both?

Second, what ingredients do you want in your supplement? There are many different formulas available, so it's important to find one that contains ingredients that are known to be effective for cognitive health, such as Ashwagandha and Ginkgo Biloba.

Third, what is your budget? Nootropic supplements can range in price from $20-$100 depending on if you choose a blend or single ingredients.

Fourth, how long do you want to take the supplement for? Some nootropics are designed for short-term use, while others can be taken for longer periods of time.

Finally, make sure you consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medication.

What Are the Benefits of Nootropics for The Aging Brain?

nootropics aging brain

The benefits of nootropics for the aging brain include:

  • Improved cognitive function
  • Improved memory
  • Protection from oxidative stress
  • Increased BDNF levels
  • Improved GABA signaling 

As we grow older, it's important to take steps to protect our cognitive health so we can maintain our quality of life. All the nootropics on this list are all beneficial in keeping the aging brain healthy and functioning at its best.

What Are the Side Effects of Nootropics for The Aging Brain?

The side effects of nootropics for the aging brain are:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness 

Most of the side effects are mild and temporary. If you experience any severe side effects, stop taking the supplement and consult with a healthcare professional.

Do Nootropics Really Work for The Aging Brain?

Yes, nootropics definitely work for the aging brain. There is scientific evidence to support the use of nootropics for cognitive enhancement.

This is especially important as we age and our cognitive function starts to decline. Taking a nootropic supplement can help protect our brain health and improve our cognitive function.

Final Thoughts

Overall, nootropics are a great way to improve cognitive function and memory. They can also help to protect the brain from oxidative stress and increase BDNF levels.

Nootropics are especially beneficial for seniors as they can help slow the aging process and improve brain function. If you are looking for a natural way to improve your cognitive health, then nootropics may be a good option for you.

I hope this article has helped you learn about nootropics and how they can benefit the aging brain. If you're looking for a good place to start, I highly recommend looking into Mind Lab Pro.

It's a great all-around nootropic supplement with 11 clinically proven ingredients to support cognitive function.

References

References
1Barbalho, S. M., Direito, R., Laurindo, L. F., Marton, L. T., Guiguer, E. L., Goulart, R. de, Tofano, R. J., Carvalho, A. C., Flato, U. A., Capelluppi Tofano, V. A., Detregiachi, C. R., Bueno, P. C., Girio, R. S., & Araújo, A. C. (2022). Ginkgo biloba in the aging process: A narrative review. Antioxidants, 11(3), 525. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox11030525
2Achete de Souza, Gabriela et al. “Effects of Ginkgo biloba on Diseases Related to Oxidative Stress.” Planta medica vol. 86,6 (2020): 376-386. doi:10.1055/a-1109-3405
3Nathan, P. “Can the cognitive enhancing effects of ginkgo biloba be explained by its pharmacology?.” Medical hypotheses vol. 55,6 (2000): 491-3. doi:10.1054/mehy.2000.1099
4Leuner, Kristina et al. “Improved mitochondrial function in brain aging and Alzheimer disease - the new mechanism of action of the old metabolic enhancer piracetam.” Frontiers in neuroscience vol. 4 44. 7 Sep. 2010, doi:10.3389/fnins.2010.00044
5Akopian, V P, and L S Balian. “O nekotorykh mekhanizmakh deĭstviia piratsetama na mozgovoe krovoobrashchenie” [Mechanism of action of piracetam on cerebral circulation]. Farmakologiia i toksikologiia vol. 50,1 (1987): 38-41.
6Fava, Antonietta et al. “The Effect of Lipoic Acid Therapy on Cognitive Functioning in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease.” Journal of neurodegenerative diseases vol. 2013 (2013): 454253. doi:10.1155/2013/454253
7Akbari, Maryam et al. “The effects of alpha-lipoic acid supplementation on glucose control and lipid profiles among patients with metabolic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Metabolism: clinical and experimental vol. 87 (2018): 56-69. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2018.07.002
8Rawson, Eric S, and Andrew C Venezia. “Use of creatine in the elderly and evidence for effects on cognitive function in young and old.” Amino acids vol. 40,5 (2011): 1349-62. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0855-9
9Mokhtari, Vida et al. “A Review on Various Uses of N-Acetyl Cysteine.” Cell journal vol. 19,1 (2017): 11-17. doi:10.22074/cellj.2016.4872
10Arakawa, Motoki, and Yoshihisa Ito. “N-acetylcysteine and neurodegenerative diseases: basic and clinical pharmacology.” Cerebellum (London, England) vol. 6,4 (2007): 308-14. doi:10.1080/14734220601142878
11Belcaro, G et al. “Pycnogenol® improves cognitive function, attention, mental performance and specific professional skills in healthy professionals aged 35-55.” Journal of neurosurgical sciences vol. 58,4 (2014): 239-48.
12Panda, S, and A Kar. “Evidence for free radical scavenging activity of Ashwagandha root powder in mice.” Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology vol. 41,4 (1997): 424-6.
13Candelario, Manuel et al. “Direct evidence for GABAergic activity of Withania somnifera on mammalian ionotropic GABAA and GABAρ receptors.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 171 (2015): 264-72. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2015.05.058
14Konar, Arpita et al. “Protective role of Ashwagandha leaf extract and its component withanone on scopolamine-induced changes in the brain and brain-derived cells.” PloS one vol. 6,11 (2011): e27265. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027265