Finding it hard to focus? Don’t beat yourself up. Every human being goes through that from time to time. External distractions, anxiety, physical exhaustion are just but a few of the reasons why your mind wanders even when you’re at maximum motivation.
That said, with tight deadlines to meet and high levels of expectations everywhere, you can’t afford to take a backseat and assume that all will be well.
And that’s where the best nootropics for focus come in. Today, we’d like to specifically talk about the specific smart drugs that you can rely on in this quest.
The Criteria for Choosing the Best Nootropics for Focus
Before you settle for any nootropic supplement, it’s important to first understand how the brain works and what causes attention deficit and lack of focus. You see, brain activity is affected by 4 important neurotransmitters which are also known as neuromodulators. These are:
If you’re running low on dopamine, your neural activity is bound to go out of sync and you’d have a difficult time concentrating on challenging tasks. So, a good nootropic compound is one that improves your brain’s ability to produce dopamine. By doing that, you’d fine-tune your neural activity and be able to remain focused on the tasks at hand.
Also known as L-glutamine, this is the second one of the four important neurotransmitters that affect your ability to focus. What you need to know is that when you handle complex tasks on a day-to-day basis, your body uses up more glutamine than it can produce. Therefore, your best bet is a nootropic compound that helps replenish your glutamine supplies.
Acetylcholine cells are found throughout the brain which means that they are directly involved in almost every task that your brain undertakes. In particular, acetylcholine acts through muscarinic and nicotinic receptors to improve your ability to pay attention. If you’re running low on ACh, you’d better off supplementing on choline-rich dietary supplements.
Required in the medial and prefrontal cortex regions of your brain, Norepinephrine is the lifeblood of mental flexibility. If you have low levels of it you’re likely to notice a severe decline in your ability to plan and execute functions. In that case, you’d be better off finding a norepinephrine-boosting nootropic and we’ll discuss some of those examples right below.
Top 12 Best Nootropics For Focus
Caffeine + L-Theanine
Now that we have talked about the brain and some of the reasons for difficulties paying attention, why don’t we look at some of the noots that can help make things better? Here are some good examples that we came across during our research.
1. Alpha GPC
This is a rich source of choline and which directly affects the levels of acetylcholine in the brain. One thing we like about Alpha GPC unlike the generic CDP Choline supplements is that it has the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.
As such, its effects are felt faster and are subtle. And since acetylcholine is such an important component of efficient neurotransmission, you can’t afford to overlook the important role played by Alpha GPC in boosting attention and concentration.
And yet on top of all that, this choline-rich nootropic also helps in neuroprotection. Simply put, it protects your brain and nerve cells preventing loss of memory. Last but not least, the supplement plays a pivotal role in promoting mental endurance.
2. Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ)
Forgive us if we have made you bite your tongue trying to pronounce the name Pyrroloquinoline Quinone. So, let’s just use the initials PQQ for now.
Well, PQQ is one of the most efficient ways to boost glutamine levels in the body. As we have already mentioned, your body uses up more glutamine than it can produce when involved in demanding tasks.
So, a little bit of PQQ can go a long way in ensuring that your neurotransmitter levels remain balanced.
On top of that, this nootropic compound is associated with better mitochondrial function. It promotes the production of cellular energy known as ATP and in so doing boosts your metabolism.
And we all know what a slackening metabolism can do to your ability to concentrate. Don’t we?
This is perhaps one of the most sought-after nootropic compounds currently. It’s thought to be 1000 times more powerful than Piracetam – so you can imagine just how powerful it is.
But what role does it play in promoting mental focus? You might be wondering. Well, it first works by preventing the excessive production of Glutamate (don’t mistake that for Glutamine).
Too much Glutamate can lead to what experts refer to as excitotoxin which causes cellular damage. So, when you take Noopept, you literally unclog your brain enabling it to operate at full-throttle.
While at it, Noopept also stimulates your D2 and D3 dopamine and acetylcholine nicotinic receptors. As we have already told you, these receptors should function optimally for you to be more attentive and productive.
4. N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
This is a precursor amino acid which is directly involved in a process known as catecholamine conversion. Put otherwise, catecholamine conversion is a process through which Tyrosine (an amino acid) is broken down into dopamine and norepinephrine.
We have already mentioned the important role played by those two neurotransmitters in boosting concentration and focus.
One thing you need to know about N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine is that it provides the raw materials for the catecholamine conversion process. So, you can’t afford to do without it if you’re looking to boost your brainpower and wakefulness.
5. Huperzine A
Huperzine-A is yet another one of the extremely powerful brain supplements that boost acetylcholine levels in the brain and supports long-term brain health. The main selling point for Hup-A is that it’s an adaptogen.
Adaptogenic supplements are known for their ability to improve the brain’s ability to cope with stress. You know, we all go through stress every day. It might be stress due to work-related issues, traffic jam, family or even academic work.
In that case, just a little bit of Hup-A, typically 200mcg or thereabouts is all it would take to restore normalcy. But this supplement is not just about short-term benefits. Its ability to cushion the brain from shocks plays a huge role in preventing cognitive decline.
And to top it all up, Huperzine-A is an inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase (AChEI). Don’t mistake AChEI for ACh. AChEI is the bad stuff while ACh is the good stuff. So, Hup-A increases the good stuff and also reduces the bad stuff in the brain thereby supporting long-term potentiation.
6. Rhodiola Rosea
Grown in the mountainous regions of Asia and Europe, this herb has roots that are considered adaptogenic. In particular, the Rhodiola Rosea root improves your ability to cope with anxiety and stress.
Most importantly, it improves the quality of your sleep – as you know, adequate sleep is important for optimal brain function.
So, if you’ve been coding or studying late into the night, this is an important supplement if you want to improve your performance. In fact, this orange root is commonly used by military cadets who are required to perform night-time duties.
In a previous study, cadets who took up to 555mg of Rhodiola experienced a significant improvement in their capacity to carry out mental tasks. And in yet another study, students who took the supplement for 20 days reported reductions in mental fatigue and increased motivation to study.
7. Caffeine + L-Theanine
We all know that caffeine works by boosting dopamine levels in the brain. At the same time, we all know that this can create a dependency and cause jitters and a terrible crash afterward. And that’s why we have recommended stacking caffeine with l-theanine.
L-theanine is an amino acid that’s commonly found in green tea leaves. It works perfectly alongside caffeine and helps remove most of its side effects.
In particular, this nootropic compounds improves the stability of the alpha and beta brain waves. Those are key for alertness and relaxation.
So, if you combine that with caffeine’s ability to increase dopamine, what you end up with is a dynamic duo. Therefore, if you’ve been worried that you’re taking too much coffee of late, you can give your brain supplementation routine a new lease of life with this approach.
This is an advanced form of CDP choline. Just like Alpha GPC, it boasts the ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. And since ACh are found throughout the brain, you’d hardly go wrong by supplementing on Citicoline.
First off, this is a water-soluble supplement. So, it easily gets absorbed into the bloodstream. What’s more? It has a bioavailability of around 90% which makes it quite a reliable option for mental health.
If you can’t afford Citicoline, you might want stack CDP Choline and Uridine. This would ultimately help achieve similar effects.
Oh, and one more thing – Citicoline has a key role to play in stimulating the production of new dopamine receptors. In so doing, it also activates D1 and D2 receptors and that goes a long way in preventing dopamine burnouts.
This mechanism ultimately helps improve focus and also improves mood. That’s why we think that this is an indispensable natural nootropic as far as your productivity goes.
This is a naturally occurring nootropic that supports both short-term and long-term memory functions. It does that by supporting phospholipid synthesis which is an important part of the growth of healthy cell membranes.
When your cell membranes are healthy, you’re able to reduce the risk of premature brain cell death. And besides that, if you supplement on Uridine, you also increase your supply of the building blocks needed in the formation of RNA. Once again, this has a lot to do with the integrity of your cell health.
But perhaps the main reason why you might need to run to Uridine if you’re facing difficulties focusing is that it elevates dopamine. As such, it helps improve neural activity and also streamlines important brain functions which are important for optimal performance.
We’re still not sure why L-Glutamine is largely ignored by the nootropic society despite it being such an important part of healthy brain function. We’ve already mentioned the fact that your brain naturally runs out of Glutamine when you handle mentally demanding tasks – right?
This essential amino-acid not only boosts your glutamine levels in the brain but also promotes the production of GABA. A closer look at GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) reveals that it is one of the smart drugs used in the management of ADHD.
Also, GABA helps relieve anxiety and improve mood. Therefore, when you supplement L-Glutamine, you stand to gain quite a few short-term and long-term benefits related to your ability to focus.
Moda is the god-father of all nootropics. It’s a eugeroic and not a stimulant as most people think. As such, unlike caffeine (which is a stimulant), Moda still promotes wakefulness but without causing any jitters or withdrawal symptoms.
Also, this isn’t one of those nootropic compounds that work by simply boosting your dopamine levels. One thing you need to know is that when you’re used to boosting dopamine through supplementation, your brain naturally loses the ability to produce its own dopamine. And that ultimately leads to addiction.
The good news is that the mechanism through which modafinil is not addictive. If anything, Modafinil is generally considered safe by many a nootropic expert.
However, the “limitless pill” remains illegal to use or sell over-the-counter. That’s because much as it’s safe, it can lead to life-threatening conditions if misused – e.g. when combined with alcohol.
Since modafinil is quite difficult to get over-the-counter, you might want to consider trying Adrafinil instead. It’s a eugeroic just like Modafinil. In fact, it is a precursor of modafinil which means it ultimately converts into Moda once you swallow it.
Just like Moda, it boosts your ability to focus particularly by enhancing your brain’s ability to produce dopamine. As such it’s not addictive and is generally regarded as safe to use.
That said, you need to take it in slightly larger quantities than those of modafinil. For instance, while the recommended dosage for Moda is 30mg, that of Adrafinil is at 300mg. So, it forces your liver to work slightly harder and that often leads to the production of smelly pee!
Other than that, Adrafinil is quite safe and can help a great deal in supporting your ability to focus.
To this end, you can either choose one of the nootropics recommended above or stack them for optimal effects. Of course, if you can manage to get hold of Modafinil and use it responsibly, it would greatly help you.
Alternatively, you can go for a pre-made stack that contains a good number of these nootropics in their high-bioavailability forms. One such stack is the Mind Lab Pro which contains the like of Citicoline, L-Theanine, and N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine.
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