What Are Smart Pills and Which Should I Take?

Memory, focus, mental sharpness, and ability to process new information efficiently are increasingly valued in our high-paced competitive environment. “Smart pills” or “nootropics” are prescription medications and and OTC supplements that may enhance various brain functions and promote short-term or long-term improvement in cognitive abilities. There are different types of smart pills.

Prescription Medications

ADHD medications. Strictly speaking, Ritalin and Adderall do not make you smarter. However, they might help you to use the abilities you have in the most efficient way enhancing focus and productivity. These medications are addictive, and may have unpleasant and dangerous side effects, so they should be used with extreme caution.

Modafinil. The more recently developed medications, Provigil and Nuvigil, based on a chemical modafinil, have fewer side effects than Ritalin and Adderall. These medications were developed to treat extreme fatigue and shift-related sleep disorders. Provigil contains a mixture of an active R-enantiomer and an inactive S-enantiomer of modafinil. Nuvigil contains only the active R-enantiomer. Modafinil boosts energy level, increases alertness, boosts concentration and improves performance in healthy individuals. It appears to be generally safe when used in moderation.

Synthetic Supplements: Racetams

Piracetam and its derivatives aniracetam, phenylpiracetam, and omberacetam (noopept) are synthetic compounds that stimulate synthesis of neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is essential for cognitive function, so racetams have a potential to improve memory, increase mental energy and improve creativity. Piracetam is the least potent compound among this family. Its effects are subtle and accumulate with continuous use. Aniracetam and phenylpiracetam are more potent; the latter has been shown to improve both mental and physical performance. Noopept is the most potent racetam developed so far. It increases the speed and efficiency of neurotransmission, protects and even restores neurons, and is used for treatment of traumatic brain injury and Alzheimer-related memory loss. Noopept emerges as a promising alternative to ADHD medications and has a potential to become a leading smart pill.

Natural Supplements

Flavonoids are the compounds that make fruits and vegetables brightly colored. They are powerful anti-oxidants and support general health. Flavonoids promote memory, learning, and cognitive functions by protecting the neurons from inflammation and neurotoxins.

Omega-3 fatty acids from coconut oil or fish oil provide building material for cell membranes. Neurons, the cells with a have very large surface, are especially dependent on the steady supply of omega-3 fatty acids. When taken regularly for a prolonged time,

Amino acid supplements such as acetyl-L-carnitine, L-theanine, GABA and sarcosine have a potential to improve the mood and reduce anxiety. Carnitine, theanine, and GABA are precursors of neurotransmitters that are essential for cognitive functions. Sarcosine promotes accumulation of glycine and glutamate in the brain cells. Clinical studies demonstrated beneficial effects of sarcosine supplement in patients with depression, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Which Smart Pill Should I Take?

This decision depends on your goals and the state of your general health. Keep in mind the potential side effects, and make sure that the benefits outweigh the risks. The variety of natural supplements boosting brain activity and synthetic medications developed for treatment of mental health disorders provide a possibility of choice if you feel the need to boost your cognitive abilities with nootropic supplements.