Nootropics UK: The 5 Best Nootropics You Can Buy in 2021

For those of us trying to optimise our mental performance, nootropics are quickly becoming the go-to supplement. But what exactly are they? How do they work? And are they even legal?! In this article, we’ll answer all your questions about nootropics, and we’ll recommend our top five nootropics to buy in 2021.

Nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, are supplements taken to improve cognitive performance. That includes things like attention, focus, creativity, motivation, memory and other mental functions that you need to perform at your best. 

Some nootropics are synthetic substances that were originally designed for another purpose but are used “off-label” for cognitive effects. For example, modafinil is a stimulant drug used to treat narcolepsy, but people often take it as a nootropic to promote mental energy, concentration and focus. 

Other nootropics are natural substances (or synthetic versions), one of which you might already be taking on a regular basis! If you rely on your morning cup of coffee to liven you up, you’re reaping the benefits of the world’s most popular nootropic: caffeine. 

There are lots of potentially brain-boosting substances that occur naturally in certain foods and drinks, but usually in too small an amount to have any noticeable effect on your day-to-day cognitive performance. That’s why people turn to highly concentrated nootropic supplements to get effective doses of these natural cognitive enhancers. 

Best Nootropics 

Total ZEN 

The Zen Company’s signature Total ZEN supplement blends the best evidence-based nootropics with essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids. The result is full optimisation of your body and brain, restoring your natural energy levels, calming your mind and giving laser-sharp focus.

Vitamin B6, magnesium and zinc are some of the most important substances in your body, involved in hundreds upon hundreds of essential functions. They’re especially important for brain health, cognitive function and energy metabolism, which is why Total ZEN has optimal levels of each. 

Total ZEN is the only supplement on the list to feature three potent nootropics renowned for their cognitive benefits and protective effects: lion’s mane mushroom, ashwagandha and bacopa monnieri. 

Lion’s mane stimulates neuron growth and helps to strengthen your brain’s neural pathways, supporting memory and learning. Adaptogenic herb ashwagandha lowers cortisol, relieves and builds resistance to stress, and improves attention. Bacopa monnieri does the same, and also boosts a number of key cognitive functions like information processing. 

Together with calming, focusing L-theanine, they pack a triple-strength punch to help you function at your absolute best. 

The Zen Company is the newest brand on the list, but it’s no amateur when it comes to quality and effectiveness. The company insists on the purest ingredients, backed by credible human studies, guaranteeing evidence-based formulations that do what they promise.   

Zen Caffeine


If you can’t function without your morning caffeine fix, you’ll know that too much can make you feel anxious and jittery, not to mention the dreaded caffeine crash that comes afterwards. 

We put up with it because caffeine really is one of the best cognitive enhancers around. However, there’s a much better alternative in Zen Caffeine, a powerful blend of caffeine and amino acid L-theanine. 

On its own, L-theanine is known to relax your mind, improve alertness, and ease stress and anxiety. Taken with caffeine, it enhances the mind-boosting benefits of caffeine while softening the side effects that often come with it.

Zen Caffeine uses this winning combo at the scientifically backed 2:1 ratio, giving you the best of both worlds. You can enjoy all the benefits of a strong cup of coffee, with none of the side effects that come from one cup too many. It’s an ideal productivity booster, study aid, or pre-workout performance enhancer, perfect for when you need to feel alert, energised and laser-focused.
 

Ashwagandha
 

Known as the “king of Ayurvedic medicine”, ashwagandha is a herb celebrated in traditional Indian medicine for its ability to boost strength, energy, and virility. 

 

Ashwagandha has been widely studied and its benefits are supported by some pretty strong scientific evidence. It’s best known for reducing stress and anxiety, with studies showing that it reduces cortisol (the “stress hormone”) and may even regulate your body’s stress pathways. If stress, anxiety or insomnia are affecting your mental performance, ashwagandha may be just what you need!

Ashwagandha is also believed to have antioxidant effects, protecting the brain from oxidative damage and promoting short- and long-term health. As a nootropic, it’s been found to increase attention, memory, task performance, and reaction time. 

The following organic ashwagandha capsules feature KSM-66® ashwagandha, a patented extract made from the more potent root of the herb.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Lion’s Mane mushroom is an all-star cognitive booster that stimulates neuron growth, supports learning and memory, and protects the brain from cognitive decline. 

This mushroom contains two key compounds, hericenones and diterpenoid erinacines, that increase nerve growth factor in the brain. This stimulates neuron growth and helps to create and strengthen neural pathways – both essential for effective learning and memory.

Lion’s Mane also features potent antioxidants that may protect against cognitive decline by reducing oxidative stress, inflammation and cellular destruction. It’s also thought to have wider health benefits, like reduced inflammation and tissue damage in the intestine. 

If you like the sound of Lion’s Mane, try these potent Lion’s Mane mushroom capsules. You will find they contain 400mg of Lion’s mane mushroom extract in each plant-based, vegan-friendly capsule, you can easily add this powerful high-dose supplement to your daily routine.
 

Power Up Daytime Nootropic by Motion Nutrition
 

Power Up Daytime Nootropic combines amino acids and vitamins with herbs and mushroom extracts to create an energy-boosting formula for both your body and brain.
This power blend from Motion Nutrition features three amino acids essential to healthy cognitive function. Taurine promotes calmness and improves learning and memory, while Acetyl-L-carnitine supports the production of ATP, the energy that fuels your brain.
 

Together with L-tyrosine, it gently stimulates the adrenal system to provide focus and resilience to stress. You’ll also find that all-important brain nutrient, choline. Drawing from ancient Eastern traditions, Power Up includes energising ginseng, all-round cognitive booster Lion’s Mane, and a herb called gotu kola. Known in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as the herb of longevity, gotu kola is believed to reduce anxiety, protect the brain, and boost learning and memory.

Rounding out the Power Up formula is an impressive range of vitamins and minerals. It features vitamins B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12, which play a key role in metabolism, energy production, stress management, and cellular health. You’ll also find vitamin D, essential for brain and overall health, and a highly absorbable form of iron called iron bisglycinate.

Are nootropics legal in the UK? 

It depends. Some “smart drugs” are controlled/classified substances, like ADHD medications Adderall and Ritalin. People use them as “study aids” or stimulants, but without a valid prescription, you could get an unlimited fine and/or five years in prison for possession. Sell or share them, and that goes up to 14 years. 

Other pharmaceutical nootropics, like the experimental drug Noopept, fall under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016. Under this act, possession or supply could get you up to seven years in prison. 

Modafinil isn’t a classified drug, but it is prescription-only. That means you can legally import it into the UK for your own personal use, but you can’t sell or give it to other people.  What about natural nootropic supplements? Well, lots of popular natural nootropic substances, like caffeine or ginseng, are classified as food supplements. The manufacturers and sellers are bound by regulations set by the likes of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA), but it’s perfectly legal for you to buy compliant products that contain these nootropic ingredients.

That said, there are a small number of natural substances like yohimbine that are banned in the UK. To be on the safe side – legally and health-wise – buy from reputable vendors, check the ingredients, and research anything you’re not sure about. 

If you’re looking for tried-and-tested recommendations, check out our top 7 nootropic supplements. We’ve reviewed the best natural nootropics in the UK to help boost your clarity, focus and mental energy, so you can perform at your best. 

Are nootropics safe?

As you can see, nootropics can come in many forms. You might be wondering if they’re safe, especially those with unfamiliar ingredients.   

We don’t recommend off-label use of pharmaceutical nootropics, such as Adderall or modafinil. Only your doctor can tell you if these drugs are safe for you, taking into consideration your individual health status and medical history. And if you’re buying from an unregulated seller, whether that’s an online pharmacy or a friend, you have no way of knowing what you’re really taking. 

When it comes to natural nootropics, like the ones on our top 7 nootropics list, you’re in much safer waters. Ingredients like vitamins and amino acids are naturally occurring and necessary for good health, and herbal ingredients like ginseng and gingko biloba have been used for centuries without issues. 

That said, even natural substances can cause side effects or medication reactions in some people. There are too many nootropics to go into detail here, so we recommend doing a little bit of research before settling on a nootropic supplement. If you have a health condition, you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or you take medication, you should run it by your doctor first to be on the safe side. 

Will nootropics work for me? 

Many people who use nootropic supplements report that they do what they say on the tin – they make you feel more alert, energetic, focused and clear. Scientific research generally supports this, although in some cases there aren’t that many studies to go off. We’d personally like to see lots more strong research before we make any hard claims. 

Anecdotally speaking though, we can say that we’ve felt a noticeable boost after using certain nootropics. We hope that you experience these benefits too, but of course, everybody is different and we can’t make any promises! 

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