Nootropics UK: The 7 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 7 nootropics to buy in 2021.

What are nootropics? 

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. 

Are nootropics legal in the UK? 

It depends. 

Some “smart drugs” are controlled/classified substances, like the 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. 

Best Nootropics Reviewed 

  1. CBD (cannabidiol) by ZenBears

ZenBears, a UK-based CBD gummies manufacturer, offers consumers the most delicious way of enjoying the benefits of CBD.

While it’s not strictly a nootropic, CBD (cannabidiol) has gained lots of attention in recent years for its wellbeing benefits. Derived from the hemp plant, CBD is thought to indirectly support cognitive function by acting on the body’s serotonin receptors. 

This crucial neurotransmitter is involved in mood, sleep, learning, memory, cognition, reward and motivation, to name just a few. Researchers are still studying what that means for CBD, but there’s growing evidence that it might ease the symptoms of chronic pain, depression and anxiety. If you’ve experienced any of those, you’ll know how destructive they can be to your focus, concentration, and general motivation. 

You’re spoilt for choice with CBD products, but what we love about ZenBears CBD Gummies is that everyone can enjoy them. 

Each ZenBear contains 20mg of pure CBD, wrapped up in a tasty, naturally flavoured, 100% vegan gummy. The CBD comes from organic, non-GMO hemp, is extracted using a gold-standard CO2 process in an ISO-certified facility. 

ZenBears are completely free of THC, which you might recognise as the chemical that gets you high when you smoke cannabis. And for full transparency, ZenBears publishes independent, third-party lab reports to prove it. 

This means that no matter your dietary needs and preferences, and no matter how high your standards, you can enjoy the benefits of CBD with ZenBears. 

  1. Neuro Blue

Neuro Blue manufactured by Nootropics UK brings together an impressive range of seven super effective nootropic ingredients in one affordable capsule to deliver a potent dose of focused energy.

Kicking off with a smart combination of caffeine and L-theanine, this duo provides all the energy and alertness of a strong coffee, but without the jitters and the dreaded “caffeine crash”. L-theanine’s calming effect is boosted by another amino acid, L-tyrosine, that also moderates the side effects of caffeine. 

L-tyrosine works with the third amino acid in the blend, acetyl-L-carnitine, to gently stimulate the adrenal glands and encourage you to focus on the task at hand. Acetyl-L-carnitine also helps you to produce ATP, which you might remember as brain fuel!

You’ll also find matcha, a green tea extract rich in antioxidants that keep your brain healthy and young. It’s also thought to improve alertness, learning ability and memory, all essential for a sharp and focused mind. 

Finally, you’ll find a selection of those all-important B vitamins, including B3 for efficient energy production, and B12 for healthy nervous system function. 

  1. 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, Nootropics UK offers a pure Lion’s Mane extract at a very affordable price. With 400mg of Lion’s Mane in each plant-based, vegan-friendly capsule, you can easily add this powerful high-dose supplement to your daily routine. 

  1. KSM-66® 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. Nootropics UK’s Ashwagandha supplements features KSM-66® ashwagandha, a patented extract made from the more potent root of the herb. 

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. 

  1. Switch On Capsules by Misfits 

Misfits is a British brand specialising in plant-based, vegan-friendly supplements. Their Switch On Capsules are designed to heighten alertness, improve focus, sharpen your memory, and promote long-term brain health. 

Switch On Capsules are packed with potent nootropics. Like Boost by Form, they include L-theanine for focus and vitamins B6 and B12 for energy. B vitamins play an important role in lots of cognitive functions and are essential for overall brain health. 

Switch On Capsules combine these vitamins with green tea extract, rich in neuroprotective antioxidants, and gingko biloba, thought to improve blood circulation in the brain. Gingko biloba is best known as a memory aid, but it’s been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to fight fatigue and cognitive decline. 

Switch On Capsules also contain soy lecithin, a great source of brain nutrient phosphatidyl choline for healthy neuron cell function. And to ensure you’re performing at your best even under pressure, they feature calming oat extract and rhodiola rosea, an adaptogenic herb that boosts resilience to stress. 

Finally, if sustainability is important to you, then you’ll definitely appreciate Misfits’ commitment to plastic-free, biodegradable packaging and eco-friendly inks.  

  1. The Focus Capsules by Innermost 

Innermost’s The Focus is a nootropic complex designed to help you reduce mental fatigue, sharpen your attention, and boost your overall cognitive performance. The London-born company claims their all-vegan, allergen-free capsules will help you bring your A-game and be “the smartest person in the room”.

The Focus capsules contain some familiar ingredients: CDP-choline, essential for brain health and neuron cell function, and rhodiola rosea, the adaptogenic herb that helps you withstand stress and perform under pressure. 

They also contain taurine, an amino acid with an important role in learning, memory and cognitive health. It’s thought to interact with key systems in the brain to improve mood, especially during times of stress. So if you find yourself struggling to focus when things are getting rough, the combination of taurine and rhodiola rosea could be a game-changer.  

The Focus capsules also feature Siberian ginseng, a herb used to fight fatigue and promote alertness. They round off with bacopa monnieri, an Ayurvedic favourite for reducing anxiety, supporting memory, and promoting healthy neuron communication. 

  1. Nootro-Focus by The Nue Co

Nootro-Focus by The Nue Co features a blend of potent nootropics that you’ll be familiar with by now! They include: 

  • Lion’s Mane mushroom is a mushroom nootropic that stimulates neuron growth, supports learning and memory, and protects the brain from cognitive decline. 
  • L-theanine, the amino acid that promotes calm focus and sustained attention. 
  • Gingko biloba, an ancient herb thought to boost blood circulation to the brain, fight mental fatigue, and improve memory. 
  • Bacopa monnieri, the Ayurvedic herb that soothes anxiety, supports memory and promotes neuron communication. 
  • Rhodiola rosea, the adaptogenic herb that helps you to function at your best during times of stress and fatigue. 
  • Citicoline, another form of the essential brain nutrient choline. 

Combining some of the best evidence-based nootropics in one capsule, The Nue Co have aimed to create a supplement that gives both short- and long-term benefits that you can actually see. They say that Nootro-Focus works immediately to increase neurotransmitter function, sharpen your focus, and quickly get you in the zone. Long-term, it’s been clinically proven to increase ATP (AKA brain fuel!) by 13.6%.

Nootro-Focus is plant-based and free of additives, preservatives and fillers. The capsules are 100% vegan and designed to survive the stomach, breaking down in the small intestine for maximum absorption. And for bonus points, the brand is committed to responsible sourcing, recycling, and sustainable growth practices. 

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! 

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.