How to separate between ineffective and effective nootropics?

Updated on July 14, 2020

Since 2011, Google Trends shows a steady growth of interest in nootropics and nootropic supplements. Hundreds of brands, thousands of products, and a lack of scientific data make massive confusion among people. 

So, what exactly are nootropics and how to separate between effective and ineffective nootropics? 

According to Wikipedia, nootropics are “drugs, supplements, and other substances that may improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals.

If certain compounds can improve your cognitive function, you can imagine many would pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get such compounds – especially if they are safe, legal, and leave no side effects. 

While nootropics are generally safe and cause no side effects, that’s not always the case. There are many factors that you need to take into consideration when choosing and buying nootropic supplements:

Formula quality

You always need to check the quality of supplements you are interested in. Specifically, which ingredients are in the formulation, what are the dosages of those ingredients, are there any nasty fillers in the formulation, and more. 

Production quality

All high-quality supplements must be GMP compliant. GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practices and is regulated by the US Food And Drug Administration (FDA). It requires a quality approach to manufacturing, which eliminates the risks of contaminations and other factors that would decrease the quality of the products. 

Branded extracts vs non-branded

Most high-quality nootropic supplements contain branded extracts (such as Citicoline as Cognizin) because such extracts are well-researched and usually of the highest quality possible. If your preferred nootropic supplement does not contain branded extracts, that should not be a red, but only a yellow alarm. 

If you follow our recommendations, it should be much easier for you to separate between effective (good) and ineffective (harmful) nootropic supplements. 

But how should you take nootropics to get the most out of them? 

Here we share some of the essential guidelines you need to follow to avoid any side effects, minimize the risks, and potential issues with nootropics. 

The first rule you need to follow is always to read the instructions from the brand/manufacturer. Doing that minimizes the potential risks and ensures you will take (and store) the supplements in the right way. If anyone, it is the brand that knows their supplements the best. 

The second important rule is always to check the ingredients of all supplements you are taking daily. What can happen quite easily is that you overdose on a particular compound – it usually happens with vitamins or even minerals, but it could also be caffeine or some other nootropics. You definitely want to avoid an overdose, so make sure you don’t take multiple supplements together that contain the same vitamins, minerals, or nootropics.

The third important rule is to minimize the foods, stimulants, or other external compounds that you already get through supplements. For example, if your nootropic stack contains 100 mg of caffeine, you shouldn’t drink more than another coffee per day. If you do, you might experience adverse effects not because of the supplement, but because of too much caffeine that you got in your body. So be careful with that. 

How to avoid fake marketing campaigns? 

Even if you follow all of our recommendations, you can still come across supplements that look very high-quality, but they aren’t. Sometimes brands use ingenious marketing campaigns that will convince you that their products are the best. Sadly, many times that’s not really the case.

So, to avoid potential fake marketing campaigns and brands, we prepared a couple of useful tips for you. 

You should always check the team behind the brand. If you can find names, pictures, and links to private social media profiles, you at least know that people who created a specific supplement probably exist. 

If you have more time available, you can also dig a bit deeper and do more research about the team.

Secondly, you should search for honest reviews, testimonials and hopefully, you come across some influencers that promote a particular brand or product. While you can easily fake all of those, in general, a well-recognized influencer won’t put his/her name on a scammy supplement. Or that’s what we want to believe. 

Thirdly, check what a particular brand stands for, what’s their vision, mission, and brand philosophy. Check their social media accounts, find more data about their employees, check where their supplements are manufactured, where the company is located, where is their HQ, etc. 

All of that should help you decide if a particular brand is trustworthy or not. 

Trust the experts

Last but not least, if you don’t want to do all the research, you can follow the independent experts who do all that work for you. For example, this brand is the most prominent independent nootropic researcher on the market. 

The great thing about experts is that they usually have lots of know-how on the topic, so they understand the products much better than everyone else. 

So besides the fact that they check all the basics we talked about, they usually test or experiment with particular supplements, compare them to other similar supplements, and use somewhat objective systems for evaluating supplements. 


The best thing you can do to separate bad supplements from great supplements is to check the experts’ recommendations and then do your own research. 

This double-check formula will minimize the risks and ensure you really get a high-quality supplement in your hands. 

Because that’s what you really want, right? 

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.