11 Best Nootropics For Beginners (The Complete Guide)

Updated on February 29, 2024
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)
Exploring the fundamentals of nootropics and cognitive enhancement for beginners.

If you aim to ace your next exam, it might be a good idea to read about nootropics for beginners.

Smart drugs often appear in sci-fi movies where they give you supernatural powers, and they are also present in this world in the form of a nootropic.

However, a nootropic is not a supplement that gives you the ability to become a world-renowned superhero or nefarious villain.

Taking nootropics is claimed to improve cognitive function such as memory and motivation.

It is often difficult for beginners or first-time users to find the best nootropic that suits you and your needs.

This nootropics guide will help a beginner like you.

What are Nootropics?

Nootropics are supplements, drugs, and other substances that are used to boost the brain. They help improve many different brain functions to create results that people need.

Different nootropics are serving distinct functions and giving various cognitive benefits. One of the most common nootropics is caffeine.

Keep in mind that nootropics are not medicines. They do not bring you back to good health but only improve your brain function.

Benefits and Effects

As a prerequisite to be called a nootropic, it must enhance cognitive functions. There are many effects of nootropics that may help your brain health like:

  • Optimization of brain energy: Nootropics help in brain cell energy production that aid in fatigue and brain fog while promoting mental agility and focus.
  • Balance of brain chemistry: These smart drugs enhance brain chemicals connected to memory, processing, mood, attention, motivation, and other cognitive functions.
  • Maintenance of blood flow from the brain: Healthy circulation of blood in the brain provides glucose and oxygen used to produce brain energy for cognition.
  • Protection of the brain: Some nootropics help in preserving the brain structure by neutralizing free radicals that contribute to brain aging.
  • Enhancement of brain regeneration: Repairing, maintaining, and regenerating brain cells helps preserve brain health and reduce the risk of short-term memory.
  • Raise of Alpha brain waves: The use of nootropics stimulates the Alpha frequency connected to the feeling of relaxation, mental clarity, and increased creativity.

These are only some of the benefits that you will get when you use nootropics.

However, they may depend on the type of nootropic you are taking or the time you have been using it.

Mechanism of Action

Nootropics are vasodilators. Once it is introduced into the body, the arteries and veins in the brain dilate, allowing more unrestricted blood flow responsible for cognition.

Other nootropics improve neurotransmitters and brain cell membranes for a better working mind. Nootropics’ primary work is to arouse psychological and mental functions, but most of them are also stimulants or depressants.

Side Effects

Natural nootropics, or what we know as over-the-counter nootropics like caffeine, are mostly safe for use and lack side effects unless there is a fault in the manufacturing or human usage. However, if they do have a side effect, you may experience things like one or more of the following:

  • Brain fog
  • Headache
  • Digestive Discomfort
  • Lack of Sleep/Insomnia
  • Mood Imbalance
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tiredness
  • Jitters or Anxiety

Prescription nootropics, on the other hand, are usually used by those who are battling sickness. These are usually stimulants that are good for ADHD or other diseases of the same type, so it is not entirely safe for healthy people. Users might experience side effects such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Fast heart rate
  • Addiction
  • Lack of sleep
  • Trouble with vision

Natural nootropics are recommended for those who are healthy. However, keep in mind that brain chemistry might work well with some and not for others. Results are different per person, so as its benefits and side effects.

The Best Nootropics for Beginners

If you are still at the start of finding the best nootropic supplements that will work well for you, this beginners guide on nootropics might be the answer.

According to our research and customer reviews, the 11 best nootropics for beginners are:

1. Creatine

This supplement is known as a staple muscle-building used by bodybuilders. Research also suggested that it has properties that make better cognitive functions. It reduces mental fatigue and symptoms of depression and sleep deprivation.

Creatine is cheap and doesn’t have side effects aside from gastrointestinal discomfort if you take too much dose at once.

The best dose for this supplement is five grams any time of the day and another five during the evening. With its results, despite its low cost, it is a good start for beginners in using nootropics. The results are also long-term and may take a while before you see the effect well.

2. Theacrine

Its structure is not much different from caffeine, but theacrine acts as a milder supplement. Their performance is similar, but less intense stimulation is felt with this nootropic and has a longer half-life than its relative.

Research showed that theacrine doesn’t decrease its effects if taken with a dose of 300mg per day. However, you might experience immunity from this.

As theacrine is not entirely different from caffeine, the downside is, its effects are weaker. Most of the benefits are also believed to be more mental and non-physical.

3. Rhodiola Rosea

This natural supplement is believed to be a mild stimulant and mild stress reducer, and it is shown to reduce fatigue very well.

Rhodiola Rosea helps people to stay calm and keep away from anxiety. It is a good nootropic if you want a less jittery feeling and experience stress-related fatigue. It has the same cognitive and physical effects as caffeine and takes effect at about 4-6 hours during the Rhodiola Rosea half-life.

4. Vitamin B Complex

These basic essential vitamins are considered nootropics because they are crucial to cognitive function, especially vitamins B6, B9, and B12.

Vitamin B6 is vital in making brain chemicals that deal with stress, and it significantly helps the memory of older adults, while vitamin B9 helps with blood flow towards the brain. You also need vitamin B12 so that your body can make protective sheaths.

People need enough vitamin B complex to boost the overall nervous system. It would only make sense to use this supplement since it is a common need of the body.

5. Bacopa Monnieri

This nootropic is popular with students because it enhances higher-order cognitive processes like systematic decision making, brainstorming, and other activities that need sophisticated thinking skills.

Bacopa monnieri also boosts long-term memory as it reduces the risk of forgetting new knowledge.

6. Alpha GPC

It is a modified form of choline that the body needs to take since it is required for metabolization. The body needs choline to produce acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter for memory, mood, muscle control, and many other nervous system functions.

If you want to reduce the decline of brain health and Alzheimer’s symptoms, this natural nootropic is the one for you. Taking a dosage of 400mg thrice a day may aid you to get a consistent effect.

7. Ashwagandha

This is the most popular and most consistent pure stress-reduction nootropic, among other nootropics, according to research. It also has one of the best side effect profiles and is good to use stress-related insomnia.

The typical dosage for this natural nootropic is 300-500mg once or twice a day and best ingested with food.

Best Nootropic Stack for Beginners

You can find single nootropic supplements, but the best nootropics are stacks that are composed of two or more nootropics inside the pill. Nootropic stacks are composed of nootropics that work well together to create supplements with much greater performance.

Many nootropic stacks have combined nootropics with a similar focus to boost the supplements’ performance than when taken individually. The other type of nootropic stack is taking smart drugs with various purposes and putting them together to make new supplements that boost many mental function aspects.

Aside from the individual nootropics, it is suitable for beginners to start getting to know these stacks from this nootropic stack guide. Here are some supplement stacks for beginners:

1. Caffeine + L-Theanine

This stack is referred to as the “everyman stack” since it is the universally recommended combination for beginners. Although these two nootropics do not sound like a powerful enough duo, this stack is safe and works for almost everyone. It is also readily available and has only a few side effects.

Caffeine is probably one of the most famous and widely-used nootropics. It keeps you awake, gives you more energy, and provides a sense of motivation. You also get a sense of satisfaction by taking it because of its taste.

On the other hand, L-Theanine is an amino acid that possesses calming qualities that soothe the adverse and harsh effects of caffeine. It is an excellent addition to caffeine if you want to avoid jitters or anxiety while experiencing alertness and motivation.

The typical dosage for this nootropic stack is 100mg to 200mg. Even though the latter is commonly found in green tea, it does not take as much a ratio when used as a nootropic. However, make sure to keep in mind that this is not a strict ratio since you can reduce it when you need more energy, and increase the ratio if you’re in a mood to relax.

2. Piracetam + Choline

Combining these two can get you “profound effects on memory enhancement,” according to research. An increase in choline leads to a direct increase in acetylcholine which then enhances cholinergic transmission. An enhancement in this transmission includes an increase in brain signals’ strength and the brain’s ability to modify synapses. It then results in increased memory and improvement in demeanor.

Aging brains, however, cannot incorporate extra acetylcholine. That’s why piracetam is used, as it enables the nervous system to function even in an aging brain. Take note that these two may help keep the brain healthy and keep the mental ability solid.

3. Tianeptine + Adrafinil

Tianeptine is an antidepressant that is an effective mood booster. Though a mood booster, it can somehow get you drowsy at some point. On the other hand, the adrafinil is an agent that helps you become more alert, keeps you in focus, and promotes having a positive mind.

Even if tianeptine causes you to get drowsy and the adrafinil keeps you awake, they are safe to use together because adrafinil cancels out the drowsiness brought by tianeptine.

4. DHA (Omega-3) + CDP-Choline

Most of the brain is made up of fat that it did take up 60% of the brain’s mass, and most of it is in the form of DHA (Omega-3). The fat is responsible for helping in the formation of brain cell membranes. It also plays a significant role in how neurons and synapses function. CDP-Choline helps boost cognition, increase blood flow to the brain, improve memory, and increase brain energy.

The combination of the two nootropics helps in the formation of phosphatidylserine (PS) and phosphatidylcholine (PC) that are essential components of the cell membrane. It is necessary for the mental ability to stay intact.

Basic Habits to Combine with Nootropics

Keep in mind nootropics cannot work on their own. To achieve maximum effect with the use of these nootropics, here are some of the things you can focus on:

  • Sleeping 7-9 hours at night
  • Working in a place without distractions
  • Building a daily meditation habit
  • Listening to algorithmic music
  • Note-taking to aid memory
  • Being physically active
  • Eating healthily

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding nootropics:

Do Nootropics Really Work?

While there are many witnesses regarding nootropic effects, there is still not enough evidence from extensive, controlled studies that they are consistent and entirely safe. Because of the lack of evidence, researchers cannot claim if they improve brain function and if it safe for everyone to use. However, some natural nootropics such as caffeine and DHA (Omega-3) live up to their claims.

What Nootropics Should I Take?

Depending on the effects you want to take, you can choose whatever nootropics for beginners you would like. If you are dealing with anxiety, lack of focus, or other cognitive function problems, select the nootropics that focus on mending those. It is normal to do a trial-and-error before finding the nootropic type that fits you and your needs.


There are many smart drugs or nootropics available. They aid many cognitive problems, and it is up to you to choose what type of nootropic or nootropic stacks you would like to use to address your worry.

There are no significant side effects in using these supplements, but it is still better to buy those that are natural and not over-the-counter unless prescribed by your doctor. Optimal effects come with following the right amount of dosage and being conscientious on taking care of your body and mind.