Best Nootropics for Focus
March 18, 2022
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WHAT ARE NOOTROPICS?
“The only difference between the master and the novice is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried.”
First things first, what are nootropics? Corneliu Giurgea, a Romanian neuroscientist, coined the term nootropic (pronounced new-tropic) in 1972. He believed that smart drugs should be invented and made widely available for the purpose of enhancing the general population’s brain health and increasing human intelligence.
According to Dr Giurgea’s findings, nootropics enhance cognition, memory, alertness, concentration, creativity, and attention. They became known as cognitive enhancers, substances that amplify the way the brain’s many cognitive functions operate and how we process information.
Simply put, cognitive enhancers (or nootropics or smart drugs) are prescription or off-the-counter drugs or supplements that enhance cognition. Some nootropics contribute to brain health while others can be quite dangerous.
Since Marco’s Grounds only works with safe and natural compounds in their purest forms, for most of our discussions we will restrain ourselves to natural nootropics that increase cognition safely.
Stay Focused, Stay Alert, Stay Relaxed
“When you change your thoughts, remember to also change your world.”
—Norman Vincent Peale
Focus is a term that photographers are acquainted with. In photography, an “out-of-focus” image is one that lacks either clarity or a focal point…or both.
Blurred photographs require image-sharpening editing tools to restore clarity by adding contrast and distinction between lines and objects – providing viewers with a clearer sense of what’s in the frame.
Similarly, the mind employs a similar idea of attention. Based on external sensory data, the mind’s eye asserts total order. A sharply focused mind may be better able to contrast between auditory and visual stimuli, separating critical sensory information from superfluous distractions. After all, the concentrated student absorbs the professor’s lesson while consciously averting their attention from the noises of outside play.
Exceptionally focused minds may even compartmentalize sensory information in order to successfully do many tasks concurrently.
On the other hand, a “fuzzy” (or unfocused) mind struggles to separate potentially significant information from the rest.
The brain may lose concentration when it is overloaded with sensory input or when there is an uninspired lack of external activity. The mind must strike a delicate balance between stimulus and relaxation in order to establish intelligent attention.
Excessive stimulation exhausts the brain, whereas excessive relaxation impairs intellect. Brain atrophy and burnout fundamentally result in the same thing: impaired attention. This is when the L-theanine + caffeine combination comes into play. They both have their standalone and combined values, but eventually, you will find that it is much more beneficial to have them stacked together.
L-theanine – Promotes mental clarity and creativity by calming the mind.
Caffeine – Stimulates the intellect, resulting in increased energy and alertness.
However, L-theanine, one of the best nootropics for focus, may improve cognitive performance on its own. Whereas caffeine frequently threatens to impair mental performance due to its jittery adverse effects.
This raises the following question: “Is there a difference between stimulants and nootropics in terms of enhancing mental performance and focus?”
Looking for other ways to improve focus?
Synthetic Stimulation vs Cognitive Enhancement
“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
— Herman Melville
The major distinction between stimulants and nootropic cognitive enhancers is as follows. Stimulants synthesized in the laboratory provide a synthetic boost to cognitive function.
On the other hand, nootropic cognitive enhancers stimulate the brain’s inherent energy and neurotransmitter production pathways. In dire or unique situations (e.g., neurotransmitter imbalance), synthetic stimulants may be necessary to restore cognitive equilibrium.
Stimulants activate the following catecholamine chemical pathways in general.
Dopamine is the brain’s motivating “pleasure-reward” molecule; a healthy dopamine response encourages and rewards an adequate attention span.
Norepinephrine – or noradrenaline – contributes to sleep regulation, wake cycles, and increased attention and alertness.
Epinephrine – or adrenaline – is the brain’s “fight-or-flight” neurotransmitter. It induces excitatory responses such as increased attention and rapid mental clarity.
Catecholamine neurotransmitters, which are released during times of increased stress, are critical for enhancing focus and alertness, which explains the association between catecholamine imbalance and inattention.
Stimulants function primarily by increasing the amount of catecholamine expressed in the brain. This, however, may come at the expense of cognitive performance for many.
An overstimulated brain becomes hyperaware of external stimuli, reducing mental attention on key concepts and facts. Stimulants are not genuine cognitive enhancers in this regard.
Additionally, they may have harmful side effects that are not often associated with natural nootropics – particularly when used for an extended period of time.
The Possible Side Effects of Stimulants
Stimulants’ cognitive advantages are transient and may come at the expense of long-term cognitive performance. Even a popular stimulant like coffee may cause a cognitive “crash” when the positive effects wear off.
Other potent stimulants may cause long-term cognitive deterioration by overstimulating the brain’s catecholamine pathways.
Excessive synthetic stimulant use has the potential to degrade the brain’s natural attention-sharpening bio-pathways, eventually resulting in a loss of focus and concentration, as well as general cognitive wellness.
Best Nootropics for Focus
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.”
— Will Rogers
Rather than flooding the brain with artificial stimuli, natural nootropics improve attention and cognition by strengthening the brain’s inherent mental performance pathways.
Choosing the best nootropic for focus is often safer and more effective than the stimulant alternative, with the potential to mitigate the stimulant’s adverse effects in the long term.
The best nootropics for focus appear to increase concentration in the following ways
Optimizing Catecholamine Activity
As previously stated, catecholamine neurotransmitters contribute significantly to the enhancement of concentration, attention, and awareness.
If stimulants increase catecholamine activity by chemical replacement, then natural nootropics increase catecholamine activity by:
- Supplying catecholamine precursors in their natural state.
- Increasing the efficiency of catecholamine conversion mechanisms.
- Enhancing the sensitivity of catecholamine receptors.
Certain natural nootropics may be labeled as “stimulating,” despite the fact that they do not stimulate the same manner as synthetic stimulants do.
Nootropics that primarily act on the catecholaminergic system may be most effective when the user’s catecholamine levels are normal.
Increasing Brain Energy Synthesis
When brain energy is depleted, attention becomes hazy. The brain, being the body’s most energy-intensive organ, is extremely sensitive to variations in physiological energy levels.
According to research found in Nutrients, nootropics that increase the brain and body’s natural ATP energy generation pathways may aid in a variety of metabolic cognitive activities, including focus and concentration .
The more attention a work or project requires, the greater the risk of brain burnout. Optimizing the energy capacity of the brain may result in an improvement in mental work stamina.
Enhancing Stress and Anxiety Resistance
Apart from high-intensity thinking, worry and anxiety may substantially affect brain energy and mental function, making remaining focused and energized extremely difficult.
Associated with the catecholamine hypothesis of attention, stress-relieving nootropics (or adaptogens) may not only assist in restoring the chemical and metabolic processes driving concentration. However, resistance to the catecholamine-depleting effects of stress and anxiety is increased.
Improving Task-Related Cognitive Functions
While the term “memory” is sometimes misused to refer to any cognitive activity that involves “learning” and “remembering” information, working memory refers to the brain’s capacity to process information directed toward a specific task or goal.
Working memory is a subset of short-term memory due to its limited capacity and endurance. In some ways, working memory is synonymous with concentration, as it entails directing the mind’s attention exclusively to critical, task-related sensory information.
Nootropics that aid in certain task-related cognitive functions may enhance the mind’s capacity to concentrate on a particular activity.
Best Nootropics for Focus
“If you are working on something that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you.”
— Steve Jobs
As a precursor amino acid implicated directly in the catecholamine conversion pathway, L-tyrosine is one of the best nootropics for focus. It is critical for mood, motivation, and focus maintenance.
Under increased stress and activity situations, the brain “burns” its natural L-tyrosine reserve to synthesize catecholamine neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine – i.e., focus-related brain chemicals.
Stress-induced catecholamine depletion can result in brain fatigue, impairing mental function and focus dramatically. Supplementation with L-tyrosine may be quite helpful.
Multitasking demands, external distractions, and inadequate sleep – are just a few factors that can impair attention and mental function. However, evidence indicates that supplementing with L-tyrosine has the following benefits:
- A Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior study found that L-tyrosine improves high-demand multitasking cognition-related tasks at hand .
- Another journal found in Brain Research Bulletin finds that L-tyrosine enhances impaired mental functioning due to loud “distracting” noise exposure .
- Research in Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance further supports that L-tyrosine also improves sleep deprivation’s effect on cognition and emotions .
The effects of L-tyrosine on the brain become more prominent and evident during cognitively demanding tasks as opposed to calm, simple tasks as noted on the L-tyrosine Deep Dive on Marco’s Grounds.
This makes L-tyrosine – or, more precisely, N-acetyl L-tyrosine (NALT) – an excellent supplement for clutch performance enhancements in terms of attention. It is an excellent nootropic for high-pressure brain activity that competitive individuals with demanding daily schedules prefer.
Due to the cofactor functions of B vitamins in catecholamine conversion pathways, stacking N-acetyl L-tyrosine with B vitamins may further increase NALT’s focus-enhancing properties and make it one of the best nootropics for focus.
Unlike other types of choline, citicoline (also known as Cytidine 5′-diphosphocholine or CDP choline) not only supports cholinergic processes in the brain but also boosts brain energy generation, which has a significant effect on overall brain health and performance.
This duality is due to citicoline’s two-component structure, which is composed of the following:
Cytidine: Cytidine is a precursor of uridine, a nucleotide base linked with increased membrane permeability and synaptic plasticity in cells.
Citicoline is one of the best nootropics for focus (especially so if combined with alpha GPC and uridine like in MAXIMUM MIND). It is a potent nootropic that enhances synaptic plasticity and cholinergic activity, boosting numerous pathways involved in higher-order cognition and brain regeneration.
According to Neurobiology of Learning and Memory studies, the combination of choline and uridine may significantly increase selective attention and spatial learning in cognitively impaired individuals .
Additionally, combined clinical research in Food and Nutrition Sciences and the Journal of Attention Disorders has demonstrated that citicoline improves attention, motor speed, and other performance measures associated with concentration under normal cognitive settings [6, 7].
As such, citicoline enhances focus – as well as memory, learning, and mental vigor while also protecting the mind against age-related cognitive decline. Therefore, citicoline is one of the best nootropics for focus, especially when combined in the right ratio with alpha GPC and uridine, like in MAXIMUM MIND®
L-Theanine is a highly popular nootropic amino acid found naturally in green tea (and other Camellia sinensis tea varieties) as the calming agent. It is notably popular among stimulant users, such as coffee drinkers.
While green tea is a good source of L-theanine, just preparing and drinking green tea leaves will not provide the nootropic advantage of L-theanine. Rather than that, the component must be supplied in an isolated, concentrated form and, preferably, in combination with other cognitive enhancers for the brain.
L-theanine appears to act individually by boosting alpha brainwave frequencies (8-14 Hz), the cognitive state linked with calm, creative thinking, also a mental state related to meditative free-flow thinking. It is a rare biochemical response that soothes without sedation and even improves attention without excitement.
L-theanine induces a state of mind best defined as “wakeful relaxation” due to its ability to increase both attentiveness and relaxation simultaneously. This is what makes it, undoubtedly, one of the best nootropics for focus.
In terms of enhancing attention, human studies in Brain Topography indicate that L-theanine may maintain focus on challenging and time-consuming cognitive tasks . Another study found in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition supports that L-theanine enhances attention and sleep difficulties, worsening attention issues .
What makes L-theanine so distinctive is that it may be beneficially supplemented at any time of day or night. The relaxing effect of L-theanine improves focus and not only prepares the mind for a comfortable, productive workday but also assists the mind in falling asleep at night, resulting in a more rested, alert mind the following day.
Supplementing L-theanine on its own may provide the benefits of associative concentration but it will prove to be one of the best nootropics for focus when coupled with other nootropics like bacopa and huperzine A, like in MAXIMUM MIND.
Many nootropic aficionados, on the other hand, love stacking this compound with caffeine due to L-theanine’s ability to maintain caffeine’s focus-enhancing effects while mitigating the stimulant’s jittery negative effects.
Read more on L-theanine on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive.
A variety of ailments can be alleviated with the help of this antioxidant-rich plant. As pycnogenol, it is widely accessible and functions in a similar way.
Gingko enhances blood flow to the brain and passes the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is beneficial and makes it quite effective. You’ll be able to express yourself more clearly and use a wider vocabulary as a result of your increased brain sharpness and mental vitality. Additionally, ginkgo has been shown to increase acetylcholine synthesis more than pycnogenol or other natural compounds.
Research published in the Journal of Neural Regeneration Research also shows that Ginkgo Biloba leaf extract administration enhances stem cell well-being across many brain areas . Now you can repair brain cells and enable new ones to sprout.
Despite being used for centuries, ginkgo is still in its early stages of research when considering its benefits on brain health. Therefore, it’s likely that there are benefits we don’t even know of yet.
Ginkgo comes naturally among the best nootropics for focus for its mental clarity and blood flow enhancing capacities.
Read more on ginkgo on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive.
The liver makes uridine monophosphate which is then released to the bloodstream. Many foods have dietary uridine added to them. However, because most of the uridine we get from food is absorbed during the digestive process, we may need to take supplements to get many of its unique effects and benefits, especially those linked to cognition.
Uridine supplements have been shown to get through the blood-brain barrier easily. When uridine is in the brain, it is morphed into CDP choline. From CDP, choline, phosphatidylcholine, and acetylcholine are made. These neurotransmitters are necessary to improve focus, motor speed, and other brain functions.
The more uridine there is in the brain, the more CDP choline is made, which protects and strengthens nascent synapses and helps them grow. By encouraging the growth of projections or branches called neurites, Uridine also helps to build new synapses. These branches are important for the transmission of information between brain cells.
Studies in Neuroscience found that Supplementing with uridine dramatically increased the number of neurites per cell and the number of neurite branches . People who have more neuron growth and branching have better cognition.
According to a paper in Nutrition Reviews, uridine’s combined effects help the brain be more flexible and adaptable to learning and brain training . A brain capable of learning and an increased level of thought can focus and adapt in extreme situations.
In terms of pharmacological action, Glycerophosphocholine (sometimes called alpha-glycerophosphocholine or alpha GPC) is a supplement found in a broad variety of foods similarly high in choline. However, it appears to be more active at higher doses.
Alpha GPC is a nootropic form of choline that acts as a building block for increased acetylcholine levels in the brain. Acetylcholine is a critical component of brain neurotransmission; it is involved in both fight or flight and rest and relaxes autonomic nervous system mechanisms. It is a signaling molecule involved in the activation of muscles.
Alpha GPC has been shown in studies published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition to not only protect our brains from age-related cognitive decline but also to boost brain energy. It aids in the maintenance of a healthy mood, concentration, mental performance, and recall .
Although a choline prodrug, alpha GPC is one of the best nootropics for focus for its ability to promote the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and enhance concentration, learning, and remembering.
Alpha GPC is widely distributed and accepted among nootropics aficionados. The most effective method of transporting the nutrient is when taken orally (able to influence both systemic and brain concentrations of choline). Prodrugs like alpha GPC appear to aid cell membrane formation in a way that is not typical of this family of medications (only CDP choline is associated with lipid membranes in this sense).
Alpha GPC also improves focus and concentration as well as strengthens and protects brain cells, thereby increasing the brain’s overall endurance and performance.
For its overall increase in mental performance coupled with its stimulant-free energy-boosting properties, alpha GPC makes it to the top of our list of best nootropics for focus. It is especially effective when combined with uridine and citicoline in the right ratios like in MAXIMUM MIND.
Organic Huperzia Serrata Leaf Extract
Huperzine A is found in Chinese club moss extracts (Huperzia Serrata). Huperzine A has several benefits. It is responsible for improving acetylcholine signaling. This neurotransmitter facilitates memory and cognition activities, influencing the enzyme cholinesterase.
In general, it dramatically boosts acetylcholine. Its association with acetylcholine signaling explains its relevance in memory and cognition activities, such as focus.
Huperzine A has been shown to be effective in complementary and alternative medicine as an anti-cholinesterase agent (a chemical essential to learning and memory).
In several studies, huperzine A has also been proven to increase memory and learning and to guard against cognitive decline as we age . Both patient and non-patient studies have evaluated the effects of huperzine A. A reference study examined 68 adolescents given either huperzine A or a placebo. Those who received a huperzine A supplement showed significant improvement in their memory quotient and performance on the Weschler memory scale .
These studies have provided a framework to initiate clinical trials using huperzine A to treat memory impairments. The efficacy of Huperzine A against age-related degenerative conditions and trauma-related memory impairments, such as the recently documented brain injuries in ex-NFL players in the United States, is currently being investigated .
As such, huperzine A is one of the best nootropics for focus due to its effect on acetylcholine and on working memory.
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work in hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”
— Alexander Graham Bell
The best nootropics for focus prepare our cognition to its optimal level of focus. And while they have been discussed at length, it is good to know that MAXIMUM MIND provides the most effective and best nootropics for focus in premium natural forms without the use of synthetic “smart drugs” and their associated risks.
MAXIMUM MIND’s blend of brain-boosting nootropics delivers immediate relief for a frayed attention span, enhancing focus securely and naturally – a more vital benefit than ever in the years past. MAXIMUM MIND design offers a novel, more effective strategy for improving focus, one that benefits both short- and long-term mental performance.
It’s easy to lose concentration in modern life, which constantly diverts your attention. Due to the development of smartphone technology, it’s simple for people to lose attention even in a locked room with barren space. Supplementing with MAXIMUM MIND may assist you in maintaining a focused mind and an eye on the prize.
Why not benefit from the best nootropics for focus in their purest form along with other clinically studied compounds for increasing brain performance and health with MAXIMUM MIND?
Pharmaceutical Grade Cognitive and Mind Enhancing Complex
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