“Make Your Fear of Losing Your Greatest Motivator.” –Unknown
For consumers wishing to improve their intellect and alertness, this nootropics vs coffee post examine two prominent cognitive enhancers with their pros and cons.
Nootropic ingredients, like in the Maximum Mind formulation, are brain supplements that can be taken on a daily basis to improve mental performance. Coffee, on the other hand, has a number of bioactive substances that improve cerebral blood flow, cognition, and psychomotor performance.
Both nootropics and coffee have the ability to improve several elements of cognition. Which brain booster, on the other hand, offers fewer side effects and higher cognitive benefits? In this review, we’ll get the answer.
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.” ―Stephen McCranie
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.
Coffee and Cognition
“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.” ―Zig Ziglar
Coffee is a valuable caffeinated product that generates large sums of money every year around the world. In 2011, for example, 2.35 million cups of coffee were consumed per day worldwide. It’s no surprise, given its brain-boosting and energy-boosting properties.
Simply said, caffeine improves cognition by increasing energy and alertness by raising key brain chemicals. So, even if you didn’t get much sleep the night before, coffee’s caffeine can help you stay awake.
Caffeine is a well-known bioactive chemical and stimulant with energetic properties. Other phytochemicals in coffee, on the other hand, play an important role in enhancing mood and cognition. Coffee may thereby benefit energy, focus, mood, and overall cognition.
How Does Coffee Affect the Brain?
Specifically, caffeine works by modulating various neurotransmitters within the brain . Noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, glutamate, and GABA are some of the neurotransmitters modulated by caffeine.
Understanding these chemicals and their functions to use these chemicals can enable your brain to function correctly while enhancing your mood, even when you’re exhausted. For instance, in one study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s diseases, researchers could show how caffeine boosts arousal, mood, concentration, and learning .
As you recognize, many folks drink coffee in the morning to start their day. But whether or not they comprehend it, consuming caffeine early in the morning stimulates and prepares the brain for cognitive tasks throughout the day.
Caffeine is even known to accelerate reaction-time to diverse stimuli for Navy SEALS under heavy training regiments .
However, remember caffeine could be a stimulant. Thus, if you drink excessive coffee, you will experience jitters, anxiety, and other adverse side effects like sleep deprivation. Besides, withdrawal symptoms like headaches, brain fog, and fatigue are also seen.
Our cognition and motor functions tend to say no as we age. But coffee can help delay the signs of aging and protect our brain cells with its antioxidant properties, as one study published in Age found.
Pros of Coffee Consumption
Coffee has a variety of benefits and side effects. For example, the bioactive compounds found in coffee are at risk of interacting with compounds found in foods and dietary supplements.
Not to mention, everyone includes a different level of sensitivity to caffeine. Hence, the effects of coffee vary significantly from person to person. Here are the pros:
Increase brain energy
Enhance cognitive function 
Improve mood and memory 
Regulate cerebral blood flow 
Promote physical performance
Increase antioxidant activity
Reduce mental fatigue 
Has analgesic effects 
Cons of Coffee Consumption
Coffee consumption also comes with several disadvantages or unwanted effects. Here are the cons:
High calories in some coffee beverages
Possible caffeine dependence or addiction 
Indirect mode of action on cognition 
Withdrawal symptoms (weariness, weakness, and drowsiness, headaches, anxiety, decreased motor behavior, increased rate, and increased muscle tension and, occasionally, tremor, vomiting, and flu-like feelings) 
High intake of coffee affects sleep
Increases the danger of acute coronary events 
It can also cause tachycardia, palpitations, and elevated vital sign
Nootropics and Cognition
“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” ―Zig Ziglar
Nootropics are cognitive enhancers that may boost various aspects of human cognition. And to be clear, they’re not illegal, as this post discusses. They’re natural supplements that support biological, cognitive processes to boost cognition.
Nowadays, nootropics are well-known to reinforce brain activity, enabling the brain to do more and handle stress better.
Not all smart supplements are considered to be genuine nootropics, so you’ve got to use caution. Here’s the difference between a natural nootropic and the opposite.
Genuine natural nootropics are manufactured from natural ingredients, while others aren’t. The most effective nootropics elicit little to no side effects so that anyone can use them safely.
Natural nootropic supplements are preferred over their synthetic counterparts because the body accepts them and treats them like food. Also, the more recent synthetic compounds might have long-term side effects that haven’t yet been documented.
How do Nootropics Affect the Brain?
In general, people take nootropics to reinforce overall cognition. However, natural cognitive enhancers differ significantly in quality and efficiency.
Nootropics are available as either single, potent ingredients or in complexes containing two or more ingredients that promote a synergistic effect. The thought is that you can improve your unique cognitive functions by choosing nootropic ingredients or stacks that are specific to you.
However, it will be best to decide on a universal nootropic, a stack of natural nootropics built to support all cognition aspects. Universal nootropics are suitable for anyone who deals with various cognitive tasks daily. In contrast to caffeine and stimulants, quality, natural nootropic ingredients, and stacks are unlikely to cause jitters and crashes.
Pros of Nootropic Consumption
This is a list of the pros of nootropic intake. We’ll then compare and contrast the pros and cons of nootropics vs coffee to settle on a winner. Here are the pros of nootropic intake:
Safe and effective
Enhance productivity by increasing concentration and a focus
Speed up learning
Intensify motivation and focus during physical activity
Help combat the consequences of physical and mental stress.
Which Is Healthier for Cognition, Nootropics vs Coffee?
“You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.” –George Lorimer
Effective nootropics are natural ingredients that elicit cognitive benefits with little to no side effects. They do not typically contain stimulants like caffeine, which will cause adverse effects. Hence why they’re more sustainable for cognition than coffee.
While coffee can improve cognition and increase energy, some people are more sensitive to the compounds in coffee than others. Thus, it’s well-known to cause jitters, crashes, withdrawal, and sleep deprivation in many.
Also, unlike coffee, you’ll be able to choose nootropic ingredients that support your unique cognitive and mental functions. If an ingredient isn’t suitable, you can try a distinct nootropic formula.
Although coffee may be an excellent physical and mental energy-booster for brief periods, the side effects might not be worthwhile compared to natural nootropics or natural cognitive enhancers, which have almost no side effects.
However, some nootropics do contain caffeine. But it’s seldom used as the main ingredient. Nootropics or brain enhancers occasionally contain caffeine in small doses to further enhance brain activity.
Some nootropic ingredients even provide caffeine-like benefits without the side effects. As an example, they’ll help with alertness, focus, wakefulness, fatigue resistance, and our fight-or-flight response.
Here are a number of the foremost beneficial nootropics for cognition with sustainable, caffeine-like effects.
Cognizin® is a superior type of Citicoline. Cognizin® is more stable and highly absorbable. Citicoline is understood to energize the brain on a cellular level. Cognitive enhancement and energy from Citicoline don’t induce crashes, unlike caffeine.
Here are the know benefits of Citicoline on the brain:
Supports healthy mitochondrial function Promotes brain regeneration by increasing phosphatidylcholine levels Helps with the assembly of acetylcholine, a brain chemical linked to learning, memory, and problem solving Regulates cerebral blood flow Provides antioxidants to safeguard the brain from toxic substances and oxidative stress
Maximum Mind contains high-grade Citicoline in the form of Cognizin, which is enough to produce caffeine-like effects without the jitters. So if you’re after a crash-free cognitive enhancement, Citicoline could be a better option than caffeine.
Note: there’s an effective dose of citicoline as Cognizin® in each dose of Maximum Mind.
Bacopa Monnieri is a popular adaptogen that enhances cognitive abilities and physical performance. It’s known to have potent anti-fatigue properties that protect cells from damage and stimulate cell repair.
Besides, Bacopa can restore brain energy while limiting the assembly of cortisol, the stress hormone. Animal studies show Bacopa Monnieri might also boost energy metabolism, including brain energy.
When we enhance our energy metabolism at a cellular level, it can benefit both the body and the brain.
Here are the known benefits of Bacopa Monnieri as a nootropic:
Supports neurotransmitters and inhibits enzymes that degrade acetylcholine Energizes the brain and prevents fatigue Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects to keep up brain health
Note: there’s an effective dose of organic bacopa monnieri leaf extract at 50% minimum bacosides, in each dose of Maximum Mind.
L-Theanine is a well-known nootropic with no unwanted side effects, unlike caffeine. It’s the most naturally occurring ingredient in many green teas and black teas, apart from caffeine.
L-Theanine is backed up by science for its ability to enhance alpha brain waves.
Alpha brain wave activity is seen in a relaxing mind while strengthening cognitive functions like focus .
This nootropic is considered an antioxidant, not a stimulant like caffeine. But together, L-Theanine and caffeine can form an efficient nootropic stack that will improve mental performance during cognitively demanding tasks
Overall, here are the known L-Theanine benefits:
Calms the mind without impairing its functions Directly regulates the neurotransmitters GABA, dopamine, and serotonin Prevents or delay cognitive decline
Note: there’s an effective dose of L-theanine from organic green tea leaf extract in each dose of Maximum Mind.
N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine (NALT) is the superior variation of L-tyrosine’s organic compound. NALT is more easily absorbed by the brain than L-Tyrosine. NALT is understood to support certain brain functions while limiting the consequences of stress on the brain.
And while various factors can affect our neurotransmitter levels daily, NALT is also ready to restore neurotransmitter levels to enhance mood and overall cognition. For instance, stress may be a significant factor that may disrupt brain chemical levels and make imbalances.
Ironically, high caffeine intake may also affect neurotransmitter levels. N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine restores neurotransmitter levels once caffeine has depleted it.
When you consume over 200 mg of caffeine daily, you’ll experience adverse side effects. However, NALT allows you to experience nootropic benefits without risking a neurotransmitter imbalance.
Here are the known benefits of NALT:
Regulates dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in the brain. Optimizes mood and cognitive performance Enhances memory Improves the ability to multitask Protects the brain from cortisol
Note: there’s an effective dose of L-tyrosine as N-acetyl L-tyrosine in each dose of Maximum Mind.
B-Vitamins are essential nutrients that regulate specific body and brain functions. They’re vital for neurotransmitter production and cognitive performance.
Specifically, Vitamin B9 regulates cerebrovascular function and promotes brain development. Conversely, the B complex acts as a catalyst for neurotransmitter conversions.
Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 are the essential B-vitamins for the brain. The slightest deficiency can cause significant changes in neurotransmitter levels and cognitive function. Certain substances interfere with the absorption of B-vitamins and deplete B-vitamin levels altogether.
Unfortunately, even coffee is thought to decrease circulating B-vitamins within the body. This can be because coffee may be a diuretic substance, increasing the loss of surplus B-vitamins excreted in our urine.
Also, B-vitamin levels that remain too low for too long can impact neurotransmitters and weigh down overall brain function. Hence, we should always maintain healthy B-vitamins and confirm to consume substances that may affect B-vitamin levels moderately.
Here are the benefits of every primary B-vitamin on cognition. Also, we should note that taking non-methylated B-Vitamins might do more harm than good.
Methylated Vitamin B6
It helps create the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and melatonin. Supports the formation of the sheath Combats cerebrovascular damage caused by homocysteine Enhances mood, attention, and mental clarity
Methylated Vitamin B9
Promotes healthy cerebrovascular function Regulates neurotransmitters for a positive mood Improves memory and overall cognitive performance Modulates homocysteine to forestall it from interfering with blood flow within the brain
Methylated Vitamin B12
Promotes healthy brain energy production
Stimulates the formation and repair of the medullary sheath Supports overall brain health Optimizes function of nerve cells Protects cerebral blood vessels from homocysteine Combats the consequences of age-related cognitive decline
Maximum Mind supplies highly-absorbable methylated B-vitamins. Not all B-vitamin supplements are equal.
Also, B-vitamin deficiency is linked to cognitive impairment and other severe brain problems. Hence, we want to keep up our levels to support our overall psychological state.
While other compounds in Maximum Mind can help make you think more clearly, the methylated B vitamins inside can help give you the energy actually to start thinking, period.
Note: there’s an effective dose of methylated vitamin B5, B6, B9 and B12 in each dose of Maximum Mind.
Read more about methylated vitamin B on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive and why you should never consider non-methylated B vitamins.
Finishing Considerations on Nootropics vs Coffee
“Unsuccessful people make their decisions based on their current situations. Successful people make their decisions based on where they want to be.” –Benjamin Hardy
Nootropics provide cognitive enhancement with less risk of side effects than coffee.
While coffee could be a practical, energizing beverage jam-choked with many bioactive compounds for a fast cognitive fix, it is not exactly sustainable.
Nootropics are your answer if you are looking for crash-free cognitive stimulation and performance enhancement. Just ensure you’re consuming clean, natural ingredients and stacks without stimulants (if that’s what you are going for).
If you have any other questions or are unsure about the benefits of coffee or nootropics or have any other health implications such as stomach sensitivity or taking any medication, it is always best to consult your doctor before supplementing.
The question of nootropics vs coffee doesn’t necessarily have a clear winner. Arguably, coffee has more drawbacks than positive effects (if we forget about the significant good taste). However, remember that coffee and nootropics can interact with other medications and supplements. Thus, it should be best to ask your doctor before taking another supplement alongside other supplements and medications.
Why not experience coffee’s benefits while also experiencing the benefits of nootropics with clinically studied compounds for increasing brain performance and health with Maximum Mind? Maximum Mind has great synergies with coffee, as its organic theanine from green tea lowers the spike from energy coffee gives and translates into a longer-lasting calm and serene focus.
Cappelletti, S., Piacentino, D., Sani, G., & Aromatario, M. (2015). Caffeine: cognitive and physical performance enhancer or psychoactive drug?. Current Neuropharmacology, 13(1), 71–88.
Nehlig A. (2010). Is caffeine a cognitive enhancer?. Journal of Alzheimer’s disease: JAD, 20 Suppl 1, S85–S94.
Tharion, W. J., Shukitt-Hale, B., & Lieberman, H. R. (2003). Caffeine effects on marksmanship during high-stress military training with 72-hour sleep deprivation. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 74(4), 309–314.
Shukitt-Hale, B., Miller, M. G., Chu, Y. F., Lyle, B. J., & Joseph, J. A. (2013). Coffee, but not caffeine, positively affect cognition and psychomotor behavior in aging. Age (Dordrecht, Netherlands), 35(6), 2183–2192.
Walker TB, Robergs RA. Does Rhodiola Rosea possess ergogenic properties? Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Jun; 16(3): 305-15.
Olsson EM et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardized extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola Rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta Med. 2009 Feb; 75(2): 105-12.
Duncan MJ, Clarke ND. The Effect of Acute Rhodiola Rosea Ingestion on Exercise Heart Rate, Substrate Utilisation, Mood State, and Perceptions of Exertion, Arousal, and Pleasure/Displeasure in Active Men. J Sports Med (Hindawi Publ Corp). 2014; 2014: 563043.
Deijen JB, Orlebeke JF. Effect of tyrosine on cognitive function and blood pressure under stress. Brain Res Bull. 1994; 33(3): 319-23.
Thomas JR et al. Tyrosine improves working memory in a multitasking environment. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1999 Nov; 64(3): 495-500.$
Neri DF et al. The effects of tyrosine on cognitive performance during extended wakefulness. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1995 Apr; 66(4):313-9.
Gibb AJ. Choline and acetylcholine: what a difference an acetate makes! J Physiol. 2017 Feb 15; 595(4): 1021-22.
Nobre AC et al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008; 17 Suppl 1: 167-8
Giesbrecht T et al. The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness. Nutr Neurosci. 2010 Dec; 13(6): 283-90.
Wacker M. S. (1996). Alpha brainwave training and perception of time passing: preliminary findings. Biofeedback and self-regulation, 21(4), 303–309.