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nootropics for students: students sharing notes

Best Nootropics for Students to Boost Brain Power and Focus

You're a college student, probably clueless about the best nootropics for students. But hey, you're not just hitting the books—you're also juggling family, friends, group projects, and maybe even a part-time job.

Maybe you're an athlete too, clocking laps from class to the library, and maybe even the occasional cafeteria dash.

Then there's the grand finale: studying.

Out of all the squads out there, college students are the ones tackling cognitive hurdles that make brain cells quiver right before exams. Sound like your life? It might be time to dive into the realm of primo nootropics for students.

These brain-boosting blends don't just amp up your learning mojo; they also give your brain a high-five without the sketchy side effects of those synthetic study aids your classmates swear by.

This article addresses the best natural nootropics for competitive college students and the academic benefits they may provide regarding learning, recollection, stress tolerance, and attention.

The best nootropics for students are organic bacopa monnieri leaf extract, citicoline, N-acetyl L-tyrosine, L-theanine, organic ginkgo biloba leaf extract, organic ashwagandha root extract, organic lion’s mane mushroom extract, and methylated B vitamins. These natural nootropics are available in their most refined and bioavailable forms in Maximum Mind. Read on to know how these nootropics can help you study better.

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, if we are talking about the best nootropics for students, first we must define what nootropics are.

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 to enhance the general population’s brain health and increase 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, we will restrain ourselves to natural nootropics that increase cognition safely for most of our discussions.

Study Guide: Best Nootropics for Students in the Classroom

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
— Anne Lamott

As we venture into this bright new realm of academic performance enhancement, one critical concern continues to arise: Is it ethical, much alone legal or safe, for students to supplement with nootropics?

To address this, we must first dispel two widespread myths about nootropics...

1. Nootropics Do Not Increase IQ

As the film Limitless, a fictional NZT-48 suggested: the pill does not make you smarter; it simply unlocks your full potential. While the film is based on a fictitious, hyperbolic understanding of "human potential," genuine nootropics do not put information into your brain by themselves. 

Nootropics for Students: a female student studying outdoors

2. Nootropics Are Not Unnatural

Suppose true nootropics are incapable of synthesizing new information. In that case, they are also incapable of transforming the mind into a synthetically enhanced state, as synthetic cognitive enhancers do in today's dorm rooms.

According to a journal in Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the pioneer of nootropics, a substance must be "free of the usual pharmacological adverse effects of neuropsychotropic medications" to qualify as a nootropic. [1]

Rather than that, nootropics enhance the brain's inherent bio-pathways in the same manner that proper sports nutrition enhances an athlete's athletic physiology.

Nootropics do not construct the doors of perception; instead, they open them.

Today, the majority of nootropics on the market, such as Maximum Mind, are either extracted from natural sources or are the natural sources themselves. You may be surprised to find that one of the most popular nootropic stacks now taken by students is simply caffeine combined with L-theanine, a green tea amino acid.

However, when selecting the best nootropics for students, it's critical to consider how nootropics benefit college students and which brain supplements correlate with brain performance and cognitive health.

Nootropics for Students: a group of students sharing notes,

How Do Nootropics Help College Students?

“Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.” 
— Joss Whedon

Nootropics have the potential to aid college students in an infinite number of ways, given the diversity of nootropic advantages and student cognitive demands. What one nootropic accomplishes for one student may not work for another.

With this in mind, a few critical cognitive concerns appear to be relevant to most, if not all, students at various periods throughout their academic careers. Nootropics may allay those fears by encouraging the following:

Memory Consolidation

Contrary to popular belief, "memory" does not refer to a single cognitive mechanism. Our memory is divided into three types: long-term memory, short-term memory, and working memory. However, when it comes to academic achievement, the type of "memory" we're talking about is the kind that merely assists us in learning, processing, and recalling new information.

And the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) is related to this.

Cholinergic nootropics help the brain maintain a healthy level of acetylcholine via a variety of bio-pathways:

  • Choline Donation - Choline supplements provide the basic substrate for acetylcholine synthesis and phosphatidylcholine, which is necessary for the health of neuronal membranes.
  • ACh Receptor Sensitivity - When acetylcholine levels are normal, but acetylcholine expression is not, supplementing with nootropics that sharpen acetylcholine receptors may be beneficial.
  • Acetylcholinesterase Inhibition - Increasing acetylcholine activity via inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, the synaptic enzyme responsible for acetylcholine breakdown.

Acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of acetylcholine.

Nootropics for Students: a male students studying with a headphone

Stress Reduction

While the term "stress" is frequently used to refer to subjective or emotional pain, it can refer to a variety of different concepts and manifestations, including:

  • Psychological - a state of mind in which one feels "overwhelmed" or apprehensive.
  • Chemical - oxidative stress, inflammatory digestive processes, and so forth.
  • Temperature - exposure to excessively high or low temperatures.

As a physiological parameter, "stress" is synonymous with the stress hormone cortisol, which is produced by the kidneys in response to various forms of stress. If left unchecked, the hormone stress response can have a detrimental effect on physical and mental function, eventually leading to severe health problems.

Certain nootropics may aid in the alleviation of stress by either modulating the activation of the stress response or minimizing the effects of an over-activated stress response.

Attention Enhancement

Numerous attention issues are detected and diagnosed for the first time in the classroom. This can be true, considering that your primary responsibility as a student is to pay attention. According to a Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology study, certain students have a challenging time paying attention, and one explanation attributes this to a catecholamine imbalance. [2] Catecholamines are a class of neurotransmitters that include the following:

  • Dopamine - is the neurotransmitter that regulates motivation and the pleasure-reward pathway.
  • Norepinephrine - is a neurotransmitter that governs alertness, attention, and sleep-wake cycles.
  • Epinephrine - acts as a stimulant in the brain and body during times of stress.

Executive processes such as attention, working memory, and impulse control are related to the brain's catecholamine state. Catecholamine levels naturally decrease in response to stress and sleep loss. As a result, catecholaminergic nootropics are especially beneficial during finals week.

Nootropics for Students: students about to high five

Behavior Tips for Better Academic Performance

“It’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
— Lewis Carroll

Nootropics perform optimally when used in conjunction with a strong mental foundation. Consider the following academic lifestyle practices while contemplating nootropics:

Cardio Exercise

The evidence is compelling: a brief 30-minute aerobic activity may increase working memory capacity instantaneously. Bear in mind that the study in Medicine and science in sports and exercise that discovered this revealed that aerobic exercise increased working memory but weight training alone did not. [3]

High-Fat Diet

A healthy diet is important for more than just your waist size. Unfortunately, when we talk about a high-fat diet, we do mean burgers and fries which are high in both fats and carbohydrates. Add foods high in polyunsaturated fats to your diet, such as fatty fish and nuts. These foods contain omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your brain health and performance.

According to research found in Nutritional neuroscience, a polyunsaturated fatty acid mixture may help to reduce the behavioral consequences of exam anxiety, including hunger, mood, concentration, weariness, organization, and stress. [4] If you are pressed for time, fish oil supplements or other omega-3 supplements are a good solution too.

Nootropics for Students: a girl stretching in bed

Regular Sleep Cycle

We understand eight hours of sleep a night is a lot to expect of a success-driven student. While it is self-evident that sleep length has a substantial correlation with test performance, our advice is to just strive for a constant wake-up cycle to maximize healthy brain function. Students pressed for time do not necessarily value health as high as other groups of people yet remember that a healthy brain is a performant brain.

According to a study in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, cortisol levels surge at awakening, so activating that spike regularly may help maintain a balanced 24-hour cortisol level. [5]

Nootropics for Students: a student contemplating to study

The Academic Benefits of the Best Nootropics for Students

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your actions.” 
— Dalai Lama XIV

Studying is the only way to earn good grades. There is no way around this. However, even the most dedicated students sometimes stumble, especially when the course load becomes overwhelming. 

However, by focusing on the three brain bio-pathways: Cholinergic Status, Stress Reduction, and Catecholamine Levels, that road may become significantly easier.

Enhancing these cognitive circuits may result in improved:

  • Focus - the capacity to observe and listen intently in the face of distractions or boredom.
  • Memory - the process by which new knowledge is acquired and then recalled.
  • Energy - even mental exertion - necessitates using an efficient fuel reserve system.
  • Mood - a positive attitude, intellectual or otherwise, does open doors.
  • Motivation - motivation enables the potential for a healthy mind to be realized.

However, no single nootropic ingredient can provide all of these benefits. To achieve the best results, college students must utilize a broad nootropic stack — a multi-ingredient technique that maximizes the synergy of nootropic effects like Maximum Mind. Additionally, to stack only the highest-quality, best nootropics for students, let’s consider a few examples.


Nootropics for Students: maximum mind

Maximum Mind as the Best Nootropics for Students

“If we have the attitude that it’s going to be a great day, it usually is.” 
— Catherine Pulsifer

nootropics for students: Organic Monnieri Bacopa Monnieri Leaf Extract

Organic Monnieri Bacopa Monnieri Leaf Extract

Bacopa monnieri is a well-researched herbal supplement and highly regarded Ayurvedic herbal adaptogen that is perhaps best known for its cholinergic memory-enhancing properties. While some nootropic aficionados supplement bacopa for its stress-resilience properties, this brain herb has a special place in students' hearts (and minds) as a learning accelerator and exam performance enhancer. The research that supports this reputation:

Chronic bacopa supplementation has been demonstrated in a study found in Psychopharmacology to boost "higher-order cognitive processes such as learning and memory that are highly dependent on the input of information from our environment." [6]

For this reason, bacopa is naturally one of the best supplements for students.

While high-quality bacopa monnieri extracts contain at least 20% bioactive bacosides A and B, Maximum Mind bacopa extract has the entire spectrum of nine bacosides associated with the herb's complete nootropic potential at a staggering 50% bioactive bacosides.

Note: there’s an effective dose of organic bacopa monnieri leaf extract at 50% minimum bacosides, in each dose of Maximum Mind.

Read more on bacopa on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or find out more about the benefits of bacopa here.

nootropics for students: eggs


Citicoline, which is sometimes referred to as a brain energizer, is a dietary supplement that boosts brain power via multiple major bio-pathways. Citicoline's adaptability as a nootropic can be attributed to its two bound constituents:

  • Choline is an amino acid that serves as a precursor of acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine.
  • Cytidine is a precursor to uridine, a nucleotide that enhances synaptic function.

Citicoline appears to essentially "re-fuel" the brain's capacity to think, learn, and remember by simultaneously increasing synaptic plasticity and cholinergic status. Potentially synergistic with the cholinergic effect of Bacopa.

In healthy people, Cognizin® Citicoline has been demonstrated in research found in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition to improve working memory and general brain activation. [7]

For these reasons, citicoline is naturally one of the best nootropics for students.

Note: there’s an effective dose of citicoline as Cognizin® in each dose of Maximum Mind.

Read more about citicoline on Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive and the benefits of citicoline for brain power here.

nootropics for students: cheese

N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine

L-tyrosine is a must-have dietary supplement and nootropic for stressed-out, sleep-deprived students (i.e., every student). The brain uses catecholamine neurotransmitters — dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, for example — to sustain high levels of focus, concentration, and energy under physically and mentally stressful conditions. Once those substances are depleted, cognition deteriorates.

A study in Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance verifies that L-tyrosine, which is most effective when supplemented as N-acetyl L-tyrosine, transforms into catecholamines, recharging the brain’s ability to think clearly under duress. [8] As such, L-tyrosine is an excellent cognitive enhancer for “exam day,” which makes it one of the best nootropics for students

The Exam Preparation “All-Nighter” N-acetyl L-tyrosine

Ironically, one of the worst things a student can do before a large, crucial exam is also one of the most typical pre-exam rituals: The All-Nighter.

For obvious reasons, operating on more than 24 hours of sleep deprivation has a detrimental effect on cognitive and physical performance. On the other hand, the average student does not have to wait until the pre-exam “all-nighter” to experience the detrimental consequences of sleep deprivation, as the majority of students function on sub-optimal sleep levels at all times seen in a study found in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. [9] And what about the cognitive consequences of chronically inadequate sleep?

  • Inadequate Memory Consolidation
  • Attention and working memory deficits
  • Insufficient Vigilance
  • Inadequate Decision-Making

While sleep deprivation can hurt academic performance, it can also hurt extracurricular activities such as exercise and peer socialization. The greatest cure for long-term sleep deficit is to get some sleep.

Students can keep sharp testing skills during the inevitable pre-exam “all-nighter” by supplementing the natural nootropic N-acetyl L-tyrosine, also one of the best nootropics for students.

One placebo-controlled trial found in Aviation, space, and environmental medicine revealed that L-tyrosine supplementation can mitigate test performance impairments caused by a single night’s sleep loss lasting approximately three hours. Therefore, if you’re prepared to sacrifice a night’s sleep for tomorrow’s exam, you might invest a bit more in L-tyrosine damage control. [10]

Note: there’s an effective dose of L-tyrosine as N-acetyl L-tyrosine in each dose of Maximum Mind.

Read more about N-acetyl L-tyrosine on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or find out more about the benefits of tyrosine here.

nootropics for students: L-Theanine


The majority of caffeine consumers in college prefer coffee over green tea. This is terrible from a nootropic standpoint, as coffee consumers miss out on a critical tea amino acid brain booster: L-theanine.

L-theanine is a dietary supplement that induces a distinct "relaxed, yet alert" brain state known as alpha brainwaves on the EEG scale when taken as a supplement. Numerous students and thinkers prefer to combine L-theanine with a caffeine source — typically coffee — to mitigate caffeine's jittery adverse effects while maintaining its stimulatory benefits. A study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition verifies that it provides a calm, collected, anxiety-relieving surge of focus and energy. [5]

L-theanine in Maximum Mind has been shown to mitigate caffeine's negative vasoconstrictive and behavioral effects while maintaining caffeine's performance and attentional task benefits.

For this reason, L-theanine is one of the best nootropics for students.

Note: there’s an effective dose of L-theanine from organic green tea leaf extract in each dose of Maximum Mind.

Read more about L-theanine on Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or find out the best caffeine and L-theanine combination here. 

nootropics for students: Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba

Antioxidant-rich plants like this one can aid in treating and preventing a wide variety of ailments. Due to its similarities to Pycnogenol, it is readily available and has a similar yet improved effect.

Among other benefits, ginkgo enhances blood flow to the brain and penetrates the blood-brain barrier, both of which are beneficial.

Ginkgo improves the same blood-brain barrier permeability. As a result, these two exhibit multiplicative effects.

This increases the clarity and vibrancy of your thinking, which increases your energy level and enables you to communicate more effectively and with a broader vocabulary–a great cognitive property to have as a student.

Additionally, ginkgo biloba extract has been proven to boost the health of stem cells in a variety of brain locations. 

This makes ginkgo one of the best nootropics for students, as it allows for a noticeable improvement in brainpower, which has a cumulative effect on memory and recollection.

Note: there’s an effective dose of organic ginkgo biloba leaf extract at 24% glycosides and 6% terpene lactones in each dose of Maximum Mind.

Read more on ginkgo on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or find out more details on the benefits of ginkgo.

nootropics for students: Organic Ashwagandha Root Extract

Organic Ashwagandha Root Extract

Ashwagandha, often known as "Indian Ginseng," is a common Rasayana, or medicinal plant, in Ayurveda (tonic). Rasayana is recognized as a supplement that can assist high achievers in improving their physical and emotional well-being.

As one of the best nootropics for students, ashwagandha can significantly aid in the reduction of stress and anxiety by reducing cortisol, the primary stress hormone.

According to the Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicines, Ashwagandha enhances cognition and memory and one's ability to study or remember information for a quiz or exam [12].

As a result of its stress-relieving properties and memory and cognition-enhancing properties, ashwagandha is one of the best nootropics for students.

Note: there’s an effective dose of organic ashwagandha full-spectrum root extract, standardized at 10% withanolides, and less than 1% withaferin A in each dose of Maximum Mind.

Read more about ashwagandha on Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or dig deeper into the benefits of ashwagandha here.

nootropics for students: Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract

Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom Extract

The lion's mane mushroom (Hericium Erinaceus) is a white spherical fungus with long, shaggy spines. They can be taken orally or as supplements. They may provide many health benefits, including decreased inflammation and improved cognitive and cardiovascular health.

One of the benefits of organic lion's mane mushroom extract for students is that it improves energy without increasing agitation, which is crucial for students trying to boost their creative abilities. When you are tired, it may be challenging to think clearly. Fortunately, the lion's mane is anti-fatigue. It works as an increase in physical and mental energy that does not produce the jitters or crashes associated with caffeine.

Additionally, as described in the Journal Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin [13], beta-glucans from the lion's mane mushroom assist the brain in creating Nerve Growth Factors (NGF), a neurotrophic growth factor involved in the generation of new neurons. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is essential for the maintenance and organization of neurons. It performs various biological tasks, including preventing neuronal death and stimulating neurite development.

Lion's mane extract is a natural brain booster with neuroprotective characteristics capable of stimulating the immune system and producing antioxidants, among other things.

Thus, we can certainly conclude that the lion's mane mushroom's memory-improving and energy-improving features, together with its neuron-regenerating properties, make it one of the best nootropics for students looking to improve memory and reduce stress.

Note: there’s an effective dose of organic lion’s mane full-spectrum fruiting body at 40% minimum beta-glucans, in each dose of Maximum Mind.

Read more about lion’s mane on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive or find more about the benefits of lion’s mane here.

nootropics for students: Methylated B Vitamins

Methylated B Vitamins

There are eight B vitamins. These are named vitamin B1 (thiamine) vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin).

With all B vitamins, methylation increases the bioavailability of the compounds. All B vitamins contribute to healthy brain function, metabolism, and energy levels.

Yet, the most important of the B vitamins for students are vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B9, and vitamin B12.

Vitamin B5 is used to synthesize coenzyme A. Vitamin B6 is used to metabolize amino acids and fatty acids. Vitamin B9 and B12 are crucial for brain function. Altogether, they contribute to the homocysteine cycle which is vital for thinking.

Methylating of B complexes ensures they are easily absorbable and hence usable by the body.

A good vitamin B complex can make a huge difference in your day, from mental support in converting neurotransmitters to energy to supporting the detoxification of sugar end products.

For example, suppose you take methylated B vitamins to boost your mental energy. Instead of surfing your Facebook instead of studying because your brain is too tired to focus on more critical tasks, you can start reading and practicing the long-term plans that will take your academic career to the next level. 

While other compounds in Maximum Mind can help make you think more clearly, the methylated B vitamins inside can help give you the energy to actually start thinking, period.

Note: there’s an effective dose of methylated vitamins B5, B6, B9, and B12 in each dose of Maximum Mind.

Read more about methylated vitamins B on Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive and why you should never consider non-methylated B vitamins.


“Your passion is waiting for your courage to catch up.” 
— Isabelle Lafleche

Maximum Mind offers the best nootropics for students to boost learning, memory, and recall for long- and short-term academic peak performance for the finest of academic pursuits.

Not every learner is created equal. As the best nootropics for students, Maximum Mind optimizes all brain pathways for 100% brain power optimization, enhancing your competitive collegiate potential – regardless of whether you study English or engineering. All of this in one single supplement so that you don't need to spend time measuring, counting, or sourcing a lot of individual ones.

Why not benefit from the best nootropics for students in their purest form along with other clinically studied compounds for increasing brain and physical performance and health with Maximum Mind?


  1. Giurgea C, Salama M. Nootropic drugs. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology. 1977; 1(3-4): 235-247.
  2. Prince J. Catecholamine dysfunction in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: an update. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2008 Jun;28(3 Suppl 2): S39-45.
  3. Pontifex, M. B., Hillman, C. H., Fernhall, B., Thompson, K. M., & Valentini, T. A. (2009). The effect of acute aerobic and resistance exercise on working memory. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 41(4), 927–934.
  4. Yehuda, S., Rabinovitz, S., & Mostofsky, D. I. (2005). A mixture of essential fatty acids lowers test anxiety. Nutritional neuroscience, 8(4), 265–267.
  5. Zeek, M. L., Savoie, M. J., Song, M., Kennemur, L. M., Qian, J., Jungnickel, P. W., & Westrick, S. C. (2015). Sleep Duration and Academic Performance Among Student Pharmacists. American journal of pharmaceutical education, 79(5), 63.
  6. Stough C et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001 Aug; 156(4): 481-4.
  7. Bruce, S. E., Werner, K. B., Preston, B. F., & Baker, L. M. (2014). Improvements in concentration, working memory, and sustained attention following consumption of a natural citicoline-caffeine beverage. International journal of food sciences and nutrition, 65(8), 1003–1007.
  8. Neri, DF, Wiegmann D, Stanny RR, Shappell, SA, McCardie A, McKay, DL. The effects of tyrosine on cognitive performance during extended wakefulness. Aviat Space Environ Med. 1995 Apr;66(4):313-9
  9. Alhola, P., & Polo-Kantola, P. (2007). Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 3(5), 553–567.
  10. Neri, D. F., Wiegmann, D., Stanny, R. R., Shappell, S. A., McCardie, A., & McKay, D. L. (1995). The effects of tyrosine on cognitive performance during extended wakefulness. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 66(4), 313–319.
  11. Nobre AC, et al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 01/2008; 17 Suppl 1:167-8.
  12. Singh, N., Bhalla, M., de Jager, P., & Gilca, M. (2011). An overview of Ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines, 8(5S).
  13. Mori K et al. Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium Erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells. Biol Pharm Bull. 2008 Sep;31(9):1727-32.
Best Nootropics for Mood
Benefits of Ashwagandha: Smiling man with his arms crossed

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