10 Best Nootropics for Mood & Brain Function (Buyer's Guide)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: December 1, 2023
We personally test every product featured in our reviews and guides. By ordering products anonymously and getting a group of independent testers, we are able to get first-hand experience and provide data-driven recommendations. Learn more.

As a personal fitness coach, I often remind people that they need to make sure their brain is performing at its best in order to achieve fitness goals.

And that’s precisely where nootropic supplements for mood and brain function come into play, as they can make a huge difference in your motivation and focus.

Rather than fall for prescription smart drugs, our team decided to do some extensive research and testing into natural nootropics.

The process involved 20 testers and two months of researching dozens of nootropics to see if they would improve mood levels and to what extent.

The Best Nootropics for Mood & Brain

Editor's Choice
CTA of Mind Lab Pro
Mind Lab Pro
Rated 4.9/5
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2nd Best Choice
CTA of Onnit Alpha Brain
Onnit
Rated 4.8/5
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3rd Best Choice
CTA of Gorilla Mind Smooth
Gorilla Mind
Rated 4.8/5
Click For Best Price

Our Top Nootropic Supplements (April 2024)

1 - Mind Lab Pro (Best Overall)

Rated 4.9/5
4.9
Effectiveness
5.0
Ingredients
4.9
Price
CTA of Mind Lab Pro
  • Vitamin B6 : 2.5 mg
  • Phosphatidylserine : 250 mg
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom : 500 mg
  • Rhodiola Rosea : 50 mg

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Positive feedback about impacts on anxiety and depression
  • Significantly boosted cognitive function for better focus
  • Doesn’t cause side effects like stomach upset or headaches
  • The capsules are easy to swallow and don’t get stuck

Cons

  • Currently only available on the official website

Our testers kept a journal to document their mood and focus throughout the day, and based on the collected data, we found that Mind Lab Pro had the most significant impact in terms of enhancing cognitive functions.

One of the stand-out ingredients is Phosphatidylserine, with research showing that it can help lower symptoms of anxiety and depression [1].

We also noticed that none of our testers reported any side effects, which often come with these dietary supplements.

Quick Facts:

2 - Onnit Alpha Brain (Best Anti-Stress)

Rated 4.8/5
4.9
Effectiveness
4.8
Ingredients
4.8
Price
CTA of Onnit Alpha Brain
  • Vitamin B6 : 10 mg
  • Cat’s Claw Extract : 350 mg
  • Alpha GPC : n/a
  • L-Theanine : n/a

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Works well to relieve stress and anxiety
  • Testing results show significantly improved focus and concentration
  • Comes in small capsules that are easy to take while on the go

Cons

  • Parts of the nutrient label are hidden behind a proprietary formula

Onnit is a very close second recommendation on our list, and our testing team has highlighted that they noticed a significant improvement in cognitive function. That means better focus and concentration on work and study tasks.

It looks like it’s the Alpha GPC that impacts alpha brain waves to improve focus and motivation [2].

The main reason we bumped Onnit Alpha Brain down the list is that the company has chosen to partially hide the dosage behind a proprietary label, which makes stacking more challenging.

Quick Facts:

3 - Gorilla Mind Smooth (Best for Concentration & Long-Lasting)

Rated 4.8/5
4.8
Effectiveness
4.8
Ingredients
4.7
Price
CTA of Gorilla Mind Smooth
  • L-Tyrosine : 750 mg
  • Kanna : 250 mg
  • Alpha GPC : 600 mg
  • Ginkgo Biloba : 180 mg

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Helps with improving mood and motivation throughout the day
  • Provides great focus without the jitters from stimulants
  • Effects seem to last for more than six hours to cover a working day

Cons

  • You’ll need to swallow up to six capsules each day to get the ideal dosage

Gorilla Mind has become a leading brand in natural nootropics, and it ended up being another very popular one with our testing team for improved mood and brain function.

What my dietitian highlighted is the good dose of Ginkgo Biloba. This plant extract has long been used in traditional medicine, but it has also found a home in modern medical treatments for mood disorders [3].

Just keep in mind that some people have reported that they need to take more than three capsules to get the best results.

Check out our full Gorilla Mind Smooth review here.

Quick Facts:

4 - Hunter Focus

Rated 4.7/5
4.7
Effectiveness
4.8
Ingredients
4.6
Price
CTA of Hunter Focus
  • Vitamin B6 : 2.5 mg
  • L-Carnitine : 800 mg
  • Rhodiola Rosea : 50 mg
  • Ginkgo Biloba : 120 mg

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Positive feedback confirms it can boost mood and motivation
  • Helps to block out distractions to become more effective at work and study
  • Spreading out the capsules can extend the effects for busy workdays

Cons

  • Some people are not fans of having to swallow six capsules a day for the full dosage

While Hunter Focus is mainly advertised as a nootropic to boost your cognitive performance, our testing team revealed that they found it significantly helped to improve mood and reduce the number of perceived distractions.

With a good dose of Rhodiola Rosea, it can help improve brain health and reduce the impacts of stress [4].

You can easily spread the dose over a full day to maximize the length of the effects, but keep in mind that the full dose requires six capsules.

Quick Facts:

5 - Gorilla Shroom (Best Plant-Based)

Rated 4.7/5
4.7
Effectiveness
4.8
Ingredients
4.6
Price
CTA of Gorilla Shroom
  • Vitamin B6 : 10 mg
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom : 1,500 mg
  • Ashwagandha : 500 mg
  • Yerba Mate Extract : 200 mg

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Mainly based on scientifically proven herbs and mushrooms for mental clarity
  • Seems to work well to drown out the noise of distractions
  • Positive results for problem-solving complex tasks

Cons

  • It’s only available on the official website and not in stores

This is one of the brain supplements we found that contains predominantly mushroom extracts from proven sources.

With a good dose of Lion’s Mane Mushroom, it seems to help people stay focused on complex tasks, with a few of our students highlighting that it helped them with problem-solving. Those are effects that research has proven through links to neurotransmitters [5].

And with the improvements in focus and brain performance also comes good mood enhancement.

Quick Facts:

6 - NooCube (Best for Students & Brain Fatigue Relief)

Rated 4.6/5
4.7
Effectiveness
4.6
Ingredients
4.6
Price
CTA of NooCube
  • Bacopa Monnieri : 250 mg
  • L-Tyrosine : 250 mg
  • Cat’s Claw Extract : 175 mg
  • Oat Straw : 150 mg

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Students have reported positive effects on their memory function
  • Reduces stress and mental fatigue to keep your mind on track
  • The capsules are small enough not to get stuck when swallowing

Cons

  • Not all of the ingredients have enough scientific research to support them

NooCube is another one of the popular natural nootropics that we saw recommended in many different forums and social media groups.

And our testing has shown that it has a positive impact on cognitive performance, especially memory.

My dietitian highlighted Bacopa Monnieri as one of the key ingredients because studies have linked it to triggering peak cognitive performance [6].

At the same time, she highlighted that some of the ingredients don’t have fully reliable studies to back them up.

Quick Facts:

7 - Qualia Mind

Rated 4.6/5
4.5
Effectiveness
4.6
Ingredients
4.7
Price
CTA of Qualia Mind
  • Pantothenic Acid : 50 mg
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine HCI : 500 mg
  • Rhodiola Rosea : 300 mg
  • Alpha GPC : 200 mg

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Works well for short and long-term memory improvements
  • Positive mood improvements with the use of stimulants
  • Helps to lift brain fog in the morning to become more mentally focused

Cons

  • It’s regularly out of stock making it difficult to keep a steady supply

Qualia Mind has been formulated to specifically trigger cognitive benefits and overall mood improvements.

And our testing team reported that they felt less sluggish when they took it first thing in the morning.

One of the reasons for this is the good dose of Rhodiola Rosea, which has been proven through clinical trials to improve focus and attention [7].

Quick Facts:

8 - Natural Stacks - Neuro Fuel (Cheapest & Best for Vegans)

Rated 4.5/5
4.5
Effectiveness
4.5
Ingredients
4.6
Price
CTA of Natural Stacks - Neuro Fuel
  • Artichoke Leaf Extract : 900 mg
  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine : 750 mg
  • L-Phenylalanine : 500 mg
  • Coleus Forskohlii Extract : 20 mg

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Good impact on mood, motivation, and memory functions
  • Vegan certified with no animal gelatin in the capsules
  • Available in larger bottles for bulk discounts

Cons

  • The capsules don’t seem to be the easiest to swallow

Next up is Neuro Fuel, which promises to provide mental energy and improved neurological health with just a handful of ingredients.

The good news is that the ingredients have scientific proof, but looking at our test results, they might not be the most effective.

The one I want to focus on is L-carnitine, which is a naturally occurring amino acid.

According to a study conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology, L-carnitine has been shown to significantly improve cognitive performance, making it a recommended ingredient for natural nootropics [8].

It’s also one of the few vegan-certified dietary supplements in this nootropics category.

Quick Facts:

9 - Primal Harvest - Primal Mind Fuel

Rated 4.5/5
4.3
Effectiveness
4.6
Ingredients
4.5
Price
CTA of Primal Harvest - Primal Mind Fuel
  • L-Tyrosine : n/a
  • Theobromine : n/a
  • Caffeine : n/a
  • Bacopa Monnieri : n/a

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Works well to improve brain health and overall motivating feeling for work
  • Solid amino acid combination to help you stay focused for longer
  • Only requires one capsule a day for more convenience

Cons

  • You won’t be able to find out the exact dosage due to the proprietary blend

Primal Harvest is another company with a good nootropic stack, and this Primal Mind Fuel got a lot of good feedback from our testing team. It’s a cognitive enhancer that our testing data confirmed was great for improving mood and motivation.

The most interesting ingredient is Theobromine, which has been scientifically linked to improved brain functioning [9].

Quick Facts:

10 - Mindhoney - Dose

Rated 4.4/5
4.3
Effectiveness
4.5
Ingredients
4.4
Price
CTA of Mindhoney - Dose
  • L-Theanine : n/a
  • Ashwagandha : n/a
  • Rhodiola Rosea : n/a
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom : n/a

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Good test results for improved motivation with fewer distractions
  • Stimulant-free so that you don’t have jitters or sudden crashes
  • Positive feedback suggests it can help you get into the flow

Cons

  • It’s difficult to stack due to a proprietary formula

The final one of our recommended brain supplements for improved mood and mental energy comes from Mindhoney.

Our testing data shows that it can boost your motivation by reducing how much you react to distractions.

And because it helps lower stress levels, it can also reduce anxiety in a significant way [10].

The reason it’s so far down on this list is that you’ll find it difficult to stack with other supplements due to the proprietary label.

Quick Facts:

How We Tested Best Nootropics for Mood & Brain Function

As a certified personal trainer, I understand the importance of mental clarity, focus, and mood balance in achieving overall wellness and fitness goals.

In evaluating the best nootropics for mood and brain function, I considered a comprehensive set of criteria to ensure that the products not only promise results but also deliver them effectively and safely.

Ingredients

The composition of a nootropic supplement is crucial. I examined the quality, purity, and scientific backing of the ingredients in each product. It was important to ensure that they contained proven cognitive enhancers like Bacopa Monnieri, Lion’s Mane, or Ginkgo Biloba and avoided harmful additives.

Price

Affordability plays a significant role in the accessibility of these supplements. I compared the cost of different nootropics, considering both the price per serving and the overall value offered in terms of ingredient quality and dosage.

Effectiveness

Personal trials and user reviews were key in assessing effectiveness. I looked for noticeable improvements in cognitive functions, mood stabilization, and overall mental well-being, both in my experience and as reported by other users.

Safety Profile

Safety is paramount. I evaluated the potential side effects and long-term health implications of each nootropic, ensuring they adhered to safety standards and were free from banned or risky substances.

User Feedback and Reviews

Real user experiences offer invaluable insights. I analyzed customer reviews and testimonials to gauge the real-world effectiveness and satisfaction levels associated with each product.

Scientific Research and Backing

Credibility is key. I looked for nootropics that were supported by clinical studies and had a strong scientific basis for their claims.

Brand Reputation and Transparency

Trustworthy brands are transparent about their manufacturing processes and sourcing. I assessed the reputation of each brand, looking for those that provided clear information about their ingredients and production practices.

Ease of Use and Dosage Flexibility

Convenience matters. I considered how easy it was to incorporate each nootropic into a daily routine and whether they offered flexible dosing options to cater to different needs and preferences.

Buyer’s Guide

A buyer looking for a guide on nootropics

Here are a few things to keep in mind before making a decision on which nootropic to buy.

Who Should Take Nootropics For Mood?

Anyone who wants to improve their overall mood and brain health should consider taking a nootropic.

Unlike prescription smart drugs, they can help eliminate brain fog and give you a lot more motivation and focus throughout the day.

And because they are based on safe, natural ingredients, you’re also very unlikely to encounter nasty side effects.

Additionally, we provide a comprehensive review of Mind Vitality, a supplement that enhances focus and memory while improving cognitive health.

Related Articles:

“Prescription nootropics largely consist of stimulants such as those in some ADHD medications. Although these work well for many people with ADHD, they are not recommended for others who simply want to improve their focus and attention.”

- Dan Brennan, MD at WebMD.com

Who Shouldn't Take Nootropics For Mood?

Anyone with chronic mood disorders like major depressive disorder, symptoms of depression, or bipolar disorder shouldn’t take nootropics without consulting a doctor. This is especially the case if you’re taking prescription drugs like antidepressant medications.

While nootropics might still be a good solution, it’s important to ensure that there aren’t any expected interactions with the drugs. A good way of doing so is by talking to a licensed physician since they will have a more definite idea of what's in your nootropic supplements.

Ingredients And Dosage

The good news is that there are many proven natural ingredients that can improve how the human brain works.

Here are a few that my dietitian highlighted and that we saw in the most effective nootropics that we tested:

  • Phosphatidylserine
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom
  • Rhodiola Rosea
  • Cat’s Claw Extract
  • Alpha GPC
  • L-Theanine
  • Kanna
  • Ginkgo Biloba

And when it comes to the dosage, it’s generally more important to see a handful of excellent ingredients with a lower dose than just one or two ingredients with a very high dose.

“Phosphatidylserine (PS) is an amino acid derivative compound that is fat-soluble and found in high amounts in the brain, where it contributes to cognitive functioning.”

- Kamal Patel, MPH, MBA at Examine.com

The Science Behind Mood: Neurotransmitters

Our mood is intricately linked to the balance of neurotransmitters in our brain.

Dopamine, for instance, is often dubbed the 'feel-good' neurotransmitter, regulating the pleasure center of our brain.

Serotonin, on the other hand, is crucial for mood stabilization, and norepinephrine plays a pivotal role in our stress response.

Understanding these neurotransmitters can offer insights into how nootropics work to enhance mood and cognitive function.

FAQs

What Nootropics Increase Dopamine?

Phosphatidylserine is one of the nootropic ingredients that increase dopamine the most. And Mind Lab Pro is one product that has one of the best doses to significantly improve your overall mood and mental well-being.

What Nootropics Increase Serotonin?

Lion’s Mane Mushroom is one of the best nootropics to increase serotonin and reduce anxiety and depression. It’s one of the reasons that Mind Lab Pro is one of the best nootropics to help with improvements in overall mood.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Nootropics?

Nootropics, particularly synthetic ones, can sometimes lead to side effects such as insomnia, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues, especially when taken in high doses or without proper guidance. Additionally, some individuals may experience mood swings or overstimulation, emphasizing the importance of starting with lower doses and consulting healthcare professionals.

Our Verdict on Best Nootropics for Mood

The nootropic supplement most test subjects ended up liking the best was Mind Lab Pro. Based on my firsthand experience, not only does it significantly improve your mood throughout the day, but it can also ensure you have overall healthy brain function.

Our testing data showed that it had a direct impact on concentration and focus as well and that it can help you with work and study-related tasks.

Our #1 Recommendation

Mind Lab Pro (Best Overall)

CTA of Mind Lab Pro

Rated With Total Shape's Scoring System

4.9
Effectiveness
5.0
Ingredients
4.9
Price
Pros
  • Positive feedback about impacts on anxiety and depression
  • Significantly boosted cognitive function for better focus
  • Doesn’t cause side effects like stomach upset or headaches
  • The capsules are easy to swallow and don’t get stuck
  • Get the BEST PRICE until the end of April
Cons
  • Currently only available on the official website
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About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

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