These 16 Nootropic Supplements Promote Memory, Mood Balance, Cognitive Function & More*
In This Article
Whether we realize it or not, memory is an essential cognitive function we use every day as we're driving to the store, dialing a phone number we know by heart, or recalling a new co-worker's name so we can give a friendly greeting in the office.
Memory supplements can help support these daily activities.* But not all memory supplements are created equal. That's why we asked mindbodygreen's vice president of scientific affairs Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, to scour the market to find the 16 best memory supplements available today.
Do memory supplements work?
There's a lot of skepticism regarding memory supplements floating around the internet, so let's address the elephant in the room: Yes, memory supplements work.
Do they magically restore your memories or provide superhuman cognitive abilities? No, of course not. As cool as it would be to live in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where magic and superpowers exist, we prefer to lean on science here.
And scientifically speaking, there are both preclinical studies (i.e., animals) and clinical trials (i.e., humans) that show that many nutrients, botanicals, and bioactives featured in dietary supplements demonstrate statistical and clinical significance for memory, recall, and related brain outcomes (e.g., learning, processing, retention, and cognitive performance).*
That said, memory supplements are not designed to reverse specific brain health concerns but rather support memory and promote overall brain function. We're talking proactive cognitive support and brain longevity, here—and the earlier the better!*
Vitamins and other ingredients that support memory.
There's a wide variety of neuronutrients—including vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and other bioactives—that demonstrate nootropic mechanisms (i.e., they promote brain health and function in one or more ways).
In addition to cognitive benefits such as focus, attention, concentration, alertness, cerebral blood flow, mood support, stress resilience, and neurotransmitter synthesis, many of these ingredients have a specific effect—whether direct or indirect—on memory creation, recall, and retention.
Board-certified neurologist and environmental toxicologist Ilene Ruhoy, M.D., Ph.D., encourages her clients to utilize nootropic supplements to complement their holistic health habits. "Clean foods, movement, meditation, and spending time in nature are critical for brain nutrition, regeneration, and longevity," she explains. "As part of my integrative approach to neurology, I also value smart, holistic formulas that nourish and support brain function and elevate cognitive potential, regardless of stage in life."
Here are some key types of nootropic ingredients, plus specific examples of how they promote memory and overall cognitive function.
Many vitamins—including vitamin C, vitamin D3, vitamin K, and B vitamins (especially B6, B9, and B12)—demonstrate nootropic mechanisms by regulating neurotransmitter production, aiding in the methylation cycle, and promoting anti-inflammatory actions.*
For example, in a 2016 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, participants with lower vitamin B12 levels had suboptimal memory performance (even when their B12 levels were considered to be in a "normal" range). Researchers believe this is because vitamin B12 helps promote microstructural integrity of the hippocampus, which is a major part of the brain that helps us process and retrieve memories.*
Another unique set of micronutrients, minerals—such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron—play a role in brain health by promoting neurotransmitter synthesis, mitochondrial function, cellular signaling, and more.*
In a 2010 preclinical study published in Neuron, researchers discovered that increased levels of magnesium L-threonate in the brain improved short-term neuroplasticity, long-term potentiation (i.e., synapse signaling), and both learning and memory functions in rats.*
The essential building blocks of proteins throughout our body, amino acids also have a profound effect on neurotransmitter synthesis, helping regulate everything from mood to motivation in the brain.*
For example, L-tyrosine is a precursor for the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a part in mental energy, motivation, and happiness. According to a 2013 Frontiers review, increasing your L-tyrosine intake (through diet or supplementation) can help promote working memory updates which are the brain's "screening system" to decide whether or not new information is worth holding on to.* (Pretty cool, huh?)
In addition to L-tyrosine, here are some other amino acids that promote memory and overall cognitive function:*
We believe in the healing power of plants at mbg, and when it comes to nootropic mechanisms—boy do botanicals deliver! Ranging from ancient Indigenous plants to adaptogenic mushrooms and Ayurvedic herbs, these dynamic plants promote myriad brain health benefits—including increased stress resilience, enhanced executive function, and improved memory (just to name a few).*
"Evidence-based botanicals with nootropic actions are one of my specialties as a naturopathic health care practitioner. One of the most exciting botanicals in the cognitive arena is the South African succulent Sceletium tortuosum (aka kanna)," shares Jeremy Appleton, N.D., director of scientific and medical affairs at PLT Health Solutions Inc. "The clinically researched and patented Zembrin® extract promotes mental agility and calm, at the same time. Through its impact on serotonin levels, brain waves, and neurocircuitry, this unique plant extract helps reduce reactivity to stress, elevates executive function, and enhances cognitive flexibility."*
According to a 2017 study on older adults from the World Journal of Neuroscience, kanna's ability to influence brain activity affects a number of emotional and cognitive processes—including memory and attention.*
And kanna is only the edge of the nootropic botanical garden. Here are some other powerhouse plants that support memory and other cognitive functions:*
Phytonutrients (aka phytochemicals) are organic compounds intrinsic to and sourced from botanicals. You're likely already familiar with a few of these plant bioactives—or their benefits, at least.
Caffeine is an ancient, widely consumed phytonutrient found in foods and beverages like coffee, tea, and cacao that many people are intimately familiar with and utilize for its energizing benefits. Targeted supplements with sustained-release caffeine are also a more novel, innovative offering in the world of energizing phytonutrients.*
Other phytonutrients might not be as well known by name, like curcumin. If you've heard of turmeric root's anti-inflammatory properties, you can thank curcumin—the principal curcuminoid in turmeric—for its whole-body health benefits (including your noggin).*
When it comes to memory support, the red-wine-famous phytonutrient resveratrol (which can be derived from fermentation or Japanese knotweed to be used in supplements) is especially beneficial.*
In a 2020 Nutrients study, resveratrol supplementation was found to improve verbal memory in postmenopausal women.* Researchers believe this benefit is largely due to resveratrol's antioxidant and cerebrovascular properties; indeed, because it brings blood to the brain and keeps free radicals out, resveratrol has been found to be universally helpful for cognitive function and brain longevity.*
Here are some additional phytonutrients that support memory and brain function:*
- Huperzine A
There are a few compounds that don't fit so neatly into the categories above but still deserve a seat at the table of nootropics.
Neuronutrient citicoline (aka CDP-choline) is massively beneficial to promoting and maintaining cognitive function—anytime but especially later in life.* In a 2021 study on healthy older adults published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that citicoline supplementation (specifically, Cognizin®) enhanced overall memory, with significant improvements in episodic memory.*
Award-winning cognitive health researcher and lead author of the study Eri Nakazaki, Ph.D., shares that powerhouse neuronutrient citicoline boasts a robust body of published scientific evidence. "This nootropic has impressive efficacy to nourish and promote our brain and executive function—supporting the structure and function of our neurons, neurotransmitter levels (especially acetylcholine), and diverse cognitive metrics spanning brain energy, attention, memory, and cognitive performance."*
Phospholipids—think phosphatidylserine and phosphatidylcholine—and other key phospholipid precursors (citicoline) or constituents (brain-centric omega-3 fats EPA and DHA) are incredibly vital to overall brain function.* They help maintain the structure, function, and integrity of cellular membranes, which make up the outer layer of all cells (including those in the brain like neurons and glia).*
How we picked these supplements:
We searched for brands with nootropic ingredients that deliver cognitive benefits proven by science.
You can trust the products included in this list have the best forms and doses—no "sprinkling" over here!
While not every formula can be 100% derived from plants, we found products that feature as many botanicals, herbs, and phytonutrient ingredients as possible.
We prioritize brands with a clear emphasis on quality testing (purity and potency) with products that feature high-quality active ingredients and "other ingredient" lists that are short and clean.
mbg's picks for the best memory supplements
Best overall: mindbodygreen brain guard+
- Nootropic trio rooted in clinical research
- Promotes cognitive performance & clarity*
- Formula backed by experts
- Not for children
For enhanced memory creation, recall, and retention, brain guard+ is the supplement to beat. In addition to supporting critical memory function, this cutting-edge brain-centric formula features a trio of clinically researched ingredients in their full-potency doses to promote cognitive benefits today and brain longevity down the road: Powerhouse neuronutrient citicoline promotes neuronal and neurotransmitter health; unique botanical kanna improves executive function, stress resilience, and cognitive flexibility; and resveratrol bolsters blood flow to the brain for optimal cognitive function. Talk about a stacked lineup you won't forget!*
- Adaptogenic blend of herbs
- Amino acid trio
- Nutrients vitamin B6 and magnesium
- 3 capsules per serving
- Plastic bottle
Believe it or not, our emotional health has a profound impact on our ability to remember things. This comprehensive mood-enhancing supplement is packed to the brim with adaptogenic herbs that not only support memory and attention but promote stress resilience as well to ensure you feel calm, cool, and collected as you perform mentally taxing tasks. With essential nutrients, amino acid ingredients like L-theanine, GABA, and 5-HTP that bolster feel-good neurotransmitter synthesis, and a "Zen Blend" of adaptogenic herbs (i.e., holy basil, ashwagandha, kanna, and saffron), this array of neuronturients and botanicals is sure to deliver improved focus and clarity and support a stress-free, healthy mood.*
Best brain bundle: brainMD Brain & Body Power
- Multivitamin with nootropics
- Amino acids & phospholipids
- 3-in-1 product offering
- Contains fish (food allergen)
- 8 capsules and 2 softgels daily
- Excess packaging
If you're looking for a handful of daily nootropic supplements that check a number of cognitive boxes, this brain bundle may be for you. This package includes a one-month supply of brainMD's top brain health supplements: two brain-focused multivitamin capsules, two brain and memory capsules, and one fish oil softgel. They should all be taken twice a day. Neurovite Plus delivers a vast array (over 50 ingredients!) of essential vitamins and minerals, plus brain-supporting neuronutrients and nootropics like pterostilbene, resveratrol, and choline. With brain-directed ingredients (think phospholipids like phosphatidylserine and herbal botanicals like Ginkgo biloba and huperzine A), these supplements promote brain energy, communication, and performance. Finally, Omega-3 Power fish oil delivers a concentrated dose of EPA plus DHA to support healthy cognition (including memory recall and retention), mood balance, and focus and communication.*
Best nootropic complex: Neurohacker Collective Qualia Mind™
- Comprehensive formula
- Multidimensional brain support*
- Nutrient-botanical-bioactive combo
- 7 capsules per serving
- High price point
If you're passionate about neurohacking, this supplement is for you. This ingredient list is overflowing with nootropic capabilities; you'll receive brain-centric vitamins, botanicals, amino acids, and other bioactives that deliver memory support and prompt overall cognitive function. Designed with mental performance in mind, this is a full-on regimen (read: seven capsules daily) powered by B vitamins, carnitine, artichoke leaf, velvet bean, rhodiola root extract, and loads more. With 28 total active ingredients, you'll benefit from various brain-supporting actions—such as energy, focus, memory, mood centering, and mental clarity and acuity.*
Best for focus: mindbodygreen focus+
- Instant & sustained energy*
- No jitters or crash
- Botanical & bioactive synergy
- Can't be taken at night
Memory performance can't be top-notch without the ability to focus clearly. Enter: focus+. In just one capsule, this focus supplement delivers instant- and extended-release energy from organic whole coffee berry and green coffee beans, as part of an array of clinically researched botanicals and bioactives. These vegetarian nootropic ingredients don't just help with focus and concentration, though—caffeine, guarana, vitamin B12, and Panax ginseng enhance speed and reaction time of memory task performance. From productivity and energy to memory and learning, this daily supplement has you covered.*
Best phospholipid complex: Seeking Health Optimal PC
- Supports memory later in life*
- Promotes cellular membrane health*
- Sunflower-derived bioactives
- Can't be taken at night
- Plastic bottle
Phospholipids are essential for brain cell structure, function, and integrity. In fact, every cell membrane in the brain and throughout the body is made up of these specialized lipids. This supplement delivers a potent dose of phospholipids (derived from sunflower oil as opposed to soy, like many other phospholipid ingredients on the market) to support neurological function and overall brain health. The main phospholipid of the complex, phosphatidylcholine (PC), is crucial for building healthy brain cell membranes, maintaining neurological function, and synthesizing neurotransmitters that regulate memory, mood, and intelligence. If it's a brain-boosting dose of functional fats you're after, this phospholipid complex delivers.*
Best phosphatidylserine: Solgar Phosphatidylserine
- Focused single-ingredient formula
- Potent active dose
- Contains soy (food allergen)
- Color added (natural caramel color)
Naturally found in brain cell membranes, neuronutrient phosphatidylserine is a key central nervous system phospholipid that aids in global brain function and supports a healthy mind. The problem? Like many brain-critical nutrients, phosphatidylserine levels can decrease with age and lead to suboptimal cognitive performance down the road. This supplement delivers 200 milligrams of phosphatidylserine derived from natural sources to modulate healthy levels of the specialized brain lipid, which in turn supports neuronal messages, memory, and information retention (a win for brain longevity at all ages!).*
Best omega-3: mindbodygreen omega-3 potency+
- High-potency EPA + DHA formula
- No fishy aftertaste
- ORIVO 3rd-party certification
- Contains fish (food allergen)
Your daily must-have essential for brain health, omega-3 potency+ delivers critical neuroprotective fatty acids EPA and DHA that support brain structure, memory, communication, and function. With 1,500 milligrams of EPA plus DHA in their triglyceride form (i.e., the optimal, most bioavailable form) in each serving of omega-3 potency+, this supplement provides comprehensive support for your brain health needs. Sustainably sourced from sea to softgel, this premium fish oil comes from 100% wild-caught, cold-water anchovies from the South Pacific, with third-party verified ORIVO certification technology for authenticity. Plus, organic lemon oil and organic rosemary make for the freshest experience (and no aftertaste).*
Best with huperzine A: Metagenics Ceriva®
- Multidimensional brain support
- Unique formula
- Features colostrum bioactives
- Contains milk (food allergen)
- Drug interaction considerations
If you're seeking healthy aging in the brain, huperzine A is a phytochemical that should be on your radar. This nootropic compound helps regulate healthy neurotransmitter levels; bolster memory, learning, and cognition; and protect nerve cells. In addition to a clinically backed dose (200 micrograms) of huperzine A derived from toothed clubmoss, this supplement includes an immunomodulatory proline-rich-polypeptide (PRP) complex from colostrum that helps stabilize cognitive function. Together, these ingredients foster neuroprotection, cognitive support, and neurological function now and later in life.*
Best with turmeric: Pure Encapsulations Memory Pro
- Turmeric plus other botanicals
- Carotenoid phytonutrients
- Short excipient list
- 3 capsules per serving
- Plastic bottle
Evidence shows that curcumin—a principal phytochemical in turmeric—can help increase levels of the brain protein BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF supports the growth and function of neurons, which in turn promotes brain longevity by maintaining healthy cognitive function. In addition to 250 milligrams of turmeric root extract, this nootropic supplement is jam-packed with other brain-essential botanicals (lemon balm, ginkgo, and bacopa), antioxidants (resveratrol, lutein, and zeaxanthin), amino acids (acetyl-l-carnitine), and phospholipids (phosphatidylserine—derived from sunflower oil instead of soy, we might add) that deliver comprehensive memory support, promote cerebral blood flow, and support neurotransmitter production.*
Best with bacopa: Designs for Health CogniAid™
- Plant-centric formula
- Adaptogenic herbs
- Polyphenolic phytonutrients
- Glycowithanolide (ashwagandha bioactive) info missing
Supporting both memory and mood, this supplement covers your emotional and cognitive bases. In addition to Ayurvedic herb bacopa, which has been clinically shown to promote memory acquisition, retention, and recall (especially in older adults), this impressive ingredient list delivers an entourage of herbal extracts sourced from five additional unique botanicals: whole grape, wild blueberry, ashwagandha, American ginseng, and huperzine A from toothed clubmoss extract. Chock-full of plant bioactives, this formula targets multiple brain mechanisms, from promoting healthy levels of neurotransmitter acetylcholine to supporting neuronal function and the transmission of nerve impulses (so your brain can stay sharp and send all those important messages!).*
Best magnesium L-threonate: Life Extension Neuro-Mag®
- Neuronal support
- Focused single mineral formula
- Unique form of magnesium
- 3 capsules per serving
- Plastic bottle
Magnesium is an essential macromineral that's needed throughout the body (and yes, the brain) every day to support a slew of physiological functions. The problem? Many Americans don't get enough magnesium. This brain-focused magnesium supplement offers 144 milligrams of magnesium in a highly absorbable form developed by MIT researchers that has been shown to deposit greater amounts of the essential mineral in brain tissue: magnesium L-threonate. This magnesium supplement helps maintain synaptic connections, bolster neuronal integrity, improve executive and cognitive function, and support both short- and long-term memory. Since healthy levels of the mineral are challenging to sustain as we age, supplementing with magnesium can be especially beneficial to healthy brain aging and longevity (whether you take it in college or retirement!).*
Best with mushrooms: Gaia Herbs Mind Spring®
- Adaptogenic mushrooms & herbs
- Organic blend
- May not mix well with some beverages
- Unknown dose of each herb (proprietary blend)
Looking for a nootropic-packed powder to deliver brainpower to your daily beverages? This award-winning powder contains all your favorite brain-healthy adaptogenic mushrooms (lion's mane, reishi, and cordyceps) and herbs (turmeric, ginkgo biloba, and gotu kola), plus black pepper to make sure you're getting the most out of turmeric root's curcuminoids. From memory recall support to improved cerebral blood flow, these brainy botanicals are sure to enhance your cognition and make your day. Add a teaspoon to your morning smoothie, or mix with your favorite nut milk for an earthy and nutritious golden mylk latte—you''ll feel mentally clear and ready to take on whatever cognitive task lies ahead!*
Best polyphenol blend: Reserveage Nutrition Resveratrol
- High dose of resveratrol
- Unique botanical combination
- Built-in absorption technology
- Rice bran excipient
- Plastic bottle
Whether it's combating oxidative stress in the brain or increasing blood flow to bolster cerebrovascular health, resveratrol is a dynamic antioxidant you want on your memory support team. (And with 80 milligrams of quercetin plus 1,000 milligrams of resveratrol, this potent antioxidant polyphenol blend isn't playing around.) The unique resveratrol complex delivers a blend of resveratrol compounds from not one but three sources: Japanese knotweed, organic French whole red wine grape, and organic Muscadine whole red grape. Each form of resveratrol dissolves at a different speed to deliver cognitive benefits over a four-hour span. What's more, the antioxidant has been shown to activate SIRT1 (aka "the longevity gene"), which helps promote healthy brain aging and whole-body longevity support.*
Best with amino acids: Klaire Labs Neurothera™
- Amino acid array
- Botanical extracts plus phospholipid bioactives
- Contains soy (food allergen)
- Plastic bottle
What do you get when you combine four brain-essential amino acids, three neurocentric compounds, four nootropic botanicals, and one phospholipid? Answer: Seriously comprehensive cognitive support. With holistic brain function in mind, this supplement promotes multidimensional neurological support by offering an array of 12 neuronutrients that promote memory, mental alertness, cellular communication, neuroprotection, stress resilience, and more. If we're talking cognitively critical amino acids, ingredients acetyl-L-carnitine, glutamine, L-pyroglutamic acid, and L-tyrosine fit the bill. These essential building blocks help modulate neurotransmitter synthesis to promote healthy mood and emotional balance so you can handle those external stressors coming your way. Inhale, exhale.*
Best chew: SuperBeets® Memory & Focus
- No dyes
- No artificial sweeteners
- Beetroot plus phytonutrients
- Added sugars
Cerebral blood flow (i.e., getting blood to your brain) is vital for optimizing memory and overall cognitive function. This brainpower chew is like an antioxidant superfood for circulation. Its brain-centric trio of ingredients (i.e., beetroot, resveratrol, and coffee fruit extract) promotes blood flow to the brain for memory support in just one 20-calorie blueberry-pomegranate-flavored chew. For carb-conscious folks: Each chew nets 4 grams of carbs, including 2 grams of added sugars from tapioca syrup and raw cane sugar, plus stevia leaf extract for added sweetness.*
Memory Supplement FAQs
Why would I need or consider a targeted memory-support supplement?
Conversations of adult brain health and memory used to be reserved mostly for “older” years of life, but not anymore. As it turns out, it’s never too early to be proactive about protecting and nourishing your brain. Whether you’re 25 or 75, the scientific discovery of a diverse array of nootropic compounds and advent of neurohacking have changed the brain game, if you will. Targeted memory supplements from this list provide proactive brain health support across the adult life span, optimizing your cognitive longevity—or "brain span."*
What time of day should I take a memory supplement?
While that decision is completely up to you, many people choose to take memory supplements in the morning or midday to take full advantage of their nootropic, multidimensional brain power benefits (i.e., memory, mental clarity, learning, processing, cognitive performance, mood balance, and more).* Every individual is unique, so we recommend you personalize your memory supplement routine to best suit your needs and goals.
What is a nootropic?
The memory supplements included on this list are "nootropics," a scientific term that refers to one or more nutrients, botanicals, phytonutrients, bioactives that have the ability to act in helpful ways in the central nervous system (CNS) to promote the health of the brain and enhance its functions.* In layman's terms, nootropic actions confer "brain power" in the broadest sense. More specifically, this can look like mental clarity and sharpness, memory, neuronal function, neurotransmitter balance, cognitive performance, and more.
Whether you're looking for memory support at school, work, home, or elsewhere, the supplements featured here can help promote memory creation, recall, and retention—wherever and whenever you need these critical cognitive skills.* To discover what neurologists, psychiatrists, and longevity dietitians think of mindbodygreen's proactive brain health supplement, check out these expert reviews.
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Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.