Best Nootropics for ADHD (An RD’s Top Picks)

This article not only highlights our top-rated nootropics for ADHD, but also explains the science behind why it could help, with benefits and key ingredients analysis, plus a buying guide to help you choose the right one.

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Nootropics are medications, supplements and substances that have the ability to improve a person’s brain function. This can occur as increased memory, attention span, intelligence, motivation, etc. They can be used for many different situations, but the goal is always the same: to improve cognitive function.

The category of nootropics was created in 1972 by Romanian chemist Corneliu Giurgea. Giurgea considered these products to be anything that would enhance a person’s ability to learn, to help the brain function despite disruptive conditions, to protect against chemical damage and to improve the physical neuron firing process.

One such condition that warrants the use of nootropics is ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I’m going to use this article to explain what ADHD is, what can be used to improve symptoms and we’ll even take a look at some of the best nootropics on the market that can improve ADHD symptoms. Don’t forget to stick around for my frequently asked questions section as well as some helpful tips and tricks.

What Is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a condition that affects the mind. It can cause very high levels of hyperactivity as well as impulsive behavior that are hard for a person to control. A person that has ADHD may experience difficulty focusing on one task for an extended period of time. Energy levels are also affected.

Young children that experience symptoms of ADHD often have difficulty focusing on their schoolwork, which results in poor grades. This can lead to frustration and behavioral issues. There are also adults that struggle with their ADHD. It can affect work, home life and relationships.

Symptoms and Treatment

Recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, ADHD can cause a variety of symptoms. Some people will have more severe issues than others. Some of the most common symptoms associated with ADHD include:

  • Difficulty focusing
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Being forgetful
  • Easily distracted
  • It’s difficult sitting still
  • Frequently interrupting other people or activities
  • Talking excessively
  • Difficulty remaining in one place
  • Lack of patience
  • This person may be loud and outgoing

The severity of the ADHD symptoms will determine what kind of treatments are needed. Most doctors will recommend a mixture of behavioral therapy, psychotherapy and / or medication. These treatments are designed to help you understand how your ADHD is affecting you, what you can do to help it, and how to cope with your frustrations. Medications will affect your brain chemicals in a way that allows you to focus more and control your impulses.

What do ADHD Medications Do?

ADHD medications are broken down into two different categories: stimulants and non-stimulants. Stimulants will increase the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain in order to increase energy levels, attention span and alertness. This is one of the original types of medications that was used for ADHD as it works quickly and is effective.

Non-stimulants have been used for ADHD more recently. They take a little longer to work, but they can be effective for many people. Not to mention, they’re far less addictive. Many of the medications in the non-stimulant category are serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.

The Benefits of Using Stimulants to Treat ADHD

As much as seven percent of school aged children deal with symptoms of ADHD that affect their ability to function at school. Many of these children will go on to experience their ADHD symptoms when they are adults. Stimulants provide fast and effective relief for ADHD symptoms so life can go on as normally as possible without interruptions.

Stimulants used to treat ADHD can alter the process of thinking, the emotional response and hyperactivity. People who use these medications regularly can benefit from improved impulse control, better academic performance, more positive attitude, increased concentration, better social skills and increased self-esteem.

The Drawbacks of Using Stimulants to Treat ADHD

As with most medications and supplements, there are drawbacks associated with stimulants for ADHD. This can include mild to severe symptoms of nausea, stomach aches, nervousness, blurred vision, anemia, fatigue, insomnia and being increasingly emotional. There is also a high potential for addiction when using ADHD stimulants. This is because these medications affect the neurotransmitter processes that occur in the brain. People become dependent on these changes as time goes on. These chemical pathways can change the long term ability for your brain to function. Increased tolerance can also occur, resulting in the need for more medication.

Primary Benefits of Nootropics with Ingredient Analysis

benefits of nootropics with adhd people

There are a lot of benefits that can be achieved with the use of nootropics for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Let’s break them down.

Attention and Processing

Nootropics usually increase levels of dopamine in the brain, which is the neurotransmitter that will regulate the ability to focus attention on a task for a certain amount of time, maintain optimal energy levels and improve how alert a person feels. Along with a healthy diet, positive lifestyle choices and enough sleep each night, a person with ADHD can adequately deal with their symptoms over time so they are processing information as they should be.

N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine

N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine is a nootropic that is often used to boost cognitive function in people with ADHD. It works together with other stimulants to block the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. When not enough dopamine is present, most ADHD medications won’t be as effective as people would prefer. N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine can also increase the production of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which are needed for cognitive health. The most common positive side effects of N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine use include improved memory, concentration, mood, focus and function.

Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola rosea is an ancient herb that has been used for centuries thanks to its medicinal properties. It has also been extensively studied. This herb is not a stimulant. Rather, it is an adaptogen. This means that it will assist the body with resisting stress while promoting normal bodily functions. Rhodiola rosea can be used alone for mild cases of ADHD to improve focus, memory, concentration and reduce fatigue. It can raise the levels of feel-good hormones in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin.

Phosphatidylserine (PS)

Phosphatidylserine is a fatty acid substance in the brain that plays a large role in the overall physical structure, integrity and function of the brain’s cells. Our brains typically maintain adequate levels of Phosphatidylserine in the brain, but it appears that these levels may be compromised in people exhibiting symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. People taking Phosphatidylserine should be able to pay closer attention to tasks for longer periods of time and process information more effectively.

Focus

Focus is something that many people with ADHD struggle with. When you are unable to focus on something you’re doing at school, work or at home, the situation you’re in can be very frustrating. The task you’re trying to complete may not get done with much success. The following ingredients in medications and supplements designed for use with ADHD can increase focus.

Choline

Choline (also known as vitamin B4) functions very closely with vitamins B6 and B12. We produce choline in the body, but most people are deficient due to not eating enough choline-rich foods like meat, eggs, nuts, fish, and dairy. Choline is an important nutrient when it comes to the function of your body’s nerve cells, and it can assist with the ability to focus when a person has a diagnosis of ADHD. A decreased ability to focus can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression.

Methylliberine (Dynamine®)

Methylliberine (Dynamine®) is an alkaloid that is sourced from the kucha tea leaf. It has the ability to increase your energy levels, mood and ability to focus, making it a powerful ADHD treatment option. Methylliberine (Dynamine®) can reactivate neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain similarly to how caffeine works. When you have more energy, you can focus more intently on a task.

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba is often used thanks to its natural nootropic effects. It boosts brain function and cognitive ability in order to accomplish more over the course of the day while being able to focus. It addresses that scattered, unfocused thinking issue that many people with ADHD have. It also has powerful antioxidant effects and can decrease inflammation in the body.

Memory and Learning

When you’re learning new information, it’s really important that your brain is able to retain that information as memories. When a person has ADHD, their brain has trouble focusing on a task closely enough that information is being retained and learned. The following ingredients can improve the memory and learning functions of the brain in patients with ADHD.

Bacopa monnieri (Synapsa®)

Bacopa monnieri (Synapsa®) is a powerful herbal nootropic that is included in ADHD supplements thanks to its ability to strengthen our nerves and improve intellectual performance. Bacopa monnieri (Synapsa®) is very versatile as it will improve all aspects of what the brain does. It can help a person to understand what they’re learning and processing, to remember that information for longer periods of time and to recall what was learned. The process of growing new nerve endings can also be boosted with the use of Bacopa monnieri (Synapsa®). It can also regulate the production of acetylcholine, serotonin, dopamine and GABA.

Alpha GPC

Brain fog and the inability to retain memories is a common symptom of ADHD. Alpha GPC is a type of choline that can reduce brain fog and boost acetylcholine in the brain. This is the chemical that is directly related to learning and memory. Alpha GPC has also been used for conditions that affect cognitive ability such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

Energy and Fatigue

ADHD patients can experience very dramatic levels of energy in the body, and fatigue can become a real issue that affects cognition. There are some nutrients and ingredients that can be beneficial in ADHD supplements as a way to keep energy levels steady while improving fatigue.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 plays a key role in the functions within the brain and nervous system. It can help improve ADHD symptoms by maintaining a healthy myelin sheath on the nerve cells in the body. It also aids in essential fatty acid production and the production of energy. Vitamin B12 also affects the brain’s production of serotonin, which can cause low energy if you don’t have enough serotonin.

Citicoline

This powerful brain nutrient can boost a person’s mental energy levels, their ability to focus, attention span, and overall brain health. You’ll find that Citicoline is included in most nootropics for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Mental Clarity

Being able to think clearly is something that we take for granted. People with ADHD often feel like there’s too much going on in their brain at once, and they can’t focus well. Here are some of the ingredients that can help boost mental clarity.

DHA

DHA is the main omega-3 fat that exists in the brain. It has the function of increasing blood flow when you’re trying to accomplish certain tasks. Studies have shown that both adults and children with ADHD have lower than normal levels of DHA in their blood, making supplementation very important.

Mangifera Indica fruit extract

Boosting mental clarity in patients with ADHD can often be accomplished with the inclusion of Mangifera Indica fruit extract. This supplement has very potent antioxidant properties that can enhance cognitive function. It can also protect against memory loss and oxidative stress.

Mood and Stress

It’s easy to become stressed and experience a low mood when dealing with untreated ADHD. The challenges that these patients face can be overwhelming to say the least. The following supplemental ingredients can promote a more balanced mood while also helping the brain and body better cope with high stress levels.

Saffron extract

Saffron can be used for ADHD in addition to depression, anxiety and low mood in general. A study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology explains that saffron was used in a 6-week randomized double blind study with 54 children that were between the ages of 6 and 17 years old. The participants that received saffron extract saw improvement in their ADHD symptoms, especially when it came to mood and stress.

Agmatine

Agmatine is a powerful neuromodulator that has therapeutic effects for the treatment of major depressive disorder. It actually works very quickly to relieve symptoms of chronic stress, inflammation, anxiety, depression, etc.

The Best Nootropics for ADHD

Many of the ingredients that I’ve just talked about are included in the best nootropics that I’m about to discuss. Each of these supplements shows great promise for patients dealing with symptoms of ADHD.

#1. ONNIT Alpha Brain

alpha brain nootropic best for adhd

ONNIT Alpha Brain is a powerful supplement that has the potential to support cognitive functions such as memory, mental speed, and focus in patients with ADHD (and others). Considered a nootropic, ONNIT Alpha Brain has helped people remember important information like locations and names. It can help you focus on more complex tasks that would have previously overwhelmed you. You’ll think much more clearly while experiencing increased levels of stress and you’ll be able to react more quickly to these situations.

We all love being in that state of mind where you’ve incredibly focused and able to complete an important task without becoming distracted. This is the supplement that can help you do that. This product contains the Onnit Flow Blend of L-Tyrosine, L-Theanine, oat straw extract and phosphatidylserine. Also included is cat’s claw extract and the Onnit Focus Blend and Onnit Fuel Blend that contain ingredients such as Bacopa extract, L-Leucine and Toothed Clubmoss extract.

Pros

  • Boosts mental processing
  • Does not contain caffeine
  • Promotes better mental focus
  • Supports memory

Cons

  • Some people did not experience any kind of change in their symptoms when taking this product regularly

#2. Primal Mind Fuel

mindfuel nootropic adhd

Primal Mind Fuel focuses largely on adaptogens in order to assist the body with fighting back against high levels of stress while also increasing memory function and promoting a positive mood. Rhodiola rosea is the main ingredient, which we discussed has the potential to boost your brain function, mood and memory. You’ll feel like you’re thinking more clearly when taking this supplement and your ADHD will be much more balanced each day.

Primal Mind Fuel also included Primal Harvest’s NeuroSmart blend, which boosts energy levels, performance and mental focus thanks to ingredients such as L-Tyrosine, Bacopa monnieri, and Huperzine A.

Pros

  • Contains 11 natural nootropic ingredients to improve the flow state of your brain
  • Improves cognitive wellness with the NeuroSmart formulation
  • Supports mood, energy, focus and motivation
  • Promotes a healthy stress response
  • Made in a GMP-certified facility

Cons

  • Could provide too much of an energy boost

#3. 1st Phorm Masterbrain AM

masterbrain am adhd nootropic

1st Phorm’s Masterbrain AM is a very comprehensive supplement that enhances cognitive function. It will improve your memory, problem solving abilities and concentration thanks to powerful ingredients such as AlphaGPC, Choline Bi Tartrate and nootropic herbs such as Bacopa monnieri, Rhodiola Rosea Extract and Siberian Ginseng. These ingredients will increase neurotransmitter function in the brain while reducing stress, depression, anxiety and an attention deficiency.

This is a supplement that’s intended to be used first thing in the morning in order to provide you with results all day. It will keep you focused during the day, but you won’t experience any kind of jitters at night that keep you up. You’ll be able to enjoy a restful night of sleep that gets you ready for the next day.

Pros

  • Contains powerful nootropics to boost cognitive function
  • Reduces stress
  • Improves mood disorders such as depression and anxiety
  • Increases mental acuity

Cons

  • Contains artificial colors

#4. Transparent Labs Nootropic Cognitive Health Brain Function

transparent labs nootropic for adhd

Transparent Labs’ Nootropic Capsules are a mental performance-enhancing supplement that has been formulated with powerful ingredients such as Cognizin® (a patented CDP-choline supplement), SerinAid® (which contains phosphatidylserine), and NeuroFactor (whole coffee fruit concentrate) to enhance your mental performance, support a healthy mood and increase your resilience to stress. You’ll feel like your brain is always fully working when you’re taking this supplement regularly. It contains caffeine, which is something you may or may not find helps your ADHD symptoms.

Pros

  • Improves focus and concentration levels
  • Increases your ability to remember things
  • Boosts focus
  • Promotes alertness

Cons

  • Contains caffeine

#5. Thesis Personalized Nootropic Blends

thesis nootropic personalized for adhd

The unique thing about Thesis Personalized Nootropic Blends is that you get your own customized combination of nootropics to improve your ADHD. The ingredients offered can enhance your creativity levels, boost energy and increase your focus each day.

You simply take an online quiz to get started. This quiz will determine what your main concerns and issues are with your ADHD so Take Thesis can provide you with your starter blend. You’ll be checking in with a wellness coach to see how things are progressing and to make changes as needed.

Pros

  • You get a personalized approach to your ADHD supplements
  • Optimize your health with a wellness coach
  • Take Thesis uses functional mushrooms in their supplements, which are high in nutrients and have adaptogenic effects
  • Brain protection comes from various amino acids, vitamins, and plant–based adaptogens

Cons

  • You may not get your blend right the first time and will need to make adjustments

#6. F’ing Focus Brain Boosting Supplement

fing focus nootropic

F’ing Focus Brain Boosting Supplement claims that you can see improvement in your ADHD symptoms after your first dose of product. This supplement contains powerful ingredients such as Bacopa Extract, Phosphatidylserine, Ginkgo Biloba, Rhodiola Rosea Extract, Vitamin B12, DMAE Bitartrate and Huperzine-A.

Based on your adrenal fatigue and tolerance, results tend to be pretty substantial early on. You should see a difference in your mood, mental clarity as well as your self-confidence and motivation. This product has impressive reviews, compared to other similar products that people sometimes feel didn’t make a difference in their symptoms.

Pros

  • Eliminates mental fatigue
  • Clears brain fog
  • Increases memory
  • Boosts brain health
  • Increases processing speed in the brain

Cons

  • Could be pricey for some people

#7. Neuro-Peak Nootropic by Zhou Nutrition

neuro peak nootropic adhd

This supplement from Zhou has been formulated to help support memory and cognition. It has been made with ginkgo biloba to support healthy brain function, to boost levels of serotonin in the brain and to increase your performance levels. Bacopa monnieri and phosphatidylserine are used to support your memory function and cognition. They can also boost your body’s ability to handle stress better. Rhodiola rosea extract is also included to support healthy levels of focus, productivity and mental clarity.

Zhou Nutrition believes in the power of nootropics, which have been used for more than 10,000 years. Their Neuro-Peak supplement is an ideal tool for memory, focus, clarity, and peak performance. Not only will you feel like you’re performing efficiently, but your mood will be much better as well.

Pros

  • Increases mental energy
  • Allows you to be more alert
  • Enhances mental accuracy
  • Increases focus and clarity

Cons

  • Contains high levels of vitamin B12

Buying Guide for Choosing Nootropics for ADHD

adhd nootropic buying guide

What to Look For

You may be overwhelmed looking at nootropic supplements. After all, these products usually contain ingredients that most people have never come across before. Let’s take a look at some of the things you should be looking for in a nootropic supplement for ADHD.

Brand Transparency

Because of the complex nature of these ingredients, it’s important that you’re buying from a brand that is very transparent about their product. I like when a website clearly states what’s in their product and why it has been included.

Quality of Ingredients

It’s nice to know that beneficial ingredients have been included in the product, but the quality of those ingredients can be questionable in many cases. Check to see where those ingredients are sourced from. This ties into brand transparency. If ingredients are high quality, then a brand should be more than happy to share that information with you.

Proof of Effectiveness through Honest Customer Reviews

You can take a look through honest customer reviews listed on a company’s website to see how effective it really is. Of course, it’s important to remember that not everyone will experience the same results from a product. Just because one person took a supplement, and it didn’t really work well for them doesn’t mean you’ll experience the same results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve come across in regard to nootropic supplements for ADHD.

Do nootropics help people with ADHD?

Nootropics show very promising results for people dealing with decreased cognitive function due to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. There is scientific evidence that shows these ingredients can improve cognitive function when taken on a regular basis.

What is the best natural stimulant for ADHD?

It’s difficult to say what the best natural stimulant is for ADHD, since some people will find one ingredient more beneficial than another. However, common natural stimulants include Rhodiola rosea, ginseng, ashwagandha and ginkgo biloba.

Can nootropics cause brain damage?

If you are using nootropics as directed, they will not cause brain damage. If you abuse these products and take them more frequently than directed or at larger doses, this can result in damage to the brain.

Does modafinil work for ADHD?

Modafinil is a nootropic medication that has the ability to enhance alertness. It is actually one of the most common treatment options for ADHD. It’s very safe and many people find it effective. It’s used for both children and adults.

Do nootropics work for focus?

Nootropics absolutely work for focus, and the results you experience will depend on what ingredients are included to accomplish this. Caffeine can be used for short term results, but other natural nootropics will provide long-lasting focus. L-theanine and choline are two powerful nootropics that increase the ability to focus.

The Bottom Line

While this may be a group of supplements that are new to you, your ADHD symptoms may not be new at all. If you’ve been suffering from ADHD symptoms for years, you’ve probably tried many methods to attempt to improve your symptoms. If you’ve not yet tried nootropics, this may be the time to do so. These supplements that I’ve covered today have helped many people improve issues with focus, memory, energy and even mood issues. It’s worth looking into some of them if you feel that you fall into this category of ADHD patients that are still struggling to find ways to improve their challenges associated with the condition.

Our Recommendations

Tips for Success from the RD

If you’re looking for other ways to improve your ADHD symptoms naturally, here are some of my suggestions.

  • It’s important to watch what you’re eating and drinking each day. People with ADHD often experience an increase in symptoms when they expose themselves to products that contain allergens, additives and other ingredients that are known to aggravate them.
  • Spend more time outside as a way to center yourself and practice mindfulness. This will help to focus the brain on more simple things so you can go back to what you were doing with better focus and clarity.
  • Behavioral therapy is very effective, especially for children that are just learning how to manage their new diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
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Courtney D'Angelo

Courtney D'Angelo, MS, RD, earned her masters degree in Nutrition and Foods from the University of Georgia. She's a Registered Dietitian at Morrison Healthcare and has a strong passion in helping people improve their wellness!

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