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Brain Supplements For Students: Our Picks For The Best Supplements For Studying

Summer is here, and for many young adults– particularly following on the crappy year we’ve had– that means summer school to make up for the shortcomings of the past year. Not to mention, a whole new school year is just two months away. 

Student life can be fun, but it can also be stressful, particularly when you’re trying to juggle five different classes along with a social life, your health, and in many cases, a job. It’s no wonder, then, that many students turn to nootropics, or smart drugs, to help them succeed.

Many students use Adderall and other hard stimulants. While this can be effective, the side effects and potential for tolerance mean it’s not an ideal solution. If you currently use Adderall, we not only encourage you to read our recommendations below, but also to check out our article 7 Supplements To Take With Adderall To Maximize Its Usefulness as well as our review of Adderall alternatives.

The best nootropics for students will be those which directly address some of the main challenges that students face, including:

  • Memory
  • The need for more energy, but without losing the ability to sit at a desk and focus
  • Stress management
  • Fatigue reduction, particularly after pulling an all-nighter
  • Maintaining a regular sleep cycle

At the same time, a good supplement for students will stay effective over the long term, without producing tolerance or addiction. Additionally, it must be low on side effects. With that said, here are the best supplement for college students. 

The Best Brain Supplements For Students: Our Reviews

Best Supplement For Studying

Thorne Research L-Tyrosine

Tyrosine is an essential amino acid, and is the main precursor to the stimulant neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. For this reason, it can produce a mild stimulant effect, or enhance the effects of stimulants such as caffeine.  

Tyrosine has been proven to enhance cognition, mainly in situations where dopamine and norepinpehrine are depleted. For this reason, some people take it to ameliorate the effects of caffeine withdrawal

A good starting dose of tyrosine is 1000 mg morning and noon, which after a few days can be reduced to 500 mg twice a day.


Nutricost L-Theanine (taken with caffeine)

Best Supplement Stack For Students

Nutricost L-Theanine

The combination of caffeine and L-theanine is commonly recommended as the “newbie stack” on nootropics boards. It’s easy to see why, as this combination allows you to enjoy the benefits of caffeine without jitters or anxiety, providing a kind of relaxed, focused energy that’s perfect for writing or studying.

The optimal ratio for most people is a 2:1 ratio of theanine to caffeine. With a standard 200 mg theanine capsule, that means you’ll want to take one capsule for every large cup of coffee, energy drink, or for every two cans of caffeinated soda.


Nootropics Unlimited FlAdrafinil

Best Supplement For Studying During All-Nighters

Nootropics Unlimited FlAdrafinil

Modafinil is a popular smart drug because it can keep you awake and alert, and boost cognition, for anywhere from twelves to twenty-four hours, depending on the dosage. We’ve previously recommended FlModafinil, but it has gotten a little bit hard to find these days.

FlAdrafinl is a prodrug of modafinil– that is, it converts in the body first to adrafinil, and then to modafinil. 100 mg first thing in the morning is enough to keep you awake throughout the day, particularly in combination with caffeine. If you’re pulling an all-nighter and won’t sleep until the following night, you’ll want to take 200 mg, possibly divided into nighttime and early morning doses. Avoid going higher, as the 15-hour half-life means modafinil can easily disrupt your sleep the following night.

Editor’s note on Oct 7, 2021: Currently out of stock. We will update this review when it’s available. In the meantime, we recommend L-Tyrosine by Thorne reviewed above.


Doublewood Supplements Magnesium Threonate

Best Supplement For Stress

Doublewood Supplements Magnesium Threonate

Magnesium is a crucial mineral for enabling neural transmission as well as supporting mental and physical relaxation. Magnesium deficiency is associated with anxiety and greater stress. Magnesium helps you fight stress, but stress depletes your magnesium, making you more vulnerable to stress.

The most common forms of magnesium, magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate, act primarily as laxatives and do little for stress. Magnesium threonate is the magnesium salt which most effectively targets the brain. 2000 mg, taken in the evenings or when stressed out, will help you relax and prevent stress-induced insomnia.


NOW Ginkgo Biloba

Best Memory Supplements For Students

NOW Ginkgo Biloba

Of all the supplements touted as memory enhancers, gingko biloba is the most well-supported by multiple high-quality studies, and in particular by studies on cognitively healthy human adults. It slightly edges out bacopa monnieri as the best memory supplement for students.

NOW gingko biloba combines a normal 200 mg dose of a standard ginkgo biloba extract with eleuthero, an adaptogen known to reduce stress and slightly improve cognitive function. This supplement should be taken daily, but it helps to time it an hour before studying when possible.


Nature Made Melatonin

Best Sleep Supplement For Students

NatureMade Melatonin

Melatonin is the brain’s main “go to sleep” neurotransmitter, and you’ve probably heard of it. What you may not have heard is that melatonin also improves cognitive function in people who are sleep-deprived.

That said, many people take too much melatonin. Even half a milligram is enough for most people, and 3 mg should be enough for almost everyone. Take melatonin an hour before bed.


Editor’s note: we are regularly updating this review. If you see any problems, weird interpretations of the data, or just want to say hi, please reach out to hello@the-unwinder.com.

About the author

John Fawkes is the Managing Editor of The Unwinder. John is an NSCA-certified personal trainer and Precision Nutrition-certified nutritional counselor who has been featured on over two dozen websites and podcasts. He works with clients in Los Angeles and online, and can be reached on Instagram and Twitter.

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