You have so much to do, and so much you want to do, but can’t seem to get started—it’s a feeling many of us are a little too familiar with. Maybe you get discouraged easily or maybe you have trouble getting out of bed, despite all the things you enjoy doing.
Don’t lose hope if you struggle with a lack of motivation. With an endless range of nootropic supplements intended to boost brain function, which is the most effective? We’re looking at the best nootropics for motivation.
Product or Service
Number of Ingredients
Capsules Per Bottle
Mind Lab Pro
$69.00 per bottle
$59.99 per bottle
Performance Lab Nootropics
$69.99 per bottle
$69.50 for first bottle; $119.00 afterward
$89.95 per bottle
30 or 90
$79.95 per bottle (90 capsules)
Quick Verdict: Best Nootropics for Motivation
- Best Overall – Mind Lab Pro
- Best for Memory – Noocube
- Best for Cellular Support – Performance Lab Nootropics
- Best Nutritional Support Stack – Qualia Mind
- Best for Dopamine-Boosting Nutrients – BrainPill
- Best for Neurotransmitter Production – Alpha Brain
Dopamine and Motivation – What Is the Role of Nootropics?
How do nootropics work to boost motivation levels, and why is the dopamine pathway so important for brain health?
How Nootropics Affect Dopamine Levels
Nootropics can benefit dopamine levels in several ways. Some nootropics, such as rhodiola, increase dopamine levels by slowing their breakdown. Dopamine is broken down by monoamine oxidase, and rhodiola may inhibit its actions .
In the case of tyrosine, it directly feeds normal dopamine production as it is the backbone used to make the neurotransmitter . Acetyl-l-carnitine protects dopamine neurons and increases the numbers of dopamine’s D1 receptors .
What Nootropics Increase Motivation?
Key nootropics to increase motivation are primarily those that enhance dopamine. These include tyrosine, Ginkgo biloba and Bacopa monnieri  . Nootropics that assist dopamine-producing brain cells may help too .
What Is the Role of Dopamine?
Dopamine is the “motivation neurotransmitter” that also aids learning and movement . The stiff movements and lack of coordination we see in Parkinson’s disease are the results of dopamine deficiency in the central nervous system, but this is an extreme manifestation. Milder deficiencies generally affect motivation, the reward pathway, and mental energy.
The Reward Pathway
Dopamine affects several regions of the brain involved in motivation and reward. One of these regions is the prefrontal cortex, which controls functions such as decision-making, emotion, cognition, and reward perception. In essence, it helps you weigh up whether taking action is worth the effort, and how you can do so .
Other regions of the brain dopamine act on include the amygdala and hippocampus, partly responsible for emotion and memory, respectively. It is also active in regions that integrate cognition, memories, and emotions together .
Dopamine Deficiency: Signs To Look Out For
It is important to know the specific type of effect dopamine has on motivation. Animal models show that dopamine deficiency won’t cause an inability to feel pleasure. Instead, it affects your motivation levels to actively obtain something you want. If there’s something you really want, but you have a “can’t be bothered” feeling, it may be a dopamine deficiency .
The invigorating, performance-enhancing properties of dopamine help to reinforce learning. Previously learned information is strengthened by dopamine release, making short-term memories into long-term lessons. Trouble learning, or perhaps brain fog at school or work, may indicate low dopamine too .
Additionally, through its actions with oxytocin, dopamine contributes to social interactions. These include maternal bonds and sexuality, including the reward response we get to intimacy. Here, a lack of motivation to socialize or be intimate with loved ones could be another dopamine deficiency indicator .
Best Nootropics for Motivation
With seemingly countless supplements on the market claiming to improve brain function, which ones really work to boost motivation?
Mind Lab Pro – Best Overall
Cost Per Dose
$4.60 per 2-capsule dose
All ingredients and their doses are listed on the bottle
Provides scientific evidence to back up ingredients’ claims
FDA-registered GMP-certified facility
Fillers and Additives
No artificial additives, only rice concentrate filler
- Supports dopamine production with N-acetyl-l-tyrosine
- May aid brain cell regeneration and maintenance
- Antioxidant support
- Cortisol-reducing ingredients
- Calming properties through enhancing GABA
- Higher doses (four capsules) are needed to reach the therapeutic dose across all active compounds
Mind Lab Pro contains N-acetyl-l-tyrosine, a form of the amino acid used as the backbone of dopamine. Research demonstrates that tyrosine can significantly boost working memory performance, which is one function of dopamine, including in high-stress conditions .
Another key ingredient in Mind Lab Pro is vitamin B9, also known as folate. Folate stimulates dopamine release, as well as that of serotonin, and has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression as a result .
Mind Lab Pro is a comprehensive nootropic stack that supports your brain health from many angles. No stone is left unturned. See the full Mind Lab Pro review for all its benefits in brain energy levels here.
NooCube – Best For Memory
Cost Per Dose
$2 per two-capsule dose
All ingredients listed with dosages
Provides scientific research with links to back up claims
Fillers and Additives
Gelatine capsule, magnesium stearate
- Direct dopamine support with tyrosine
- Calming effects with L-theanine
- Provides antioxidant support with cat’s claw and resveratrol
- Contains gluten (oats)
Alpha glycerylphosphorylcholine (Alpha-GPC) is the top ingredient in Noocube. It increases levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which play essential roles in cognition and is deficient in cases of Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical research in people with Alzheimer’s disease shows beneficial effects in verbal skills and depression with Alpha-GPC, due to acetylcholine’s mood-lifting effect .
A second key ingredient is Huperzine-A, which also boosts acetylcholine levels. In a study of junior high students, Huperzine-A supplementation improved memory quotient scores from 104 to 115, and improved exam scores too . It could therefore be a helpful “smart drug” during stressful exam periods.
Noocube shapes up to be one of the most effective nootropics for memory through increasing acetylcholine. See the full Noocube review here.
Performance Lab Nootropics – Best for Cellular Support
Cost Per Dose
All ingredients with dosages listed
Research statistics given but not referenced
GMP Certified Facility
FDA-registered, GMP-compliant facility
Fillers and Additives
No artificial ingredients; only Nu-Flow rice filler
- Direct dopamine support with tyrosine
- Powerful antioxidant benefits from maritime pine bark
- Brain cell membrane support with citicoline
- Lesser transparency with provided scientific information
Performance Lab Mind contains citicoline, which may be a safer form of choline as it does not convert to the toxic TMAO in the intestines. Choline is not only used in acetylcholine production, but also as part of the cell membranes. Studies suggest that citicoline supplementation may improve cognition, attention span, and psychomotor function .
Another ingredient included is maritime pine bark extract, a powerful antioxidant with neuroprotective effects. Supplementation has been associated with improved survival rates and cognitive function after traumatic brain injury, demonstrating its protective benefits can hold up even in severe situations .
Performance Lab Mind is one of the supportive nootropics for memory, providing a key aspect of cell membranes and antioxidant support alongside boosting neurotransmitter production. See the full Performance Lab Nootropics review here.
Qualia Mind – Best Nutritional Support Stack
Cost Per Dose
All ingredients and their doses are listed
Scientific evidence available for some ingredients on another page
GMP Certified Facility
Manufactured in cGMP compliant facility
Fillers and Additives
Hypromellose, organic rice concentrate, and extract blend, silicon dioxide, calcium carbonate
- Broad nutrient supplementation with B vitamins, and vitamin C and D
- Antioxidant support with PQQ and ginkgo biloba
- Mitochondrial support for brain energy production
- Aids dopamine production with ingredients including tyrosine
- Large number of ingredients requires higher doses than other nootropics
Qualia Mind contains pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), an antioxidant stronger than vitamins C and E that can also increase nerve growth factor. Clinical studies show that PQQ may improve memory and mood, and could help to balance daily cortisol rhythms .
Acetyl-l-carnitine is another ingredient in Qualia Mind, which assists the mitochondria in boosting energy production and may therefore increase mental energy levels. It could have specific nootropic effects too, by increasing the D1 dopamine receptors and protecting the dopamine neurons from damage .
Qualia Mind aims to do a lot in one nootropic. It may fight fatigue, give you a motivation boost, and enhance your antioxidant status.
BrainPill – Best for Dopamine-Boosting Nutrients
Cost Per Dose
Lists scientific evidence including a study on the BrainPill, but no links to peer-reviewed articles given.
GMP Certified Facility
cGMP-compliant facility in the USA
Fillers and Additives
Silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate, titanium dioxide.
- Key B vitamins to assist in methylation
- L-tyrosine for direct dopamine production support
- Huperzine-A for acetylcholine production
- L-theanine for calming effects
- Contains titanium dioxide; there is mixed evidence of its safety 
BrainPill contains key B vitamins for neurotransmitter production. The B vitamins B6, B9, and B12 assist in the methylation cycle, which contributes to the generation of serotonin and dopamine . Additionally, vitamin B5 is involved in both productions of cellular energy and acetylcholine . Deficiencies in these are linked to an increased risk of dementia  .
The BrainPill claims to include essential nutrients for dopamine production, as well as ingredients for acetylcholine generation and stress-relieving effects. However, transparency is questionable. See the full Brain Pill review here.
Alpha Brain – Best for Neurotransmitter Support
Cost Per Dose
Ingredients listed, not all dosages included
Scientific evidence mentioned but not referenced
NSF certified and GMP compliant
Fillers and Additives
Maltodextrin, Nu-Flow rice concentrate
- Dopamine support with tyrosine and Bacopa monnieri
- Acetylcholine boost with huperzine-A
- Calming effects from L-theanine and oat extract
- Proprietary blends do not show all ingredient dosages
Alpha Brain’s top-listed ingredient, vitamin B6, is included at almost six times the required daily intake. Vitamin B6 may improve motivation through increasing dopamine, and promotes brain health by boosting serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, histamine, glycine and D-serine. These are essential for healthy cognition and mood balance .
Alpha Brain contains powerful ingredients to enhance neurotransmitter production for motivation and other functions that benefit our health and quality of life. However, dosage levels are not always clear.
Nootropics for Motivation: Things to Consider
How do we know whether or not a nootropic supplement is worthwhile?
First, are the ingredients of your potential nootropic supplement evidence-based? Do they have scientific evidence from human clinical trials, or at least animal or cell line studies? Always do your research first; avoid trendy or obscure ingredients that have little to no science behind them.
Another key point in finding an effective nootropic is the amount of each ingredient. For example, Panax ginseng doses of 4.5 grams (dried herb) or 5-20 grams of creatine have been used in clinical trials  . Your supplement should contain dosage amounts seen in successful studies.
Different ingredients have different properties. While lion’s mane mushroom can increase nerve growth factors and protect against cellular senescence (terminally aged cells), L-theanine can have calming effects by increasing theta-waves  . Rhodiola relieves mental fatigue by slowing neurotransmitter breakdown and lowering stress hormones .
Potential Side Effects
Some nootropics can have adverse effects, particularly those with pharmaceutical ingredients. Racetams are one example, which are lab-made synthetic chemicals that can have harsh, overstimulating properties.
Additionally, some nootropics may have the opposite intended effect at high doses. Tyrosine at high doses can impair memory in older adults, for example, as age-related impaired liver function allows more into the bloodstream . If you are older or have lower body weight, it may therefore be best to start with lower doses and see if you have a beneficial effect there first.
We don’t want to be taking dozens of pills every day. A nootropic supplement with high potency is best, as you can take smaller amounts for significant effects.
What Are Natural Nootropics?
Nootropics can be either natural or pharmaceutical, with many seeking natural alternatives as they generally have fewer, if any, side effects. Dozens of nutrients and medicinal herbs have demonstrated nootropic properties in laboratory and clinical research.
What Foods Are High in Nootropics?
Nootropic nutrients include amino acids tyrosine, taurine, and L-theanine. Tyrosine is found in a wide range of foods, in particular meat, fish, dairy, eggs, nuts, and some beans .
Additionally, the antioxidant vitamins C and E; omega-3 fatty acids; and the non-essential polyphenol antioxidants, found in sources such as berries, are associated with improved cognition over time .
10 Powerful Natural Nootropics
With so many herbal remedies and nutrients given the nootropic name, here are 10 powerful natural nootropics:
- Lion’s mane mushroom
- Bacopa monnieri
- Rhodiola rosea
- Panax ginseng
- Ginkgo biloba
Yes, your daily cup or cups of coffee has nootropic properties! Caffeine increases the release of dopamine, as well as norepinephrine and glutamate, two other stimulatory brain chemicals. It does this through the mechanism it uses to keep us awake, by blocking adenosine receptors. Caffeine may also boost fat burning and help to restore muscle energy reserves .
2. Lion’s Mane Mushroom
Lion’s mane exerts nootropic effects partly by increasing nerve growth factor (NGF). This means it can stimulate brain cell growth, something once thought to be impossible. Its antioxidant effects may protect the nervous system from damage, and it could have preventive effects against cell senescence .
Clinical studies on lion’s mane show benefits in reducing anxiety and depression, as well as improving cognition .
3. Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri has been used for centuries as a neural tonic. Short-term beneficial effects include increased blood flow to the brain; and improved levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine. Long-term benefits may include a reduced buildup of beta-amyloid, the problem plaque in Alzheimer’s disease .
Creatine may support muscle and brain function by acting as a ready source of cellular energy. Clinical research shows that creatine could improve some aspects of cognition, such as reaction times .
In people with lower levels of creatine, it may be helpful in more areas including memory. Vegetarians do not consume dietary creatine, and older adults are more likely to be deficient too, so these populations seem more responsive to creatine .
5. Rhodiola Rosea
Rhodiola rosea is a popular herbal remedy, shown in clinical studies to relieve depression, anxiety and fatigue; improve mental performance and cognitive function .
Its beneficial effects on brain chemical balance include reducing excessive levels of cortisol, the key stress hormone, and slowing the breakdown of dopamine. Both benefits soothe mental fatigue. Additionally, rhodiola may have cellular protection properties against oxidative stress and other types of cell injury .
L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid found in green tea that increases GABA, a calming brain chemical. Clinical studies, including those on people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), find that supplementation with L-theanine and green tea extract can significantly improve memory. This has been associated with increased theta waves, a sign of improved alertness .
American ginseng, or Panax quinquefolium, can have cognition-enhancing benefits. In a study of healthy volunteers, American ginseng improved working memory and reaction time accuracy while enhancing calmness .
American ginseng is high in Rb1, a phytochemical that may increase acetylcholine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters assist in cognition and enhance mood, respectively .
8. Panax Ginseng
Panax ginseng, or Korean red ginseng, has successfully improved cognition among participants with Alzheimer’s disease in clinical research. One study using a 4.5-gram daily dose of Panax ginseng for 12 weeks showed improved brainpower, as an increase in alpha brain waves. These are responsible for maintaining alertness and mental performance .
While we don’t condone cigarette smoking, nicotine has nootropic effects of its own. Nicotine increases levels of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter for cognition and general brain function, and may improve connections in the nervous system .
10. Ginkgo Biloba
Ginkgo biloba is an antioxidant-rich herbal remedy widely tested for potential benefits in the treatment of dementia. A 2017 review found that it can be effective in improving cognitive performance and activities of daily living when taken at doses of over 200mg per day for at least 22 weeks .
The antioxidants and other phytochemicals in Ginkgo biloba may protect brain cells against oxidative stress, improve cerebral blood flow, and boost synaptic plasticity .
Nootropic Stacking: What Is It?
Nootropic stacking is the use of multiple nootropics at once to maximize mental performance. Most supplements you will find are examples of nootropic stacking, as they contain more than one ingredient. Some effects overlap while others complement each other.
What Is the Best Nootropic Stack?
The best nootropic stack depends on what your needs are as an individual. In general, the best stacks cover as many beneficial effects as possible. This is why we gave our top award to Mind Lab Pro, which contains ingredients that improve neurotransmitter production; brain cell regeneration and repair as well as antioxidant status.
Can You Take Too Many Nootropics?
If you take high doses or multiple nootropics that work on one pathway, it is possible to take too much. An example of this can be seen with boosting dopamine production, as high doses of tyrosine are linked with worsened memory .
What are the most important things to know about nootropics for motivation?
Are Nootropics Addictive?
A few known nootropics do have addictive properties, such as nicotine and caffeine. However, you are unlikely to become physically addicted to nootropic supplements.
What Is the Best Supplement for Motivation?
As dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter for motivation, a supplement that focuses on this is best. Mind Lab Pro and BrainPill both involve broad-spectrum support for dopamine.
What Nootropics Make You Happy?
While a dopamine deficiency won’t necessarily stop you from enjoying life, serotonin plays a greater role in mood balance. Therefore, serotonin-enhancing nootropics such as Korean ginseng and American ginseng could help you feel happier, while B vitamins increase both serotonin and dopamine  .
Is There a Downside to Nootropics?
Most natural nootropics are safe and effective when taken within the recommended dose. Some, such as caffeine and nicotine, can be addictive, but these are not generally used in supplements. However, supplements should not be used as a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Does Noopept Get You High?
Noopept is a pharmaceutical nootropic, with the drug Piracetam as its prototype. A scientifically published review describes it as increasing nerve growth factor and BDNF; enhancing the antioxidant status and supporting acetylcholine production . These are not psychoactive properties, so it should not get you high. Read more in our Noopept review.
Nootropics for motivation primarily act by increasing dopamine levels. However, there are other key neurotransmitters involved in mood and cognition that may indirectly boost mental motivation by making us feel happier and improving cognitive performance.
Others still have long-term benefits by boosting neuroregeneration and antioxidant status. Therefore, a formula that uses nootropic stacking is ideal.
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