How can you get the most bang for your buck buying nootropics on Amazon? If you scour the web, you’ll find many people wondering how to spend $xx dollars on Amazon shopping for nootropics.
This is a good question given how convenient and fast Amazon is (especially if you’re a prime member).
Amazon securely saves your credit card information, which enables one-click ordering. You can subscribe to products and receive them on a recurring basis. This model is particularly good for supplements because you’ll be consuming them on a regular basis. Amazon is also getting serious about actually vetting the third-party merchants that sell products in the health and personal care product categories.
I’m conducting an experiment by subscribing to as many household items on Amazon as is economical. Toothpaste, detergent, you name it.
Why on earth would anyone do this?
It’s part of my goal to automate repetitive tasks like shopping for household items. I’ll admit that it’s not be hard to remember to buy detergent once a month. But if you’re busy then lots of little tasks start to add up.
These mini tasks will clutter your mental space. Working memory is a finite resource that should be deployed for tasks that you can’t automate or outsource.
In this post, I’ll hone in on the nootropics you should consider buying on Amazon to get the best value.
But before I do, you should know what products you should never bother looking for on Amazon.
Nootropics You Can’t Get on Amazon
There are a few different classes of nootropics. Here’s the breakdown:
- Racetams (e.g., piracetam or aniracetam)
- Cholinergics (e.g., alpha-GPC)
- Psychostimulant-like drugs (e.g., adrafinil)
- Anxiolytics (e.g., phenibut)
- Plant extracts (e.g., Bacopa monnieri)
- Amino acids (e.g., L-tyrosine)
- Prescription nootropics (e.g., memantine or modafinil)
- Foods (cacao, blueberries)
Racetams were recently banned from Amazon. You used to be able to purchase piracetam on Amazon but that’s no longer the case. You also won’t be able to buy anxiolytics like phenibut or stimulants like modafinil.
If you’re looking for the latest and greatest cutting-edge compounds like coluracetam or IDRA-21, Amazon isn’t your best bet.
However, Amazon does allow a few of these products to be sold in states outside the USA. You can buy adrafinil on Amazon.ca – which is the Canadian version of Amazon.
Stay Away From All-In-One Nootropics
What’s an all-in-one nootropic? I’m talking about popular proprietary blends like AlphaBrain.
I’d shy away from all-in-one nootropics for three reasons:
- The ingredients are often chosen haphazardly (i.e., the “dartboard approach” to nootropics stack formulation.)
- You’ll pay a large premium for proprietary blends
- Many proprietary blends aren’t fully transparent about what’s in the product
Now that we’ve covered what you shouldn’t buy on Amazon, let’s get on to the good stuff.
Which Nootropics Should I Buy on Amazon?
Amazon really shines when it comes to sourcing cholinergics, amino acids, and natural extracts. Common cholinergics include alpha-GPC, CDP-choline, choline bitartrate and even nicotine (though pharmaceutical grade is recommended).
These are my favorite nootropic products on Amazon:
- Melatonin – useful for synchronizing your circadian rhythym and improving sleep quality
- L-theanine – relaxed concentration without sedation.
- CDP-Choline – all-purpose cognitive enhancement
- Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) – neuroprotection and mitochondrial enhancement
- Vitamin D3 – a potent neurosteroid
- Bacopa Monnieri – neurotrophic support, dendritic remodelling
- Ashwagandha – adaptogenic stress mitigator
- Uridine – pro-dopaminergic effects
- L-tyrosine - pro-dopaminergic effects
- Curcumin – Neuroprotective antioxidant with antidementia properties
- Cacao – improves blood flow to the brain
These are examples of the types of nootropics I tend to buy on Amazon.
But let’s do a little experiment.
Let’s say we set a $70 budget for nootropics. What would be the best way to spend it on Amazon? This conveniently brings us to the next section.
How I’d Spend $70 On Amazon Shopping For Nootropics
#1 Bulk L-theanine
Bulk powders are less convenient than capsules because it’s easier to take a pill every day.
But you’ll save big buying powders over the long term if you switch to bulk supplements. Your wallet will thank you.
L-theanine is something I'd buy on Amazon – even though it’s widely available elsewhere.
L-theanine is particularly useful for taking the edge off of stimulants and stimulant-like nootropics.
If you take modafinil or ADHD medications like Adderall, you should be taking advantage of l-theanine.
Why do I use L-theanine? L-theanine promotes relaxation without sedation.
It also synergizes particularly well with caffeine .
If you’re unfamiliar, L-theanine is a non-dietary amino acid naturally abundant in tea. Tea also contains neuroprotective catechins and caffeine.
But watch out for excessive tea drinking, because tea has a lot of fluoride in it. And fluoride is not good for brain health.
Bulk L-theanine is available from Amazon starting at ($17.96).
I’m huge supporter of choline precursors like CDP-Choline or Alpha-GPC.
Supplemental choline is an excellent strategy to replenish your body’s acetylcholine reserves.
Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter that plays a vital role in memory formation, but also mood. Blocking acetylcholine receptors (muscarinic or nicotinic) tends to cause amnesia and hinder performance.
Here's another reason I love CDP-choline: it breaks down to uridine.
Uridine is also a nootropic in its own right – there is some tentative evidence that it improves dopamine function.
You’d be smart attend to your mood while taking CDP-Choline.
Why do I say that? Well, choline supplementation can exacerbate depression. There’s this theory – it’s called the “acetylcholine theory of melancholy.”
The theory is that acetylcholine promotes rumination and REM sleep, which contributes to depression.
There’s some convincing evidence that blocking acetylcholine receptors can relieve depression. Consider scopolamine, Wellbutrin, and tricyclic antidepressants (as a class). They all antagonize muscarinic receptors, nicotinic acetylcholine receptors or both, and they’re effective antidepressants.
I’ve bought Jarrow’s CDP-choline ($17.95) and PowderCity’s CDP-choline ($26.37) on Amazon with good results. In this case, the cost savings of buying a bulk powder isn’t enormous, so Jarrow’s CDP-choline is a reasonable choice.
#3 Vitamin D3
Everyone knows that vitamin D is made in the skin, and this synthesis depends on exposure to light. The synthesis of vitamin D requires the absorption of a photon.
But humans are spending more time indoors, and excessive sunlight exposure may be mutagenic (e.g. pyrimidine dimers).
The obvious solution is to supplement vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is a powerful neurosteroid that modulates many signal transduction pathways.
For example, it was recently reported that vitamin D protects dopamine neurons. (Dopamine is that neurotransmitter that underlies reward, motivation, and pleasure. If there’s a “wellbeing molecule” – then it’s dopamine).
Consider this article:
The Function of Vitamin D3 in the Growth and Neuroprotection of Midbrain Dopamine Neurons (2016)
Vitamin D has long been synonymous with bone health. More recently, new health benefits are continually being associated with vitamin D, including a burgeoning field on neuroprotective properties. This has generated a huge explosion of interest in recent years in the potential for vitamin D to be used not only as a therapeutic in neurodegenerative disease, including Parkinson’s disease, but also as biomarkers and for risk association. With an emphasis on Parkinson’s disease, this chapter will discuss recent evidence supporting the assertion that vitamin D can be a useful therapeutic agent used as an intervention therapy to be combined with existing treatments; and the case for further development of novel treatments utilizing the potential of vitamin D. In addition, we present novel, previously unpublished evidence showing that in a unilateral model of Parkinson’s disease, vitamin D can not only reduce the extent of denervation, but that this is also reflected in functional benefit to the animals. The potential of vitamin D is slowly being realized; in the future, it will be widely associated with far more than just bone health and may even contribute to an elusive treatment of neurodegenerative illness.
Here’s one highly-rated vitamin D product on Amazon for $7.88. I’m also just using this particular product as an example – many of the competing vitamin D3 products are just as good.
#4 Curcumin (Tumeric)
Curcumin has well-documented cognitive-enhancing effects .
The low incidence of neurodegenerative disease in India is likely linked to curry consumption.
The evidence for curcumin’s beneficial effects comes from animal models or in vitro studies. It’s not clear to what extent these health-enhancing effects will translate to individuals.
But curcumin is no magic bullet and suffers from a few fatal flaws. Like resveratrol, curcumin has notoriously low bioavailability, limiting its clinical utility. To address these limitations, a few brands have added either piperine (extracted from black pepper) or complexing phyotosomes with phosphatidylcholine, which enhances bioavailability.
Piperine improves bioavailability by inhibiting the the liver enzymes (hepatic enzyme CYP3A4) that metabolize curcumin. A third strategy was adopted by Theracurmin, who used curcumin nanoparticles.
To my knowledge, no company has combined these strategies. It is only natural for people to want to hedge their bets, so it would be an interesting strategy to add piperine to curcumin phytosomes complexed with phosphatidylcholine (as an example).
LongVida sells liposomal curcumin, but it’s costly. I’ve never tried their product, so I can’t vouch for them, but I’ve generally heard good things.
On Amazon, you can buy organic turmeric root powder for $13.99 – a great value. I usually add black pepper to this product myself, which serves as a source of piperine.
I also recommend Theracumin due to its enhanced bioavailability.
There’s an important downside to curcumin powder that no one mentions. Curcumin powder by itself is hard to get down. Turmeric isn’t water soluble, and it tends to cling to the roof of your mouth and teeth.
#5 Cocoa Extract or Cacao Nibs
Chocolate contains a lot of sugar – that’s why I prefer cocoa extract or raw cacao nibs.
I personally buy these cacao nibs ($10.50) on Amazon – and I’ve had good results. Many other cacao nib brands on Amazon are comparable in quality.
The cognitive benefits of cacao are numerous. Cacao increases cerebral blood flow, neurogenesis and protects against oxidative damage.
Have a look at the following study (click to expand the abstract):
The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance (2013)
Cocoa powder and chocolate contain numerous substances among which there is a quite large percentage of antioxidant molecules, mainly flavonoids, most abundantly found in the form of epicatechin. These substances display several beneficial actions on the brain. They enter the brain and induce widespread stimulation of brain perfusion. They also provoke angiogenesis, neurogenesis and changes in neuron morphology, mainly in regions involved in learning and memory. Epicatechin improves various aspects of cognition in animals and humans. Chocolate also induces positive effects on mood and is often consumed under emotional stress.
Key Benefits of Cocoa Extract
- Flavonoids preserve cognitive ability in aging rats
- They reduce the risk of stroke in humans
- Flavonoids fortify the vascular system (particularly the microvasculature in the brain) and enhance cerebral blood flow
- Flavonoids can inhibit cell death (apoptosis), which protects neurons
- Flavonoids promote neuronal survival and synaptic plasticity
- But I’ve bought other cacao nib products on Amazon and they’re typically all similar in quality.
If we bought these 5 things on a $70 budget (cocoa extract, curcumin, vitamin D3, CDP-choline, and vitamin D3), we’d have $1.72 to spare.
You won’t find obscure, cutting-edge racetams on Amazon, but there’s still a wide selection of nootropics.
All of the nootropics listed in my article 5 Supplements Everyone Should Take are also readily available on Amazon.