In our health- and fitness-conscious age, there are thousands of products on the market that claim to help consumers optimize themselves quickly and effortlessly. From medical devices that promise to burn fat and build muscle with zero exercise to supplements and meal replacement products that claim to boost energy while cutting calories, there seems to be an alleged quick fix for just about everything. But how many of these products really stand up to the test and deliver on their promises?
Today we’re going to examine one such product, OptiMind, which bills itself as “America’s #1 Nootropic.” We’ll evaluate the manufacturer’s claims, examine independent reviews of the product, and see whether it passes muster. By the end of this article, you should feel informed enough about OptiMind—and several of its competitors—to know whether this supplement is right for you.
Let’s get started by finding out what exactly OptiMind is.
What is OptiMind?
According to its Amazon page, OptiMind is a supplement “scientifically designed to enhance Focus, Energy & Attention while simultaneously replenishing what your brain needs to perform at peak cognitive capacity.” Its stated goals? To improve focus and cognitive function, and to enhance mental performance and energy.At first glance, the benefits are immediately appealing. In this digital age when our attention is so frequently divided between competing obligations, and most of us are expected to multitask relentlessly not only at work but at home, who doesn’t want improved memory, heightened concentration, and increased energy? It sounds like a magic bullet for frustrations that plague so many of us, especially seniors or those with medical conditions that cause cognition problems.
But can it really do what it claims to?
Before we can answer that question, let’s take a more in-depth look at how OptiMind supposedly works.
What Does OptiMind Do?
Let’s answer this question by first defining what OptiMind is: a nootropic.
According to Wikipedia, the word nootropic (or “brain booster”) was coined in 1972 by Corneliu E. Giurgea, a Romanian chemist and psychologist. The word refers to “drugs, supplements, or other substances that improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals.”
In simpler terms, OptiMind and other drugs and supplements like it are supposed to make you sharper, not unlike a shot of espresso to help you shake off sleep as you’re starting your workday, but with benefits that last longer than that first cup of coffee.
The helpful properties supposedly offered by nootropic supplements probably help to explain the rapid growth of the nootropic industry. In 2015, the international sale of cognition-enhancing products netted over $1 billion USD, and the profits only continue to grow, encouraged by heavy marketing and widespread availability. Because so many nootropic supplements are available without a prescription, they’re more accessible and affordable for many people than FDA-approved, doctor-prescribed cognition enhancers.
It’s worth noting at this point that there are some drugs known to improve cognition. One of the most commonly used and effective is a stimulant most of us already have in our own homes, and which we’ve already mentioned: caffeine. And while there’s abundant evidence to back up the efficacy of caffeine at improving your mental performance, the evidence for other cognition-enhancing substances is harder to come by. That’s because the claims made about over-the-counter cognition-enhancing supplements typically aren’t evaluated through independent research, leaving many questions about what they can and cannot do unanswered by researchers.
Nevertheless, the nootropic industry continues to thrive, and products like OptiMind continue to be marketed to great success.
Now that we’ve learned a little bit about what OptiMind is and what it claims to do for you, let’s explore how the product works.
How Does OptiMind Work?
If you’re wondering what’s in these capsules, the manufacturer offers a comprehensive list. OptiMind contains:
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Calcium silicate
- Magnesium stearate
- Silicon dioxide
- Vitamin D3
Some of these ingredients, like caffeine and vitamin D3, will probably be recognizable to most users. But that leaves a list of ten components that probably look pretty foreign. What are these other ingredients, and what, if any, therapeutic benefits do they offer?
According to consumer reporting website HighYa, “many of OptiMind’s ingredients have fairly substantive evidence showing them to be effective for a variety of mental conditions, especially tyrosine, phosophatidylserine, bacopin, vinpocetine, and huperzine a.”
In short, OptiMind is a cocktail of vitamins and minerals, all of which purport to have “brain boosting” properties.
So far so good, but is there really any evidence to back up the manufacturer’s claims about the benefits of OptiMind? Let’s delve a little deeper.
What Can the Ingredients in OptiMind Really Do for You?
Coming back to the consumer reporting and reviewing site HighYa, we find some proverbial fine print about the ingredients in OptiMind. The effects of these ingredients, it tells us, might not be as obvious as the manufacturer would have us believe. At the very least, they may be limited to some specific circumstances.
Tyrosine, for instance, “is listed as possibly effective for improving mental performance and memory, although research is mixed and it seems to work best under stressful conditions (such as military training). Tyrosine may also be helpful for improving alertness following a lack of sleep.”
Tyrosine, it seems, may be beneficial to those undergoing military training or living in similar sleep-deprived conditions, but will it really do anything for those of us working more standard 9-5 office jobs? Because there’s been so little research, the jury, unfortunately, is still out. This applies to most of the other ingredients, as well, caffeine being the main, well-documented exception.
This brings us to another important question about OptiMind: Are any of its claims clinically proven?
Is OptiMind Clinically Proven?
This one is easy to answer: In the strictest sense of the word, no, OptiMind is not a clinically proven brain-boosting supplement. While many of its ingredients are backed up by placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical evidence, the product as a whole has not been FDA-approved, and it’s available online versus through a prescribing physician.
However, unlike many other similarly unregulated supplements, OptiMind does have one very important thing going for it, and that’s an abundance of favorable customer reviews. Why is this important? Well, any manufacturer can float a lofty claim about a product, particularly one like OptiMind that’s on the pricier side (one bottle of 32 capsules retails of $43.31), but at the end of the day they’ll have to answer to the court of public opinion.
In that respect, many similar products don’t pass muster, and they have the Amazon reviews to show for it. OptiMind, in contrast, has some surprisingly positive customer feedback on its side. A cursory look at the star ratings on the product’s page show’s that customer experiences are overwhelmingly positive, with a full 60% of users rating OptiMind a full five stars. The remaining 40% breaks down thus:
4 stars: 10%
3 stars: 6%
2 stars: 8%
1 star: 16%
The written reviews are similarly encouraging, with most consumers reporting heightened focus and alertness, decreased brain fog, and improved energy.
The anonymity of the Internet means that it’s easier than ever for dissatisfied customers to leave sometimes scathing reviews about products that have fallen short of their expectations. But even with the benefit of anonymity, the vast majority of consumers not only rated OptiMind favorably, but left detailed reviews about their positive experiences. The implications for the product shouldn’t be downplayed.
On one final note, it’s important to know that the ingredients contained in OptiMind are manufactured in two GMP-certified labs. GMP (or Good Manufacturing Practice) ensures that products are consistently produced in accordance with quality control standards, which means that OptiMind is not a fully unregulated product. Though it hasn’t been subjected to FDA evaluation, OptiMind is manufactured in a manner that ensures a level of quality control that not all nootropics can claim to conform to.
In summary, if you’re looking for some reassurance that OptiMind has some legitimate therapeutic value, you can rest assured that it does. It is not FDA-approved, and though the product itself doesn’t have conclusive clinical evidence to support its claims, its individual components do. It’s manufactured in a quality-controlled setting, and it has the testament of thousands of satisfied customers backing it up.
What Alternatives Exist to OptiMind?
By this point, you are probably developing a sense of whether OptiMind is something you want to try. But if by now you’re still undecided, we have a few other options for you to explore.
As we mentioned above, OptiMind is far from the only product in its class. Nootropics/brain boosters are a huge, rapidly expanding industry, and there are hundreds of competing products out there, all promising to enhance your brain power if only you can remember to take two pills a day.
Obviously, those with severe cognitive problems or clinically diagnosed conditions are better off sticking to doctor-prescribed drugs to treat their ailments, or supplementing them with nootropics under a physician’s supervision. But for everyone else, the addition of a brain booster to your daily vitamins is a simple addition that can help sharpen your mind.
So which one should you choose?
Well, it depends on your goals. What do you want the nootropic you take to do for you? Are you hoping for increased energy and better productivity at work and home? A quick fix for the “brain fog” that frustrates so many of us? A remedy for short-term memory problems? Being able to answer these questions will help you narrow your focus and select the brain booster that’s best suited to your unique needs.
To help you narrow down your options, here are a few other highly rated brain boosters also available on Amazon.
This nootropic is formulated to offer enhanced memory, focus, and clarity, as well as stress-relief and mood support. It’s also a little more affordable than OptiMind, and it too has overwhelmingly positive consumer reviews.
Like OptiMind, it’s taken once daily, making it an easy addition to your everyday health and fitness routine. (Please note that some users have also reported side effects including nausea, upset stomach, and skin irritation, so as with any supplement it’s best to introduce it into your regimen under a doctor’s supervision, and discontinue use if the side effects persist.)
Genius Pre Workout
This brain booster is noteworthy for one very special reason: Unlike most similar products, it’s caffeine-free. So if you want to enhance your brain function but you’re sensitive to stimulants, this could be a great place to start. It’s also naturally sweetened and free of artificial dyes, making it a safe bet for those with chemical sensitivities.
Unlike some brain boosters that are geared solely toward improving cognition, Genius Pre Workout is designed with the relationship between mental and physical fitness in mind. It’s intended to not only sharpen your mental faculties, but deliver a dose of performance-enhancing vitamins and minerals that will make your workout more productive.
For those who value their physical health as much as their mental acuity, this one is a clear winner. Like the others on our list, it also has favorable Amazon reviews backing it up.
Neuro Ignite Extra Strength Brain Supplement
This one is formulated mainly for memory support, so you might give it a try if your biggest problem is forgetting where you left your keys or why you went into the next room. It’s fortified with gingko biloba, which some clinicians say can improve memory, and St. John’s Wort, which is said to have some mood-enhancing properties.
It works by promoting circulation to the brain, allowing for quicker thinking, better memory powers, and improved concentration. The St. John’s Wort may also help stabilize your mood, as some research suggests that it can have an effect similar to anti-depressants.
Most of the products on our list are gender-neutral and can be used by anybody, but if you’re a woman looking for a nootropic that’s engineered with woman-specific complaints in mind, check this one out.
Vitamiss does many of the same things the other nootropics on our list do, but with a few additions that many women will find helpful. In addition to relieving anxiety for a more stable mood and improved sleeping habits, it also reduces emotional overeating which can help encourage weight loss.
Also, in addition to being completely stimulant-free—helpful for those prone to stress or emotional instability—it’s also 100% yeast-free. This can be especially helpful for women who are prone to yeast infections, as the formulation won’t cause yeast overgrowth in the body.
There are many, many more nootropics on the market today, but these are a few of the most affordable and highly-rated according to Amazon’s metrics.
However, we strongly encourage you to do your own research and comparison shopping to find the brain booster that you feel is best for you. You’re the best judge of your specific needs, and the effect of the nootropic you take should override consumer opinion about which is the best.
Also, it’s important to keep in mind that, as with doctor-prescribed medications, one size does not fit all. If you try nootropics and find they aren’t what you need, there are alternative therapies to consider. Let’s explore some of those below.
What Are Some Alternatives to Nootropics?
If your biggest complaint is low energy, foggy thinking, or difficulty concentrating, than adding a nootropic supplement to your daily multi-vitamin regimen may be exactly the solution for you.
However, if any of your symptoms point to a more serious problem, we suggest seeing a doctor for a proper medical evaluation. Some of the symptoms nootropics alleviate can be associated with clinical diagnoses, which means there may be other, more effective lines of defense depending on the issue. Let’s look at a few of those ailments and the alternative therapies for them.
- ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (or ADHD) is a problem affecting millions of Americans, and it can cause many if not most of the symptoms nootropics are meant to treat. If you suspect you have ADHD, it’s important for you to be evaluated by a physician, who can help prescribe more targeted therapies to treat your focus and cognition problems.
- Fibromyalgia: In addition to causing chronic pain flare-ups, many fibromyalgia sufferers also experience “brain fog,” which some describe as being in a mental haze,
unable to remember things, form complete thoughts, or string sentences together. There’s some controversy surrounding this diagnosis, and a lot of disagreement about how best to treat it. Nevertheless, it’s important to see a doctor if you’re living with fibromyalgia to ensure that nothing you take is worsening the symptoms.
- Alzheimer’s and other severe memory problems: The most well-known symptom of Alzheimer’s is memory loss. It should go without saying that if you’re facing a diagnosis like this one, or something equally serious, you should stick to only doctor-prescribed therapies. While nootropics may boost the activity of healthy brains, it’s risky to take them when dealing with a degenerative cognitive problem.
There are many more conditions that can cause symptoms like poor mood, difficulty focusing, memory loss, and brain fog, so it’s vital to get a check-up before you start taking any kind of over-the-counter supplement.
Assuming you’re an otherwise healthy person but you find that nootropics don’t have the effect you’re after, what else is there for you?
Other Ways of Improving Cognition
It used to be conventional wisdom that your brain stopped producing new neurons in adulthood. Now, however, recent research suggests that it’s possible to grow new neurons at any age. How? Through aerobic exercise.
A regular aerobic routine can not only help you stay slim and fit, it’s also shown to increase energy and enhance cognition. So if you try nootropics and find that they aren’t the right fit for you, you may be able to achieve similar results simply by getting more physically active. Even a half hour jog a few times a week can help to increase your circulation and boost brain function.
2. More Sleep
Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to perform at their peak all day. However, between the pressures of work, family life, and the temptation to stay up too late surfing the Internet, many adults suffer chronic sleep debt, which can negatively impact their well-being.
Poor sleep can be responsible for a huge host of ailments, including physical exhaustion, poor concentration, and even worsened reflex time, which can not only affect your performance at work, it can make you a hazard to others. Some studies show that getting behind the wheel while sleep-deprived can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
If you suspect that your memory problems or brain fog are related to a lack of sleep, we suggest logging off the Internet a little earlier, putting your phone or tablet away, turning off the TV, or doing whatever else you must to get to sleep at an earlier time.
Research shows that up to 75% of adults may be chronically dehydrated. We all know we’re supposed to drink eight glasses of water a day, but realistically most of us reach for coffee, Coke, or beer before we do water.
If you’re dehydrated, then your blood volume is lower, and that means decreased circulation. So if you know you aren’t drinking enough water, try upping your intake for a couple of weeks and see whether it changes your mental state at all.
Nootropics like OptiMind, while not an FDA-approved therapy, do seem to offer some therapeutic value to those who want to boost their brain power. However, like most drugs and alternative remedies, they aren’t one-size-fits-all.
If you find that a certain nootropic isn’t right for you, we encourage you to research and try others. Or, if you find that nootropics aren’t the solution for you at all, there are other possibilities to explore. For some, the answer might be as simple as upping their water intake or exercising more. For others—those with diagnosable conditions—medical intervention might be necessary.
What’s your experience taking OptiMind or other nootropics? Would you recommend nootropics to others? Leave us a comment and let us know?