For millions of Americans, the early morning alarm means a straight shot to the coffee maker. As the cliche goes, many people simply cannot get started in the morning without a cup of coffee. In this situation, a cognitive enhancer has become a necessity with few positive effects beyond the baseline.
Drinking coffee every day (or more so) is the most common example of overusing a substance. Some people can get away with it no problem, but others require ever higher doses of caffeine to simply get through the day. The same is true of drugs like Adderall and a host of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.
To be clear, some of these medically prescribed pharmaceutical drugs are important / required daily, but when people seek higher and higher doses, it becomes a problem of tolerance and questioning whether the drugs actually help.
Not for Regular Use
A perfect example of using something daily, which probably shouldn’t can be found across internet forums like Reddit. One person complained:
“I am currently on a little break from caffeine…I am on Day 3. Noticing some headaches, mild/moderate depression, and lethargy. How long should I keep this break going for ideal results in reducing my tolerance…Definitely missing my coffee. Was even debating getting some decaf just for the taste.”
This does not seem like a situation where he is enhancing his cognitive performance!
Many of the substances (especially stimulants) are better used in some type of cycle whereby the user takes a substance one day, a different one the next, and somehow circles back after a period of time.
This isn’t always possible and it is a case by case basis, but hopefully the example we’ve provided make it clear there are some situations where taking a drug daily is simply not a good long-term decision.
Best Nootropics for Daily Use: Memory Enhancers
As many drugs and nootropics are NOT useful daily, there are substances scientifically proven to be better when used consistently. Many of these substances are helpful for improving memory formation and learning ability over time.
Because memory development and learning is complex and requires time, it is no wonder memory enhancers work over extended periods. There are two particular nootropics (highly popular ones too), which are considered useful for daily consumption.
Traditional Ayurvedic medicine was onto something those many thousands of years ago. Even without any of the modern science invested into research, our ancestors were using this plant to improve memory formation and learning ability in children and adults.
Our ancestors are being proved right. Because the Indian government has dedicated so much time and money into researching this natural compound, there is ample evidence to suggest daily usage of bacopa is not only okay, but actually helpful.
In one study, memory improvements took 4 – 6 weeks before taking full effect. After that extended period of daily use, the results were significant. Additionally, further research indicates 12 week trials are helpful for cognitive performance. All of the data points towards a cumulative benefit of bacopa monnieri.
Nonetheless, there are a few things to be conscious of with daily use of bacopa monnieri. It is a fat soluble nootropic, which means it’s best taken with some type of fat source (or with food).
Finally, while the product is safe and helpful on a daily basis, getting a poor quality product with heavy metals (as can be the case in Ayurvedic medicine) is NOT good daily. Heavy metals are not good at all so make sure you buy with caution. Our Bacognize is specifically patented to avoid that problem.
The other daily nootropic is the synthetic drug that started it all. Piracetam is a derivative of GABA (a neurotransmitter), which aids in memory formation and learning ability. The evidence is pretty conclusive that piracetam does aid in cognitive enhancement and memory specifically. A meta-analysis of 19 different studies concluded this was the case.
A different study made a more startling find: at 7 days of piracetam use, there was no change in memory or learning ability. By 14 days, there was a significant improvement. Clear evidence that there are cumulative effects of using piracetam daily and few benefits of taking it intermittently.
There isn’t any data to suggest that taking either bacopa or piracetam every once in a while is necessarily bad, but it seems pretty clear that regular usage is far more effective for people that want to best use their money and time.
Nutrients for Daily Use
Besides the memory enhancers that are proven to require daily usage for best results, there are plenty of nutrients where modern people have deficiencies. Our diet isn’t the same as it used to be and our body is significantly less well off in certain areas than it used to be (without over glorifying the hunter-gatherer days).
Creatine monohydrate – creatine is a basic building block for cellular ATP (energy), which makes it a helpful daily nootropic. Because it requires saturation of the cells, taking it daily is almost imperative to see any of the results, but if you do the results are well-measured. In one study, creatine could improve neurogenesis and growth of neurons. There are a host of other studies and benefits as well.
Magnesium – one of the most common deficiencies is magnesium and in the western diet, this is still true as much as the third world. A great supplement to our diet is magnesium, which can be taken daily assuming you don’t get enough (likely the case). The best forms of magnesium are magnesium glycinate (well absorbed) and magnesium threonate (crosses the blood brain barrier).
Fish oil (DHA / EPA) – our ancestors spent a lot of time near fresh (and salt) water in order to survive. Naturally, they ate many of the foods that came from that water and fish are high among those foods. Because we have such a terrible ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids, it is worthwhile to take some type of DHA and EPA supplement on a regular (daily) basis.
Also be mindful that each person is unique and the nutrients that benefit one person daily may not be the same for another.
One example of this is exemplified by 23andme genetic analysis and the accompanying results. For some people, methylfolate is the best supplement one can take (for those with a MTHFR polymorphism). For other people, vitamin D is even more valuable as a daily nutrient.
It is highly suggested to get 23andme results and see if they can help:
Antioxidants and Inflammation
The results from 23andme (or other biological data, will probably illuminate some needs for antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nootropics. Some of the best nootropics for daily use are antioxidant or anti-inflammatory in nature.
Although some of these will be more relevant depending on genetic factors, almost everyone can benefit from some basic detoxification support.
Sulforaphane – this is a perfect example of where 23andme genetic data can be valuable. Many people have an NAT2 mutation, which suggests detoxification is more challenging for some than others. Sulforaphane is particularly useful for detoxification in addition to protecting against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and improving immune strength.
CoQ10 – as a basic nootropic for mitochondrial health, CoQ10 is one of the best (and most researched) that you can find. Taking it daily will aid in this underlying cognitive function, but will not create any sensations per se.
PQQ – as with CoQ10, the PQQ supplements are valuable daily for mitochondrial support. By providing mitochondria with this compound, we are more readily able to have short and long-term benefits.
Picking and Choosing: Best Nootropics for Daily Use
Choosing which nootropics you would like to take daily can sometimes be guesswork and sometimes it is related to the goals and genetic factors for you specifically. Each person is different, but if we can use certain nootropics sparingly and others daily, it can be far more helpful in the short and long term.
There are occasionally times when cycling off of all nootropics for a period of time is a great idea. After all, we always want to have a healthy relationship with the tools that we use for our performance. If you plan to use certain nootropics more regularly, make sure they are the best options for the job.