Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to nootropics.
Focus Factor is a nootropic supplement brand that claims to be "Nutrition For The Brain."
The brand sells a wide variety of supplements and health products, but we'll focus our review on Focus Factor Original and Focus Factor Kids, which are their most popular products.
Because Focus Factor supplements contain so many ingredients, we'll break our ingredient review into two sections: Vitamin & Mineral Blend, and Proprietary Blend.
We'll also highlight some issues we have with the clinical trial funded by Focus Factor, and explain whether the supplements may cause side effects.
Focus Factor Original Ingredient Review - Vitamin & Mineral Blend
Focus Factor Original's vitamin and mineral blend contains so many ingredients that we cannot fit its label in one image, but the above list shows some of the ingredients.
Multivitamins may improve cognitive function in older adults. An extensive medical review published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease analyzed data from 10 clinical trials on multivitamin supplementation. The researchers found that multivitamin use improved free recall memory but not delayed recall memory.
Free recall refers to an immediate response to memorization. If trial participants are instructed to memorize a list of items, and then recall them, that would test free recall. Delayed recall refers to retrieval of past information. If trial participants are asked to recall what they ate for breakfast for the past week, that would test delayed recall.
While multivitamin supplementation may improve memory and cognitive function in some cases, we don't recommend it for two reasons.
First, we haven't come across any medical proof that multivitamin supplementation improves memory in patients with normal blood levels of vitamins. Since many Americans are deficient in vitamins and minerals, it's unsurprising to us that multivitamin use may improve some aspects of cognitive function, because fixing a vitamin deficiency can improve brain function.
But it seems a more logical approach would be to test for vitamin and mineral deficiencies first, and then supplement based on deficiency, rather than taking a seemingly-random blend of vitamins and minerals.
The second reason we recommend avoiding supplements with vitamin and mineral additives is because these ingredients may cause toxicity in patients with normal levels of these nutrients to begin with. If a patient has normal levels of Vitamin A, and takes a supplement providing significant quantities of Vitamin A daily, they may end up with blood levels that are too high.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported in early 2022 that a supplement company had to recall several of their products because the vitamin additives were causing toxicity in some consumers, which illustrates our concern.
Focus Factor Original Ingredient Review - Proprietary Blend
Focus Factor Original contains a proprietary (prop) blend totalling 640 milligrams (mg). This blend contains 16 ingredients, so the average ingredient dosage is only 40 mg.
To illustrate what a low average ingredient dose this is, we will select one of the ingredients used and compare its estimated dose to the dose used in medical research.
Bacopa monnieri extract is an effective nootropic ingredient, but we can't locate a medical study proving it to be effective at a dose as low as 40 mg.
A meta-study of bacopa monnieri extract published in 2014 found that the ingredient improved overall cognition and speed of attention. This review assessed 8 individual medical studies on the topic, and the lowest dose in any of the studies was 250 mg/day. Most of the studies used a dose of 300 mg/day, which is nearly 10x the average ingredient dose in Focus Factor.
The very first ingredient in this prop blend is dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), and the only medical study we could locate testing its effectiveness for cognitive enhancement found no benefit to memory or other cognitive functions. The study used a dose of 1,800 mg/day, which is around 3x higher than the dose of the entire Focus Factor Original prop blend, and 45x higher than the average ingredient dose in Focus Factor Original.
Overall we consider this to be a poorly formulated and underdosed prop blend, and we recommend consumers generally avoid supplements containing prop blends. Without individual ingredient doses listed, it's harder to judge the efficacy and safety of a supplement.
Questionable Clinical Research
Focus Factor claims that the Focus Factor Original supplement is "clinically tested," and while that's technically true, we do not find the research to be impressive.
Focus Factor’s "clinical trial" which can be accessed at this link, is published on a PDF document hosted on their site and we cannot find this trial in any legitimate medical journal.
When we reference clinical trials in our Illuminate Health reviews, we’re referencing published medical research in well-respected medical journals. This type of research is generally unbiased and has to meet a scientific standard for publication.
Any supplement company can pay a for-profit research firm to conduct studies of their product. While this is theoretically better than no research at all, we do not consider it to be proof of efficacy in the way that we consider trials in legitimate medical journals to prove efficacy, due to the risk of bias.
We recommend that consumers disregard all claims of efficacy based on company-funded trials that are not published in medical or scientific journals.
We commend Focus Factor for claiming that their supplement is "clinically tested" and not "clinically proven" which would be a claim we would disagree with. Clinically tested is accurate.
Focus Factor Original Real User Reviews
Focus Factor Original is sold on Amazon which we consider to be a more objective source of user reviews than a manufacturer's website. The product's average rating is 4.4 out of 5 stars, but it receives a "D" grade from FakeSpot, which is a software tool that detects potentially fraudulent Amazon reviews.
FakeSpot's adjusted rating of Focus Factor Original is 1.5 out of 5 stars.
The top positive review from a verified purchaser comes from a user named "RS" who claims the supplement enhanced their cognition:
"After working from home for 2 years with a robot like job, i finally changed back to a high paced job and needed something to boost my focus. This stuff actually works- I notice a difference in clarity- remembering tasks, phone numbers, and small specific details."
The top negative review from a verified purchaser is written by a user named "Clare" who claims the supplement had no effect:
"I was taking Ginkgo Biloba for years and everything was fine but then I saw the reviews for Focus Factor and thought that it would help me even more. After 4 weeks on it, I was mess. I'm a cashier and even though the register TELLS me the change, I kept getting it wrong. I was constantly screwing up things I NEVER screwed up before."
Does Focus Factor Cause Side Effects?
Based on its ingredient blend, we do not believe Focus Factor Original is likely to cause side effects. All of the ingredients have been well-studied in individual clinical trials, and there are no stimulant ingredients or harmful additive ingredients that we consider likely to cause side effects.
The clinical trial on Focus Factor Original reported that participants taking placebo pills experienced more side effects than participants taking the Focus Factor pills, which suggests that the supplement is unlikely to cause side effects.
Focus Factor Kids Review
Focus Factor sells a supplement for children called Focus Factor Kids. We find this to be a highly questionable marketing strategy. We haven't come across any medical evidence that children need nootropics, and we strongly recommend children and their parents to avoid nootropics until the brain has completed developing.
Like Focus Factor Original, this supplement contains a vitamin and mineral blend that we see little purpose in. It also contains added sugar in the form of fructose and sucrose. A medical review found that fructose consumption can negatively impact brain development, and we recommend that children and adolescents avoid fructose consumption entirely.
The prop blend in this supplement has a low overall dose of 10.5 mg, which equates to a dose of 3.5 mg per active ingredient. We consider this to be too low to provide any benefit or purpose.
To illustrate how low of a dose 3.5 mg is for a nootropic supplement, let's look at medical research on Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), one of the active ingredients.
A clinical trial published in the Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience journal found that CoQ10 could potentially be an effective nootropic supplement to slow age-related cognitive decline at a daily dose of 200 mg. This is 57x the dose in Focus Factor Kids.
Regardless, we have not come across any medical evidence suggesting that children need CoQ10 supplementation. The body produces CoQ10 and its levels decrease with age, which is why older people may benefit from supplementing with this compound. It's at its highest level during adolescence.
Our Recommended Nootropic Supplements
There are herbal supplements which are proven in medical literature to be effective for cognitive enhancement.
Ginkgo biloba extract is arguably the most well-studied nootropic supplement. It’s derived from the leaves of a tree native to China, and has been proven to improve memory, cognition and focus in hundreds of published medical research studies.
Ginkgo biloba has not only been shown effective in older adults (the population that most nootropic studies are conducted on), but also in young, healthy adults which is impressive. A medical review published in the Psychopharmacology journal found ginkgo biloba supplementation to improve attention and cognitive performance in healthy, young adults.
Illuminate Labs manufactures a ginkgo biloba extract supplement that's potent (standardized to minimum 24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones) and third-party tested to ensure purity and label accuracy.
Interested consumers can check out Illuminate Labs Ginkgo Biloba Extract at this link.
Panax ginseng extract is another well-studied nootropic supplement. A 2013 clinical trial found that ginseng extract supplementation improved memory and short-term cognitive function.
Illuminate Labs manufactures a panax ginseng extract supplement that's potent (standardized to minimum 8% ginsenosides) and third-party tested to ensure purity and label accuracy.
Interested consumers can check out Illuminate Labs Panax Ginseng Extract at this link.