Article edited for scientific accuracy by Illuminate Labs Blog Editor Taylor Graber MD
Nootropics are exploding in popularity these days with many Americans looking for a dietary supplement that can improve their cognitive function. There are many clinically-proven nootropic compounds, and consequently there are many unique formulations of nootropic supplements on the market. One of these is Neuriva, a product that markets itself for “brain performance.”
In this article we’ll examine the formulations of Neuriva Original, Neuriva Plus and Neuriva gummies, and assess whether the compounds, dosage and inactive ingredients suggest that this product will lead to improved cognitive function based on a thorough review of medical literature.
Neuriva Original Formulation - General Comments
Neuriva Original only has two active ingredients, so a consumer should reasonably expect both to be fairly dosed, especially given the price. This product, which is in capsule form, costs $32.99 at the time of writing for only a 30-count bottle. That’s over $1 per pill, so if I was purchasing this I’d expect a relatively strong dosage.
Neuriva Original Formulation - Coffee Fruit Extract
The first active ingredient listed on the Supplement Facts label is Coffee Fruit Extract at 100 mg. Neuriva’s site claims that this ingredient is “clinically proven to increase levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF)”.
One study comparing the effect of coffee products on BDNF found that coffee fruit concentrate increased BDNF.
While BDNF is associated with neuroplasticity, it's a logical leap to say that increasing BDNF improves cognitive function across the board. However there is some convincing evidence that coffee fruit extract at the dosage in Neuriva may have cognitive benefit.
Neuriva appears to source their coffee fruit extract from a company called FutureCeuticals. Neuriva’s site refers to their coffee fruit extract as “NeuroFactor”, which is a product created by FutureCeuticals. The FutureCeuticals site is quite strange, making health claims without any proof. The site states benefits of their coffee fruit extract “NeuroFactor”, but doesn’t provide any evidence at all.
Under the “Clinical Research” header on FutureCeuticals’ site it just says “contact us to review functional research results for NeuroFactor”. This is an unscientific and opaque approach; they should just link to studies on their patented extract if they exist.
Neuriva Original Formulation - Phosphatidylserine
Phosphatidylserine is the only other active ingredient in Neuriva, and this compound has more medical backing for nootropic effect than coffee fruit extract. The only issue is that the amount in Neuriva is significantly underdosed.
300 mg seems to be the effective dose for cognitive benefit based on published research, while there is only 100 mg of phosphatidylserine in Neuriva.
We haven’t come across one single study proving nootropic benefit of phosphatidylserine at 100 mg daily, and Neuriva doesn’t publish any on their site so we can safely assume there is no research at all backing this dosage.
Neuriva Plus Formulation - L-theanine
Neuriva Plus contains coffee fruit extract at the same dosage as Original, discussed above, so we can move onto the second listed ingredient of l-theanine at 200 mg. This is an amino acid which is primarily used to reduce anxiety.
There’s really only one study suggesting a benefit of l-theanine as a nootropic, and as we concluded in our Alpha Brain review which used the same compound and made the same misinformed claim, “l-theanine is anxiolytic rather than nootropic in nature, and...the anxious subjects only saw an improvement in mental function due to their return to homeostasis (i.e. reducing high anxiety helps brain function).”
That study on l-theanine to improve mental function was also funded by a company selling l-theanine tablets, so there was potential bias.
L-theanine is a great compound with a significant amount of clinical data proving its efficacy in reducing anxiety, but no scientist would call it a nootropic.
Neuriva Plus Formulation - French Melon Concentrate Fruit
There exists some preliminary research on French Melon (cucumis melo) for nootropic effect, but we couldn't find any human trials and the animal trials used dosages significantly above the 10 mg included in Neuriva Plus.
One animal study used dosages of 50-200 mg/kg, which is hundreds of times more potent than the dosage in Neuriva. It found a cognition-enhancing effect of the supplementation.
A separate animal study had similar results but is published in Korean so we cannot accurately assess the dosage.
Thus far we have analyzed the formulation of the capsule versions of Neuriva, but they also sell a gummies product with the same active ingredients. Neuriva gummies have the first two inactive ingredients listed as corn syrup and sugar.
It’s well established that excess sugar and corn syrup consumption is harmful to brain function. Supplement companies often get around this by stating that the sugars in their products if taken alone wouldn’t meet the harm threshold, but it’s a disingenuous point. The American diet is already high in sugar, and selling a product with added sugars that makes health claims of brain health support is dishonest in our opinion.
There is no beneficial amount of added sugar or corn syrup. There is no amount that improves brain function. And while 3g added sugar isn’t the end of the world, spending money on an expensive brain health supplement that contains ingredients harmful to brain health in excess seems pointless.
Differing Dosage Claims Between Description and Ingredients List
The description for Neuriva Plus, at the time of writing, states that “These delicious...gummies feature 2x the amount of Neurofactor” but the Ingredients section lists the same 100 mg Neurofactor dosage as the Original formulation.
This is simply not a competent brand. Totally mislabeling or mis-describing active ingredient dosages for a product with three active ingredients is unacceptable, and leaves potential consumers confused.
Lack of Testing
Neuriva publishes zero test results (third-party or otherwise) proving their supplements are accurately labeled and low in contaminants. Given the issues in the U.S. supplement industry, failing to provide potential consumers with this critical information isn’t a good sign.
Our herbal supplements include updated testing of each lot right on the product pages performed by a non-profit, third-party laboratory. Any supplement brand that cares about the safety of their consumers should be doing the same.
Neuriva is poorly formulated in our opinion, which is surprising given the level of revenue and exposure they have. None of their products is comprehensively and effectively dosed.
We recommend that consumers seeking a nootropic supplement look first to single-herb extracts like panax ginseng, which tend to have significantly more clinical research on safety and efficacy than proprietary formulas.
If a supplement company has a proprietary formulation, and they haven’t funded clinical trials proving it works, there’s generally no reason to believe it does even if some of the component ingredients are effectively dosed, because there can be synergies and interaction between the active ingredients.
If you’re considering purchasing Neuriva we recommend you either choose an alternative nootropic supplement that’s actually backed by medical research or just save your money and drink a coffee; the most cost-effective nootropic there is.
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