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.
Nootropics Depot is one of the most popular nootropics marketplaces in the U.S. The brand is known for its cognitive-enhancing supplements (“nootropics”), but also sells supplements in other categories like herbal supplements and pre-workout supplements.
In this article we’ll review some of Nootropics Depot's top-selling products based on medical research, share our concern over some of the supplements they sell, and explain issues we have with the brand's claims of third-party testing.
Top-Selling Product Review
Nootropics Depot’s best-selling product is Alpha GPC at a dose of 150 milligrams (mg). Most medical studies we've reviewed on this ingredient seem to use a minimum dose of 200 mg and often higher, but since it’s a single-ingredient supplement users can just increase the dose as needed by taking more capsules.
We consider the price of this product ($15.99 for 60 capsules) to be excellent and we can't find a better-priced Alpha GPC supplement with an effective formulation.
Their second-best selling product is caffeine + l-theanine capsules. This combination is one of the safest and most effective research-backed nootropics.
Caffeine + l-theanine capsules can be acquired much cheaper per-serving with Nutricost caffeine + l-theanine. Nootropics Depot's supplement costs $27.99 for a 180 capsule bottle, which equates to $0.16 per capsule. Nutricost costs $13.95 for a 240 capsule bottle, which equates to $0.06 per capsule.
Nutricost's supplement provides 100 mg of caffeine and 100 mg of l-theanine, while Nootropics Depot's supplement provides either 200 mg of caffeine and 100 mg of l-theanine or 100 mg of caffeine and 200 mg of l-theanine. We haven't come across any research suggesting there to be an optimal ratio of the two ingredients (the above-linked research study used 200 mg l-theanine and 160 mg caffeine) so we consider both products equivalent.
Nootropics Depot’s third best-selling product is l-theanine alone at a dose of 200 mg, and this is the exact dose used in most medical studies on l-theanine for stress reduction.
We again would recommend Nutricost because Nutricost l-theanine costs only $29.95 for 360 capsules at 200 mg dose, which equates to a $0.08 per capsule cost. Nootropics Depot l-theanine costs $44.99 for 365 capsules at 200 mg dose, which equates to a $0.12 per capsule dose.
Since both products contain the exact same ingredient at the exact same dose, and neither contains harmful additive ingredients, we consider them functionally equivalent.
All three of the best-selling Nootropics Depot supplements are free of harmful additive ingredients.
It's clear to us after analyzing the three most popular Nootropics Depot products that the brand sells nootropics at effective doses and competitive prices.
While Nootropics Depot clearly prioritizes efficacy when formulating nootropics supplements, we have some safety concerns regarding some of the products they sell.
“Nootropics” is a broad descriptor of any compound which can positively impact cognitive function, and this spans from botanical ingredients like panax ginseng which have been used for thousands of years and have extensive safety data, to newer research chemicals synthesized in a lab which may not have much long-term medical research on toxicity and safety.
Phenibut is a prime example, and appears to be in questionable legal status based on a recent Food and Drug Administration (FDA) publication. A 2020 medical review documented that phenibut may be addictive to some individuals, and we recommend avoiding this ingredient entirely until more long-term safety data emerges.
Nootropics Depot also sells a nootropic compound called coluracetam at a dosage of 20 mg. This is one of a popular class of nootropic drugs called racetams, which are mildly stimulatory in nature and which modulate neurotransmitter function.
We can’t find a single human study on coluracetam proving its safety, and we recommend avoiding this product. When there are so many effective and safe nootropics available, it seems illogical to take one with lacking safety data.
Nootropics Depot sells a botanical supplement called magnolia bark extract. While this compound has been used traditionally to treat anxiety for centuries, its long-term addiction potential is relatively untested. A medical literature review from 2017 outlined the addiction potential of magnolia bark due to its ability to modulate GABA in the brain. This could cause it to lead to withdrawal symptoms after long-term use.
Nootropics Depot’s founder’s response to these concerns on Reddit, shown above, was that he had personally taken the product and then "stopped cold turkey without any issues," so he deemed it safe. This is obviously a very biased and unscientific method of qualifying long-term ingredient safety.
We recommend that consumers only purchase dietary supplements with extensive safety data. Ideally the manufacturer of the supplement cites that safety data on the product page.
Nootropics Depot Real User Review
One of the few YouTube reviews of Nootropics Depot that appears unsponsored is published by a channel called "NootPack." The creator shares his experience using Nootropics Depot's sleep supplement:
No Published Third-Party Testing
Nootropics Depot claims that all of their products are third-party tested, but at the time of updating this article, there is a 404 error when trying to access the testing page that's linked on their homepage.
The brand's product images show a specification ("spec") sheet, which shows the benchmarks that the product is supposed to meet in testing, but this is not particularly useful to customers because it doesn't represent actual test results. It's actually a confusing document to publish in our opinion.
The spec sheet image states that customers can contact Nootropics Depot for a certificate of analysis (COA), but again this is not the same as third-party testing. A certificate of analysis is typically provided by raw materials suppliers to a manufacturer.
Third-party testing is the gold standard in the dietary supplement industry for a reason: it removes the bias from manufacturer-provided data, and it's typically conducted on finished products, not raw materials.
We urge Nootropics Depot to remove all claims of third-party testing until they publish proof of that third-party testing on their website.
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 apart from caffeine. 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.
Nootropics Depot Pros and Cons
Here's our take on the pros and cons of Nootropics Depot overall.
- Effective ingredients
- Fair pricing
- Effective doses
- Favorable user reviews
- Questionable safety data
- There are cheaper options for some categories
- Failure to publish third-party test results