Where Nootropics Come From | Natural vs. Synthetic Supplements

Cognition hacking supplements, known as nootropics are on the rage and everyone seems to be talking about them, but where do they come from?

There are two types of nootropics. 

Synthetic vs. natural

Many synthetic vitamins contain no trace minerals, transporters and co-factors associated with naturally occurring vitamins and cause the body to use its own reserves of nutrients to replace any nutrients missing from the false vitamins.

Likewise, many natural vitamins carry excess ingredients that may not be needed.

For example, the nootropic St. John's Wort, which increases the abundance of dopamine within the brain, contains the active ingredient Hypericinbut at a very minimal level.

Here you can see that only 0.3% is actually the active ingredient, the main ingredient is actually Dicalcium Phospahate, right after the Gelatin it takes to make the encapsulation. 

While dicalcium phosphate isn't as common a nutritional supplement as the more familiar tricalcium phosphate, it still shows up occasionally on nutrition labels as a means of adding calcium to a food.

How synthetic supplements are made:

An example we'll use here is a supplement that occurs both naturally and synthetically. 

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) has two methods of synthetic manufacturing processes. One of them is the Reichstein Process (shown below), developed in the 1930s. Vitamin C starts as corn or wheat due to their abundant nature.

By using heat and enzymes the grains are turned into D-glucose and then converted into D-Sorbitol and combined with oxidized/fermentation at the low temperature they converted into L-Sorbose and then by Acetone/sulfuric acid, biological process, esterification and lactonization/isolation, Finally they became Vitamin C. The final product is formed into tablets or powder and then sent to pharmacies and supermarkets.

The method for vitamin C synthesis is as follows:

Not exactly a natural process, but the result is a near perfectly pure supplement of vitamin C. Much more pure than anything that can occur in nature.

There are supplements that can never occur in nature, except for the body. As you can imagine, this poses a difficult problem. How do you isolate it?

And the answer is, you don't. You simply have to manufacture it 100% from synthetic compounds. This includes supplements such as Alpha-GPC

alpha-GPC is produced by the chemical or enzymatic deacylation of phosphatidylcholine enriched soy phospholipids (purified soy lecithin or purified sunflower lecithin) followed by chromatographic purification.

Alpha GPC has been shown to reduce cognitive decline in elderly humans, to enhance cognitive performance in rats and to increase human growth hormone production and power output in athletes.

  • Boosts memory, learning and cognition.
  • Increases Dopamine and Serotonin levels.
  • Improves attention, focus, energy and reaction time.
  • Increases growth hormone, strength, and fat oxidation

If you would like to learn more on Alpha-GPC and watch me stress test it in the gym and hours of intense work after, watch my YouTube video here!

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