Combo of nootropic supplements is worse than caffeine at improving cognitive performance

A new randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study has found that a combination of nootropic supplements is worse than caffeine at improving cognitive performance.

“We were interested in researching this topic to find out if we can provide scientific evidence for the claimed nootropic effects of CAF+. In other words, to see if CAF+ is indeed able to improve memory and/or other cognitive functions in young and healthy people,” said study author St├ęphanie Caldenhove of Maastricht University.

CAF+ contains 100 mg caffeine, 200 mg l-theanine, 40 mg vinpocetine, 300 mg l-tyrosine, 1 mg vitamin B12, and 20 mg vitamin B6.

The study of 20 healthy adults, which was published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement, found that 100 mg caffeine alone improved cognitive ability more than CAF+. Cognitive performance was measured using a variety of tests, including the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test, n-back task, the Stroop color-word task, the digit symbol substitution test, and a reaction time task.

Caffeine improved working memory performance and increased reaction times more than CAF+. Caffeine also outperformed CAF+ on the verbal memory task. However, CAF+ was associated with an increase in subjective alertness.

Caldenhove cautioned that people should “always remain critical when considering using nootropics to improve performance.”

“Even though it has been scientifically proven that one ingredient by itself (such as caffeine, vitamin B6, or vinpocetine for example; all ingredients of CAF+) can improve cognitive functions, combining them together does not necessarily lead to larger nootropic effects,” she explained.

“There could be many reasons for this: for example, one ingredient may change the effect of another ingredient on cognitive functioning. We have shown that CAF+ is not a better cognitive enhancer than a simple cup of coffee. Caffeine by itself is sufficient to benefit some aspects of cognitive performance.”

The researchers believe that CAF+ may lead to less than optimal performance because it over-stimulates its users.

“We only showed that CAF+ was not effective after acute treatment,” Caldenhove added. “It would be interesting to see what effects nootropics such as CAF+ could have on performance after chronic use.”

“It is often the case that people report positive effects from nootropics. However, these reported effects tend to be highly subjective and need to be confirmed with scientific evidence. It should be kept in mind that the positive effects reported by users of nootropics may well be a placebo effect.”

The study, “A Combination of Nootropic Ingredients (CAF+) Is Not Better than Caffeine in Improving Cognitive Functions“, was authored by S. Caldenhove, A. Sambeth, S. Sharma, G. Woo, and A. Blokland.