Nootropics for Mitochondria: Which Work?

nootropics for mitochondria

Mitochondria are important for mental and physical function, and without them, your systems would break down. Research suggests that weak mitochondria could be one of the culprits for low energy, mental fatigue, poor focus and other issues that can prevent us from living life to its fullest. (14)

Nootropics for mitochondria help boost cellular function, which results in increased focus and mental energy levels. The best nootropics for mitochondria include CDP-Choline, Acetyl L-Carnitine and Rhodiola Rosea, along with the other natural ‘brain boosters’ we’ll explore in this post.

What is Mitochondria?

In each cell right now you have small energy powerhouses called mitochondria. The health of your mitochondria governs the amount of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) they can produce from the air you breathe and the food you eat.

Without healthy mitochondria your cells can’t perform their functions optimally. We need mitochondria to be working at their peak if we want to feel mentally sharp.

To achieve flow states of performance and productivity you’ll need to optimize your mitochondria, the energy factories of your cells, to make energy.

Why You Shouldn’t Overlook Your Mitochondrial Health

Many nootropic users forget about the importance of optimizing our cells, in part because it’s hard to notice any subjective boost in our mitochondrial efficiency. But whether you can detect it or not, the evidence is pretty clear that optimized mitochondria play a massive role in supporting our cognition, performance and aging.

One of the many ways you can support your mitochondria is by taking nootropics. These natural cognitive boosters work by optimizing mitochondrial function and increasing brain energy, without using stimulants.

In this guide we’ll look at the best nootropics for mitochondria and how you can stack them to achieve a clean and long-lasting brainpower boost.

How Nootropics for Mitochondria Work

When mitochondria get depleted your energy levels plummet. Not only that, but research has linked mitochondrial dysfunction with dementia, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease, schizophrenia, stroke, and chronic fatigue syndrome (1, 2)

Since mitochondria play such a fundamental role in our quality of life, finding ways to enhance their function needs to be on top of your list when creating a nootropic stack.

Nootropics for mitochondria work by supplying raw material & nutrients for mitochondria, fighting damaging free radicals, and maintaining the integrity of your mitochondrial membrane.

 

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>#1 Nootropic Stack for Brain Energy & Mitochondria<

 

The Best Nootropics for Mitochondria Currently Available:

Now that you know exactly what to look for, let’s dive in. Here are the seven leading nootropics for mitochondria available right now:

1. Acetyl-L-Carnitine

acetyl l carnitine nootropic for mitochondria

Also known as ALCAR, this amino acid molecule is probably the most effective nootropic for mitochondria you can take. It works by transporting fats into your mitochondria where they’re burned for energy.

  • ALCAR has another benefit, which is that it helps carry toxic waste out of your cells to prevent damage.
Usually your body makes some of its own carnitine. However, our carnitine levels drop down as we age, due to stress, or from overexercising. You can have low carnitine levels at any age. (3)

Low ALCAR levels can reduce the function of your mitochondria, and can even make it harder for your body to burn fat. Which is why it’s such a popular weight loss supplement.

Studies show that supplementing ALCAR can help mitochondria work at a faster rate. Acetyl L-Carnitine even helps repair mitochondrial issues caused by aging or toxic damage. (4)

2. Citicoline

Citicoline or CDP-choline is the superior form of choline because it contains two nootropics in one. Whereas some choline sources, such as Alpha-GPC, only provide one nootropic nutrient, citicoline supplies you with both:

  • Choline – a precursor to memory-boosting brain chemical acetylcholine, choline is essential for forming healthy cell membranes in your brain.
  • Cytidine – a building block of uridine, which is needed for mental energy and neuroplasticity. (5)

While generic choline supplements might boost your acetylcholine levels (which in turn enhances your memory and learning), citicoline does this in addition to boosting brain energy via uridine.

In one clinical study, healthy men and women who took Cognizin® (a patented form of citicoline) saw an increase in their ATP brain cell energy production by 13.6%. (6) Take a look at this graph which shows the results of the study:

 

citicoline energy graph - nootropics for mitochondria

 

In addition to this, Citicoline supports neural connectivity and brain function, making it one of the best nootropics for mitochondria and arguably the best single nootropic you can take overall.

Because of this, Citicoline is always a great choice for brain supplements, regardless of your mental energy levels.

Read my in-depth analysis of Citicoline’s nootropic effects here.

3. Rhodiola Rosea

rhodiola rosea as a nootropic for mitochondria

Rhodiola Rosea is a powerful adaptogen. It doesn’t help with mitochondria directly, however, its potent anti-fatigue effects complement other pro-energy nootropics on this list.

Traditionally used in Siberia to help workers, farmers and soldiers withstand their harsh living conditions, Rhodiola possesses highly-bioactive benefits including increased productivity, less brain fog, and an enhanced sense of well-being.

As it belongs to adaptogens, Rhodiola is incredibly good at making your body and mind more resistant to stress. It not only makes you feel less stressed, but also lessens the damaging effects of cortisol itself.

Rhodiola helps regulate your:

  • HPA axis – Also known as Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal axis which controls your response to stressors. (7)
  • Neurotransmitters – This primarily includes dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which usually get broken down by certain enzymes in the brain, a process that Rhodiola slows down, so you have more of these energy-enhancing brain chemicals available. (8)

By modulating the effects of stress on our body, Rhodiola has the ability to boost energy levels. Not directly, but by calming the pathways that promote mental fatigue and ‘fogginess’.

4. Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

CoQ10 is naturally found in your cells’ mitochondria. It’s needed for a number of chemical reactions that result in cell energy production.

CoQ10 is one of the best nootropics for not only your mitochondria but every cell in your body. It’s essential for the normal function of all your organs, especially the brain and heart.

In essence, CoQ10 helps recharge ATP levels in your brain cells. Boosting memory, cognition, and mental energy in the process.

The suggested CoQ10 dosage is 200-400mg per day. Something else worth noting is that the Ubiquinol form of CoQ10 works better for some people than Ubiquinone.

5. Resveratrol

You’ll mainly find resveratrol in grape skins, or in red wine. It helps protect the grape against microbes, radiation, and cold weather. In humans, resveratrol has been gaining reputation as a powerful supplement for reducing brain inflammation, boosting dopamine levels, and combating brain cell aging.

As a nootropic, resveratrol inhibits cAMP activity, which helps with certain things. It enhances cerebral blood flow and increases BDNF that regulates nerve cell growth. Resveratrol also protects your mitochondria and brain cells from oxidative stress.

The best version of resveratrol is “Trans-Resveratrol,” and most experts recommend taking 20-250mg per day.

6. Magnesium

Magnesium aids in the conversion of calories from food to ATP energy. As an integral part of the Krebs cycle, magnesium helps convert dietary sugar and fats into adenosine triphosphate (ATP) – which is your mitochondria’s primary fuel.

In order for it to be biologically active, ATP needs to be bound to a magnesium ion, making it critical for your mitochondrial health. Without magnesium your brain function would break down.

  • We also need magnesium for neuroplasticity, aka, learning new things and forming new memories. In some cases, supplementing with magnesium has been shown to boost cognition and restore neuroplasticity. (9)

Nootropic users that include magnesium in their stack report enhanced focus, memory, and mental energy.

The recommended magnesium dosage is around 1g per day. The magnesium L-threonate is the recommended nootropic form as it can easily cross your blood-brain barrier.

7. PQQ

PQQ or pyrroloquinoline quinone is the only nutrient known to stimulate the birth of new mitochondria in our brain cells. Without PQQ, your mitochondria and brain cells would wear out faster.

Adding PQQ to your nootropic stack should give you a mental energy boost. This is because our brain cells have more mitochondria than most other cells in our body.

PQQ stacks very well with CoQ10 because PQQ helps make new energy factories (mitochondria), while CoQ10 increases the amount of energy your cells make.

The suggested PQQ dosage is 10-20 mg daily. If you can, choose the natural BioPQQ®. You can find it in high-end nootropic stacks (more on this below).

The Best Nootropic Stack for Mitochondria

We currently rate Mind Lab Pro as the most effective nootropic stack for stimulant-free brain energy and mitochondrial support. It combines some of the nootropics mentioned above – including Rhodiola Rosea.

However, what if you want physical energy as well?

For that, we recommend Performance Lab Stim. It’s an ultramodern caffeine supplement with 50mg of Natural Caffeine + 100mg of Suntheanine (a patented form of L-Theanine) that delivers fewer side effects, better dosing precision and performance-tuned boost.

We were impressed by Stim’s clean formula, which helps recharge caffeine-depleted neurotransmitters with NutriGenesis grown B vitamins and Ajipure L-Tyrosine. These two work to support mental recovery from caffeine-driven activities.

Both Performance Lab Stim and Mind Lab Pro are delivered in vegan-friendly NutriCaps, which are made of fermented tapioca for better absorption in your body.

 

Read: Our Mind Lab Pro Review

 

Benefits of Nootropics for Mitochondria

What effects can you expect when you start taking these supplements? Chances are you won’t feel much at first; our mitochondria need time to ‘readjust’.

After a week or two, though, you can expect to start feeling an increase in your energy levels. Along with an enhanced sense of mental clarity and focus.

However, we’ve found these supplements to be particularly effective at boosting our productivity – we were able to get more done, faster. As a result, these nootropics are a great choice for anyone who needs to power through those long work sessions, without having to drink liters of coffee.

Anything Else to Consider?

Apart from taking these supplements, there are a couple of lifestyle changes you can make to give your mitochondria a real boost.

Here are 5 ways to support your mitochondria naturally:

1. Do HIIT

HIIT or High Intensity Interval Training involves doing short bursts of intense physical activity. Sprints, for example. The idea is to alternate between these short bursts of intense activity and short rest, repeating this activity-rest cycle until you can’t anymore.

Exercise in general is good for your mitochondria. However, a 2017 paper showed that HIIT increases mitochondrial capacity by 49% in young adults, and by 69% in older participants. (10)

2. Follow a Clean Diet

The term ‘clean diet’ means different things to different people, but if the current evidence is anything to go by, then high-fat, low-carb and moderate-protein diets are excellent for improving physical energy & mental performance.

Eating high quality fats (e.g. avocados, olive oil, fatty fish) while minimizing carbs puts your body in ketosis, a state where you burn ‘ketones’ instead of glucose as fuel. Ketogenic diets have been suggested to increase mental focus, energy levels, and protect our mitochondria, along with optimizing longevity pathways like mTOR and AMPK. (11)

3. Optimize Your Sleep

Restorative, deep sleep allows your brain to clear toxic waste and maintain healthy mitochondria. To optimize your sleep, try some of the following tips: avoid digital screens one or two hours before bed, don’t drink alcohol or eat food before sleeping, avoid stimulating activites, avoid caffeine 5-6 hours within bedtime, do yoga/stretching/meditation, drink chamomile tea, take a natural and high quality sleep supplement.

4. Try Grounding

Grounding or earthing involves touching the Earth (grass, dirt, etc.) with your bare skin. This draws electrons into your body that are suggested to neutralize oxidative stress and trigger a cascade of physiological effects.

Many people are skeptical about grounding, many haven’t even heard of it before, but it’s worth recognizing the disparity between how we lived throughout our early history (constantly in touch with the Earth) and how we live now (where we’re almost never in touch with the Earth).

We also have strong scientific evidence that supports grounding practices. A study published in the Journal of Inflammation Research showed that grounding has a profound effect on inflammatory markers in the body, and could support our immunity and enhance wound healing. (12) A meta-analysis found evidence that suggests Earthing could help with deep sleep and chronic pain. (13)

5. Intermittent Fasting to Enhance Mitochondria

In case you’ve never heard of fasting before, it’s a term for abstaining from calories for a duration of time. Most people that fast follow the 16/8 method. This means you only eat within an 8-hour eating window, the remaining 16 hours you don’t consume any calories.

There’s a wealth of evidence that shows just how powerful fasting can be for our health and longevity, however, did you know that fasting also boosts the efficiency of your mitochondria?

Fasting triggers a process called “mitophagy,” which is the recycling of damaged and old mitochondria. Much like cleaning a house. In addition, fasting activates certain pathways in your body which support mitochondrial biogenesis, aka, the birth of new mitochondria. So, fasting essentially benefits your mitochondria in two ways; removing damaged ones and replacing them with healthy, new ones.

If you want to learn more about fasting you can read our articles:

Conclusion

The nootropics mentioned in this guide can provide you the energy needed to perform at your best – mentally and physically.

If you’re serious about optimizing your mental performance, then you need to be serious about supporting your mitochondria. The neurons and neurotransmitters you’re trying to improve with nootropics won’t work without healthy mitochondrial function.

Our favorite stack for optimizing brain energy and mitochondria is Mind Lab Pro. Its natural formula supports mental energy through non-stimulant pathways – resulting in a clean, optimized mindstate.

For additional mitochondria and mental energy support, have a look at Performance Lab Stim. It’s an ultramodern formula that provides a crash-free, lasting mental performance support, and features some of the most effective natural ingredients we’ve seen in a nootropic.

Study References

References
  1. Abeta and human amylin share a common toxicity pathway via mitochondrial dysfunction. (source)
  2. Mitochondrial disease. (source)
  3. Age and Sex Dependency of Carnitine Concentration in Human Serum and Skeletal Muscle. (source)
  4. Neurodegeneration from mitochondrial insufficiency: nutrients, stem cells, growth factors, and prospects for brain rebuilding using integrative management. (source)
  5. Synapse formation is enhanced by oral administration of uridine and DHA, the circulating precursors of brain phosphatides. (source)
  6. Citicoline enhances frontal lobe bioenergetics as measured by phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy. (source)
  7. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. (source)
  8. Monoamine oxidase inhibition by Rhodiola rosea L. roots. (source)
  9. Targeting the NMDA receptor subunit NR2B for treating or preventing age-related memory decline. (source)
  10. Enhanced Protein Translation Underlies Improved Metabolic and Physical Adaptations to Different Exercise Training Modes in Young and Old Humans. (source)
  11. Ketogenic diets, mitochondria, and neurological diseases. (source)
  12. The effects of grounding (earthing) on inflammation, the immune response, wound healing, and prevention and treatment of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. (source)
  13. Earthing: Health Implications of Reconnecting the Human Body to the Earth’s Surface Electrons. (source)
  14. Bactericidal Antibiotics Induce Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Damage in Mammalian Cells. (source)

 

About Valentino M. 79 Articles
Valentino is a nutritionist, author, spiritual practitioner, and health coach. He's been researching nutrition and brain health since 2015, and has launched Valentino's Naturals to help people maximize their cognitive performance. When he isn't writing, Valentino loves to travel around Europe, spend time recharging in nature, and research topics within his field of expertise. More...

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