- Well dosed ingredients
- Research-supported ingredients
- Clinically-tested ingredients
- May improve brain function
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Fact checked by Robert Iafelice, MS, RD, LDNFACT CHECKED
September 27, 2023
In the ongoing quest for enhanced mental performance, the nootropic supplement market continues to produce new and innovative products. Two market leaders are Noocube and Alpha Brain, each claiming to deliver the best results in enhanced memory, increased mental clarity, and improved cognitive function.
But which is best?
In this head-to-head Alpha Brain vs NooCube match-up, we analyze, compare, and contrast these two popular nootropics. Our goal is to give you the hype-free facts to allow you to make an educated buying decision between these two top-selling nootropic supplements.
In addition to a head-to-head comparison, here's what else you can expect from this article:
We believe that NooCube is a better overall Nootropic supplement than Alpha Brain. It has a more complete ingredient profile, with most of its ingredients having some clinical research supporting inclusion in a nootropic.
Most ingredients in NooCube are also dosed in line with those clinical studies. On the other hand, Alpha Brain's nootropic ingredients are mostly hidden behind proprietary blends, preventing us from even knowing how much of each ingredient we're getting.
NooCube is a brain productivity enhancer available in a convenient capsule format.
Produced by the established health supplement company Wolfson Brands, based in Scotland, this product caters to individuals who face demanding schedules and pressing deadlines. It stands out for its claimed ability to amplify mental focus and cognitive abilities without relying on stimulants, emphasizing its caffeine-free and stimulant-free composition.
A one-month supply of NooCube costs $64.99. You can only buy these brain supplements from the official website with a 60-day money-back guarantee. Free shipping is offered worldwide.
Alpha Brain is a nootropic dietary supplement crafted by Onnit Labs, which has been on the market since 2011. This cognitive enhancement product aims to enhance memory, boost concentration, and elevate mental acuity. Key ingredients found in Alpha Brain include:
Cats Claw: A botanical specimen known for its potential for cognitive health benefits and antioxidant properties
Huperzine A: Recognized for its possible role in memory enhancement and concentration by inhibiting acetylcholine breakdown
Pterostilbene: A neuroprotective molecule linked to blueberries.
Alpha Brain is another caffeine and stimulant-free nootropic
Alpha Brain was the first product launched by Onnit. The company's founder, Aubrey Marcus, and future podcasting phenom Joe Rogan collaborated extensively to formulate an improved nootropic supplement. Consequently, Joe Rogan has been the product's prominent ambassador since its inception, prominently featured on the official website.
Onnit Alpha Brain costs $79.95 monthly for a single purchase and $67.96 if you become a subscriber.
When you look beyond the marketing hype, the specific ingredients and their dosages will tell you which nootropic is superior. Here's an overview of the dozen compounds that make up NooCube:
Thiamine, an important B vitamin, is involved in cognitive function. It helps the production of neurotransmitters and the metabolism of energy. Maintaining proper thiamine levels can indirectly help brain function, even though it is not its major function.
The dosage of 1.1 mg is suitable because it fulfills or surpasses the adult daily recommended intake requirements for thiamine, assuring nutrient adequacy.
Vitamin B12 is essential for neurological health and may aid memory and enhance cognitive function. The dosage of NooCube, however, is quite modest for therapeutic results.
Biotin is best known for its ability to help with hair, nail, and skin repair. There is scant evidence that it can improve cognitive ability. The dosage of 50mcg is appropriate for achieving its intended result (supporting the health of the skin and hair), but it is unlikely to significantly impact cognitive function.
Acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter linked to memory and learning, is formed from choline, which acts as its precursor. A sufficient choline intake can aid cognitive performance.
A Japanese study gave participants either 500 or 2000 mg of choline daily for six weeks. At the end of the study period, brain scans showed an average 14% increase in ATP production in their neurons, regardless of dose(1).
The dosage in NooCube is within the acceptable daily consumption range. You can read more about choline in our article Best Choline Supplements on the market.
Bacopa monnieri has been shown to improve memory and cognitive function.
A 2022 study investigated its effectiveness in reducing levels of inactivity and hypertension in young children. A 14-week double-blind placebo-controlled trial was carried out, at the end of which the group of youngsters who were given bacopa monnieri significantly decreased error-making and improved cognitive flexibility, executive functioning, interpersonal problems, and sleep routine (2).
The 250mg dosage is within the acceptable range for effectiveness, as seen in clinical trials.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid that is a part of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. It may help to offset stress-induced cognitive decline. A 2007 meta-study focused on l-tyrosine's ability to alleviate stress. It found that l-tyrosine may prevent some of the cognitive decline in response to physical stressors (3).
The 250mg dose used in NooCube falls within the range frequently used in nootropic supplements.
Although cat's claw has minimal direct cognitive-improving effects, it does have antioxidant characteristics that protect the brain from free radical damage. The dose is within the acceptable range for nootropic supplements.
L-theanine, a common tea ingredient, provides soothing effects and may improve focus and relaxation, especially when paired with caffeine (which is absent here).
In a 2019 study, 30 people were given either a placebo or 200mg daily of l-theanine over a four-week period. Post-study cognitive testing results, which included cognitive functions, verbal fluency, and letter fluency, were significantly higher in the l-theanine group (4).
The 200mg dosage of l-theanine used in NooCube is appropriate for a nootropic.
Ginseng may have stress-reducing and adaptogenic characteristics. Less research has been done on its cognitive benefits (5). For any cognitive effects, the dosage is extremely modest.
Despite its minimal direct cognitive effects, marigold extract's lutein content makes it a popular choice for eye health. The dosage is appropriate for maintaining eye health.
The antioxidant resveratrol, which is present in red wine and grapes, may have some benefits for the brain. Its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent free radical damage to brain cells.
A 2017 study showed that supplementation with resveratrol may regulate neuroinflammation and offset the effects of Alzheimer's disease (6). For meaningful results, however, the dosage is relatively minimal.
The resveratrol-related compound pterostilbene may have neuroprotective properties. It has similar antioxidant and inflammatory properties to resveratrol, with studies suggesting it may protect the brain from oxidative stress.
A 2012 study compared pterostilbene and resveratrol's effectiveness in improving functional deficits in people with Alzheimer's disease. The study results showed that "at equivalent and diet-achievable doses, pterostilbene is a more potent modulator of cognition and cellular stress than resveratrol." (7)
NooCube's dosage is fairly modest, so its cognitive effects might not be as strong as they could be.
Alpha Brain presents most of its ingredients as three proprietary blends. We're not in favor of that, as it hides individual ingredient dosages. Let's break it down:
The Onnit Flow Blend includes the amino acids L-tyrosine and L-theanine as well as oat straw extract, and phosphatidylserine.
L-Tyrosine: As a precursor for neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, L-Tyrosine influences mood, focus, and memory.
L-Theanine: This amino acid induces a calm, alert mental state by boosting alpha brain waves, supporting relaxation, and reducing brain fog.
Oat Straw Extract (Avena sativa): Believed to enhance brain blood flow, this extract may aid mental function, attentiveness, and cognitive speed.
Phosphatidylserine: This naturally occurring brain phospholipid may enhance cognition, including memory and focus.
Uncaria tomentosa, or cat's claw extract, is believed to offer cognitive benefits, but limited nootropic evidence exists.
Derived from the Amazon jungle's cat's claw vine bark, it contains alkaloids and flavonoids with potential anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. While generally safe, some individuals might experience mild side effects like nausea or allergies.
The Onnit Focus Blend comprises Alpha-GPC, Bacopa extract, and Huperzine A, each offering cognitive benefits:
Alpha-GPC: Naturally present in the brain, alpha-GPC stimulates acetylcholine synthesis and release, which is vital for cognition and memory (8). It fosters optimal brain activity.
Bacopa extract: Bacosides in Bacopa monnieri aid synaptic transmission, neuroprotection, and antioxidation, potentially enhancing memory, attention, and cognitive function in tasks demanding sustained mental effort.
Huperzine A: Derived from Huperzia serrata, it bolsters memory, learning, and cognition by inhibiting acetylcholine-degrading enzymes. A Chinese study involving 200 patients with Alzheimer's disease administered between 300 and 500 mcg daily for 8-24 weeks, with another group receiving a placebo. The huperzine group showed significantly greater memory, attention, orientation, and overall cognition than the placebo group (9).
The Onnit Fuel Blend contains L-leucine, an essential amino acid with potential benefits for muscle protein synthesis, brain energy metabolism, mood regulation, and brain health. Additionally, pterostilbene, known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, may enhance brain mitochondrial function neural plasticity, and reduce oxidative stress.
Though they are both designed to boost cognitive ability and overall brain health, NooCube and Alpha Brain have slightly different benefit focuses and target audiences. Here's an overview:
NooCube is marketed as a versatile supplement promising improved focus, memory enhancement, heightened attention, reduced stress and anxiety, alleviation of mental fatigue, and support for the eye-brain connection.
It aims to benefit students, athletes, and professionals seeking enhanced productivity by minimizing distractions and helping with memory recall. The supplement's ingredients are claimed to have mood-calming effects, reducing stress.
Additionally, NooCube stands out for its potential to mitigate the impact of screen-induced eye strain, offering mental health benefits in the context of prolonged screen exposure, making it a multifaceted cognitive enhancer.
Alpha Brain is designed to boost cognitive ability in such areas as problem-solving, decision-making, and mental processing speed.
It also claims to support achieving a "flow state," marked by high performance, mental energy, and intense focus through enhanced attention, cognitive performance, and reduced distractions and anxiety.
Additionally, it aims to promote focus, mental clarity, and memory, with ingredients such as L-Theanine, Alpha-GPC, Huperzine A, and Bacopa extract suggested to aid in memory formation and recall while improving overall cognitive function.
Potential NooCube side effects encompass headaches, nausea, dizziness, and jitteriness. When taken too close to bedtime, it may disrupt sleep patterns.
Prudent precautions, such as reading the label and consulting a healthcare provider, are essential before incorporating NooCube, especially for those with underlying medical conditions or concurrent medication use.
Alpha Brain, comprising natural ingredients, is generally considered safe within recommended dosage limits. Nevertheless, it may yield mild side effects, including digestive discomfort (e.g., upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea), headaches, or sleep disturbances, as some components can influence neurotransmitter levels.
Caution is advised for individuals taking prescription medications, as Alpha Brain might interact with them. Although rare, allergic reactions to certain ingredients can occur, warranting immediate discontinuation and medical attention if symptoms like rash, swelling, irritation, or breathing difficulties occur.
From this head-to-head comparison, it has become clear that NooCube is a superior brain-boosting supplement compared to Alpha Brain.
It has a broader selection of research-supported cognitive-enhancing ingredients. The dosages are also more aligned with those used in clinical trials, giving more confidence that they will actually provide the claimed benefits. Alpha Brain's reliance on proprietary blends is a real problem for us, as it prevents us from knowing how much of each key ingredient we're actually getting.
NooCube also has a broader area of benefit focus. While Alpha Brain seems mainly concerned with achieving a relaxed, calm state of mind to bring about the supposed 'flow state,' NooCube encompasses memory, focus, and cognitive ability.
Our winner in this match-up, therefore, is NooCube.
Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we get asked about NooCube and Alpha Brain.
We believe that NooCube is a better nootropic supplement than Alpha Brain. For one thing, NooCube is far more transparent, whereas Alpha Brain's proprietary blends hide most of its ingredient dosages. NooCube also has a broader selection of research-supported ingredients that are well-dosed to provide the claimed benefits. Finally, NooCube has a wider focus on cognitive benefits, whereas Alpha Brain is more centered on affecting alpha brain waves to promote a state of relaxation.
NooCube is, in our estimation, a better nootropic supplement than Alpha Brain. It has more ingredients that have clinical support, doesn't hide between proprietary blends, and is better dosed. Two other products we rate above Alpha Brain are Vyvamind and Hunter Focus.
Different organizations will have different nootropic supplement rankings. At Set-for-Set, we have recently undertaken an extensive analysis of the nootropic market, as summarized in this article: 7 Best Nootropics To Maximize Your Brain's Potentia. In it, we ranked NooCube as the best overall nootropic in the current market.
No, we do not believe that Alpha Brain is the best nootropic. We don't like that it hides most of its ingredients behind proprietary blends. It's also clear from the blend totals that several ingredients are underdosed. Finally, Alpha Brain's benefit focus is too narrow to provide complete cognitive enhancement.
Not only is NooCube a better nootropic supplement than Alpha Brain, but it is also our #1 ranked nootropic overall. It beats out Alpha Brain in three crucial areas:
Find out more about why we regard NooCube as the best nootropic on today's market with our full Noocube review.
Think. focus. citicoline. Cognizin. (n.d.). https://cognizin.com/en/studies/cognizin-citicoline-increases-brain-energy-atp-by-14-and-speeds-up-formation-of-brain-membranes-by-26-in-healthy-adults
Kean JD, Downey LA, Sarris J, Kaufman J, Zangara A, Stough C. Effects of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08®) in a population of males exhibiting inattention and hyperactivity aged 6 to 14 years: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2022 Feb;36(2):996-1012. doi: 10.1002/ptr.7372. Epub 2022 Jan 18. PMID: 35041248.
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Hidese S, Ogawa S, Ota M, Ishida I, Yasukawa Z, Ozeki M, Kunugi H. Effects of L-Theanine Administration on Stress-Related Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2019 Oct 3;11(10):2362. doi: 10.3390/nu11102362. PMID: 31623400; PMCID: PMC6836118.
Zdravic, A. (2019, August 4). Ginseng’s nootropic effects on behavior and cognition. Maze Engineers. https://conductscience.com/maze/ginsengs-nootropic-effects-on-behavior-and-cognition/
Moussa C, Hebron M, Huang X, Ahn J, Rissman RA, Aisen PS, Turner RS. Resveratrol regulates neuro-inflammation and induces adaptive immunity in Alzheimer's disease. J Neuroinflammation. 2017 Jan 3;14(1):1. doi: 10.1186/s12974-016-0779-0. PMID: 28086917; PMCID: PMC5234138.
Chang J, Rimando A, Pallas M, Camins A, Porquet D, Reeves J, Shukitt-Hale B, Smith MA, Joseph JA, Casadesus G. Low-dose pterostilbene, but not resveratrol, is a potent neuromodulator in aging and Alzheimer's disease. Neurobiol Aging. 2012 Sep;33(9):2062-71. doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.08.015. Epub 2011 Oct 7. PMID: 21982274.
Tuboly E, Gáspár R, Ibor MO, Gömöri K, Kiss B, Strifler G, Hartmann P, Ferdinandy P, Bartekova M, Boros M, Görbe A. L-Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcholine can be cytoprotective or cytotoxic in neonatal rat cardiac myocytes: a double-edged sword phenomenon. Mol Cell Biochem. 2019 Oct;460(1-2):195-203. doi: 10.1007/s11010-019-03580-1. Epub 2019 Jul 6. PMID: 31280435; PMCID: PMC6745025.
Wang BS, Wang H, Wei ZH, Song YY, Zhang L, Chen HZ. Efficacy and safety of natural acetylcholinesterase inhibitor huperzine A in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease: an updated meta-analysis. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2009 Apr;116(4):457-65. doi: 10.1007/s00702-009-0189-x. Epub 2009 Feb 17. PMID: 19221692.
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