Only last month, UK snack brand Nooro added nootropic-infused snack bars to its portfolio in Planet Organic. The brand’s debut CBD bar, which arrived in April, was the fastest selling snack product launch for the supermarket chain in the last 10 years.
Nooro are by no means the only company to be jumping on this brainy bandwagon, with German start-up Braineffect currently offering 20 different functional foods and supplements based on improving the mind.
With mental health a growing area in terms of food development, could the intelligent use of nootropics be the way to unlocking the potential of the new market?
Feeding the mind
“Nootropics seem to be most often used to boost memory, focus and creativity,” says Julian Mellentin, founder and director of New Nutrition Business.
“There are two types of nootropics: synthetic (such as piracetam) and natural. The natural nootropics are compounds that can be naturally found in foods, such as ginkgo biloba, panax ginseng and others.
“They can be used alone or in combination with other nootropics. For example, a popular combination is L-theanine (found in green tea) and caffeine.”
But how strong is the science behind nootropics? And how impactful are they in food?
Some nutrients and compounds have been scientifically shown to have cognitive-enhancing effects, including vitamins B6 and B12, phenethylamine (found in chocolate) and caffeine.
There are established dosages for a number of nootropics in order to achieve a beneficial cognitive effect. For example, 300-600mg of bacopa (a herb commonly found in Ayurvedic medicine) or 200-400mg of panax ginseng. However, for some nootropics the effect is cumulative.