Top tips for cognitive health innovation

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

© Suwadee sangsriruang / Getty Images
© Suwadee sangsriruang / Getty Images

Related tags Cognitive health nootropics

More consumers than ever are looking for innovative ways to support total mind and body wellness. But where is the next big innovation opportunity in the cognitive health space? dsm-fermenich has weighed in with its comprehensive nootropics report.

The resource​, created with product developers and marketeers in mind, noted multiple factors enhancing interest in brain boosting nutraceuticals, including fast-paced lifestyles, rising stress and fatigue, performance culture and the digital-age.

“Not only has this ignited an intense interest in nootropics as a pathway to unlocking cognitive potential and nurturing brain health throughout life but also created a new world of innovation possibilities,” said Elena Gromoboeva, global dietary supplements lead for brain health at dsm-firmenich. “…The seeds of inspiration for the next generation of brain health solutions are sown by listening to the voice of the consumer, their needs and desires. We’ve leveraged digital intelligence to do just that and uncover insights that will help you unlock the next generation of brain health solutions.”

Through its own consumer health survey (2023) and proprietary social listening research, conducted by Brandwatch (2022-2023), the firm identified the ingredients dominating the nootropics conversation, including magnesium, ashwagandha, B vitamins, omega-3s, lutein, lemon balm and ginkgo.

The report listed CBD, magnesium and melatonin as key ingredients linked to stress management, anxiety and sleep, with ashwagandha emerging for anxiety management and sleep support. Meanwhile, vitamins B and D maintain popularity in relation to energy and general health and mushrooms are emerging for their potential to boost energy and improve cognition.

Nootropic stacking

Within the cognitive health space, the concept of 'stacking' has gained popularity. This involves the strategic combination of different nootropic ingredients to address multiple cognitive functions simultaneously.

The firm recommends that brands educate consumers about stacking, providing recommendations and perhaps even creating bundled offerings with complementary solutions.

“In an era where consumers are increasingly seeking evidence-based solutions, my biggest tip is to develop nootropic stacks backed by scientific research,” said Martin Dos Ramos, global vice president of dietary supplements at dsm-firmenich. “By highlighting the scientific rationale behind your selected combinations and dosages, you not only demonstrate a commitment to delivering real cognitive benefits but also empower consumers to make informed choices for their brain health.”

Brain health supplement brand Mind Lab Pro provides some education on this topic via its website. It suggests a few ways to consider a nootropic stack regimen: The single stack, which involves every nootropic consumed within a day; the left and right 'legs', which distinguish the morning stack and evening stacks each containing their own corresponding nootropics; and the 'accessory' stacks, which consist of as-needed nootropics, such as a workout stack, studying stack, anxiety stack, etc.

The brand suggests a classic concentration stack includes L-theanine (100mg) and caffeine (50 mg) to improve various cognitive measures on performance and mood.

It recommends that a 'memory stack' might contain citicoline (choline and cytidine) and Bacopa monnieri​ to improve acetylcholine levels, and a 'motivation stack' could contain N-acetyl-L-tyrosine (to help replenish dopamine levels) and B vitamins.

Increased personalization

While nootropics may have first been embraced by athletes, gamers and students, they are gaining mainstream attention too, thanks to widely appealing benefits such as energy, productivity and sleep quality. 

The dsm-fermenich report lists the ingredients and health benefits demanded by the four key brain health consumer populations—professionals, athletes, gamers and students.

It reveals that caffeine, the most well-known of the nootropic ingredients, garners interest across the board, with all populations looking to feel energized and increase productivity. On the other end of the spectrum, the relaxing benefits of magnesium are considered beneficial by athletes, gamers and students. 

Meanwhile, melatonin and creatine are ingredients aimed primarily at athletes, and alpha-GPC and Lion’s Mane appeal mostly to students, according to

Mood Food
MPowder Mood Food

the data.

Niche audiences, such as women entering menopause, are also looking for mind health solutions to support their symptoms, according to the report.

Menopause supplement brand MPowder​ offers a range of tailored solutions to this market. Its Meno-Boost powder is designed to target a range of symptoms including hot flashes, weight concerns, energy levels, sleep quality, anxiety, brain fog, libido, blood pressure and heart health. It contains 36 whole food-led ingredients, including ashwagandha, maca, lemon balm, rosehip, slippery elm and red clover.

It also sells a Mood-Food supplement in capsule format to support mood, brain fog and sleep. The formulation contains bacopa, turmeric, ashwagandha and lemon balm as well as a range of vitamins and minerals.

wild perimenopause
Wild Nutrition Perimenopause

Meanwhile, Wild Nutrition recently launched Food-Grown Perimenopause Complex​, containing shatavari (Asparagus racemosus​), saffron extract, vitamin B6, magnesium and iron to support hormonal balance, immunity and regulate mood and cognition.

Nature meets science

With consumers demanding science-backed but natural solutions, dsm-fermenich suggests combining vitamins, omega-3 and botanicals to appeal to both. Streamlined ingredients lists and free-from claims can also help to achieve the right balance for the consumer.

The general practitioner-founded brain health supplement start-up Noggin​ is doing just this. Its first product Oomph contains a blend of Panax ginseng​ and Rhodiola rosea​ botanicals, the functional mushroom Lion’s Mane, as well as B vitamins and zinc to support energy levels, cognition and focus.

The supplement also contains the fatty acid phosphatidylcholine, which has been shown to maintain cell membranes and support learning and memory​, as well as the antioxidant L-glutathione for oxidative stress protection within the brain​.

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