Irwin Naturals is one of the more recognizable supplement companies in the United States. While they’re primarily known for things like natural sleep aids and vitamins, they also produce several supplements designed to produce brainpower. These are generally entry-level nootropics, meaning they’re mostly blends of well-established, if not especially cutting edge or proprietary, ingredients.
We wanted to find out if they packed any punch, or if their nootropics were just souped-up vitamin duds. The first up for review is Ginkgo Smart by Irwin Naturals (click for best price). Let’s take a look inside.
- Fish Oil (30% Omega-3 Fatty Acids) – 878 mg
- Omega-3 fatty acids play crucial roles in many bodily functions, and while they’re often recommended for heart health, it’s important not to overlook their benefit to the brain. These fatty acids are heavily concentrated in the brain and are important to its development and function. Many Americans (and generally people in Western countries) don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. This isn’t a particularly high concentration of omega-3s, and we’ve seen supplements with up to 80% purity instead of the 30% here. Of course, it’s just one ingredient in this supplement, but more and more companies are creating fatty acid blends targeted for brain health, be on the lookout for our reviews of those soon.
- Ginkgo powder (leaf) – 400mg/Ginkgo extract (24% flavone glycodises, 6% terpene lactones) (leaf) – 120 mg
- Ginkgo has been used for thousands of years to promote memory in Chinese medicine. More recently, clinical studies and research reviews have pointed to its efficacy in fighting dementia and neural decline.
- Acetyl L-Caritine – 50 mg
- This compound pairs very well with choline; when combined, the two form the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Having both in the same supplement is a good hedge in case the body is deficient in either compound. We’re pleased Lumonol includes both compounds in order to promote acetylcholine levels.
- Choline (as Choline-Bitartrate) – 50 mg
- Choline-Bitartrate, a vitamin-like chemical, helps the body produce acetylcholine, one of the main neurotransmitters involved in learning along with other cognitive processes. It’s a fairly common ingredient in nootropic supplements and stacks. Many Americans are choline deficient, and this dosage is a bit more than 100% of the recommended daily value.
- DMAE Bitartrate – 50 mg
- DMAE Bitrate, or Deanol, is a chemical used to treat ADHD, improve memory and boost cognitive function. Deanol is essential to the production of choline, one of the building blocks of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is vital for a number of nervous system activities, including signaling the heart to keep beating.
- Trimethylglycine – 50 mg
- Also known as betaine, may act similarly to choline when ingested, though its most documented benefits are actually in the realm of physical performance (reduced fatigue, increased muscular endurance). This is a compound we don’t see too much of in the world of nootropics, mostly because so much of the research evidence surrounding it has to do with muscular endurance rather than brain enhancement.
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid 20 mg
- Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory chemical that has been used to treat memory loss and chronic fatigue syndrome.
- Velvet Bean extract (10% L-dopa) 10 mg
- Velvet bean extract is a solid, concentrated source of L-DOPA, a drug commonly used to treat Parkinsons Disease. It is a dopamine precursor.
- Vinpocetine (from Lesser Periwinkle extract) (whole plant) – 2 mg
- Vinpocetine is a chemical derived from the periwinkle plant, known to increase cerebral blood flow. Doctors in Hungary have been prescribing this compound to treat cerebrovascular disorders for decades.
- Toothed Clubmoss extract (1% huperzine A) (plant) – 1 mg
- Clubmoss is the most common source for Huperzine A, a compound that has been used to improve cognitive performance in patients with Alzheimer’s.
- BioPerine Complex (BioPerine Black Pepper extract 95% piperine and ginger extract 5% ginerols) – 6 mg
- BioPerine is a common ingredient in Irwin Naturals products, as well as products from other general supplement manufacturers. Research suggests BioPerine/black pepper extract in the form of piperine helps the body more efficiently absorb a variety of nutrients through the digestive tract. If effective, it’s a good compliment to this supplement’s stack of nootropic ingredients.
- Other Ingredients: Gelatin, soy lecithin, purified water, glycerin, beeswax, lurmeric, titanium dioxide and sodium copper chlorophyllin. Contains: Soy, Fish (anchovy, sardine)
Take two liquid soft gels daily with a full glass of water. Do not use if you may become pregnant, are pregnant or nursing. State of California Prop 65: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm. We had our BrainWiz testers take 2 capsules per day.
What Our Testers Say
“I was not expecting to like this supplement; it didn’t contain anything on the label that struck me as particularly effective or innovative. But I have to admit I felt clear-headed every morning I took this (usually with caffeine, but once without; still clear). I’m wondering if the BioPerine helps speed or facilitate absorption, because the effect, though not the most powerful I’ve felt by a long shot, came on pretty quickly.”
“I made the mistake of taking this on a completely empty stomach the first day, no water, no food, and it caused some very mild nausea. This didn’t happen when I actually followed the instructions and drank it with a big glass of water. If anything, I felt slightly increased focus, but it wasn’t particularly powerful.”
“I’m actually still taking this supplement. I think I respond well to something a bit milder occasionally, though the entire time I’ve been taking this has been pretty quiet at work. When a bit stressful project comes up, I’ll probably reach for something more powerful. I might swap out with another Irwin Naturals stack for regular use to try it out.”
“This is probably the mildest supplement I’ve tried that increased focus and energy (I’ve tried others that did nothing, but I’m not counting those). I’d like it if they released a version without the fish oil since I already take a more concentrated fish oil I really like. It’d also be nice if they used non-soy capsules, but that’s a pretty minor concern for me.”
- Our testers all experienced mild effects with no jitters. This is a good start if you’re new to the world of nootropics and want to explore brain enhancers gradually.
- Take with a full glass of water and/or meal to avoid any stomach cramps; this is often true of fish oil-containing supplements.
- This supplement seems to pair well with coffee and other food/drink sources of caffeine (our testers didn’t try it with other caffeine-containing nootropics, which could potentially cause jitteriness).
- If you shouldn’t be taking fish oil for any health reason, it’s a good idea to steer clear of Ginkgo Smart. As with any supplement regime, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes.
Ginkgo Smart is a mild brain enhancer good for people who aren’t sure whether nootropics are right for them. It effects are noticeable and very quick, but they won’t bring on Limitless-like focus and new realms of mental clarity. It also doubles as a fish oil supplement, and we appreciate the inclusion of BioPerine as a compound that could potentially enhance absorption of its other ingredients. If you want a mild cognitive boost to pair with breakfast, this is a very solid choice.