OptiMind is a nootropic brain enhancement supplement that's designed to provide energy, alertness, and focus. It's an American-made supplement that pays special attention to the quality of its ingredients.
OptiMind's strategy is to combine raw fuel for your brain with compounds like caffeine and vitamin B12 that have a long history of use as cognitive performance boosters.
OptiMind's blend is a combination of traditional vitamins, well-known biologically active compounds, and newer supplements thought to fuel up and improve the brain's functioning power.
On the traditional front, each two-capsule serving of OptiMind contains almost 100% of your recommended daily vitamin D intake and over 8,000% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin B12. OptiMind also contains a fascinating synthetic vitamin B derivative called sulbutiamine which shows a lot of promise in treating fatigue and improving memory.
OptiMind, like many nootropics, also contains caffeine. As any coffee drinker knows, caffeine is one of the oldest nootropic compounds in the book. Each capsule contains 75 mg of caffeine, so each two-pill serving is equivalent to around two cups of coffee. Keep this in mind if you're gulping down a lot of coffee in addition to taking brain-boosting supplements. Taurine, a chemical widely found in natural foods, is present as well—the caffeine, taurine, and vitamin B12 combination is very common in energy drinks, so you don't need to double up.
In the brain fuel department, OptiMind contains GABA, also known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is a potent neurotransmitter in the brain. However, according to a 1971 study in the journal Neuropharmacology, GABA that's taken orally can't actually reach the brain (1). A different study published in 2008 suggests that GABA ingestion can boost production of human growth hormone, but there are more direct routes for targeting an increase in growth hormone secretion.
Other active compounds include the amino acid tyrosine, which is used as a building block for many neurotransmitters, and the neurologically active plant extracts vinpocetine, Huperzine A, and bacopa.
Vitamin D is known to be associated with brain functioning—according to a 2006 scientific study published by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, highlights this relationship (2). In the study, which included 40 people with mild Alzheimer's disease along with 40 healthy patients, the researchers evaluated the cognitive functioning of the test subjects, then cross-referenced the results with each subject's blood levels of vitamin D. The results showed a profound relationship between vitamin D deficiency and poor cognitive function: people with vitamin D below adequate levels were over ten times as likely to perform below average on the cognitive tests!
While it's great that OptiMind includes vitamin D, it may not be enough to reverse or prevent vitamin D deficiency. A 2011 study suggests that supplementation of 1000 to 2000 IU might be necessary to bring a vitamin D deficient person back to normal levels (3). OptiMind only contains 385 IU per serving; you should definitely augment this with a dedicated vitamin D supplement that provides on the order of 2000 IU if you don't already.
This problem certainly isn't present with vitamin B12—its concentration in OptiMind is more than sufficient to meet your needs. Low levels of vitamin B12 are known to be associated with poor spatial reasoning, so OptiMind may help in this area (4).
The synthetic vitamin B derivative sulbutiamine might be the ace up the sleeve for OptiMind. Don't let its synthetic roots scare you off; it's a more bioactive form of vitamin B1 that's been shown to improve long-term memory in mice and treat fatigue in humans (5, 6). At present, the evidence for memory improvements are stronger than those for fatigue resistance.
OptiMind might edge out its competitors in the energy department. While many supplements provide caffeine, OptiMind takes an energy drink mentality and combines it with taurine and vitamin B12. A 2009 study from the University of Texas reports that a combination of B vitamins, taurine, and caffeine can improve exercise performance, so a similar combination stands a good chance of increasing your overall energy levels (7).
OptiMind is also well-positioned to help with memory. The herbal ingredient Huperzine A has been investigated as a possible treatment for degenerative brain disease, and there is solid evidence that bacopa can improve memory recall (8).
A combination of energy-boosting properties and memory enhancement mean that OptiMind is likely best-suited for long-haul cognitive tasks, like multi-hour projects or standardized tests, where your brain needs both the energy to perform and the ability to recall concrete facts.
OptiMind takes a pretty safe tack when it comes to their ingredients. Even the less-vetted ingredients, like GABA, are not known to have any major adverse effects (9). One notable exception is Huperzine A; a few experimental trials mention nausea and vomiting as potential side effects (10).
As with any supplement or food containing caffeine, nausea, anxiety, and jitteriness are risks. If you know you don't tolerate caffeine well—and remember, this product has 150 mg per serving—exercise caution with OptiMind.
The Bottom Line
OptiMind is a supplement that shines when it comes to boosting your energy levels and enhancing your memory. It will work best for things like an all-day final exam or a coding bootcamp. It won't do much to enhance mood or improve your sleep. In fact, with its high caffeine content, you should avoid taking it in the evening unless you're planning an all-nighter.
Though it's not perfect—it could use more vitamin D, and the GABA is not likely to accomplish much—it's still worth a try.