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Welcome to our Natural Stacks review!
If you’ve ever looked at a 20-something-item active ingredient list on a supplement and thought, “Man, I just want these 2-3 things,” Natural Stacks might be right for you.
Of course, Natural Stacks is just one of many brands offering more targeted nootropic products, but our conversation with founder Roy Krebs and independent evaluation revealed several key factors that make his company stand out.
These differentiators combined with solid, but not perfect transparency, customer service, value, and more earns Natural Stacks earns an A- from our team.
Before we get into the finer details of their processes and products—our favorite was the Zen Magnesium Gummies, by the way—a quick look at the background of the brand.
Natural Stacks Pros and Cons
- Highly absorbable, clean ingredients
- Full ingredient disclosure
- Targeted products allow customized nootropic
- Premium price
- Restrictive refund policy
The Natural Stacks Origin Story
Our conversation with Natural Stacks Founder and CEO Roy Krebs revealed the motivation behind the brand, which, as he explained, was a personal matter in more ways than one.
“I’ve been an athlete my whole life. I hit my head a lot playing football in college,” Roy told us, then going on to explain that he started experiencing brain fog.
Many of us familiar with fogginess know the feeling, as when reading a book and constantly backtracking to try to absorb what you just read—this is the example Roy gave us from his own experience.
Naturally, he became concerned about restoring his brain to full power, which led him to go down the nootropic rabbit hole (welcome, meetings are on Thursdays).
Unfortunately, Roy’s grandfather was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, which really solidified the Natural Stacks founder’s desire to not only search for, but create an answer that could help people experiencing these issues.
And so, Natural Stacks was born in 2014. From the beginning, their objective was to provide highly targeted supplements that target one or two functions and/or deficiencies, allowing customers to “stack” products together as they need, hence the name.
Our Natural Stacks Review
We use these criteria when reviewing brands (Natural Stacks scores included):
- Quality (A)
- Transparency (A-)
- Website Experience (B+)
- Customer Service (A-)
- Value (B+)
- Brand Value (A-)
This averages to an overall grade of A- for Natural Stacks. As always, we’ll kick off with quality.
Natural Stacks pairs high-quality active ingredients with botanical and non-botanical enhancers to encourage your body’s natural production of the targeted compound. Combined with tight supply chain oversight, a solid list of certifications, and more, the formulation know-how earns them an A for quality.
Starting with the first (hands-on) impression—the packaging—the Natural Stacks products we received came in a variety of darkly tinted, matte white, and clear plastic bottles.
Though we would have preferred completely child-proof lids on all the products, the Magnesium Gummies came with one, and the pop tops of the others did require a decent amount of force to work open.
The product labels were well-furnished with basic product specs (supplement facts, ingredients, etc.), more in-depth blurbs about the products and the company, and QR codes that route you to third-party testing results.
Speaking of ingredient quality, most of the supplements we personally tested contained highly bioavailable forms of active ingredients (e.g., magnesium glycinate versus oxidate) as well as supporting ingredients meant to enhance their effects. Here’s what we mean about bioavailable ingredients, using MagTech as an example:
A fitting example of synergistic formulation is the pairing of the handy amino acid L-tryptophan—the stuff in turkey that makes you sleepy—with rhodiola rosea in Natural Stacks Serotonin Brain Food.
Both of these ingredients work to support your body’s natural serotonin production, and as Natural Stacks Founder Roy Krebs explained to us, in a more targeted way—instead of throwing 20+ nootropics at you at once.
Checking the Zen Magnesium Gummies for shifty sugars and any other questionable additives, we found the following (active ingredients excluded):
- Organic tapioca syrup
- Organic cane sugar
- Natural flavors
- Natural colors
Weighing in at a reasonable 1.5 grams of added sugar per gummy and no harmful preservatives whatsoever, we find this list to be consistent with clean, high-quality gummy supplements manufactured by other brands.
On that note Natural Stacks products are made with US-based co-packers, and the ingredients are sourced globally. “We tell contract manufacturers they have to use the ingredient suppliers we vetted,” Roy explained.
Natural Stacks’ all-natural, vegan products are certified by Project Non-GMO, UL, and Health Canada. They’re also Certified Open Source, which we’ll get to in Transparency.
Overall, the targeted and science-supported formulations, high accountability (third-party testing, open source company), and clean ingredients earn Natural Stacks an A for quality.
The Natural Stacks Product Catalog
Mood, Sleep, and Focus
From GABA to acetylcholine, these product categories allow you to target individual neurotransmitters and other targets in the brain to enhance—you guessed it—mood, sleep, and focus.
The use of 1-2 supporting botanicals and other enhancers is a consistent theme, as L-theanine pairs with caffeine to take the edge off of Smart Caffeine, for example.
Optimized for memory and brain fog, Neurofuel powers cognition at the cellular level by boosting mitochondrial function and more.
Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxal-5-phosphate), Artichoke Leaf Extract (5% cynarin), Acetyl L-Carnitine, L-Phenylalanine, Coleus Forskohlii (root) Extract, Hypromellose (Capsule), Ascorbyl Palmitate, Silica.
Thanks in part to the delivery method—as in, capsules versus sugary drinks—Natural Stacks completely avoids sketchy sweeteners and additives when it comes to energy supplements.
It’s nice to see Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA) take center stage, as this handy and often overlooked antioxidant can do more than just boost your energy—this Mount Sinai article summarizes the research.
In addition to ALA, the collection includes a ginkgo biloba supplement complete with bacopa monnieri and panax ginseng, a potent cocktail for a brainpower boost.
And yes, of course, caffeine makes an appearance.
Like a software update for your brain, Ginkgo+ is formulated to improve processing speed with Ginkgo Biloba, Panax Ginseng, and Bacopa Monnieri.
Panax Ginseng (Root) Extract, Bacopa Monnieri (Whole plant) Extract, Ginkgo Biloba (Leaf) Extract, Vegetable Capsule (Cellulose)
Essentials and Professional Lines
As you might expect, the essentials line delivers a more straightforward offering, like krill oil, vitamin D3 softgels, and curcumin, which are made with organic coconut oil (except for the krill oil).
The professional line includes supplements made with your standard, everyday French maritime pine bark extract.
Joking aside, pycnogenol has thankfully come to prominence in the nootropic supplement world, but to see it standardized to 65% procyanidins alongside grape seed extract and beet root in a squeaky clean supplement is still impressive. You can learn more about this antioxidant and its several benefits here.
A potent antioxidant, pycnogenol improves circulation, directly fueling your brain and other important structures throughout the body for improved function.
Beet Root Extract (Beta Vulgaris) (Root), Grape Seed Extract, Pycnogenol (French Maritime Pine Bark Extract), Vegetable Capsule (Cellulose)
Without question, Natural Stacks leads the field in ingredient traceability. Save for an incomplete description of manufacturing, R&D, etc., it’s easy for first-time browsers to learn about the brand and the products.
While we did encounter a few missed opportunities to share insights, the extent to which Natural Stacks has committed on the big points (of transparency) is very impressive.
At the heart of this industry-leading approach to transparency is the fact that Natural Stacks is the only Certified Open Source supplement company we’ve encountered.
This means that they practice “full label disclosure,” including not only each ingredient (no proprietary blends) on the label and each product’s testing results, but the vendor as well.
Whip out that overpriced smartphone, scan the QR code on the packaging, and you’ll land on a screen that presents a tree of options to click for more information, including “origin,” “ingredients,” and more.
Simply put, this is by far the most extensive and transparent product info feature we’ve reviewed.
As for the product pages themselves, some have videos with naturopaths explaining the functions and/or benefits of products.
There are ingredient breakdowns displaying pictures of the active ingredients next to short, but helpful descriptions.
A well-produced video on the “about us” page provides an introduction to Roy and the brand, including their basic philosophy and some of their methodologies, but we would like to see a more filled-in picture regarding key personnel, how/where R&D/manufacturing are happening, etc.
On a more pragmatic note, the logistical stuff (shipping/return policies, terms and conditions) are easily accessible for the most part, but you do have to go to the FAQ page to see shipping information.
Overall, Natural Stacks makes a huge play in an important area of transparency—ingredient traceability and testing—and a solid, but not perfect effort to share key insights throughout their site content.
Learning about the brand and shopping is easy on the Natural Stacks site, but given the nature of the products, dedicated educational content is needed.
So long as it isn’t of “Craigslistian” caliber, we aren’t necessarily sticklers for site design, so to get that out of the way, Natural Stacks maintains an attractive site completely free of distractions and unsightly elements.
Browsing products is as simple as it gets, thanks to the category menu that displays when you hover over the products tab.
Whichever product category you choose, you can quickly hop into a separate one (from focus and memory to sleep, for example) via a tabbed menu without going all the way back up to the original link.
The ecommerce setup from there is equally familiar; rows of product images with some key specs (price, reviews, and a quick description) invite you to click or tap on the “learn more” buttons to access the product page and potentially make the purchase.
Product pages provide a decent overview of the functional targets of each supplement and how the active ingredients work toward these effects.
Should you add an item to cart, a window pops up in the sidebar explaining how much more, if any, you need to spend to earn free shipping. You can also view your cart or check out from this window.
Testing the site on mobile, we found no formatting bugs (poorly aligned or sized images, buttons, etc.) or major discrepancies from the overall functionality and organization of the desktop version.
Our only major gripe in the area of website experience involves the lack of a clearly consolidated educational section.
Site visitors can certainly learn about the formulation strategy, ingredients, and science behind Natural Stacks on a piecemeal basis if they click around enough, but given the more technical nature of these products, a “Nootropics 101” section of some kind would be a very welcome addition.
We wouldn’t harp on this as much if this were, say, a brand that sells gluten-free pasta, as people can typically wrap their minds around such a product with much less education.
Taking all of these points into account, we give Natural Stacks a B+ for website experience.
A timely and accommodating customer service response and decent shipping/return policies give the impression that Natural Stacks is invested in their audience.
Natural Stacks offers free shipping on orders over $60, a threshold you should be able to hit with 2-3 products.
Orders placed before 8 AM pacific time are shipped the same day, otherwise they are shipped the next day. Customers can choose between four shipping options, ranging between 1-7 days delivery time.
We were pleased to find a 30-day, 100% money back guarantee, but there are a few restrictive provisions here.
Products have to be in the original packaging to be eligible for a refund, and only one of each SKU is eligible (this second point is more reasonable, but a restriction nonetheless).
As for customer support, Natural Stacks has email and phone services.
When calling, we were directed after about a minute of hold time to leave a voicemail, but the email service was both speedy and highly accommodating.
Overall, Natural Stacks customer support has the “bones” it needs to outperform other brands, but a bit of polish is needed to call it A+ level support.
These points considered, we’re settling on an A- for customer service.
How much value each person places on a Natural Stacks supplement depends on how accurately their targeted formulations serve their needs. As for the objective side of value, (aka, price), Natural Stacks charges a premium, but not an unjustifiably large one.
Given the prevalence of magnesium supplements throughout the supplement industry, we chose MagTech Magnesium from the Natural Stacks selection for price comparison purposes.
It also helps that this product seems to be positioned close to the median as far as the overall Natural Stacks selection is concerned.
At $36.95 for a month’s worth (30 servings), MagTech Magnesium is in the lower half of most premium magnesium supplements when it comes to price.
For example, Primal Harvest Magnesium costs $34.95, and most other premium brands are in the low $40 range for similar products.
Also of note is that the majority of magnesium supplements we price-checked contained magnesium oxide and/or other less bioavailable forms of magnesium.
However, some magnesium supplements contain vitamin D and other supporting ingredients to support magnesium’s absorption while possibly providing other benefits, while MagTech contains magnesium only (in three forms).
You’re still paying a bit of a premium for MagTech over value brands, but given the quality of the magnesium complex itself and the still-reasonable price, we’re calling it a B+ value.
An ongoing commitment to Alzheimer’s research, highly transparent label disclosure, and innovating with their stackable products earns Natural Stacks an A- for brand value
While Natural Stacks certainly isn’t the first supplement brand out there offering nootropic supplements, they still stand out on two key points when it comes to innovation: highly targeted products and 100% traceable ingredients.
Where products like Alpha Brain hit you with a veritable smorgasbord of nootropic ingredients in one throw (we’re talking two dozen or more active ingredients), Natural Stacks uses a more modular approach that allows you to combine products for more personalized benefits.
Their ongoing donations to the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund speak of an authentic commitment to improving the state of public health.
Natural Stacks isn’t the most disruptive supplement brand around, though the full disclosure is indeed making the competition look bad in a way that benefits the industry.
That said, Natural Stacks doesn’t appear to be involved with any major sustainability efforts—whether in their own supply chain or supporting outside initiatives.
Overall, we’re left with the impression that Natural Stacks really cares about their impact on the state of mental health, and are living out this passion in an honest and accommodating way.
Balancing their strengths and weaknesses, we land on an A- for brand value.
Our Experience with Natural Stacks
The research consensus is a bit “loose” on this point, but has at least circled around a 1-3 week range when it comes to how long it should take to feel benefits from magnesium.
Indeed, we didn’t feel much of a calming effect on the first few tries of Zen, but about 10-11 days in, that’s when it hit: a subtle sense of calm took hold for about 3-4 hours. It doesn’t hurt that Natural Stacks uses ashwagandha and L-theanine to enhance the calming effect.
The effect was a bit less pronounced during our Serotonin Brain Food trial, which may be attributed to the typically longer build-up time required to restore serotonin production (and/or our lack of deficiency).
Still, we suspect that the L-tryptophan and rhodiola rosea had a hand in eventually delivering the key benefit we noticed, which was stress relief.
It’s difficult to clearly gauge the benefits and potency of a non-psychoactive supplement, especially when you aren’t deficient in what the supplement offers, but we could tell in both cases that the ingredients actually work for stress relief and improvements in mood.
Natural Stacks FAQ
Is Natural Stacks FDA approved?
As part of the over-the-counter supplement category, Natural Stacks products are not subject to FDA approval.
Who owns Natural Stacks?
Roy Krebs is the Founder, CEO, and current owner of Natural Stacks.
What are the side effects of dopamine brain food?
As the Natural Stacks site explains, it is difficult to increase dopamine to unhealthy levels with the use of a supplement.
However, in the event that this does occur by whatever means, side effects can include anxiety, hyperactivity, increased libido, and/or irritation.
Natural Stacks is a nootropic supplement brand that spices up an already competitive market with highly targeted, stackable supplements.
As an open-source supplement company that tests every batch for safety and purity, Natural Stacks is the most transparent brand we’ve worked with.
The site is easy to use, and though there is some room for improvement in the customer service department, they provided our team with accurate and prompt responses.
You’ll pay a bit of a premium for Natural Stacks, but not much more than most other high-quality nootropic supplements—about 10-20% more than the average depending on the products you’re comparing.
Our team noticed improvements in stress and mood after sampling Natural Stacks products,
Natural Stacks earns an overall grade of A- in our review. We recommend their supplements to anyone looking for a brain boost.