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In many of our day-to-day lives, we’re in constant pursuit of bettering ourselves and figuring out how to reach our highest potential. Many people look for a cognitive boost, ways to keep their brains sharp, or to ease stress and improve sleep, and for those folks, nootropics are a no-brainer (pun intended).
Nootropics are substances that work to improve memory, increase mental alertness and concentration, and may also boost energy levels and promote a general sense of being awake and aware. And while there are plenty of natural options available, L-theanine (and Suntheanine) tend to be some of the most popular options today.
If you’ve ever been curious about adding L-theanine into your wellness routine and find yourself stuck between L-theanine and the proprietary version of L-theanine, Suntheanine, you are not alone!
- Suntheanine is simply a branded and patented form of L-theanine, using a different production method to produce the compound. It’s often marketed as a more potent and pure form of L-theanine, though research typically shows similar benefits when comparing it to high-quality L-theanine.
What is L-Theanine?
If you’ve ever had a cup of green tea, then you’ve already had some experience with L-theanine. This nootropic amino acid is found primarily in green tea, as the key bioactive compound in the tea leaves, but it is also found in black teas and certain mushrooms. You can also find it in smaller amounts in a number of different foods.
It’s part of the reason that drinking green tea often leads to a calming, stress-relieving effect and also provides the distinct umami flavor that comes with it. However, the amount you get from tea in a single day is generally not enough to make a noticeable difference in cognitive performance and anxiety levels, so theanine supplements are often encouraged for those looking to fully reap the benefits of this amino acid.
Research has found that L-theanine may promote a wide array of mental health benefits, namely focused in stress relief and enhancing cognitive processes. Taking L-theanine may help to elevate your levels of GABA, dopamine, and serotonin, which in turn can help to reduce anxiety levels, improve sleep, and promote a greater sense of relaxation. Research also shows that it’s effective at reducing physiological stress responses.
Additionally, studies have shown that combining L-theanine with caffeine shows an improvement in short-term sustained attention and overall cognition and that the combination shows “favorable clinical significance” in relation to attention, memory, cognition, and hyperactivity. Even without caffeine, research has shown that consistently adding L-theanine to your routine may improve working memory and executive function.
What is Suntheanine?
Suntheanine is said to be a purer form of L-theanine, branded and patented, made using a different production process. Suntheanine is often touted to be more bioavailable and potent than other forms of L-theanine.
According to Taiyo, which originally created and manufactured Suntheanine, it’s produced using a natural fermentation technique replicating how L-theanine is formed in tea leaves. This form of L-theanine is often marketed as a more potent form of the original amino acid, though the available research outside of the manufacturer doesn’t appear to support these claims.
Ultimately, Suntheanine carries most of the same benefits of L-theanine in identical doses. It works to enhance cognitive performance, support and promote brain health, and similarly increases alpha brain waves, leading to those highly sought-after calm, focused feelings.
L-Theanine vs. Suntheanine: What are the Differences?
So, is there really a difference between L-theanine and Suntheanine? Ultimately, these two compounds are one in the same. They both lead to the same benefits, supporting brain health, reducing stress levels, promoting focus, and enhancing mood. The primary distinction between the two lies in the production method.
L-theanine is a natural compound consumers can enjoy through teas and specific foods or through supplements. Suntheanine may be a more concentrated equivalent, but no research supports that claim.
Though there are also other factors to take into account, like cost — namely, Suntheanine is likely to run a bit more expensive overall due to its production method.
Which is Better, L-Theanine or Suntheanine?
This is a tough question to answer, and candidly, you will find a number of different answers across the internet claiming that one or the other is the superior choice.
The Suntheanine website suggests an optimal ratio of 2:1 for Suntheanine to caffeine to minimize side effects and maximize the compound’s benefits. However, this is the same ratio that research has suggested is optimal for L-theanine, suggesting that the two share similar potency.
When it comes to L-theanine, more research is needed, but the available studies outnumber those surrounding Suntheanine. While there are plenty of claims surrounding the greater potential of Suntheanine over L-theanine, the research isn’t there to back up these claims. The research comparing the two compounds reports similar results.
Ultimately, it’s up to the consumer to decide if one or the other works better for them. The benefits of L-theanine are backed by a number of independent and verifiable sources, and it’s a natural compound. Generally, you know what you’re getting with L-theanine and you’ll end up paying less for it.
Until there is more substantial evidence proving that Suntheanine offers greater benefits to consumers, L-theanine, in our opinion, seems like the better choice.
L-theanine and Suntheanine are the same compound, though L-theanine is a natural and more thoroughly researched option, leaving many consumers with a greater sense of comfort in adding it to their wellness routines. If and when we collectively see more concrete evidence around the distinct benefits of Suntheanine, perhaps there will be a collective shift toward this option. But until then, we say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
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