Do memory-enhancers really work?
The one question on the tip of the tongue of anyone considering taking a mind-amplifying supplement is, predictably, also the one that is most difficult to answer.
Numerous studies have hinted at the potential brain-boosting benefits of each of the aforementioned ingredients. However, inconsistent research methods and conflicting results have merely served to confuse scientists and laymen alike.
Only a select few memory supplement ingredients appear to have a legitimately positive effect on people with age-related cognitive decline, according to Perlmutter. “Despite various media claims, very few of these components, with the exception of phosphatidylsterine and DHA, have a dramatic effect on memory,” he says.
He cites a 2010 investigation, called the MIDAS study, which indicated that a 900mg daily dose of DHA, given to healthy older adults (age 55 and older) could have a positive impact on memory function.
But what about people in their 80s and 90s, who are suffering from chronic diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s?
Researchers from the Oregon Health and Science University recently attempted to determine whether or not the promising effects of DHA in spry aging adults, could also benefit people in the mild or moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Unfortunately, DHA had no apparent effect on the seniors in the study, leading study authors to conclude, “There is no basis for recommending DHA supplementation for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.” They did, however, admit that further research was necessary to explore whether or not people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s could derive some benefit from DHA.
Could you benefit form a memory-boosting supplement?
Cognitively healthy adults may derive some benefit from memory-enhancing supplements, as Dench claims she does, but there’s no one-size-fits all approach to brain preservation.
No one should start taking a supplement of any kind without first talking to their doctor.
Perlmutter does recommend supplements to some of his patients. But, his suggestions always accompany a holistic approach to mental and physical health. “The cornerstone of our program focuses on a low-carbohydrate, high ‘good’ fat diet along with regular aerobic exercise,” he says.
Supplements can contribute to polypharmacy and cause dangerous drug interactions when mixed with prescription medications. They may also have a negative effect on individuals with certain health conditions.
Even after a physician gives the green light for you to try a new supplement, keep in mind that none of these products are regulated by the FDA. This means that it’s nearly impossible to determine how strong or safe a given product really is. This includes memory-boosters that are labeled as “all-natural,” such as Gingko biloba, ginseng and Chinese club moss.
Always exercise caution when adding a new supplement. And remember, if you have reservations, it’s always a good idea to seek a second opinion.