Brain health supplements are a $3.2 billion industry but neurologists are warning against their use, claiming many Americans are being scammed and served false hope.
Learn more about the lack of evidence supporting brain health supplements and proven ways to support brain health.
Brain Health Supplements in the United States
Three neurologists from the University of California San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center expressed concern about the use of brain health supplements in an opinion piece in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).
The neurologists warned against “pseudomedicine” and “science,” stating that “No known dietary supplement prevents cognitive decline or dementia, yet supplements advertised as such are widely available and appear to gain legitimacy when sold by major U.S. retailers.”
The article goes on to say, “Some of these practitioners may stand to gain financially by promoting interventions that are not covered by insurance… These interventions lack a known mechanism for treating dementia and are costly, unregulated and potentially harmful.”
FDA Warns Against “Pseudoscience” Supplements
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning to both domestic and foreign companies that sell 58 products claiming to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease or other chronic health conditions. Their statement said, “These products may be ineffective, unsafe and could prevent a person from seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment.”
Dr. Joanna Hellmuth, one of the authors of the JAMA article, says that these companies are using fear to sell products. “If people really reflect, a lot of this is motivated by fear, which is understandable because these diseases are horrible, they’re frightening,” Hellmuth says. “They are diseases that alter your personality, who you are as an individual. So, understandably, people are driven by fear or compelled to want to do something.”
Not only are many of these brain health supplements not effective, but many are also actually dangerous. They are not reviewed by the FDA for efficacy or safety and not being able to verify what is in them can cause health issues and negative interactions with prescription drugs.
When it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s and promoting better brain health, Hellmuth suggests spending money and time on activities and exercise classes.
“The things we recommend are being cognitively active, physically active and socially active,” she continues. “For physically active, we follow the American Heart Association recommendations of two and half hours a week of vigorous cardiovascular exercise.”
She also recommends a heart-healthy diet, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and getting a high quality of sleep.
What steps have you taken to improve your brain health? We’d like to hear from you in the comments below.