After a another article questioning the safety and efficacy of supplements for memory loss was published recently https://www.wired.com/story/prevagen-made-millions-fda-questioned-safety/, I thought I'd repost this blog from a couple of years ago as a reminder to fully read and understand the research behind any supplements you may take for your memory or cognition.
On February 11, 2017 the FDA issued warning and advisory letters on 17 different companies claiming dietary supplements or unapproved new drugs helped treat or even cure Alzheimer's disease. Read the full press announcement here.
It seems as long as there has been an ailment, there has been someone there willing to sell you something for it. When there is no strong medical treatment or no cure for a disease, the allure of buying (and potential profit to be gained from selling) only seems to worsen.
We've posted before about evaluating research. While we currently do not know the ultimate usefulness of any of the supplements and dietary aids whose company's have been reprimanded in these FDA warnings, we'd like to help our readers educate themselves further about the latest supplement or product for sale that may help their memory loss.
First, look for research on the supplement or product outside what the company advertises, emails, or prints themselves. Sometimes big claims get based on little to no scientific backing. There may be a claim that "research shows" or "scientists have proven", but you find no scientist outside the one they hired at the company (or no one at all) has actually proven anything. Google the product and go to sites other than the seller's site. Try searchable websites for research studies such as Google Scholar or PubMed to read research articles first hand.
Second, see if the supplement you are considering or already taking is a subject of an FDA warning. If you explore the FDA link above, you will find they have search engines to help you look and see if a supplement or device you are interested in has been given a warning or an advisory letter has been posted.
Finally, if you want to know the latest in new medicines, supplements, or treatments for memory loss, go to a trusted site such as the MCI page on www.mayoclinic.org. Also, search the Alzheimer's Association's website. They regularly post about advances in research and the latest findings on alternative treatments.
Caveat emptor holds true in many aspects of life, and definitely when it comes to the latest craze in supplements to treat memory loss.
You may also be interested in this blog post: When medicines and supplements don’t mix