The signs of memory loss can be bewildering and scary: misplaced keys, a forgotten street name, that task you suddenly can’t remember. It’s no wonder that according to the Nutrition Business Journal, sales of supplements touted as memory boosters nearly doubled between 2006 and 2015.
But according to a review of studies published this past December, there’s virtually no good evidence that such products can prevent or delay memory lapses, mild cognitive impairment, or dementia in older adults. In fact, says Pieter Cohen, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, some may do more harm than good.
What the Studies Reveal
One study published in The Lancet Neurology in 2012, for example, found that among 2,854 older adults with memory complaints, those who took ginkgo biloba extract twice a day for five years had no fewer cases of Alzheimer’s than those who took a placebo.
A Lack of Regulation
A 2017 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report analyzed hundreds of ads promoting memory-enhancing supplements online and identified 27 making what seemed to be illegal claims about treating or preventing diseases such as dementia.
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