“For support of healthier brain function, a sharper mind, and clearer thinking, try Prevagen for yourself today.”
That’s what ads on the evening network news programs claim.
The supplement contains a synthetic copy of a jellyfish protein that “our brains need for healthy function,” says Prevagen’s manufacturer, Quincy Bioscience.
However, the main evidence behind Prevagen’s “thinking” and “memory” claims is an unpublished company study done five years ago. It gave 218 people aged 40 to 91 who reported having mild memory problems either 10 mg of Prevagen or a placebo every day. After three months, according to Quincy, those taking Prevagen improved on four computer tasks: learning a path through a maze, remembering their way out of the maze, recalling a list of words, and remembering playing cards they had seen.
What the company doesn’t disclose in its ads or on its website: the placebo takers did just as well as the Prevagen takers on three of the four tasks. It apparently forgot about that detail.
We’ll wait until researchers without a financial interest in a positive outcome test the supplement.
“Lights up aging brains like a Christmas tree!” “Quickly restore focus, concentration, and even memory, to the levels they were as much as 10 to 15 years ago.”
That’s what a network of companies in Florida, California, and Washington have been claiming about Procera AVH pills in newspaper ads, infomercials, radio spots, and direct mail. From 2006 to 2014, the companies made $96 million selling the supplement, which contains the ingredients vinpocetine, huperzine A, and acetyl-L-carnitine. All are found in dozens of other “memory” pills.
Surprise! Procera has never been tested in people with memory complaints or “brain fog.” In the supplement’s one published study, 43 healthy middle-aged people who took Procera for a month scored no better on cognition and memory tests than 31 placebo takers.
Earlier in 2015, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission charged the companies with false advertising. The FTC obtained a $1.4 million settlement and the companies’ promise not to make memory or concentration claims without solid evidence.
They’re still selling Procera—this time as a “breakthrough brain supplement that supports brain health and cognitive function.” The cost of a three-month supply: $135. Unfortunately, structure-function claims like this don’t need evidence. Remember that.
Here’s the best advice we know for preserving your memory:
- Lose (or don’t gain) excess weight
- Exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day
- Eat a healthy diet
- Control blood pressure with diet, exercise, and, if necessary, medication
- Stay mentally and socially active
Sources: www.prevagen.com/research; Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association (JANA) 12: 1, 2009.