These brain supplements sell, but do they work? Read on to see if you should be concerned about their safety and effectiveness.
As with any type of product you buy, there are usually a few excellent ones, tons of mediocre ones, and some downright horrible ones.
The same is true with brain and memory supplements.
When I learn about a brain supplement that’s becoming popular, I check it out.
When I find an excellent product that meets the criteria of a good supplement, I share it with my readers.
And when I find a heavily marketed product that gets my “scam-o-meter” going, I’ll warn you about that, too.
I have some serious reservations about these three popular brain supplements — AlphaBrain, Focus Factor, and Prevagen.
Since I have the biggest bone to pick with Prevagen, let’s start there.
Prevagen by Quincy Bioscience
Important Update! On January 21, 2015, a class action suit was filed against the manufacturer of Prevagen — Quincy Bioscience. If you are considering taking this product, I urge you to keep reading.
This is not my original Prevagen review.
The company behind Prevagen — Quincy Bioscience — demanded we take down our unfavorable review of this brain supplement.
So while I’m not at liberty to express my opinion about this brain supplement, at least for now I can link to the class action suit, and what a lawyer, a news reporter, and the FDA have published online about this product and company.
According to the National Council Against Health Fraud, here are the complaints charged against Quincy BioScience:
- The product cannot work as advertised because its only purported active ingredient, apoaequorin (a protein), is completely destroyed by the digestive system and transformed into common amino acids no different than those derived from other common food products.
- The amount of amino acids Prevagen adds to the user’s intake are trivial in comparison to normal dietary intake.
- Claims that clinical tests demonstrate that Prevagen will improve memory and support healthy brain function, sharper mind, and clearer thinking are false.
- Studies touted in Prevagen’s marketing campaign “if they exist at all, are, on their face, so seriously flawed that they demonstrate nothing regarding Prevagen.”
If you wish to see the original complaint, you can download it as a PDF here.
Here are the other links I mentioned.
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They discuss Prevagen side effects, the company’s violation of FDA rules and regulations, and other important information that you may want to know before you decide whether to try this brain supplement.
FDA Issues Warning About So-Called Brain Supplement Prevagen by Robert Jenner, Attorney
The FDA looks into Quincy Bioscience’s claims for Prevagen by Marc Eisen, reporter at The Daily Page
Alpha Brain by Onnit Labs
You can tell a lot about a company, its products, and philosophy from its website.
Clearly, Onnit Labs, the company behind Alpha Brain, is trying to reach a customer base that is young, male, and frankly, a little crazy.
And they have succeeded. This company has a near cult-like following.
Joe Rogan, host of Fear Factor, is an Onnit spokesman.
Fear Factor is a reality show where contestants see who can last the longest in a tear gas chamber or in a tub of snakes.
Another spokesperson is Bode Miller, the controversial, erratic and reckless champion skier who has admitting to racing while drunk.
Alpha Brain claims to increase creativity, memory, and promote lucid dreaming, so you can learn how to control your dreams.
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You’ll see the phrase “Complete Balanced Nootropic” on the product label.
Sounds impressive. But what does that mean?
Nootropic is a word originally coined to refer to memory enhancing drugs, but is also used with supplements to give the impression of enhancement benefits.
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But there is no regulation of the use of this term. It is a marketing ploy that has no real meaning.
What about the product ingredients?
While it contains several brain supplements that are known to be helpful for the brain, such as Alpha GPC, Bacopa monnieri, Huperzine A, and l-tyrosine, these are ingredients that can easily be found in other brain supplements created by companies with a more serious-minded approach.
After all, it is your brain that’s at stake here!
Unless this sounds like your scene, I would recommend finding a memory supplement that’s been proven safe and effective … without all the crazy.
Focus Factor by Factor Nutrition Labs
Google “Focus Factor” and you’ll find they have no website.
Same goes for the manufacturer — Factor Nutrition Labs.
Visit Focus Factor’s Facebook page and you’ll see that it claims to be “American’s #1 Brain Supplement.”
With no website? Hmm, I have my doubts.
Do a little more digging and you’ll discover that the manufacturer of Focus Factor was fined $1 million by the Federal Trade Commission for making false claims about this product’s effectiveness. (1)
This brain supplement takes the shotgun approach and puts a little bit of everything in this product — some vitamins, minerals, herbs, amino acids, and omega-3 fatty acids.
✓Nitrofocus | Audio program uses brainwave technology to train the brain for increased focus and productivity
This is known as “fairy dusting” in the supplement industry.
This means there’s enough of an ingredient to be on the label — but not enough to actually provide any therapeutic benefit.
Warning: This supplement contains iron. Unless you have been told to take iron by your doctor, men and post-menopausal women should not take supplements with iron.
One bottle contains 60 pills. The recommended dosage is to start with 4 pills per day and work up to 8.
At this rate, a bottle will last only for 1 to 2 weeks.
Consumer Reports says this supplement can cost you upwards of $80 per month — not the bargain it initially appears to be. (2)
When buying supplements, quality matters. I personally wouldn’t trust my brain to one with all of these red flag warnings against it.
Before You Take a Brain Supplement
Brain supplements have become a big business. Don’t fall for the hype just because they are marketed well!
Learn which brain supplements have solid science backing them and are a good use of your time and money.
Read about neurotransmitter balance here to discover which “brain type” you are and how certain supplements can help restore balance to your brain chemistry.
Taking the wrong ingredients can actually make your brain problems worse.