More than a quarter of adults in the United States age 50 and older take at least one supplement for brain-health reasons. Brain-health supplements generated $3 billion in sales globally in 2016 and are projected to reach $5.8 billion by 2023. Despite adults’ wide-spread use of brain-health supplements, there appears to be little reason for it.
There is a new report from the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), an independent collaborative of scientists, doctors, scholars and policy experts from all over the world brought together by AARP. After undertaking a review of of evidence on the efficacy and safety of brain-health supplements, the GCBH determined it could not endorse any ingredient, product or supplement formulation for brain health. Scientific evidence does not support the use of any supplement to prevent, slow, reverse, or stop cognitive decline or dementia , including Alzheimer’s Disease. The report concluded the best way to get nutrients for brain health is from a healthy diet.
For the handful of dietary supplements that have been well-researched, the results showed no brain health benefit in people with normal nutrient levels. It’s unclear whether people with nutritional deficiencies can benefit from taking a supplement because the research is inconclusive. Except for specific nutrients used to address an identified deficiency, there is little evidence to support the use of supplements to benefit the brain.
Significant concerns exist about the validity of claims made in advertisements and about the potential lack of safety and purity in some supplement products. Many ingredients used in brain health supplements are not generally reviewed for purity by government agencies before they are allowed to be sold. So, consumers should exercise a high degree of skepticism.