Memory-enhancing pills

Can a pill improve brain function and help prevent dementia?
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01.In brief

  • Studies indicate that the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA may decrease the risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, while the evidence for other ‘smart’ pills is less convincing.
  • Four of 20 fish oil supplements we tested had less than the suggested dietary target for omega-3 in the maximum daily dose, and another three didn’t meet the target for men. Instead of taking supplements, you can meet this target by eating two (oily) fish meals per week.

As you get older, particularly past 50, it can become harder to concentrate and it’s not unusual to feel that your mind isn’t as sharp as it once was. The prospect of getting more and more forgetful and eventually losing your marbles can cause significant worry.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just take a pill to jumpstart the brain, improve memory, and avoid heading down the slippery slope towards dementia? In fact, there are pills on the market that claim these benefits, and more. They can set you back anything from $10 to $70 a bottle. But do they work?

CHOICE reviewed the evidence for omega-3, ginko and brahmi supplements to find out whether the smart option would simply be to save your money.

Please note: this information was current as of July 2008 but is still a useful guide today.



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