News Article Details

Report discourages supplements for brain health

Journal of Business - 8/27/2019

Physical, mental exercise, healthy diet recommended

AARP - The Global Council on Brain Health has released a new report that concludes dietary supplements don't improve brain health or prevent cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer's disease, and recommends that most consumers not take supplements for this purpose.

The GCBH reviewed the scientific evidence on various supplements and determined it can't endorse any ingredient, product or formulation designed for brain health. Instead, the council recommends a healthy diet as a way for most people to get the nutrients they need to benefit their brains.

The GCBH is an independent organization, created by AARP in collaboration with Age UK to provide trusted information on how consumers can maintain and improve their brain health.

"It's tempting to think you can pop a pill and prevent dementia - but the science says that doesn't work," says Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP senior vice president for policy and GCBH executive director.

"The good news is, we know what will help to keep your brain healthy - exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, challenging your thinking skills, and connecting with others," Lock urges. "Rather than buying a dietary supplement, spend your money on new walking shoes or a salmon dinner."

Many dietary supplements marketed to consumers as improving brain health have claims like "clinically shown to help with mild memory problems associated with aging" and "scientifically proven nutrients for a healthier brain."

While all medications sold in the U.S. are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, dietaiy supplements aren't considered medications - they can be sold without premarket review of their safety, efficacy, or truthfulness of their claims. Brain health supplements generated $3 billion in sales in 2016, and new research conducted by AARP found that 26 percent of adults age 50 and older in the U.S. take one or more supplements to improve or maintain their brain health.

The GCBH report highlights the following tips and recommendations:

*Discuss with your health provider any vitamins and supplements you are taking, and their possible risks, benefits and interactions. Your health provider might recommend a supplement if you are nutrient-deficient or are at risk of becoming so due to diet, lifestyle, or other health issues.

*Before taking a supplement, ask yourself whether you are getting enough nutrients through your diet or a multivitamin already. Check whether any claims about a products benefits are supported by high-quality research.

*More is not always better. Some vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients can be toxic at high levels.

*If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware if a supplement claims to improve brain health or memory, make you smarter, or cure a disease.

The GCBH report recommends that health providers routinely ask about patients' use of dietary supplements and evaluate patients for potential vitamin and mineral deficiencies. It includes summaries of the current scientific research on vitamins and selected supplements that are marketed for brain health.


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