What Experts Know and Don’t Know About Brain Supplements

WholisticResearch is in charge of pretty much everything you do, so it’s no surprise that more than a quarter of adults over 50 take at least one “brain health” supplement. And they’re not alone: Those supplements generate $3 billion in revenue annually. However, the evidence on brain supplements is sparse. Despite the hype, there’s little evidence that these products can prevent or slow cognitive decline or dementia. This article explores what experts know—and don’t know—about brain supplements and how you can best keep your mind sharp.

Brain supplements are often marketed to improve memory, focus and even reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other major mental health conditions. The most common ingredients include fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids), ginkgo biloba extract and vitamin E, a combination of tocotrienols and a-tocopherol that can be absorbed by the brain and help prevent oxidative stress.

From Memory to Focus: How Brain Supplements Can Enhance Your Mental Performance

These are all important nutrients that can have a positive impact on brain health, but you’re better off getting them from whole foods. If you do decide to take a brain supplement, look for those that are certified by third-party organizations like Consumer Lab or NSF International for quality and safety, and that contain the specific compounds backed by scientific research.

Aside from omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health, and folic acid, which is required to prevent birth defects, most supplements that are marketed to boost the brain don’t have significant research behind them. Instead, you should try to eat a healthy diet with lots of leafy greens and other nutrients that can give your body the fuel it needs to function optimally.

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