Memory supplements come under scrutiny

Note: Some totals don't add to 100% due to rounding; Data: SurveyMonkey poll of 2,360 U.S. adults conducted May 5-8, 2019 with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. Poll methodology; Chart: Axios Visuals

Memory supplements claiming to ward off cognitive decline abound but there is so far little evidence they're effective.

The big picture: The business of memory supplements — from branded regimens to vitamins — pulled in $3.2 billion globally in 2016.

"People are willing to pay and do anything to preserve their brains ... but we don’t have the knowledge yet to give really effective interventions that change that trajectory as much as people think."
— Joanna Hellmuth, neurologist, University of California, San Francisco

"The problem is that a lot of the interventions being marketed directly to consumers don’t do rigorous studies of the outcomes," says Hellmuth, who recently wrote about the "rise of pseudomedicine" for brain health.

  • There are also questions about the safety of supplements, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The Food and Drug Administration recently cited 17 companies for illegally selling products "that claim to prevent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s disease and a number of other serious diseases and health conditions."

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