Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

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Limitless evidenceless trend: The growth of nootropic supplements

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The all-too-under­stand­able urge to buy a bet­ter brain (Vox):

… unfor­tu­nate­ly, Bradley Coop­er is part­ly to blame for the boom of the edi­ble brain-improve­ment indus­try.

In 2011, he starred in Lim­it­less, a movie about a man who takes a spe­cial pill and becomes smarter and more capa­ble than any­one else on Earth. I’m jok­ing about the cul­tur­al sig­nif­i­cance of this movie, but I’m also not. It was a wild card and an unex­pect­ed hit, and it main­streamed an idea that had already been tak­ing hold among Sil­i­con Val­ley bio­hack­ers and human opti­miza­tion zealots. Read the rest of this entry »

AARP: A majority of Americans believe dietary supplements improve brain health, despite the lack of evidence

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New Report Dis­cour­ages Adults From Using Brain Health Sup­ple­ments (Pre­ven­tion):

This morn­ing, the Glob­al Coun­sel on Brain Health released a report con­clud­ing that dietary sup­ple­ments do not improve brain health or pre­vent cog­ni­tive decline, demen­tia, or Alzheimer’s dis­ease. The report, released by the AARP, flat­ly rec­om­mends that most con­sumers do not take sup­ple­ments for this pur­pose. Read the rest of this entry »

The FDA cracks down on dozens of supplements claiming to prevent or cure Alzheimer’s Disease

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FDA takes action against 17 com­pa­nies for ille­gal­ly sell­ing prod­ucts claim­ing to treat Alzheimer’s dis­ease (US Food & Drug Admin­is­tra­tion):

The U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion today post­ed 12 warn­ing let­ters and 5 online advi­so­ry let­ters issued to for­eign and domes­tic com­pa­nies that are ille­gal­ly sell­ing more than 58 prod­ucts, many that are sold as dietary sup­ple­ments, which are unap­proved new drugs and/or mis­brand­ed drugs that claim to pre­vent, treat or cure Alzheimer’s dis­ease Read the rest of this entry »

Time to update the regulatory framework for cognitive enhancement–especially nootropics?

smart-drugs-nootropicsSeek­ing an edge, these brain hack­ers mix up risky chem­i­cal cock­tails for break­fast (Stat):

…A 31-year-old entre­pre­neur, Gutiér­rez has thrown him­self into the emerg­ing move­ment of body hack­ing — or, more pre­cise­ly, brain hack­ing. He’s a con­nois­seur of “nootrop­ics,” a broad cat­e­go­ry that includes phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs, dietary sup­ple­ments, and do-it-your­self con­coc­tions, all of them meant to turn the brain up a notch. Read the rest of this entry »

No effects of omega‑3 supplements on Alzheimer’s symptoms

The L.A. Times reports today the neg­a­tive results of the lat­est ran­dom­ized tri­al test­ing the effects of DHA sup­ple­ments on Alzheimer’s symp­toms (DHA is an omega‑3 fat­ty acid).

The study … exam­ined 402 peo­ple with mild to mod­er­ate Alzheimer’s. They were ran­dom­ly assigned to take 2 grams a day of omega‑3 cap­sules con­tain­ing docosa­hexaenoic acid (or DHA) or a place­bo cap­sule. The par­tic­i­pants were fol­lowed for 18 months, and their cog­ni­tive and func­tion­al abil­i­ties were reassessed. They also under­went MRI to look at the brain.

There was no ben­e­fit seen in the patients tak­ing omega‑3 fat­ty-acid sup­ple­ments in either brain vol­ume or cog­ni­tive func­tion.

Com­ments: Does this study mean that DHA or omega‑3 in gen­er­al are not good for the brain? No! This study sug­gests that tak­ing DHA sup­ple­ments after Alzheimer’s diag­no­sis is not help­ful. Pri­or evi­dence shows that omega‑3 con­sump­tion (espe­cial­ly DHA) long before the onset of Alzheimer’s symp­toms reduces the risk of devel­op­ing the dis­ease. Indeed, sev­er­al stud­ies have shown that eat­ing fish (the pri­ma­ry source in our diet of omega‑3 fat­ty acids) is asso­ci­at­ed with a reduced risk of cog­ni­tive decline or demen­tia.

The authors of the JAMA study also spec­u­late that DHA sup­ple­ments could be used as a treat­ment for peo­ple who have not yet been diag­nosed with Alzheimer’s but are already devel­op­ing demen­tia pathol­o­gy in their brain: “Indi­vid­u­als inter­me­di­ate between healthy aging and demen­tia, such as those with mild cog­ni­tive impair­ment, might derive ben­e­fit from DHA sup­ple­men­ta­tion, although fur­ther study will be nec­es­sary to test this hypoth­e­sis.” 

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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