Can Dietary Supplements Enhance Mental Performance?

Memorise - Memory Power

We are, by now, aware that nutrition is important in order for your brain to process memory and function correctly. Metabolism is the key to mental performance. So, can all the dietary supplements on the market that say they can increase your memory really do what they say they can? We all could use a memory boost now and then, but can we find it in a pill?

Since the pharmaceutical industry on nutritional supplements is a booming multi-million dollar business they are going to continue to promote a pill to cure or improve the symptoms of any type of concern – including memory. But, do they work as they say?

According to some scientists they usually are not. Most of them are not absorbable in the body. If they are able to be absorbed usually they give you a initial shock and work great at the beginning, but lose their potency the longer you take them.

A study was conducted that sought to evaluate several widely marketed nonprescription supplements that claimed to be memory enhancers – phosphatidylserine (PS), phosphatidylcholine (PC), citicoline, piracetam, vinpocetine, acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC), and antioxidants (particularly vitamin E).

The results were:

  • PS failed to show any positive effects in humans, although they did in animals.
  • PC is believed to promote synthesis and connections important to memory, but has not shown to be effective in patients with Alzheimer’s.
  • Only one citicoline research project has been known of, and it did indicate an improvement in story recall for a small sampling of aging adults who tested lower than normal on baseline testing.
  • Piracetam tests suggest it could improve neuronal efficiency, and aid in the activity in neurotransmitter systems, and slow the decrease in receptors. However, in patients who already have Alzheimer’s, and those with age-related memory impairments, there is no clear-cut decision as to its value.
  • Vinpocetine does increase blood circulation — needed for brain function. It can reduce loss of neurons due to the decrease in blood flow. In tests involving older adults with memory problems, significant improvement in overall cognitive tests involving attention, concentration and memory was shown.

Animal studies show a reversal of age-related decline in neuron receptors from ALC. Patients with Alzheimer’s have, however, shown little progress on memory tests as opposed to the placebo group.

Antioxidants have been a very popular topic, and they do help neutralize the tissue-damage associated with free radicals, which are more prominent in aging adults. It is believed that increasing antioxidants may stop or reverse damage on neurons. Vitamin E, however, has not proven to have any effect on memory decline for Alzheimer’s patients or for Parkinson’s patients. The combination of Vitamins E and C has not tested out to verify the claim that college students’ memory performance has been enhanced either.

Out of the “brain-specific” nutrients reviewed in the three studies involved, some showed mild memory or cognitive enhancements. Researchers suggested, “Future evaluations of the possible memory benefits of these supplements might fruitfully focus on memory processes rather than on memory tests per se.”

This is Ron White,  two-time USA Memory Champion. Before you begin taking memory enhancing supplements, consult your physician or research the ingredients before taking them. The majority of them do not prove out in studies to have any real value, other than taking your money.

Memory Training


APA Psych Net:

WebMd — Fortifying Your Memory With Supplements:

SciVers – Nutrients that modify the speed of internal clock and memory storage processes:

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