FOCUSfactor has crammed a lot of vitamins in their memory supplements
There are no preservatives, artificial colorings and the likes in these memory supplements
The full ingredients list:
Vitamins A, C, D, E, B6, B12, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, biotin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, manganese, chromium, molybdenum, potassium, proprietary formula including: (diemethylaminoethanol (as DMAE bitartrate) L-glutamine, Bacopin® (Bacopa monnieri extract; leaf), L-pyroglutamic acid, phosphatidylserine, docosahexaenoic acid concentrate (15% DHA from fish body oil), choline (as choline bitartrate), inositol, N-acetyltyrosine, bilberry fruit standardized extract (25% anthocyanosides), gamma-aminobutyric acid, grape skin extract and Activin™, (grape seed extract), vinpocetine, Trace-Lyte™ electrolyte concentrate, huperzine A (extract of huperzia serrata; whole plant), boron (as boron citrate), and vanadium (as vanadyle sulfate).
Every now and then another article on memory supplements with B vitamins is published. For example, researchers from the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Aging (OPTIMA) recently found that the mild memory problems suffered by healthy people stop getting worse when they take memory supplements with B vitamins. Moreover, the brains of those who take the B-vitamin supplement appear to shrink at a significant lower rate than those in the placebo group.
These types of results have caused a flood of articles on the B vitamin family, and their stardom has resulted in a tsunami of companies offering memory supplements with the vitamins as the main ingredient. But some companies got, let’s say, a little bit too excited and overestimated the effects of B vitamins in their advertisements. In this post I will focus on the scientific evidence for the effects of B vitamins in memory supplements.
There are more than twenty different types of B vitamins, but who is who in the zoo? For memory, the main ones are B6 (pyridoxide), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (commonly cyanocobalamin in memory supplements). These were also the ingredients of the memory supplements in the OPTIMA-study.
Research: memory supplements with B vitamins slow brain shrinkage
Raised homocysteine, an amino acid in the brain, has been linked with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and a faster rate of brain shrinkage in the elderly. If homocysteine levels go up, an increased intake of B vitamins can bring these levels down – and slow brain shrinkage, as the OPTIMA-study shows. How reducing homocysteine exactly affects brain shrinkage is a topic of future scientific research.
One interesting finding in the OPTIMA-study was that if a person had a higher level homocysteine, he or she would benefit more from the memory supplements. In the people with more homocysteine the vitamins slowed brain shrinkage by 50 per cent. However, the memory supplements had no effect on the brains of people with healthy homocysteine levels.
What foods contain B-vitamins?
Vitamin B12 is found in meat and fish, while B9 and B6 can be found in asparagus, lentils and beans. Other good sources of B vitamins are spinach and other dark, leafy greens; broccoli, asparagus, strawberries, melons, leeks, soybeans and other citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits.
How much do you need?
The US Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adult males and females between 19 and 50 years is according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 1.3 mg Males over 50 years need 1.7 mg. while females in the same age category should take 1.5 mg. Pregnant women need more, 1.9 mg and lactating women 2 mg.
The subjects in the OPTIMA-study, who were all over 70 years, took three types of vitamin B (folic acid, B6 and B12) all in doses far in excess of the RDA: 0.8 mg of folic acid (twice the RDA), 0.5 mg of B12 (250 times the RDA) and 20 mg of B6 (12 times the RDA).
When should you consider taking memory supplements with B-vitamins?
Getting enough vitamin B12 can be tricky as you get older because you don’t absorb it as efficiently, says professor David Smith, who is also a co-author of the OPTIMA-study. “Vegetarians who don’t have any milk or fish are also likely to become deficient. I believe it makes sense for those groups to take a supplement,” says the professor.
Getting enough of the other vitamin B’s is not a problem if you eat reasonably well. However, according to professor Smith, ‘there is evidence that the elderly don’t eat the right food to keep their B vitamin levels up and it is likely that homocysteine rises naturally with age and at the same time we become less efficient at absorbing B vitamins from the diet’. So these people might benefit from memory supplements with B vitamins.
At the same time professor Smith warns that more experiments need to be done before it can be concluded that the memory supplements used in the study can slow or prevent Alzheimer’s. Professor Smith: “So I wouldn’t recommend that anyone getting a bit older and beginning to be worried about memory lapses should rush out and buy vitamin B supplements without seeing a doctor.”