Dietary supplements claiming to spice up mind well being are ‘too good to be true’, warn specialists

Dietary dietary supplements that declare to enhance mind well being in all probability don’t work and are a waste of cash for wholesome people, in keeping with a brand new Cochrane report.

Picture of omega-3 tablets - commonly thought to boost brain health and stave off dementia.Cozine | Shutterstock

A world group of medical doctors and professors forming the International Council on Mind Well being (GCBH) have warned that the tablets, powders and capsules that declare to enhance reminiscence, cognitive potential and even battle off dementia are “too good to be true.”

The GCBH members have as a substitute put collectively an inventory of ideas for retaining the mind wholesome, with food regimen known as the important thing issue.

“For most individuals, one of the best ways to get your vitamins for mind well being is from a nutritious diet,” the report stated.

The charity Age UK has backed the report and requested older folks to save lots of their cash and never purchase into the £1 billion-pound dietary supplements market.

The GCBH members have stated: “We don’t endorse any ingredient, product or complement formulation particularly for mind well being, except your well being care supplier has recognized that you’ve got a particular nutrient deficiency… Save your cash. Shopping for dietary supplements to learn your mind well being is probably going a waste of your cash.”

‘No convincing proof’

In accordance with estimates for the U.S., the so-called “reminiscence dietary supplements” market reached a price of $643m in 2015 and greater than one-quarter of these aged 50 plus take the dietary supplements within the hope of retaining their mind wholesome.

Nevertheless, the GCBH members say there’s at present little proof that these dietary supplements profit wholesome folks and that they might even be detrimental to well being.

There isn’t any convincing proof to suggest dietary dietary supplements for mind well being in wholesome older adults. Dietary supplements haven’t been demonstrated to delay the onset of dementia, nor can they stop, deal with or reverse Alzheimer’s illness or different neurological ailments that trigger dementia.”

Nevertheless, they do word that deficiency in sure vitamins akin to vitamin B12 do appear to be related to poor mind well being and cognitive issues and that in such circumstances, the dietary supplements may show helpful.

Within the UK, round one-fifth of individuals aged over 60 years are estimated to be B12-deficient. The specialists stress that it’s vital that individuals do ask their physician earlier than taking any dietary supplements and that getting vitamins by following a nutritious diet is preferable.

The present assessment seemed on the proof obtainable for varied completely different dietary supplements together with omega-Three fatty acids, B nutritional vitamins, Vitamin D, ginkgo biloba and coenzyme Q10.

The group looked for research from ALOIS, the Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Enchancment Group’s (CDCIG) specialised register, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Embase, and the WHO Portal/ICTRP from inception by means of to 26th January 2018.

Total, they included 28 research involving greater than 83,000 contributors.

They discovered that few of the dietary supplements had truly been assessed for his or her affect on mind well being. The place research had been carried out, that they had important limitations and offered little or combined proof that the dietary supplements can enhance mind operate or shield towards dementia.

“The massive downside is that this stuff are being marketed to folks as if they’ve proof,” says Linda Clare, CGBH member and professor of scientific psychology of growing older and dementia on the College of Exeter.

Main holes in earlier research

Some common limitations of the research have been that almost all contributors had been enrolled in research that didn’t primarily assess cognition, a baseline cognitive evaluation was typically lacking, and solely temporary cognitive assessments have been carried out at follow-up.

Only a few research seemed on the incidence of dementia and most research made little point out of antagonistic occasions or solely made very common statements about them. Solely ten research had imply follow-up intervals of greater than 5 years and solely two included sufferers with a imply age of lower than 60 years.

“We thought-about the knowledge of the proof behind virtually all outcomes to be reasonable or low,” writes the group.

The panel members suggest taking a sceptical view, saying that lots of the dietary supplements are marketed with exaggerated claims about their affect on psychological features. In addition they level out that such merchandise usually are not often subjected to the identical security and efficacy checks as medicines.

If it sounds too good to be true, it in all probability is. Beware if a complement claims to enhance mind well being or reminiscence, make you smarter, or treatment a mind illness. The GCBH encourages producers of dietary dietary supplements to conduct, assist and publish rigorous human research which might be independently reviewed by different scientists who can consider dietary supplements’ results on mind well being.”

David Smith, professor emeritus of pharmacology on the College of Oxford, added that, whereas the report has referred to as for extra high-quality analysis, there was a big downside with this: “the authorities and drug firms appear to be reluctant to assist such trials on nutritional vitamins, partly as a result of there is no such thing as a apparent monetary profit and since no patents might be filed.”

Within the meantime, specialists say there are various different measures folks can take to assist be certain that they keep sharp as they get older akin to sleeping properly, exercising, not smoking and retaining mentally stimulated and socially engaged.

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, concludes: “These eminent specialists have concluded it doesn’t do any good to take dietary supplements to advertise your mind well being in later life so our recommendation to older folks is to save lots of your cash and spend it on a nutritious diet, stuffed with scrumptious fruit and greens as a substitute.”


Stopping dementia: do vitamin and mineral dietary supplements have a job? (2019). Cochrane Press Launch.

Journal reference:

Rutjes, A. W. S, et al. (2018). Vitamin and mineral supplementation for sustaining cognitive operate in cognitively wholesome folks in mid and late life. Cochrane Database of Systematic Opinions.