Prevagen is a dietary supplement which promises healthier brain function, a sharper mind and clearer thinking in otherwise healthy individuals. The supplement can make no claims to help Alzheimer’s or dementia; that would be illegal, for it is not a prescription drug. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act defines supplements as a category of food, and they are not approved by the FDA. Only in the U.S. can consumers buy Prevagen off drugstore shelves. People in Canada, Mexico, the UK and any other country can only obtain the supplement online, shipped from the States (superfoodly).
Prevagen was first introduced by Quincy Bioscience in 2007, but has lately generated a barrage of television commercials in the U.S. That in itself is curious because most companies producing dietary supplements have no budget for national ad campaigns (superfoodly). Quincy must have great expectations that all this advertising will pay off. It teases potential buyers with the claim that Prevagen’s active ingredient is a substance originally found in jellyfish, a rather strange and exotic source. This substance is apoaequorin, a protein in the fish which binds to the calcium in the water and makes the jellyfish glow. If Quincy were busy hauling jellyfish out of the ocean, that might justify the high price of Prevagen, but apoaequorin is now made synthetically in a lab (superfoodly).
On amazon, a website known for its low prices, a month’s supply of the supplement, 10 mg taken once daily, costs $33; the extra-strength, 20 mg, is $45 for 30 pills. Prevagen is obviously targeting the aging population, and many senior citizens live on a fixed income and struggle to pay for necessary prescriptions, much less a supplement that may or may not be beneficial. Even the positive reviews on amazon were rather lukewarm, and WebMD lists possible side effects of apoaequorin as headache, dizziness, nausea, anxiety, and heart or nervous system-related events; however, these have not been adequately evaluated by clinical research (WebMD).
Also according to WebMD, regulation of calcium in the brain is thought to play a role in age-related mental disease. Because apoaequorin is similar to human calcium-binding protein, it might help regulate the brain’s calcium and reduce memory loss and mental decline. But this is rather old science from some 30 years ago. Scientists today are leaning toward the theory that decline in cognitive functioning due to age is probably synaptic restructuring in the brain, although neuronal death and calcium regulation are still thought to be factors in Alzheimer’s disease (superfoodly).
There has been only one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on apoaequorin, the Madison Memory Study of 2016. It consisted of 218 volunteers aged 40 to 91 who had memory concerns but were healthy. They were divided into two groups, one receiving the placebo, and given a daily dose for 90 days. Verbal learning and functioning were tested before and after the trial. The study concluded, “The results imply possible utility for apoaequorin to reduce decline in cognitive function” (superfoodly).
I chose superfoodly as having the most complete information and WebMD because it simplified some of the concepts. Neither site had a definite opinion on the product. No website did.
Notice the wording of the results on apoaequorin: a lot of ifs and maybes. Many more clinical trials are needed to convince me of its effectiveness. In my opinion, nobody should waste their money on Prevagen until there is more conclusive clinical evidence that it works. I think Quincy is just trying to make money by preying on people’s fears of memory loss and aging.
- Amazon. Health and Household. Prevagen, 2017. Web. 30 March 2017. https:www. amazon.com/Prevagen-NEU-200-Apoaequorin-30-Count-Bottle/product-reviews/B000V9O04W
- Superfoodly. Prevagen Review: Is the Apoaequorin Ingredient Legit? Jan, 4. 2017. Web. 31 March 2017. https:www.superfoodly.com/prevagen-review-apoaequorin
- WebMD. Apoaequorin: Overview, 2017. Web. 31 March 2017. https: www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1486-apoaequorin.aspx?activeingredientname=apoaequorin