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Can dietary supplements help stave off dementia? – Minneapolis Star Tribune

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Seeking to protect brain health? You can save hundreds of dollars a year and enhance the health of your brain and body by ignoring the myriad unproven claims for anti-dementia supplements and instead focusing on a lifestyle long linked to better mental and physical well-being.

How many of these purported brain boosters have you tried — Ginkgo biloba, coenzyme Q10, huperzine A, caprylic acid and coconut oil, coral calcium, among others? The Alzheimer’s Association says that, with the possible exception of omega-3 fatty acids, every one of these remedies tested thus far has been found wanting.

“No known dietary supplement prevents cognitive decline or dementia,” Dr. Joanna Hellmuth stated emphatically in JAMA in January. “Yet,” she added, “supplements advertised as such are widely available and appear to gain legitimacy when sold by major U.S. retailers.”

Hellmuth, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center, reminded consumers that supplement manufacturers do not have to test their products for effectiveness or safety. Lacking sound scientific backing, most are promoted by testimonials that appeal to people worried about developing dementia.

“It’s a confusing landscape. Lots of patients and families see bold claims in newspaper ads, on the internet and on late-night TV that various supplements can improve memory,” Hellmuth said.

Such statements are legal as long as the product is not claimed to prevent, treat or cure dementia or Alzheimer’s. But too often, people seeking an easy route to cognitive health assume incorrectly that anything said to support memory would ward off dementia.

Other claims abound

Of course, supplements are only one of several arms of the memory-enhancing industry. There are also myriad videos, games, puzzles, programs and what-have-you being marketed. This isn’t a problem if people have fun doing them and don’t substitute them for measures far more likely to reduce the risk or delay the onset of dementia.

Some of these products might even be helpful up to a point. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix reported in JAMA Neurology two years ago that older people who engage in mentally stimulating activities such as games, crafts and computer use have a lower risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, often a precursor to dementia.

The researchers, led by Dr. Yonas Geda, a psychiatrist and behavioral neurologist at Mayo, followed nearly 2,000 cognitively normal people 70 or older for an average of four years. After adjusting the results for sex, age and education level, they found that computer use decreased the participants’ risk of cognitive impairment by 30 percent, engaging in crafts decreased it by 28 percent, and playing games decreased it by 22 percent.

Geda said that those who performed such activities at least once or twice a week experienced less cognitive decline than those who did the same activities at most only three times a month. For the most part, however, playing brain-training games can make you better at the games themselves, but the benefits don’t necessarily translate into improved performance in other activities.

What really works to support brain health as you age? Start with the same foods that can help to keep your heart healthy: a Mediterranean-style diet replete with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, fish, low-fat dairy and olive oil. In a major study called MIND, seniors who adopted such a diet and limited their salt intake had a 35 percent lower risk for cognitive decline as they aged, and strict adherence to the diet cut the risk by more than 50 percent.

At the same time, avoid or strictly limit foods that can have toxic effects on the brain, such as red and especially processed meats, cheese and butter, fried foods, pastries, sugars and refined carbohydrates such as white rice and white bread, none of which is good for the heart, either.

Finally, don’t skimp on sleep, which gives the brain a chance to form new memories. Researchers suggest striving for seven to eight hours a night.

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"You're Just Peeing Out a Lot of Money." This Is the Real Way You're Flushing Your Retirement Savings Down the Drain – MONEY

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FDA Sends Warning Letters on Dietary Supplements – Wall Street Journal

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The FDA has sent warning letters to companies marketing dietary supplements.


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Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it sent warning letters to 11 companies for marketing dietary supplements that don’t meet its guidelines.

The agency issued warnings to three companies for marketing dietary supplements containing phenibut, which is sometimes sold as a sleep aid or to treat anxiety. It said that phenibut doesn’t meet the statutory definition of a dietary ingredient, which is generally a vitamin, herb or other natural substance used to supplement the diet. 

A Wall Street Journal article last week on the $40 billion supplement industry said that phenibut, developed as a drug in the former Soviet Union, was being marketed as a “nootropic,” or brain supplement, in the U.S. A spokeswoman for the FDA said that the agency was already investigating phenibut.

The FDA also issued warnings to eight companies for marketing dietary supplements containing DMHA, a stimulant sometimes found in exercise and weight-loss supplements. The companies have 15 business days to inform the FDA of steps they will take to bring their products into compliance. That could include a decision to recall, reformulate or discontinue sales.

Supplements aren’t tightly regulated by the FDA like prescription drugs. Dietary-supplement manufacturers don’t need approval from the FDA before introducing their products to the market. The FDA has oversight for taking action against any misbranded supplement after it reaches the market.

The FDA said it is launching a new online tool to help warn consumers of ingredients that appear to be unlawfully marketed in supplements. The agency said the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List will help get cautionary information to the public more quickly before it issues any final determination. It is on the FDA website, and consumers can also sign up to receive updates and changes to the list.

Write to Anne Marie Chaker at anne-marie.chaker@wsj.com

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New Tool Alerts Public to Unlawfully Marketed Dietary Supplement Ingredients – The Cardiology Advisor

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In an effort to better alert the public of unlawful ingredients in dietary supplements, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List, a new reference tool for consumers and manufacturers.

Available on the FDA website, the list includes ingredients that may not lawfully be included in dietary supplements. Consumers may wish to avoid supplements that include these ingredients as they may not fit the definition of a dietary ingredient or may require pre-market notification that was not submitted; inclusion in this list does not necessarily mean the ingredient poses a safety concern.

“It is important to note that the List is not exhaustive; it will always be a work in progress,” said Frank Yiannas, the FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response. “We expect the List will evolve as new ingredients are identified and others are removed.” In addition, the FDA will continue to communicate with the public regarding any safety concerns identified with new dietary supplement ingredients.

In a press statement, Yiannas also noted that the agency recently sent out warning letters to 8 companies that were marketing dietary supplements containing DMHA and 3 companies marketing supplements with phenibut; neither one of these currently meets the FDA’s definition of a lawful dietary ingredient. “We take these violations very seriously and stand ready to take enforcement action without further notice if the companies do not immediately cease distribution of the products,” said Yiannas. In February 2019, the FDA went after 17 companies selling unapproved and/or misbranded products (most sold as dietary supplements) claiming to prevent, treat, or cure Alzheimer disease and other serious disease and health conditions.

Consumers who wish to receive alerts related to updates to the Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List can sign up here.

For more information visit FDA.gov.

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This article originally appeared on MPR

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