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Here’s why you may want to stop looking for a miracle pill to improve your focus and memory.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could just pop a pill to increase focus, improve memory and sharpen our brains? There are many supplement companies that claim that their products do just that, but do they actually work?

The Low-Down on Brain Health Supplements

While it would be a revolutionary breakthrough if there was a way to consistently boost brain function, the fact is that there is still little known about how to make that happen. Some ingredients in supplements may help some people focus better or improve their memory, but there is not enough evidence to prove that they really do what they say they can do. That’s because supplement manufacturers are allowed to make claims that haven’t been proven with clinical research.

Supplements are not regulated or approved by the FDA, so there’s no way to know if they are effective, or even safe. Since the FDA doesn’t test supplements, the organization may only take action against a supplement manufacturer if they believe a product is unsafe or violates a law. Even if that occurs, the FDA may only do something if it has the available resources to do so. This means that at best a brain-enhancing supplement may be ineffective, but it may even be dangerous.

Despite the fact that there’s no way to prove that any supplement does what its marketing claims say it can do, it is estimated that about one-quarter of adults over age 50 take a supplement intended to sharpen their focus, enhance their memory and improve their brain function.

Supplements marketed as promoting better brain function may include a wide variety of ingredients, including Ginkgo biloba, L-theanine, omega-3 fatty acids, choline, vitamin E, various B vitamins and caffeine, among others. But there are no significant research studies to back up any claims made for enhancing brain function from these ingredients.

A Better Way to Sharpen Your Brain

Instead of relying on supplements to sharpen your brain, why not take a few steps that have actually been shown to improve focus, memory and concentration? These include:

  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Getting enough sleep

You may think “Aren’t these the same things that wind up on every list when it comes to improving some aspect of health?” The answer is yes, they are. But these healthy habits are some of the best ways to actually improve brain function and keep your brain healthier as you age. Other things you can do to maximize brain health include keeping your mind active, staying socially connected and managing stress.

While it may be easier to take a pill than to make lasting lifestyle changes, you’ll be doing something good for your brain both now and in the future if you invest in these healthy habits. They not only help keep your brain healthier but are the best way to enhance nearly every aspect of your health.


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Date Last Reviewed: October 16, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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