I am writing a short article about memory supplements. I see you have written a book on the topic called Mind Boosters and have a strong background in supplements, so I was hoping you would have some time to answer a few questions.
Q. There are so many memory supplements on the market now. How would a man or woman start to sift through the options and find one that may benefit? Are there certain things you can suggest to look out for?
A. It is not possible to predict which nutrient, herb, or combination formula, will be effective until one takes the supplement for a few days or a couple of weeks. There are quite a number of supplements that are worth trying including acetyl l-carnitine, ginkgo biloba, DMAE, trimethylglycine, vinpocetine, fish oils, choline, cdp-choline, and bacopa monnieri. A popular combination formula is Mind Power Rx which has a small amount of more than a dozen brain nutrients and herbs. One option is to buy three of four of these supplements. Then, each morning, for a period of one week, take one capsule of a particular supplement. Next, take 3 or 4 days off and resume your experiment with a different supplement for a week. After you have experimented with each supplement you have purchased, you will have a better idea which one, or which ones, work for you. I am not aware of any other way to determine which product will be effective for any one person without actually trying it. Note: Some of these supplements are potent, so if you are over the age of 50, or are taking hormones, medications, or other supplements, discuss with your health care provider who may suggest you begin with half a capsule or a tablet rather than the full dose.
Q. I know some herbs, like ginkgo biloba, have a lot of research behind them in terms of being beneficial for improving blood flow to the brain and improving cognition in older subjects, but do you think it can be beneficial for a healthy man or woman in their 30s or 40s to take on an ongoing basis to prevent cognitive decline?
A. In my opinion, mind and memory supplements, such as ginkgo biloba and others, are best reserved for occasional use in those who are in their 30s and 40s. These supplements can be taken on days when one wishes to be more alert, focus better, and have more mental stamina. But I do not recommend non-stop daily use of these brain boosters for years or decades since we don't know the long term consequences. For more information, see www.raysahelian.com/memory.html