The popular brain supplement, Prevagen, from Quincy Bioscience, LLC, claims to “help with mild memory loss associated with aging.” They also claim to be the number one selling memory support product in stores.
Contrast those statements with the FTC and the New York Attorney General’s office filing suit against Prevagen, claiming that they made false statements about their purported clinical evidence in their advertising.
The same commercials continue to run to this day, featuring the somewhat creepy jellyfish graphics, where the active ingredient, apoaequorin, was initially found. So, what’s fact? What’s fiction? Does the product really work? What claims can we believe?
I was able to validate one claim and reasonably emphatically. In preparation for this review, I consulted with an associate who is a Category Manager for a multi-unit, regional chain of nutrition stores. Not only was Prevagen the number one selling memory support product. Prevagen was the number one selling nationally branded item in their entire system!
I also tried the product personally for about sixty days. I found no discernible increase in cognitive skills or any improvement in memory. But then, I haven’t experienced any age-related memory loss yet. Now, where were we? Oh yes, the Prevagen review!
What is Prevagen
To quote Quincy’s website:
Prevagen is a dietary supplement that has been clinically shown to help with mild memory loss associated with aging. Prevagen contains apoaequorin (pronounced ‘a-po-ah-kwor-in’), which is safe and uniquely supports brain function. Prevagen is available over-the-counter, without the need for a prescription and is available at stores everywhere.
The product comes in six varieties:
- Regular Strength
- Extra Strength
- Extra Strength Chewables
- Professional Strength
- Regular Strength 60 Capsules
Regular Strength and Regular Strength Chewables come in a 10 mg dose. Extra Strength varieties double the dosage to 20 mg, and Professional Strength doubles that to 40 mg.
All products, except the Regular Strength 60 Capsule, provide a thirty-day supply, based on the recommended one capsule per day.
Prevagen’s Key Ingredient – Apoaequorin
Apoaequorin is a protein isolated from the jellyfish Aequorea Victoria, better known as the “crystal jellyfish,” found off the West Coast of North America. Although originally found in the Aequorea Victoria, the ingredient today is made via a controlled scientific process.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, apoaequorin demonstrated the ability to improve aspects of cognitive function over 90 days in participants with either normal cognitive aging or very mild impairment. In safety studies, the ingredient showed no adverse effects when taken orally.
The debate regarding efficacy continues to rage as apoaequorin has a chemical structure that is likely broken down in the gut before reaching the brain.
Purported Benefits of Prevagen
The most commonly reported benefits of Prevagen are related to improvements in mild memory loss associated with aging. Other benefits include:
- Healthy Brain Function
- A Sharper Mind
- Clearer Thinking
Prevagen recommends usage for 90 days to fully gauge the product’s effectiveness. Perhaps I should have continued my personal test for another month.
Does Prevagen Actually Perform – the Claims versus the Reality
We’ve quoted the product’s website and its clinical studies; “Prevagen has been clinically shown to help with mild memory loss associated with aging.” Based on sales data, the product obviously has a very loyal following, who believe in the product’s effectiveness.
On one of Prevagen’s websites, they feature Prevageneration, a landing page which lists numerous testimonials from loyal users who extoll the virtue of the product and how it has improved their cognitive abilities.
WebMD seems to be on the fence about the active ingredient in Prevagen, apoaequorin. Their research shows the ingredient has a similar structure to human calcium-binding proteins, and believe it might help regulate calcium in the brain and reduce memory loss and mental decline.
For a different point of view, see the quote below from a scathing blog in Berkeley Wellness from the University of California:
“Bottom line: Prevagen is a poster child for unproven memory supplements and the marketers who use faulty science or pseudoscience to target people worried about their memory. Whether they contain vitamins, minerals, herbs, or a laundry list of “miracle” ingredients, memory supplements are not supported by solid clinical evidence. Save your money.”
As with any natural supplement, one must consider the impact of Big Pharma on adverse publicity. If it were up to them, every supplement would need to be FDA certified. And, one must read through the other negative reviews online to determine if they are genuinely an unbiased consumer review group, or a competitive supplement simply attempting to convert users.
Potential Side Effects of Prevagen
Contrary to Prevagen’s Safety Studies, some users did complain of headaches, dizziness, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and nausea. One site, BrainReference.com sited a small number of more severe side effects reported such as chest pain, seizures, tremors, and fainting.
The Competition – Other Popular Cognition and Nootropic Products
There are many competitive products in the cognition category, both supplements, and prescription drugs. In fact, in the past several years, we have seen the development of an almost entirely new category of brain/cognition products, nootropics.
For our purposes, we’ll restrict this analysis to supplements, and only those from an established company using certified GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) manufacturing facilities:
- Alpha Brain, Onnit Labs
- Cognium, Natrol
- Higher Mind, Source Naturals
- Lifeshield Mind, New Chapter
Best Places to Buy Prevagen
Prevagen no doubt has the most robust distribution base of any product in the category. It can be purchased through its own website as well as the GNC website. On GNC you can get a 30 capsule serving bottle for $39.99. They also offer an additional 10% off and free shipping if you sign up for their auto-delivery system.
Prevagen may also be purchased online at Amazon and other e-tailers. In brick and mortar, the Product is available in virtually every Food, Drug, Mass Merchandiser and Specialty outlet in the U.S.
Quincy Bioscience does an admirable job of policing their pricing policy so that online prices, theirs and Amazon’s are similar to those in stores:
- Regular Strength – $39.95
- Chewables – $39.95
- Extra Strength – $59.95
- Extra Strength Chewables – $59.95
- Professional Strength – $89.95
- Regular Strength 60 Capsules – $74.95
If you are experiencing an age-related cognitive decline or memory loss, we believe there is sufficient evidence to try Prevagen. As with any diet or supplement product, we suggest you consult with your health professional before starting to use the product.
Other Quincy Bioscience Products
Quincy Bioscience is a biotechnology company based in Madison, Wisconsin focused on the discovery and development of novel technologies to support cognitive function and other normal health challenges such as mild memory loss associated with aging.
The only other product available from Quincy is NeuroShake, a whey protein drink which includes their apoaequorin ingredient.