Dietary supplements for brain fitness are controversial. This is at least in part because of two important facts:
- Very little research shows that any supplement has a positive effect on brain fitness, and
- Many supplements are costly, and some may have negative side effects such as interactions with prescription medications.
The first fact means that it’s very hard to know whether any supplement measures up to the claims that some people at least make for it. The second means that you may have to make a substantial investment in something that may or may not help you, and that the makers of the supplements may have a lot of money to promote them.
Having said that, some dietary supplements have limited evidence to support their inclusion in a brain fitness program. Probably the best-supported supplement for heart health, omega-3 fish oils, is a likely candidate for brain health. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone get some omega-3 fish oils from their diet, and from supplements if they to lower their triglycerides.
Another supplement that has been touted as possibly effective in reducing your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease is curcumin. It’s a substance that occurs in turmeric, a common spice. Consumption of turmeric in some parts of India, some researchers have suggested, may account for low rates of Alzheimer’s disease in those areas. In one study with mice, those fed curcumin seemed to have a reversal of amyloid plaque formation in their (those are one of the key things that happen in the brain in Alzheimer’s).
Large scale studies have shown that people who get more antioxidants in their diet, and possibly those who take supplements of antioxidants like vitamins C and E, may have lower risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease. A group of researchers in New York have shown that people who follow the antioxidant-rich Mediterranean diet more closely have a lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
At the moment, these are our best guesses for supplements that may help maintain brain fitness. As interest increases in brain fitness, we may know more about these and other supplements.