Does Prevagen Do Anything? |  

Does Prevagen Do Anything?

A concern of many of us family members who have a parent or blood relative with dementia is our own futures – whether we are more susceptible to contracting dementia through inheritance. I had begun paying more attention to the TV ads for Prevagen.

However, I have reconsidered after reading the following article, well documented, by Dr. Cheryl Achterberg who is a caregiver. With Dr. Achterberg’s permission I am sharing it with you today:

Does Prevagen do anything? According to the company, it is the #1 brain health or memory supplement on the market today. You can’t miss the advertising for it if you watch the evening news. Prevagen is made by Quincy Biosci in Wisconsin. It has been on the market for about ten years. Consumers have spent over $165 million dollars on it according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI).

Locally, it costs $59.99 for a 30-day supply of “Extra Strength.”

Prevagen is unique on the market. It is made of a protein extracted from jellyfish called apoaequorin. Jellyfish are not known as big-brained creatures, nor highly functioning creatures. There isn’t any science to suggest that this protein will hurt you, but there isn’t any good science that it will benefit you either, brain or otherwise.

What happens when you take Prevagen? The body does the job it always does when confronted with content in the stomach. It breaks down the stuff into its constituent parts. Simply put in this case, protein is broken into amino acids and some waste. That’s what digestion does. The body reassembles the amino acids it needs into human proteins for use when and where needed. So, you don’t have any beef, quinoa, or rhino protein anywhere in your body. You wouldn’t have any jellyfish protein either if you took Prevagen.



Prevagen is sold as a supplement, not a drug. The company gets away with their marketing claims because they do not mention any specific disease in their advertising.  This practice skirts the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) rules. In plain language, Quincy Biosci is not regulated. They say it helps with “mild memory loss,” thereby distancing themselves from any form of dementia. You suffer mild memory loss after a bad night’s sleep for instance. But that’s temporary! If you check out the official website below, the company lists an important caveat in fine print at the bottom: “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”  

Brain and memory health supplements, like Prevagen, have become such a lucrative market that a new category and name has been given to them. They are called nootropics.

There are two types of nootropics. One group is pharmaceutical. These are manufactured substances, usually combinations of different vitamins and stimulants. Some have a fatty acid thrown in. The other type is herbal. These are “natural” substances which are supposed to increase blood flow to the brain and/or decrease inflammation. Both types tend to be over-hyped with little science behind them.

For A Healthy Brain

The bottom line for a healthy brain is what is good for the heart, is good for the head too. Increasing blood flow to the brain is good. You can do that with a good cup of coffee. Decreasing blood flow to the brain is bad. You do that over time with a poor diet and lack of exercise. Certain nutrients, such as Vitamin D or Vitamin B12 will enhance brain function and brain health if you are deficient in them. Both vitamins are often low in older Americans. Ask your doctor; they are easy to check on a routine blood panel. You might also consider a fish oil supplement (for omega 3 fatty acids) and turmeric (as an anti-inflammatory). One caution: Too much of anything is bad.


If you are bound and determined to waste your money, there are literally hundreds of nootropic supplements on the market that are purported to enhance brain health or memory. I hope you don’t buy them. Each will take you for hundreds of dollars per year.


Dr. Achterberg is the dean of The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology.

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