Update 5/18/20. Focus Factor is touted as being “America's #1 Brain Health Supplement. Most of us have probably seen it advertised on TV and in stores. In this Focus Factor review, we'll look specifically at the main ingredients in this supplement and the evidence for each as they pertain to memory and dementia. By the end of this review, you have a better understanding of Focus Factor and if it might be right for you.
Focus Factor Ingredients
According to FocusFactor.com, Focus Factor contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, but I'm not going to cover those because I don't feel they contribute to memory in those who take a multivitamin or eat even remotely healthy. Rather, let's focus on the key ingredients that are highlighted on the product Info page of the website. Those ingredients are as follows:
- Vitamin B-12 and B-6
- Vitamin D-3
These are some of the ingredients in the Focus Factor proprietary formula. 4 tablets of Focus Factor contains 692 mg of this proprietary formula.
Focus Factor Clinical Research
There is at least 1 clinical study on Focus Factor. This study involved 96 healthy adults (18-65 years of age. The average age was 49), and lasted 6 weeks. Of those, 89 completed the study. This study was designed to evaluate the effects of Focus Factor on memory, concentration, and focus vs. placebo in healthy adults.
Results showed that Focus Factor “improved abilities referred to as memory, concentration, and focus in healthy adults.”
This study is likely why the company makes the claim shown on the bottle that Focus Factor “is clinically shown to improve memory, concentration, and focus.”
Issues With The Study
1. The study does not appear to be published.
2. The study used “healthy” people. There is no mention as to whether the people had any type of memory impairment. This is important because a study of healthy people does not really tell much about how Focus Factor would work in someone with dementia for example.
Focus Factor Ingredients Research
There are many ingredients in this supplement. Here is a brief review of the main ingredients highlighted on the Focus Factor website.
Also called Dimethylaminoethanol. Some studies call it “Deanol.” So, does it help memory? Searching for clinical databases for:
- DMAE memory
- DMAE brain
- Deanol memory
- Dimethylaminoethanol memory
Revealed these investigations:
One investigation noted DMEA did not help memory in people with senility. This was a small study of only 14 people that lasted for 4 weeks. The study used up to 1800 mg of DMAE, which is almost 3 times the amount in the Focus Factor proprietary blend (4 tablets have 692 mg).
In another study, researchers noted DMAE had no effects on those with Alzheimer's disease. This was a small study of only 27 people. Ironically, researchers observed that DMAE resulted in more confusion, “retardation,” drowsiness, and a mild increase in blood pressure.
Other researchers looking at whether DMEA helped ADHD, found it might have a “small effect”. More research is needed.
In one investigation, researchers observed phosphatidylcholine did not help brain functioning when it was given to pregnant women
Interestingly, other researchers noted that it might help memory in college students when they used a lot of it – 25 grams. That's about 1 ounce. This much more phosphatidylcholine than Focus Factor contains.
This is one of the fish oils. The scientific name is Docosahexaenoic acid. So what effect does DHA have on memory?
Well, when DHA was given to healthy people (1.16 grams per day) for 6 months, it improved memory and reaction time. This is more DHA than found in Focus Factor.
In another study, researchers gave school children 80 mg of EPA and 420 mg of DHA for 8.5 months. Unfortunately, the fish oil supplements did not improve memory, although iron supplements did help memory in those kids who were deficient in iron to begin with.
Vitamin B 12 and B6
Vitamin B12 does many good things and its possible some people may be deficient. Those at risk of deficient in vitamin B12 include
- older adults
- those who can't absorb B12
For older folks, they may be at risk of B12 deficiency for reasons such as:
- inability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods
- reduced appetite (less food means fewer B12 consumed)
- loss of teeth
- Some medications may deplete B12 levels
All these things can lead to anemia and a lack of energy levels.
Does B12 Help Memory?
Vitamin B12 deficiency may lead to memory problems. So I can understand why a memory supplement like Focus Factor would contain this nutrient. The issue though is if older folks can absorb B12. Some might not be able to. This is why doctors might give vitamin B12
But, since older adults may have a reduced ability to absorb this vitamin, I wonder how much taking it orally would help? This reduced absorption is one reason why doctors give older adults a shot of vitamin B12.
Does Vitamin B6 Help Memory?
While there is little research on B6 helping memory, it probably can't hurt especially in those who are not eating well. Both B6 and B12 can lower homocysteine levels.
Some research has noted some older adults with low B6 and B12 levels had more depression and reduced attention span. There is also some evidence that people who get more vitamin B6 may have lower rates of Alzheimer's but this doesn’t necessarily prove that B6 and Alzheimer's are linked.
This is also called cholecalciferol and it’s the type of vitamin D that we make when we go outside in the sun. The other type is called vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol). Studies show many older adults are deficient in vitamin D and low levels of vitamin D appear to be associated with memory problems. The amount of Vitamin D in Focus Factor is only 100 IU which is less than the RDA (600 IU)
Its possible huperzine may be one of the key ingredients in Focus Factor. Also, called Huperzine A, this is a compound derived from a type of moss (Huperzia Serrata). There is memory research on this ingredient. For example, in this small study huperzine (100 micrograms per day) was found to improve memory in adolescents.
In another study, 200 micrograms of huperzine per day was found to improve memory in a small group of people with Alzheimer's disease. Similar positive findings have also noted another study of Alzheimer's disease too.
In a review of huperzine studies, researchers pointed out that while many studies appeared to have problems, huperzine seemed to offer some benefit to those with Alzheimer's disease.
See the review of the Procera AVH Review.
This is probably another key ingredient in Focus Factor. Bacopa is an herb from India. It's also called Brahmi. Its scientific name is Bacopa monnieri. So, whats the memory research on Bacopa?
When researchers gave 300 mg of bacopa a day to healthy people, they observed it improved learning after 12 weeks of use. Other investigators found bacopa seemed to reduce our forgetting of new information. Basically, this means memory is enhanced.
When other researchers gave 300 mg of bacopa (or placebo) was given to older adults for 12 weeks, they also showed it helped memory. This particular study used a supplement called BacoMind.
The ability of bacopa to improve memory may be due to its anti-inflammation effects in the brain.
The product used in this study was called BacoMind, a product of an Indian company called Natural Remedies Pvt. Ltd.
At least one report has noted Bacopa may help some people with schizophrenia. Various lab rat studies also appear to show some benefits on memory as well.
For more insights on bacopa see these reviews:
This is basically two vitamin A molecules stuck together. It's also an antioxidant. Evidence it helps memory in humans cannot be located. I do believe people should eat more fruits and vegetables because foods supply a more broad-spectrum antioxidant protection than individual ingredients isolated from these foods would.
After looking at the ingredients list, I noticed a few other things that I thought were worth mentioning.
This is a synthetic compound that chemically looks like a phytochemical called apovincaine (also called vincamine) found in the Periwinkle plant (Vinca minor). Cavinton, is a vinpocetine-drug sold in Germany used to improve blood flow to the brain. It turns out that vinpocetine has been tested for improving memory.
Here is a summary of the research:
In one study of people with low blood flow to the brain, people 5mg -10 mg of vinpocetine, improved brain test scores more than those who received a placebo. In another study, people with dementia improved better on memory tests after taking vinpocetine for 16 weeks compared to those who took a placebo.
Other researchers observed that vinpocetine improved the quality of life in people after 18 months of use.
This is often called GABA. In the body, GABA is used as a neurotransmitter ―a chemical the brain uses to send information. GABA might play a role in reducing blood pressure. In theory, reducing blood pressure might reduce damage to blood vessels and help memory.
GABA may also help us form memories too.
Grape Seed Extract
Focus Factor uses a specific type of grape seed extract called Activin, a product of San Joaquin Valley Concentrates. This company, in turn, is owned by Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery. Basically the company leases their product Activin out to other companies which use Activin in their products.
There is some research on Activin. In research studies, it's called IH636. According to the research, Activin might:
Extracts of grape seeds – called proanthocyanidins – are antioxidants and this may explain some of its effects, or it may be more complicated than this. Does grape seed extract have an effect on memory? It's difficult to say.
Ingredients With The Most Evidence
Below are the ingredients in Focus Factor that I feel most of the human evidence as it pertains to memory.
Of these 3 ingredients, I believe Huperzine and Bacopa have the most human evidence.
So, for those who want to check them out:
And of these, I think bacopa is the safest.
Focus Factor And ADD
Does Focus Factor help ADD or ADHD? Human clinical studies cannot be located.
Who Makes Focus Factor?
The company is called Factor Nutrition Labs LLC. The company is located at 865 Spring Street Westbrook, Maine 04092. The actual company behind the supplement is Douglas Labs. Douglas Labs makes various nutritional supplements.
Focus Factor customer service: 800-825-1423.
The BBB also lists 207 321-2300 as another contact number.
According to the Better Business Bureau file, gave Focus Nutrition an A+ rating when this review was updated. See the BBB file for more information and updates.
Contact Focus Factor
Customer service: 800-825-1423.
Focus Factor Side Effects
I'm not aware of any bad side effects of Focus Factor. For healthy people its probably ok to use. For those who are not “healthy” here is a list of things to consider when taking this supplement. This list is not complete.
- Start with less than recommended for the first week
- Speak to your doctor if pregnant/breastfeeding or take any medications
- Stop taking focus factor at least 2 weeks before having surgery
- There may be interactions with other supplements or medications you take
Huperzine may be bad for people with epilepsy, heart disease, ulcers, asthma, and emphysema to name a few. Since huperzine may slow heart rate, it's possible it may be a problem for people taking drugs like beta-blockers. Because those with memory problems may have other medical conditions, speak to a doctor or pharmacist about huperzine and supplements containing it.
Vinpocetine may have a blood-thinning effect. People who take blood thinners should talk to their doctor before experimenting with vinpocetine or supplements that contain it.
Ingredients That Raise Acetylcholine
Acetylcholine (ah seat-toe-co-leen) is a brain chemical that is reduced in people with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. Increasing acetylcholine appears to help some people who have memory problems. Several of the ingredients in Focus Factor appear to raise acetylcholine levels. They are:
While acetylcholine is necessary to be healthy, too much may cause problems. Might it slow heart rate too much for example? While acetylcholine is usually quickly broken down – could raising its level to interact with medications ―such as Alzheimer's medications ―that also raise acetylcholine levels?
Does Focus Factor Work?
While Focus Factor appears a clinical study to support its use, the study may not be peer-reviewed. This reduces power in my opinion. That said, some of the ingredients do make sense. It's possible it may help some people with memory issues. While encouraging, those with health issues should speak to their physician first.
Here it is on Amazon if you want to see what others have to say
Any Questions or Comments?