Update 9/5/20. 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.
Other Memory Supplement Reviews
- Nerium EHT
- Prevagen Review
- Prevagen Neuroshake Review
- Prevagen vs. Focus Factor
- Can Rosemary Improve Memory (video)
- 15 Things to Know About Neuriva and Memory
- Neuriva vs. Prevagen
- Procera AVH Review
- Procera Protect (Ceraplex) Review
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
4 tablets of Focus Factor contain 692 mg of this proprietary formula.
Focus Factor Clinical Research
There is at least 1 clinical study on this memory supplement. This study involved 96 healthy adults (18-65 years of age. The average age was 49), and lasted 6 weeks. Of those people, 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 that Focus Factor “is clinically shown to improve memory, concentration, and focus.”
Issues With The Study
So this investigation has a few problems:
1. The study does not appear to be published in a clinical, peer-reviewed journal
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.
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?
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 it's 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 – like metformin – 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 it makes sense why a memory supplement like Focus Factor would contain this nutrient. The issue though is whether older folks can absorb B12. Some might not be able to. This is why doctors might give vitamin B12 injections to bypass the stomach. Sublingual B12 and chewing it can increase absorption.
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.
Homocysteine can play a role in heart disease and maybe memory problems too. That said, it's possible both of these vitamins are in Focus Factor for another reason – depression and attention span.
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.
Vitamin B6 may reduce anxiety and depression. Click the link to watch the video.
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)
It's possible huperzine may be one of the key ingredients in Focus Factor. Also, called Huperzine A, this is a compound derived from Huperzia Serrata, a type of moss. There is memory research on this ingredient. For example, in this small study huperzine (100 micrograms per day) improved memory in adolescents.
In another study, 200 micrograms of huperzine per day improved memory in a small group of people with Alzheimer's disease. Similar positive findings have also been noted in another study of Alzheimer's disease too.
In a review of huperzine research, it was 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, what's 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 watch this Bacopa memory research video
This is basically two vitamin A molecules stuck together. Like other ingredients in Focus factor, beta carotene is 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 broad-spectrum antioxidant protection. I don't like taking individual beta-carotene supplements. Watch this video to see why.
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, 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 supplements.
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.
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. For healthy people, it's 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. If negative reactions do occur, taking less should minimize them.
- 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. 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.
Bacopa might slow down the heart rate. In theory, it might interact with some blood pressure and heart disease medications. Bacopa might also affect how some medications are broken down in the body.
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 boasts a clinical study to support its use, the study may not be peer-reviewed. This reduces its power in my opinion. That said, some of the ingredients do make sense. It's possible it may help some people with mild 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?
Thank you for this review. We really need people who look objectively into such an unregulated market as supplements. I have some memory/cognition trouble and have had it for a while. I won’t get into the details. I just started taking this and was extremely skeptical, but I have to say that I did notice some positive effects after about 4 days.
If its not placebo (which is could be) there could be some merit. I think if there is something to it you can probably just isolate one of the active ingredients that is really doing you any good. The rest is probably useless.
Hi Lane, thanks for your kind words. I appreciate you saying that and am happy that so far Focus Factor appears to be helping you. Keep me posted on how things are going.
Mark Talmont says
Excellent review, I’ll be including this site in my helpful links posted elsewhere!
I have looked into these types of supplements going back quite a long time, I used to buy the liquid concentrate of phosphatidylcholine and before that tried lecithin capsules. Today I still buy lecithin granules, non-GMO soy derived, from either NOW or Mountain Rose Herbs and add a teaspoon or so into my smoothies.
I never noted any dramatic effects though I remember one year when my friend at the natural foods market on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley reported that the law students had swarmed in a bought up all the lecithin, some others have reported it’s utility for “cramming” for tests (like the bar exam). It does have side effect of making you smell fishy.
I tried DMAE too with no apparent results. However I once got to try Hydergine the OTC (in Europe but not in the US) sometimes prescribed for non-Alzheimer’s dementia and raved about in the “Life Extension” book by Pearson and Shaw. The stuff works, it gives you a lift like a stiff shot of espresso but with no body side effect. Anyone concerned about memory and aging might consider asking an MD for a shot at it (though curiously most of them seem quite resistant to it).
I have been taking focus factor for about 4 months now and I can’t say for sure that I have any memory improvement. Looks like I am still struggling with my memory just like it was when I started
Mark Talmont says
Make sure you are getting adequate minerals. Perfect solution is steamed dark green vegetables, parsley is good and rich in the methionine amino contained in the expensive sam-E pills–the ultimate is seaweed. These have magnesium and calcium in balance. Eat some fruit every day and you will get the potassium you need for nerve function. Avoid too much saturated fatty food like french fries, etc (but eggs are OK for most people)
I have found the best brain tonic is yoga exercises that get blood flow to your brain, combined with the breathing procedures that oxygenate your blood. Any good aerobics, just a simple brisk walk will work in combination with this. Lots of yoga sites on the web, my favorite books remain the ones by Richard Hittleman which can be had for cheap on the Amazon used books area.
I have read your reviews on Focus Factor and Procera. They are amazing reviews and you obviously put a lot of time and effort into each review.
My question for you is, is there a similar product that you have studied that you would recommend?
Jeff, I wish I had a good answer but right now I’m not aware of any supplement for memory. Some things I do think can help are stress reduction techniques and exercise. I wish I had a better answer to you on this. If you ever come across anything do let me know as I’d be interested in taking a look at it.
This recipe of Huperzine, Bacopa…, Vinpocetine, …, B12, is common and there are numerous supplement makers who have adopted exactly the same formula. There are therefore at least 3 or 4 supplements you can buy on amazon that are identical and if someone decides to take these ingredients like this they can choose the cheapest or from a manufacturer they trust.
I have been taking Rainbow light Quick Thiinking for the last year. So far effects are okay.
Other products: BrainGenX, Brain Food
Because the effects of these have not been pronounced although I do believe memory has improved somewhat I am now adding some nootropic supplements such as Choline, Oxiracetam and possibly some others.
Geraldine Haynesworth says
I took Focus Factor for a few days and started to experience headaches. I stopped taking it. A few months later, I tried taking it again with the same results. I have hypertension and take medication to control it.
Geraldine, I would not take Focus Factor if you had high blood pressure. I recommend you take it back to where you got it for a refund.
Wendy Banner says
I thought it helped lower blood pressure though.
Hi Wendy, Im not aware of Focus Factor lowing blood pressure. Where did you hear this? Let me know and I will look into this further.
Great review Mr. Cannon. I also feel the public should not take their information from these companies on their products without due diligence. Thank you again.
is this the stuff made from starfish or jellyfish?
Joe, I didn’t see any mention of shell fish or jelly fish when I reviewed the product. To double check call their customer service and ask them just to make sure. Their website does say that Focus Factor has:
no artificial colorings
no gluten, milk or eggs
Hope that helps 🙂