Update 9/19/20. “Prevagen Improves Memory.” That's the bold statement for this dietary supplement. You have probably seen commercials for this jellyfish memory supplement and wondered if it really worked or whether it was a scam? In this Prevagen review, you'll learn the results of the clinical trials so you can understand them better. You'll learn the pros and cons of this supplement too. Does it have any side effects? That will be discussed too. Let's see what the research says.
Other Memory Supplement Reviews
What Is Prevagen?
Prevagen (pronounced prev-uh-gen) is not a prescription drug. Rather, it's a brain health and memory supplement sold online and at local stores like CVS, Walmart, and others. Supplements that are supposed to improve memory and focus are called nootropics.
You've likely seen the TV commercials for this supplement:
This supplement contains an ingredient from jellyfish, called apoaequorin which is not in other memory products, such as:
See those reviews for additional information on those supplements.
Prevagen has just 1 main ingredient. It's a protein from jellyfish called apoaequorin (pronounced apo-a-kwar-in). Apoaequorin is said to work by reducing excess calcium levels in the brain.
Too much calcium in the brain seems to reduce how well the brain functions. So, by reducing calcium build up in brain cells, this might improve memory. That's the idea anyway.
The supplement also contains vitamin D as well.
The supplement also has these other ingredients too:
- White rice flour
- Magnesium stearate
- Acetic acid
- Disodium EDTA
These additional ingredients play no role in the brain health benefits of the supplement.
At Prevagen.com/Research several clinical studies are listed as evidence. Here is a summary of those studies along with my opinions:
Madison Memory Study
The Madison Memory Study is also titled: Effects of the Calcium Binding Protein Apoaequorin on Memory and Cognitive Function in Older Adults. It was published here under a different title. Regardless, here's a summary of the Madison Memory Study.
- Subjects: 218 people age 40-91 years of age.
- For 90 days people were randomly given 10 mg of Apoaequorin (the key ingredient in Prevagen) or a placebo.
Those taking apoaequorin improved verbal learning and recall ability by about 15%. Sounds good, but, this was only seen in those who had no memory problems or mild memory problems.
In other words, apoaequorin (Prevagen) only seemed to work in people who were basically normal.
Problems With The Study
The Madison Memory Study has some problems in my opinion:
- The groups did not contain the same number of people. The apoaequorin (Prevagen) group had more people than the control group did.
- They did not measure calcium levels before/after treatment.
- The study lasted 3 months. But the paper appearing on Prevagen.com gives the impression the study lasted 2 years (December 3, 2009, to April 13, 2011). Why the discrepancy?
All the researchers worked for Quincy Biosciences – the company which makes Prevagen. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. Just pointing it out in case it matters to anyone.
Here is a breakdown of the other studies listed for this supplement:
Safety Study 1
This is a lab rat study showing Apoaequorin is safe. The study was sponsored by Quincy Biosciences and their researchers.
Safety Study 2
This is a test tube study sponsored by Quincy Biosciences and their researchers.
Safety Study 3
This is a rat study sponsored by Quincy Biosciences with independent researchers.
In the past, the supplement website had listed other research. Here is a summary:
Impact of Prevagen on Memory
Summary of the study:
- Subjects: 56 generally healthy people were given Prevagen for 90 days.
- Results: After 90 days people report on questionnaires that their memory is better.
- This study does not appear to be peer-reviewed
- They don’t tell us the ages of the people
- This was an “open-label” study. This means everybody knew who was getting the supplement. In theory, this might influence the outcomes of the study.
Impact of Prevagen on Sleep Quality
Summary of the study:
- Subjects. 55 generally healthy people were followed for 90 days
- Results. People getting Prevagen reported getting more sleep at night
- This does not appear to be a peer-reviewed study
- This looks like the previous investigation
- This was an open-label study and might reduce the significance of the results
Prevagen And Brain Blood Flow
Some brain health supplements might also have ingredients (like ginkgo) in the hopes they can improve blood flow to the brain. By giving the brain more blood (and oxygen) the hope is that this will improve memory.
Prevagen works differently than this. Here, the idea is not to improve blood flow to the brain, but rather to reduce the build-up of excess calcium inside brain cells. It's a novel and intriguing approach to helping memory. Whether or not this improves blood-brain flow needs more research.
Can It Make You Fearless?
Fear memory is basically how you remember fearful situations. Remembering situations that make you afraid may help protect you from danger. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee observed that apoaequorin decreased fear memory in adult and older middle-aged rats. While this is interesting let's remember the effect has not been proven to occur in people. The bigger issue is that apoaequorin was injected into the brains of the rats. There's no proof taking apoaequorin supplements would reduce fear memory in either rats or people.
How Much Sodium Is In Prevagen?
The bottle indicates that each veggie capsule has 10 mg of sodium. That is less than 1% of the daily value for sodium, so it’s not much. I doubt it would be a problem for people with high blood pressure.
Is Apoaequorin Safe?
The Quincy website has published, a clinical study on the safety of apoaequorin. This study noted – in rats – even very large doses of apoaequorin did not have any effects. That's good.
In another investigation, researchers noted apoaequorin was not expected to cause allergic reactions. That's good too. The researchers also said “Apoaequorin is easily digested by pepsin”, a common protein-digesting enzyme. This is an interesting statement. Does it mean we digest apoaequorin? If we do digest it, how can it work?
Is the Apoaequorin Natural?
The Prevagen website states “Apoaequorin is a protein that was originally discovered in jellyfish and now produced at our cGMP compliant and NSF certified facility in Wisconsin.”
I take this to mean they make Apoaequorin in a lab rather than extract it from jellyfish. This means no jellyfish are involved or harmed from the production of Prevegan. That’s good.
Extra Strength Prevagen
Does Extra Strength Prevagen work better than regular strength? The extra-strength version contains 20 mg of apoaequorin. Regular strength contains 10 mg. Here are the 3 different types of Prevagen side-by-side to see the difference:
|Prevagen Regular Strength||Prevagen Extra Strength||Prevagen Chewables (1 tablet)|
|Vitamin D3, 50 mcg (250%DV)||Vitamin D3, 50 mcg (250%DV)||Total carbs 1g|
|Apoaequorin 10 mg||Apoaequorin 20 mg||Apoaequorin 10 mg|
As you can see Extra Strength contains 20 mg of apoaequorin vs. 10 mg in regular strength. Prevagen Chewables also contains 10 mg of apoaequorin. There is also an extra-strength chewable version (not depicted in the table) which has 20 mg of apoaequorin.
Before you buy extra strength Prevagen, remember the research is on the regular strength (10mg) version. There is no clinical proof taking 20 mg is better than 10 mg.
How Much Vitamin D In Prevagen?
The Supplement Facts label tells us it has 50 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D. This is about 800 IU.
Prevagen vs. The Competition
Lets now take a quick look at how this product compares to other memory supplements.
Prevagen vs. Neora (Nerium) EHT
Nerium EHT is a supplement from the Nerium company (that company is now called Neora). EHT is a reference to a unique compound isolated from coffee called Eicosanoyl-5-HydroxyTryptamide (EHT for short). There is some research on the EHT molecule but I am not aware of any studies that compare Nerium EHT to Prevagen. Both supplements are said to work differently than each other. Whether or not they work better together is unknown.
See the Nerium Neora EHT Review
Prevagen vs. Focus Factor
Focus Factor is a very popular memory supplement. You've probably seen its TV commercials. Focus Factor has very different ingredients than Prevagen. It has more ingredients too. It's almost like a multi-vitamin. While both are popular, there are no clinical trials that compare Focus Factor to Prevagen to see which is better or whether they work better together.
For more, see:
Prevagen vs. Procera AVH
Procera AVH contains ingredients touted to reduce chemicals in the brain and improve oxygen flow. It has different ingredients than Prevagen. There are investigations comparing Procera AVH to Prevagen.
See the Procera AVH review
Prevagen vs. Neuriva
Neuriva is a very popular memory supplement. While both contain just 2 active ingredients, those ingredients are very different. Neuriva contains coffee cherry and Phosphatidylserine. The coffee cherry ingredient has some interesting memory research but no comparative studies of these two supplements have been conducted.For more on how they compare to each other, see:
See the Neuriva vs. Prevagen Review
Prevagen vs. Exercise
Multiple studies suggest a there is a connection between exercise and memory and brain function. If this is true, would Prevagen work better if you also exercised? Maybe. But it will take research to know for sure. There is more memory proof for exercise than any memory supplement. For those who are able to exercise, even walking has been shown to improve brain health.
Prevagen vs. Adderall
Adderall is a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Given the popularity of the Prevagen TV commercials, some might wonder if this supplement would be a substitute for Adderall.
The first thing to know is Prevagen works differently than Adderall. These two products are not the same. Also until clinical trials are conducted it's not possible to say if this supplement would work the same or better than Adderall.
Who Makes Prevagen?
The company is called Quincy BioScience. The business was started in 2004 and its website is Quincybioscience.com. Their company address is 726 Heartland Trail, suite #300 Madison, WI 53717. According to the FTC, another name for the company is Sugar River Supplements.
Interestingly this is the same address as another company, called Catalent Pharma Solutions (Catalent.com). This company bills itself as “…the world's #1 drug development, delivery and supply partner for drugs, biologics, and consumer health products…”
This might be the company that makes Prevagen.
Quincy BioScience is a Better Business Accredited company. The BBB gave the company a rating of “A+” when this review was updated. Sugar River Supplements did not have a rating when this review was updated. See the BBB files for updates and more information.
On Prevagen.com they list a company contact number of 888-565-5385. Another contact number for Quincy BioScience is 608- 827-8000.
Various people have taken issue with this supplement. Complaints seen when scanning various websites are as follows:
- The cost (about $2 per pill)
- Claims that prey on peoples fears
- Complaints about reoccurring charges
- Side effects
- Complaints it did not work
On the flip-side, other online testimonials say they were happy with the results they experienced.
The Prevagen Lawsuit
In 2015 a class action lawsuit was issued which alleges that Prevagen doesn't work. In the pdf file of the lawsuit (click to download), it's argued that apoaequorin is “completely destroyed by the digestive system and transformed into common amino acids no different than those derived from other common food products such as chicken, cold cuts, hamburgers, etc.”
Remember, one of the Prevagen studies summarized above did say apoaequorin is digested by pepsin…
The makers of Prevagen disagree with the class action lawsuit and say that this does not happen. In January 2017, the FTC along with New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Quincy Bioscience stating that they didn't feel the company had sufficient proof Prevagen worked as advertised. Here is a summary 2017 FTC lawsuit.
Prevagen And The FTC
The FTC has long maintained that Prevagen doesn't work. In 2017, the FTC alleged Quincy Bioscience was making deceptive claims about their supplement. One of the issues the FTC brought up is that one of the studies on the supplement noted the jellyfish protein, apoaequorin, was digested in the stomach. If its digested, how does it make it to the brain?
For further research, see these resources which I located during my review:
- Quincy Bioscience's Brain Vitamin Suffers Regulatory Migraine
- Memory Boosting Supplement: No Evidence FTC Says
Can Prevagen Help Alzheimer’s?
There is no evidence the supplement or its key ingredient (apoaequorin) improves Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. No proof, either way, could be located. In the Madison Memory Study summarized above, apoaequorin only seemed to help those who had no memory problems or mild impairment.
Can Prevagen Help Concussions?
Currently, there is no evidence the supplement helps the brain heal faster from traumatic brain injury.
See the review of Neora EHT review for more on this.
Prevagen And Pets
In one investigation, researchers found apoaequorin may help older dogs with memory and learning. More studies need to be conducted to confirm this.
Can We Absorb Prevagen?
In the Safety study mentioned above, it was stated that Prevagen is safe and that:“Apoaequorin is easily digested by pepsin”, a common protein-digesting enzyme.
Does this mean we digest Prevagen and it does not make into the body – and brain? More research needs to be conducted to determine if the key ingredient in the supplement can enter the blood and make it into the brain.
Where To Buy Prevagen
This supplement is very popular. It can be purchased stores like Wallgreens, Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS, RiteAid, Target, Walmart, Harris Teeter, Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, Wegmans, ShopKo, and Costco.
How Much Does It Cost?
Price varies. I have seen it for between $30-$60 a bottle.
How Long Until It Works?
If the supplement works, the research says it might take 3 months before people notice a difference. Any effects would likely also depend on the type of memory problems one had as well as how bad the memory impairment was.
It's worth pointing out the supplement comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. So, if you did take it for 90 days, you could only get a refund on the last bottle you purchased.
Prevagen Side Effects
The safety study has noted apoaequorin appears to be safe (in rats) at even very large dosages for up to 3 months. While the supplement is probably safe in healthy people, here are some things to consider This list is not complete:
- Start with less than recommended for the first week to see how you respond
- Stop taking Prevagen at least 2 weeks before surgery
- Speak to your doctor and pharmacist if you are pregnant/breastfeeding
- Speak to your doctor and pharmacist if you take any prescription medicine
- Speak to your doctor and pharmacist if you take any medicine for memory or dementia
In the testimonials below, some have reported they had to increase the Prevagen dosage because it stopped working.
One person reported slurring words and feeling light-headed and not aware of surroundings.
Can Prevagen cause osteoporosis? This was a question raised in the comments below. Since the supplement is supposed to remove calcium from the brain, would Prevangen also remove calcium from the bones and cause osteoporosis? While its doubtful, no research has measured bone mass after taking this supplement for years. Research also still needs to prove Prevagen removes calcium from the brains of humans.
Prevagen Pro & Con
To better help people sort this supplement out, here's a quick rundown of what I liked and didn't like. Take this for what it's worth.
|What's Good||What's Not So Good|
|Website shows studies||Studies may have issues|
|Company funds research on their product||Medication interactions need more study|
|Only 1 active ingredient||Lack of non-company sponsored research|
|Appears safe. No side effects reported in human studies||Company has had FDA and FTC run-ins|
|Might help people who have no memory problems||Does it help people with dementia etc? More research needed|
|BBB Accredited business since 2012|
Does Prevagen Work?
Despite the studies, I’m not yet convinced. The research could be better in my opinion. I'd like to see research proving Prevagen can cross the blood-brain barrier and improve memory in people with memory problems.
Patricia Stephens says
I had a very negative experience with Prevagen. I purchased the Prevagen Regular Strength (10mg) as an over the counter supplement from CVS. The description on the box stated that is has been shown to help with mild memory loss. I believe the claims from the manufacturer (Quincy BioScience) are false and misleading.
The literature included and the website states they “not aware of any negative interactions with Prevagen” and other medications. The website also states that they “are not aware of any side effects.”
On Thursday, October 12th, after purchasing at CVS, I took ½ tablet with water at approximately 5:30pm. By 6:30 I was slurring my words so badly that my family members could not understand me. I felt light-headed, dizzy, and unaware of my surroundings.
I visited my primary care physician the next day, he stated that the symptoms were consistent with Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) but after my exam, he was 99% sure it was Prevagen. However, he suggested I follow up with a neurologist and undergo further testing to be sure.
I am writing this review in hopes that future users will heed my warnings. This is not a safe product. After my experience, I have read several hundred similar reviews on numerous websites. Many consumers took this drug thinking it was safe The manufacturer is making false claims stating that there are no known side effects.
I am warning other consumers to take caution before using this supplement.
Hi Patricia, I am so very sorry to hear what happened to you! I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone having a TIA (“mini stroke”) from Prevagen. I’d be curious what made your doctor “99% sure” the cause was Prevagen. Did your doctor give you any reason why he was so sure of this?
In your research, have you seen anyone else talking about strokes after taking Prevagen? I have not but if you have, please share.
Again, so sorry that happened to you. I hope you are better now and not having any lingering effects.
I have taken Prevagen for more than 2 years and I think it is a miracle. My problem is that to have it be effective I have to increase the dosage about every six months. I would recommend it. I would like to see more studies on Prevagen.
I tried Focus Factor and it didn’t do anything for me. I have recently started using Dr. Gundry’s Primal Plants and it has helped my memory a little but it has helped my arthritis a lot and I would recommend it.
If you are interested in it, Dr. Gundry (He did his internship at world famous U of M Hospital) he has a variety of videos on youtube.com. His teaching is to have better health through diet and supplements. It is not a weight loss diet but you probably will lose weight as he did much to his surprise.
Margaret, I’ve heard of Dr. Gundry. hes got several supplements. His supplements are on my list of things to take a look at. Stay tuned.
I recently found out that I have brain atrophy at 46 yrs. old. Dr. said it was normal, but I was devastated. Then I saw the Prevagen commercial on TV and I thought Oh My God there’s the answer. I ran out and spent a lot of money but I thought it was well worth it! I’m gonna get my memory back intact!
Afterwards, I decided to do some research with a very hopeful and open minded thinking and high hopes. I read all of the reviews on Amazon. I read the info on Prevagen’s site. A few others. Then, I stumbled upon the FDA’s site on Prevagen’s scientific studies. They had many of their neuroscientist test the drug and has stated that there is no way that the animal’s biological protein would be able to survive a person’s digestive system and actually make it to a person’s brain.
Then, I was worried about drug interactions as I am on psych meds and this seems like this would also be one. Looked it up. The answer; NONE. That right there told me that something is not right. FDA said that this is a placebo and seems to fit right into the category. People may feel the effects of the placebo because they “believe” they do. Psychology at it’s best.
Yes, they are making millions on this, but why didn’t FDA approve? Because it DOESN’T WORK! Think about it, if it did work, can you imagine how many millions of dollars they would make selling it as a prescription from a doctor. Instead, they making a small million selling as an expensive “supplement”. I returned it right away after getting a migraine after all this!
I wasn’t able to find anything on Prevagen not being able to go through your digestive system. However, it is my understanding that this is a synthetic product made to do the same thing that chemical from the jelly fish does.
It is a wonder drug to me.
My problem is that I have to increase the dosage about every six months. I think you severe reaction was caused by something else and you should consult a specialist for that before anything else happens to you.
Also I purchased from eBay as it is usually quite a bit cheaper than the drug store. The drug store is so expensive that I wouldn’t be able to afford it.
I can confirm Prevagen is on Ebay: Heres a link
Sl horst says
Early brain atrophy can be a sign of Lewy Body Disease.
SI Horst, yes it can be and thanks for mentioning this. Here is the Lewy Body Disease website for more insights https://www.lbda.org/
Tara, its thought that regular exercise can help preserve brain atrophy. Here is a good article on this
Tara, if you don’t yet exercise, this is something to think about. It does not have to be intense. You dont have to lift heavy weights or run marathons. Even walking can help preserve brain mass.
Keep us posted on how you are doing Tara.
According to a review (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23030514), oral apoaequorin has not yet been shown to survive digestion, cross the blood-brain barrier, or enter the human central nervous system. In fact, apoaequorin is immediately digested within seconds using in vitro simulations of digestion (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23470325).
Also, even if it reached brain cells, it seems likely that it would be degraded by the endosome/lysosome system (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23030514).
As a side note, anything touted as “alternative” or “all natural” is simply another marketing ploy and used to justify higher cost. True, or self-respecting, scientists do not use such terms.
Also, “all natural” molecules are not necessarily “better” than synthetic ones. For example, there is no difference between “natural” table salt (sodium chloride) and sodium chloride made synthetically in a chemistry beaker. It’s the same compound!
Also, ricin and Bacillus anthracis are two examples of things that are 100% all natural but extremely deadly. Do not fall for the “alternative” or “all-natural” hype. It isn’t necessarily “better” than manufactured compounds.
Miroslav Novak says
I worked in biotech for 25 years as a research scientist, out of it for 5 years in Secretech, Inc., small biotech established in Birmingham, Alabama by researchers from University of Alabama to utilize intestinal tract for immunization against viral infections. Evolutionary, intestinal tract was made to digest food, chop it to building blocks (proteins to amino acids, complex sugars to glucose, fructose etc., fat to fatty acids and glycerol) and only after that adsorb it and rebuild it to our proteins and fats.
Some small amount of not completely digested food, (let say proteins), can get through intestinal wall such as small peptides (these are for example 5-15 amino acids still in intact chain). These peptides encounter first the biggest protective immune system in our body – around our intestines, then it has to pass through liver system where they are chopped again, and only after this it will get freely to blood system.
It means there is no way intact protein can get to our blood through ingestion. And if hypothetically will, it will encounter blood-brain protective system – yet strongest in our body to protect our brain from foreign molecules. There is no way this barrier will allow crossing peptides (5-10 amino acids) to brain cells, not talking about big protein such as apoaequorin which weighs 21.4 kDa (189 amino acids). I don’t think Prevagen can cross the blood/brain barrier.
Proof that I worked in the mentioned field:
Novak M, Yamamoto M, Fujihashi K, Moldoveanu Z, Kiyono H, McGhee JR, and Mestecky J. Ig-secreting and interferon-gamma-producing cells in mice mucosally immunized with influenza virus. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 1995, 371B, 1587-1590.
Mestecky J, Moldoveanu Z, Novak M, Huang WQ, Gilley RM, Staas JK, Schafer D, and Compans RW. Biodegradable microspheres for the delivery of oral vaccines. J.Controlled Release, 1994, 28, 131-141.
You can give all the info you want but I have taken Prevagen and I think it is a Miracle. I will admit that I do have to keep increasing the dosage for it to be effective.
I am a card player and when I take my prevagen I can remember what is Trump and what the last card played and who dealt last. No way could I do that without Prevagen or something equivalent.
Do you mean that the prescription drugs and other supplements aren’t going to do us any good either. That is what your post implies.
Drew Tyrie says
Have you seen any reply or update to the October 2012 FDA warning letter?
Drew, I looked into it and I was not able to find anything more recent than the 2012 letter. If you or anyone else does, do let me know.
Deane Alban says
Joe, There’s too much to put in this comment, but I suggest you take a look at this post where I discuss the latest class action suit against Prevagen filed in Jan of 2015. It includes a link where you can dowload the PDF of the original complaint. http://bebrainfit.com/lifestyle/nutrition/why-alpha-brain-focus-factor-and-prevagen-miss-the-mark/
Deane, thanks for the heads up. I will take a look at it.
Thank you for the additional information and links. It is very helpful.
Thanks for checking. I couldn’t find anything either. Your comment section has some very intelligent replies.
Drew, yes it does. I feel the comments are sometimes some of the most important parts of my reviews.
Mark Thorson says
The latest consumer Health Digest has an item about the recent lawsuit, with a link to a downloadable PDF file of the complaint.
You need the latest version of Adobe Reader to open it.
Mark Thorson says
Quoting from this article:
Far more scathing in his criticism is UW-Madison neuroscientist Baron Chanda. “This product doesn’t make sense. It’s basically quackery,” he says after reviewing some of the online Prevagen research. He says there is no way the apoaequorin protein could survive the digestive tract and make its way to the brain. Prevagen purchasers, he suggests, are basically being played for “suckers.”
The sensitivity of Quincy Bioscience to criticism may have to do with a pending lawsuit, Racies vs. Quincy Bioscience:
Mark Thorson says
It’s possible that an utterly insignificant amount might get into the bloodstream. For example, this has been reported for bromelain.
There is a paper that reports an extremely low level of bromelain (enzymes from pineapples) being absorbed. Only about 10 micrograms was absorbed from 3 grams/day dose, which really isn’t significant. That’s a microscopic amount.
But no effective amount of any large protein could be absorbed. If that were possible, it would be possible to give type 1 diabetics insulin that way and spare them the needles. That’s never going to happen.
Apoaequorin has the additional hurdle of needing to get into the brain to be effective. The blood-brain barrier blocks many molecules from entering the brain, which is why brain infections are very hard to treat. Most antibiotics can’t get into the brain, and those are small molecules. Apoaequorin is a huge molecule.
I can’t provide you a link to a study that specifically says apoaequorin can’t get into the brain, because nobody does that kind of research. It’s just not plausible it could happen. For the same reason, you won’t find anybody at NASA researching whether or not the Earth is hollow, despite this having been a popular theory years ago.
If a company makes an extraordinary claim for their product, it’s up to them to provide evidence that it is true. This would be easy to do. For example, you could feed apoaequorin to animals and use an antibody-linked tracer for apoaequorin to stain the tissues in which it was absorbed. This is the kind of study that should have been done before the product was ever marketed.
Mark Thorson says
Binding to calcium in the brain is the mechanism of action claimed for Prevagen.
prevagen.com/documents/memory-loss-symptoms-show-improvement-in-quality-of-life-studypdf.PDF (page has moved)
“The brain contains calcium-binding proteins that protect the brain cells and under normal functioning, many cellular processes are closely regulated. Calcium-binding proteins regulate calcium to keep a balance within the nervous system. As people age, an individual’s production of calcium-binding proteins is reduced. As the calcium-binding proteins decline, calcium is not as closely regulated, leaving brain cells vulnerable. Excess calcium can result in neuronal cell damage and memory impairment. ‘Fortunately, Prevagen provides a supplemental source of calcium-binding proteins to protect the cells, helping to restore calcium balance,’ explains Mark Underwood, President and co-founder of Quincy Bioscience.”
prevagen.com/pharmacists/about.html (page has moved)
“The depletion of calcium-binding proteins in aging creates a scenario in which neurons are vulnerable to excitotoxicity brought on by excess calcium and can lead to cell death. This mechanism has been identified as a key mechanism in age-related cognitive decline.”
And if Prevagen actually did this, in what sense is it not an unapproved pharmaceutical drug?
I don’t know… It will be interesting to see what happens on all this.
Mark Thorson says
Apoaequorin is not a “synthetically produced amino acid”. It’s a protein composed of 189 amino acids. I’m pretty sure it’s being made in a genetically modified organism (GMO). It would be possible to make it purely synthetically, but that would be incredibly expensive.
The gene for apoaequorin has been cloned and inserted into many organisms, and one of those must be the source of the apoaequorin used in Prevagen. In that sense, it is not really synthetic. It is the genuine apoaequorin gene being expressed in an organism easier to grow and harvest than jellyfish.
Since apoaequorin is a synthetically produced amino acid I suspected there may be a lot of research associated with it so I did a quick search of PubMed.gov to see what I could find. There were about 150 papers listed. Most of the research is being done in Europe. Only two studies related to memory, neither of those were human studies.
Simply put, apoaequorin affects how the body uses calcium, which is an important mineral for several systems in living organisms including plants, insects, and vertebrates.
Apoaequorin was purified around 1991 so has been well studied. The bulk of studies is not in memory research but in it’s effects on immunity, most specifically on inflamation.
When I included the word “human” in the search along with “apoaequorin”, the number of papers dropped to 31. Fortunately many papers are available in their full text, so I did a quick look-over of about a half dozen.
Most of the time the word “human” was used in the context of human derived chemical products implanted in other mammals. Human tissue samples from various organs were also tested to determine that the apoaequorin protein was not harmful and did seem to have a slight positive effect on the tissue.
Apoaequorin appears to be generally safe to human tissue – however no method of delivery to the body seems to have been tested, so whether the protein can survive the digestion system in therapeutic amounts doesn’t seem to be established by research found in PubMed.
The level of research still seems to be on the level of investigating how apoaequorin functions within an organism on a purely biochemical level, and most of that has been done in relation to the immunity system.
That some people have reported a negative bodily reaction to apoaequorin, is of little surprise to me, given the above safety statements. The human digestion is not very tolerant of amino acids that it has not experienced in low levels over a long time span. Fish oils, extracted from various oily fish need to be carefully purified to eliminate most of the other oil-soluble proteins found in fish. Cheaper brands of omega-3 fish oils contain higher percents of these mal-digestible proteins and can instigate a reaction from mild-burping of a foul-tasting fishy oil to a full blown allergic reaction.
Yes I was a little surprised by some of you side effects too the FDA mentioned too. I’m honestly not sure what to make of them.
Mark Thorson says
Apoaequorin is a large protein (21.4 kDa) composed of 189 amino acids, so no significant amount could get absorbed intact from the gastrointestinal tract. And even if it did get into the bloodstream, a molecule that large could not cross the blood-brain barrier, so it would not get into the brain where memory occurs.
One apoaequorin molecule can bind three calcium ions. Given that apoaequorin weighs 21.4 kDa and calcium weighs 40 Da, I calculate that one 10 milligram tablet of apoaequorin could bind about 55 micrograms of calcium, if it were completely absorbed intact. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for calcium is 1,000,000 micrograms a day , so the putative mechanism of action for improving memory (binding calcium in the brain) is obviously preposterous.
Mark thanks for that information. I wasn’t aware of that information on the calcium binding properties. When I looked at the studies I noticed none of them appeared to look at calcium being bound to apoaequorin.
Deane Alban says
I wrote Prevagen to ask if it could tie up calcium meant for bones. I got a generic reply that it was safe but they did not answer my question.
Deane Alban says
Mark, Could you give me a link to support this? I’ve heard that apoaequorin doesn’t survive digestion or cross the blood brain barrier, but haven’t found any studies to support this.
I’ve been doing battle with this company. I wrote an unfavorable review and their legal team made me take it down. One of Quincy Bioscience’s scientists contacted me via Facebook to tell me he’d been fired for refusing to falsify data for investors, but within a few days his social media sites were all taken down. Very coincidental, don’t you think?
Supplement Clarity, beware! It’s only a matter of time before they come after you, too.
Deane, I hope not because I think I gave a fair and balanced review. I just emailed you privately.
Richard McMillan, DVM, MPVM says
As a 74 year old man that is still very active due to a solid structural bone framework, my concern would be that calcium binding would lead to osteoporosis. Since the promotion of this product is focused on the older population this would much more serious than any memory benefits.
Deane Alban says
Richard, I contacted the company about whether they had any studies or information on this and they brushed me off with a non-answer answer. But I agree that this is a genuine concern.