Over-the-counter memory supplements typically claim to have ingredients that help boost brain function and development. While many of the claimed health effects associated with these nutrients are subject to debate, some supplements might not contain the ingredients they advertise at all.
A new report by federal investigators at the Government Accountability Office said the makers of some products simply lie about what is in them. Out of three products tested by the office, only one contained the stated ingredients.
Extracts of the tree species Ginkgo biloba [BIL-o-ba] are said to promote good blood circulation in the brain, helping to prevent neurological damage and decay. One supplement marketed as Ginkgo contained an ingredient that could not be identified in the lab. The second supplement claimed to have Ginkgo as one of its ingredients, but contained less than the quantity stated on the bottle, along with another unknown ingredient. The third supplement was a fish oil-based pill that when analyzed in the lab, contained all the listed ingredients.
As a result of the findings, the GAO sent the report to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for review and a potential investigation into the supplement industry. The federal report said the safety of the supplements is called into question as long as their ingredients remain unidentified.
A disclaimer in the report says its findings cannot be applied to the entire universe of memory supplements. Still, consumers of memory supplements should remember to examine the labels, even if you might not always be able to believe what you read.