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Don Lavoie is alcohol programme manager at Public Health England and Gul Root is lead pharmacist, Health and Wellbeing Directorate, Public Health England
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supplementsJune 20 2016

Consumers’ association Which? has challenged dietary supplement products which suggest they can help improve brain health. In particular, they have raised concerns that products are suggesting they can help reduce the risk of dementia.

The Which? panel of experts including a dietitian, a GP and a professor of public health medicines, have looked at a number of services and products. They concluded that “there is no robust evidence that the vitamins, plant extracts and other ‘functional’ ingredients commonly used in these supplements can reduce the risk of dementia.”

Which? has reported one product’s claims to the Advertising Standards Authority, and has said the panel was also sceptical of online and in person tests and investigations that try to spot mild cognitive impairment. It says people using these may have to pay more than £1,000.

Its review of products of products to avoid highlights four supplements and one app, saying the experts “do not believe the science doesn’t stack up.” Ingredients attributed to any brain function improvement but challenged by the panel included omega-3 fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) at higher concentrations, Ginkgo biloba, B vitamins, and N-acetylcysteine.

“It’s unacceptable that some companies are preying on people’s fears, making claims they simply can’t back up,” said Which? Director of Policy and Campaigns Alex Neill. “For people worried about dementia our advice is you don’t need to spend time and money on expensive supplements or products, like online tests or apps. There are many alternative sources of free, independent information and advice that can help you to understand your options and next steps.”

Links:

Which? announcement

Which? opinion

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