Dietary supplements for mind and memory: what works, what doesn't, from the Harvard Men's Health Watch

Can taking a pill improve memory or boost brain function? That's an important question to ask about the long list of supplements that allegedly "support" or "help" the brain. These include three B vitamins (folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12) and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10. But wait, there's more: the herbal supplements huperzine A and ginkgo biloba, along with nutraceuticals like fish oil (containing omega-3 fatty acids), curcumin, and coconut oil. Cross off most of these products for lack of solid scientific evidence, reports the December 2012 Harvard Men's Health Watch. "There are a lot of things out there for which we have no data on whether they are safe or do anything to help," says Dr. Gad Marshall, an assistant professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School. Want to do something proven to help maintain mind and memory? "My strongest recommendations are a Mediterranean-style diet and regular physical exercise," Dr. Marshall says.
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