Prevagen: Does It Really Help Poor Memory? (2024)

Update 3/23/24. “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.

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:

  • Procera AVH
  • Focus Factor
  • Nerium EHT

See those reviews for additional information on those supplements.

How Does Prevagen Work?

Prevagen distinguishes itself from typical brain supplements that claim to enhance memory through increased cerebral blood flow. Rather than focusing on oxygen delivery, Prevagen targets the reduction of excess calcium accumulation within brain cells. This unique mechanism presents an innovative approach to memory support.

Prevagen Ingredients

Prevagen features a single key component: apoaequorin, a protein derived from jellyfish, scientifically pronounced as apo-a-kwar-in. The supplement contains 10 mg of apoaequorin. This unique protein is purported to function by diminishing surplus calcium levels within the brain. Elevated calcium levels in the brain have been associated with decreased cognitive function, suggesting that mitigating calcium accumulation in brain cells may enhance memory.

Prevagen: Does It Really Help Poor Memory? (1)

Additionally, the supplement contains 50 mcg of vitamin D, which is quite a high dose, at 250% of the percent Daily Value. Diminished vitamin D levels have been seen in older adults suffering from memory deficits. Some research suggests high-dose vitamin D supplements might beneficially improve non-verbal (visual) memory in healthy adults, especially those whose initial vitamin levels are less than 75 nmol/L.

Other Ingredients

The supplement also has these other ingredients too:

  1. White rice flour
  2. Salt
  3. Magnesium stearate
  4. Acetic acid
  5. Disodium EDTA

These additional ingredients play no role in the brain health benefits of the supplement.

What Is Apoaequorin?

Apoaequorin, the active ingredient in Prevagen, is a protein originally isolated from a species of jellyfish called Aequorea victoria, commonly known as the crystal jellyfish. One of the most important characteristics of apoaequorin is its ability to bind to calcium ions. When it binds to calcium, it undergoes a chemical reaction that emits blue light.

It's claimed that apoaequorin may help support brain health by modulating calcium levels within neurons. Excessive calcium accumulation in neurons has been linked to various neurodegenerative conditions and cognitive decline. By potentially regulating calcium levels, apoaequorin is proposed to support neuronal function and cognitive processes such as memory.

Prevagen Research

At Prevagen.com/Research several clinical studies are listed as evidence. Here is a summary of those studies, along with my opinions:

Prevagen Madison Memory Study

The Madison Memory Study (named for Madison, Wisconsin, where Quincy is based) is the flagship clinical trial often touted as proof of how well Prevagen works. Quincy Bioscience refers this experiment the “Madison Memory Study: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Apoaequorin in Community-Dwelling Adults.” When it was published, the name was changed to Effects of the Calcium Binding Protein Apoaequorin on Memory and Cognitive Function in Older Adults.

Study Summary

  • Subjects: 218 people aged 40-91 years of age. Two hundred and eleven people completed the study.
  • For 90 days, people were randomly given 10 mg of Apoaequorin or a placebo.

Madison Memory Study Results

Those taking apoaequorin improved verbal learning and recall ability by about 15%. This sounds good, but this was only seen in those with no or mild memory problems.

In other words, apoaequorin (Prevagen) only seemed to work in people who were basically normal.

Problems With The Madison Memory Study

In my view, The Madison Memory Study faces several issues:

  1. Disparity in group sizes: The apoaequorin (Prevagen) group outnumbered the control group.
  2. Absence of pre-and post-treatment calcium level assessments.
  3. Duration discrepancy: Although the study lasted 3 months, the information presented on Prevagen.com implies a 2-year duration (December 3, 2009, to April 13, 2011). This raises questions about the inconsistency in reported timelines.

Additionally, all the researchers worked for Quincy Biosciences, the company that makes Prevagen.

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. Quincy Biosciences and its researchers sponsored the study.

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.

Previous Research

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 reported on questionnaires that their memory was better.

My thoughts

  • This study does not appear to be peer-reviewed.
  • They don’t disclose the ages of the people.
  • This study was conducted as an “open-label” trial, indicating that all participants were aware of who was receiving the supplement. This transparency could potentially impact the study's results, as participants' awareness of their treatment allocation might influence their behavior and responses.

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.

My thoughts

  • This study doesn't seem to have undergone peer review.
  • This appears to be a replication of a previous investigation.
  • Being an open-label study, it could diminish the significance of the findings in the eyes of experts.

Can Prevagen Make You Fearless?

Fear memory, essential for recalling fearful situations, aids in safeguarding individuals from potential harm. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee noted a decrease in fear memory among adult and older middle-aged rats administered with apoaequorin. While this finding is intriguing, it's crucial to note that its effect on humans remains unproven. Moreover, the method involved directly injecting apoaequorin into the rats' brains, leaving uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of apoaequorin supplements in reducing fear memory in both rats and humans.

How Much Sodium Is In Prevagen?

According to the label, each vegetable capsule contains 10 mg of sodium, constituting less than 1% of the recommended daily sodium intake. This minimal sodium content is unlikely to pose concerns, particularly for individuals with hypertension.

Is Apoaequorin Safe?

The Quincy website has released a clinical trial assessing the safety profile of apoaequorin. The study, conducted on rats, revealed that even at significantly high doses, apoaequorin demonstrated no observable effects, which is reassuring.

Moreover, in a separate investigation, researchers observed that apoaequorin is unlikely to trigger allergic reactions, which is another positive finding. Additionally, the researchers highlighted that apoaequorin is readily digested by pepsin, a common enzyme responsible for breaking down proteins in the stomach. This intriguing statement prompts questions about the digestive process of apoaequorin and its potential mechanisms of action.

Is the Apoaequorin Natural?

According to the Prevagen website, “Apoaequorin, a protein initially found in jellyfish, is now manufactured at our cGMP compliant and NSF certified facility in Wisconsin.”

This suggests that Apoaequorin is synthesized in a laboratory rather than extracted from jellyfish. Therefore, the production of Prevagen does not involve the use or harm of jellyfish, which is a positive aspect.

Extra Strength Prevagen

Is Extra Strength Prevagen more effective than the regular version? The extra-strength variant contains 20 mg of apoaequorin, while the regular-strength version contains 10 mg. Here's a comparison of the three different types of Prevagen side by side to highlight the distinctions:

Prevagen Regular StrengthPrevagen Extra StrengthPrevagen Chewables (1 tablet)
Vitamin D3, 50 mcg (250%DV)Vitamin D3, 50 mcg (250%DV)Total carbs 1g
Apoaequorin 10 mgApoaequorin 20 mgApoaequorin 10 mg

Extra Strength contains 20 mg of apoaequorin compared to 10 mg in the regular strength variant. Additionally, Prevagen Chewables consists of 10 mg of apoaequorin. It's worth noting that there's also an extra-strength chewable version (not shown in the table) with 20 mg of apoaequorin.

Prior to purchasing extra-strength Prevagen, it's essential to note that research primarily focuses on the regular strength (10mg) variant. Currently, no clinical evidence suggests that taking 20 mg is superior to 10 mg.

How Much Vitamin D Is 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

Let's now take a quick look at how this product compares to other memory supplements.

Prevagen vs. Neora (Nerium) EHT

Nerium EHT, a supplement developed by the company now known as Neora, features a unique compound derived from coffee called Eicosanoyl-5-HydroxyTryptamide (EHT). While research exists on the EHT molecule, there's limited comparative study between Nerium EHT and Prevagen. Both supplements are purported to operate via distinct mechanisms. However, the efficacy of combining them remains uncertain.

See the Nerium Neora EHT Review

Prevagen vs. Focus Factor

Focus Factor stands out as a widely recognized memory supplement, often featured in television commercials. Contrary to Prevagen, it comprises a distinct set of ingredients, offering a more comprehensive blend, akin to a multivitamin. Despite their popularity, there's a lack of clinical trials directly comparing Focus Factor to Prevagen, leaving uncertainties about their relative efficacy or potential synergistic effects.

Prevagen vs. Procera AVH

Procera AVH boasts ingredients reputed for minimizing brain chemicals and enhancing oxygen circulation. Its formulation differs from that of Prevagen. Comparative studies between Procera AVH and Prevagen have been conducted.
See the Procera AVH review

Prevagen vs. Neuriva

Neuriva emerges as a highly sought-after memory supplement. Despite both featuring only two active ingredients, they diverge significantly. Neuriva's formulation includes coffee cherry and Phosphatidylserine. While the memory research on the coffee cherry component is intriguing, no comparative studies have been undertaken between these two supplements. Prevagen: Does It Really Help Poor Memory? (2)
See the Neuriva vs. Prevagen Review

Prevagen vs. Exercise For Memory Improvement

Numerous studies indicate a correlation between exercise and memory as well as overall brain function. If this holds true, integrating exercise alongside Prevagen usage might enhance its efficacy. However, concrete evidence is required to confirm this hypothesis. Notably, the evidence supporting the memory benefits of exercise surpasses that of any memory supplement. For individuals capable of engaging in physical activity, even simple activities like walking have been demonstrated to promote brain health.

Prevagen vs. Adderall

Adderall, a prescription medication commonly prescribed for attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is distinct from Prevagen despite the prevalence of Prevagen TV commercials. It's crucial to recognize that Prevagen functions differently from Adderall, making them non-interchangeable. Additionally, without clinical trials, it's impossible to determine if Prevagen could offer similar or enhanced benefits compared to Adderall.

Who Makes Prevagen?

The company is called Quincy BioScience. The business was started in 2004. The website is Quincybioscience.com. The 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…”

Could this be the company that makes Prevagen?

Quincy BioScience is not a Better Business Accredited company. The BBB gave the company an A+ rating when this review was updated.

Contact Prevegan

On Prevagen.com the company contact number listed is 888-565-5385.

Another contact number for Quincy BioScience is 608- 827-8000.

Email the company at Contact@QuincyBioscience.com

Prevagen Customer Complaints

Various people have had issues with this supplement. Complaints seen when scanning various websites are as follows:

  • The cost (about $2 per pill).
  • Claims that prey on people's 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

Quincy Bioscience has been involved in legal disputes with. Here's a summary of the controversy.

In 2015, a class action lawsuit was issued, alleging that Prevagen didn'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 maker of Prevagen disagrees with the class action lawsuit and says 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.

In March of 2024, a jury verdict was reached in the case of The People of the State of New York v. Quincy et al. The jury determined that Quincy violated NY laws and was “materially misleading” by advertising that Prevagen was clinically shown to be able to reduce memory deficits associated with normal aging. The jury also found that claims such as Prevagen was able to improve memory within 90 days were not supported by reliable proof. Ironically, the jury also stated that the claim was not materially misleading. On their website, Quincy Biosciences stated that this was a win for them because it highlighted that the NY Attorney General failed to prove the company was engaged in deceptive advertising.

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?

Can Prevagen Improve Memory In Those With Alzheimer’s?

There is currently no evidence supporting the efficacy of the supplement or its primary component, apoaequorin, in improving Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Despite thorough investigation, no conclusive evidence has been found either affirming or refuting its effectiveness. In the Madison Memory Study mentioned previously, apoaequorin appeared to offer benefits solely to individuals with no memory issues 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.

Can Prevagen Improve Memory in Cats & Dogs?

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 aforementioned Safety study, it was affirmed that Prevagen is deemed safe, emphasizing that “Apoaequorin is readily digested by pepsin,” a prevalent protein-digesting enzyme.

This raises questions about the absorption of Prevagen into the body and, specifically, the brain. Further research is necessary to ascertain whether the supplement's key ingredient can penetrate the bloodstream and reach 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.

Here it is on Amazon

How Much Does It Cost?

Price varies. I have seen it for between $30-$60 a bottle.

How Long Until Prevagen Works?

According to research findings, noticeable effects from the supplement may require up to three months. The efficacy is also influenced by the specific type and severity of memory issues experienced. Notably, the supplement includes a 30-day money-back guarantee. Thus, if taken for the recommended 90 days, reimbursem*nt would only apply to the last bottle purchased.

Prevagen Side Effects

The safety study has indicated that apoaequorin appears to be safe, even at high doses, for up to 3 months in rats. While the supplement is likely safe for healthy individuals, it's important to consider several factors. Here are some considerations to keep in mind (though this list is not exhaustive):

  • Begin with a lower dosage than recommended for the first week to assess your response.
  • Discontinue Prevagen usage at least 2 weeks before undergoing surgery.
  • Consult with your doctor and pharmacist if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Consult with your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any prescription medication.
  • Consult with your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any medication for memory or dementia.

In the testimonials provided, some individuals have reported needing to increase the dosage of Prevagen due to its diminished effectiveness. Additionally, one person noted experiencing slurred speech, dizziness, and a lack of awareness of their surroundings.

Concerns have been raised regarding whether Prevagen may lead to osteoporosis. As the supplement is purported to remove calcium from the brain, there is speculation about whether it could also deplete calcium from the bones, potentially causing osteoporosis. While this is uncertain, no studies have examined bone density after prolonged Prevagen use. Furthermore, research is still required to confirm Prevagen's purported mechanism of removing calcium from the human brain.

Prevagen Pros & Cons

To help people better understand this supplement, here's a quick rundown of what I liked and didn't like. Take this for what it's worth.

What's GoodWhat's Not So Good
Website shows studiesStudies may have issues
Company funds research on their productMedication interactions need more study
Only 1 active ingredientLack of non-company sponsored research
Appears safe. No side effects reported in human studiesCompany has had FDA and FTC run-ins
Might help people who have no memory problemsDoes 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 that Prevagen can cross the blood-brain barrier and improve memory in people with memory problems.

Here it is on Amazon

More Memory Supplement Reviews

  • Prevagen NeuroShake Review
  • Nerium EHT Review
  • Procera AVH Review
  • Focus Factor Review

Any Questions or Comments?

Prevagen: Does It Really Help Poor Memory? (2024)
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