|

Will BrainStrong boost your brain?

The evidence for this DHA supplement is lacking

Consumer Reports magazine: September 2012

“What did I walk into this room for?” a woman wonders in the TV ad. “Your sunglasses,” her dog answers from the couch. “Need a memory boost?” a narrator asks. “Now there’s BrainStrong.” It closes with the tag line “Nourish your brain.”

BrainStrong ($17 to $30 for a 30-day supply) is a line of nutritional supplements with an algae-derived form of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in fish. The company says it provides “optimized DHA nourishment” for almost every life stage. A kids’ version “helps support your child’s brain development”; an adult formula is “clinically shown to improve adult memory.” There’s also a version for toddlers and one for pregnant women.

The deal with DHA
It’s true that DHA is critical for adult brain function and fetal and infant eye and nervous-system development. And data show that dietary consumption of DHA is typically low in Western countries.

But the evidence is insufficient to determine whether taking supplements of DHA improves cognitive development or performance. The American Academy of Pediatrics has no position on omega-3 fatty-acid supplementation in children, saying that large clinical studies are lacking.

A spokeswoman for BrainStrong referred us to an American Heart Association recommendation that adults who don’t get enough omega-3s from food should take a supplement. But that advice applies only to people with heart disease or high triglycerides, for whom there’s some good evidence that omega-3 supplements can be beneficial.

Bottom line. Save your money. Most healthy people can get all the DHA they need from two servings a week of low-mercury fatty fish, such as wild salmon, mackerel, and tilapia. Vegetarians can get a different kind of omega-3 from flaxseed, walnuts, and canola oil. Ask your doctor before taking any supplement or giving one to a child. Like all supplements, BrainStrong is not FDA-reviewed for safety or efficacy.

   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

TV REVIEWS
Black Friday: Top 5 deals on TVs that cost less than $500Video This year you can go bigger than ever without spending a bundle.
MATTRESS REVIEWS
Holiday planning: Best mattresses for guest rooms Your visitors will appreciate these beds, which are easy on the budget.
PICKUP TRUCK REVIEWS
Automakers work to boost fuel economy in their pickupsVideo The 2015 Ford F-150's fuel economy tops the competitions' mpg.
CELL PHONE SERVICE REVIEWS
Small carriers outrank big ones in our latest survey AT&T? Verizon? Ting? U.S. Cellular? Find out which company to choose.
GLUTEN-FREE TASTE TEST
Will a gluten-free diet really make you healthier? Video Before you decide to go gluten-free, learn why it might not be a good idea.
COFFEEMAKER REVIEWS
Small appliances at Black Friday prices all year long Check out the good buys from our tests plus a few splurges.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars New Car Price Report
Find out what the dealers don't want you to know! Get dealer pricing information on a new car with the New Car Price Report.

Order Your Report

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more