Prevagen is a supplement that’s touted as a way to improve memory and cognition, particularly if you’re experiencing issues related to aging.
There are several pros and cons of Prevagen to be aware of before trying the supplement, however. We cover some of these below and determine how long you can take Prevagen.
How Does Prevagen Work?
The primary active ingredient in Prevagen is apoaequorin. The protein was initially obtained from a type of glowing jellyfish in 1962. When apoaequorin is exposed to calcium, the protein binds to it. The protein has been used for decades to study how calcium works within cells.
The type of apoaequorin in Prevagen is synthetically made but acts, in the same way, to bind to calcium.
So how might this help memory?
Researchers believe problems with regulating calcium in the human brain might be associated with mental decline related to age. Since apoaequorin’s structure is similar to calcium-binding proteins, the idea is that it could help with the regulation of calcium levels in the brain. These effects could, in theory, help reduce mental decline and memory loss.
Some of the effects of Prevagen could include helping with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). According to some reports, taking 20 mg of apoaequorin every two to three hours and an additional high dose before bed could help slow the progression of ALS. However, the research confirming this is limited right now.
Early research has found taking 10 mg of apoaequorin daily for 90 days could help improve some measures of mental function in older adults.
Similarly, early research shows that 10 mg of apoaequorin daily for 90 days can help with word recall and forgetfulness. There’s a bit of low-quality research showing that apoaequorin can help with sleep quality.
Is Prevagen Safe?
Based on what we know, Prevagen is possibly safe when you take it orally as instructed. In research conducted by Quincy Bioscience, the company that makes it, it’s been used safely for up to 90 days.
There’s no available high-quality research that definitively evaluates the side effects apoaequorin can cause.
Some people have reported side effects to the manufacturer, the most common of which are dizziness, headache, and nausea. Other less commonly reported side effects include problems sleeping and anxiety.
Serious but rarely reported side effects include events related to the nervous system and heart issues, although we don’t know with certainty these effects are due to Prevagen.
The FDA’s Concerns
Prevagen has faced some lawsuits and troubles with the FDA. Quincy Bioscience has primarily been sued for false advertising by the government.
Commercials for Prevagen describe it as safe and effective, but there’s not enough research to say that at least according to critics, including the FDA.
There have been FDA inspections over the years that have found issues with the manufacturing processes used by Quincy, as well as how the company does quality control testing and handles complaints.
An internal report from the FDA in 2015 indicated that Prevagen was associated with numerous adverse events, including a serious safety hazard.
The FDA hasn’t publicly expressed concerns about Prevagen, however.
How Long Can You Take Prevagen?
Since there is limited research on Prevagen, and the only major study was carried out by the company that makes it, there’s no clear answer to how long you can safely take Prevagen.
We know that the study Quincy Bioscience uses to make its claims had participants take Prevagen for 90 days. There weren’t any major reported side effects in that study during that period.
We don’t know if you can safely use it for more than 90 days.
In human studies, apoaequorin is well-tolerated for up to 90 days. In animal safety studies, much higher doses than the Prevagen dose were well-tolerated without adverse effects.
Does Prevagen Work?
While some evidence shows that Prevagen could help with some measures of memory and cognition, there’s one big issue to be aware of with the supplement. Protein, which is what apoaequorin is, don’t usually make it past the GI system. That’s where they’re processed and broken down.
That means the protein isn’t likely to make it past the blood-brain barrier, or at least not much of it.
If the active ingredient can’t make it to the brain, it can’t regulate calcium levels.
Looking forward, a lot more research needs to be done on this supplement before we can say with certainty whether it’s safe and effective and how long you can take it.
If you have questions about taking supplements, speak to your health care provider.