Developed by scientists and University researchers in Madison, Wisconsin, Prevagen (apoaequorin) is a protein-based brain health supplement claimed to augment proteins that support brain health, which are lost as a result of the aging process. The manufacturer claims that Prevagen’s formulation is based on more than 15 years of research and is clinically shown to improve memory, sharpen your mind, and to help you think more clearly. Because of this, Prevagen is claimed to have been “voted the #1 brain health supplement.”
When compared to many other brain health supplements we’ve reviewed here at HighYa, we have to admit that Prevagen’s website is much more complete and well-rounded than the competition, including links to clinical studies, product labels, and more. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the supplement works any better. Why? Keep reading to find out.
Calcium-Binding Proteins: How Prevagen Claims to Work
According to the Prevagen website, we lose about 30,000 brain cells every day, which can eventually begin affecting memory, focus, and concentration, especially after the age of 40. This is because your body slowly loses the ability to maintain sufficient production of a key protein that supports brain health and prevents memory loss.
Because of this, Prevagen contains 10mg of apoaequorin (20mg for the Extra Strength formulation), which the manufacturer claims is a patented protein ingredient derived from the Aequorea jellyfish that is clinically shown to provide “powerful cell supporting activity” and to help with mild memory problems associated with the aging process (seem more about this in the final section).
Prevagen is claimed to be manufactured in the USA in a cGMP complaint and NSF certified facility, and that by taking 1 capsule daily, you can improve your memory within 30-90 days. However, the company claims that Prevagen can be taken up to 3 times daily if you so choose.
Despite its claimed benefits, the manufacturer asserts that Prevagen is safe and well-tolerated and results in “no significant common side effects.” We’ll talk more about this in the final section.
Prevagen Pricing & Refund Policy
Prevagen is available in a variety of purchasing options and formulations, including:
- 1-Month Supply: $59.95
- Preferred Customer Plan (1 bottle): $44.95 (see more below)
- Buy 2, Get 1 Free: $119.90
- Buy 4, Get 2 Free: $239.80
- Mega Memory Kit (1-year supply): $479.60
- Brain Health Guide: $7.95
- 1-Month Supply Prevagen Extra Strength: $69.95
- 3-Month Supply Prevagen Extra Strength: $179.95
- Prevagen Chewables: $59.95
- Prevagen Chewables – Buy 2, Get 1 Free: $119.90
Prevagen’s shipping prices are between $5.95 and $9.95, depending on your order size.
If you sign up for Prevagen’s Preferred Customer Plan (also known as an autoship program), this means you’ll continue receiving 1 bottle of Prevagen every 30 days, and your credit card will be billed $44.95 plus $5.95 S&H each time.
Prevagen comes with a 30-day refund policy, less S&H charges. If you’d like to cancel your Prevagen Preferred Customer Plan or initiate a refund, you’ll need to contact customer service at 888-814-0814.
If you’d prefer to purchase Prevagen elsewhere, the supplement is also available at Walgreeens, CVS, RiteAid, VitaminShoppe.com, and many other third-party retailers
What Do Other Consumers Have to Say About Prevagen?
Overall, it appears that Prevagen’s online customer reputation is evenly split. In other words, it would seem that half of consumers were very pleased with the supplement, while the other half were not. With this said, some of the most common complaints regarding Prevagen revolved around failure to provide results, high price, and concerns over safety (see more about this in the following section).
However, the manufacturer, Quincy Bioscience, LLC based out of Madison, WI holds an A+ rating with the BBB, with only 1 closed complaint over the past 3 years.
Can Prevagen Help Improve Your Memory?
Despite the professionalism present in the Prevagen website, can you realistically expect it to improve your memory? It’s possible, but keep the following in mind prior to placing your order:
Prevagen is Not a Prescription Product
Although the Prevagen website makes the product look like something from a pharmaceutical company, it’s just a dietary supplement that is sold without any kind approval or oversight from the FDA. Although the manufacturer expressly states in fine print that Prevagen has “not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease,” it could be easy to think otherwise based on how the information is presented.
For more detailed information about what to look out for, be sure to read through our Nutritional Supplements Buyer’s Guide.
The only ingredient contained in Prevagen is apoaequorin, which is a calcium binding protein that helps regulate calcium levels within your body. As a result, this calcium can be used (at least in part) by your body to improve brain function.
However, there isn’t any clinical evidence provided on the Prevagen website that draws a straight line between apoaequorin and improved brain health (more about this in the next section). Instead, here is the manufacturer’s rationale: “Apoaequorin is classified as a protein. Proteins are needed for healthy brain function. Apoaequorin supports healthier brain function.” At least in this instance, it does not logically (or experimentally) follow that A + B = C.
Also, it should be noted that according to the FDA, “Apoaequorin is no longer extracted from the jellyfish, rather rapidly dividing host cells are ‘taught’ to grow the unique protein.” In other words, it’s synthetic, although this is alluded to on the product’s FAQ page.
Overall, there are just three studies listed on the Prevagen website to “prove” its efficacy:
- This 2014 study (which is the primary one), completed by the company, claims to have consisted of 218 men and women between the ages of 40 and 91. Each was either given Prevagen (experimental group) or a placebo (control group), who were then tested a regular intervals using the CogState Research Test Battery to test memory recall. Overall, it appears that the experimental group did experience better results than the control group in many areas, although most of these differences ranged between 5% and 10%, although a select few were as high as 20%.
- This 2009 study, which did show some fairly remarkable improvements in memory, word recall, and forgetfulness. However, it’s important to note that the results were tabulated through self-assessed questionnaires (e.g. each participant was asked a question, who then provided feedback) and not through a formal clinical study.
- A “Quality of Life” study (also from 2009 and in a self-assessment format) that referenced only quality of sleep, not memory.
In a warning letter issued by the FDA to Prevagen’s manufacturer in October 2012, the organization stated that, “Prevagen contains a synthetic version of the jellyfish-derived protein apoaequorin. The warning letter states that because this ingredient is not a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb, botanical or an extract or metabolite thereof, it cannot be a dietary supplement ingredient.” In addition, the FDA claimed that the company failed “to report adverse events and product complaints associated with Prevagen, including heart arrhythmias, chest pain, vertigo, tremors, and fainting, seizures and strokes.”
With this said, according to the product’s website, Prevagen is safe, which they back up by referring to 2 studies (here and here). However, it’s important to note that both studies were conducted on mice, not humans.
Finally, at least according to a 2014 article in the Madison, WI-based Isthmus newspaper, “Far more scathing in his criticism is UW-Madison neuroscientist Baron Chanda. "This product doesn't make sense. It's basically quackery," he says after reviewing some of the online Prevagen research. He says there is no way the apoaequorin protein could survive the digestive tract and make its way to the brain. Prevagen purchasers, he suggests, are basically being played for "suckers."
For a complete breakdown about what to look for when investigating brain supplements, we’d strongly recommend reading our Do Brain Supplements Really Work? article.
With a fairly high price, little peer-reviewed clinical evidence showing its efficacy, and some safety concerns, you might want to speak with your physician about more effective methods of improving your brainpower than Prevagen.