Health Clubs and Food Retailers to Promote Alternatives to Brain-​Aiding Supplements

BY Rachel Cagle
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"A recent survey found that about 25% of adults over age 50 take a supplement to improve their brain health with the promise of enhanced memory and sharper attention and focus. The problem? There's no solid proof any of them work, reports Harvard Health Publishing."

"'The main issue with all over-​the-​counter supplements is lack of regulation,' says Dr. Gad Marshall, associate medical director at the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Harvard-​affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. 'The FDA doesn't oversee product testing or ingredient accuracy — they just look out for supplements that make health claims related to the treatment of specific diseases.'"

"In terms of brain health, this means a supplement manufacturer can claim a product helps with mental alertness or memory loss, but not that it protects against or improves dementia or Alzheimer's disease. 'This way manufacturers don't have to back up any claim that their product is effective or even safe,' says Dr. Marshall."

"A combination of nutrients

Many brain supplements focus on omega‑3 fatty acids (such as those found in fish oil), vitamin E, various B vitamins, or various combinations. Why these?"

"There's strong evidence that certain diets (like the Mediterranean diet, the DASH diet, and the MIND diet) can help improve cognitive function, according to Dr. Marshall."

"Still, this doesn't mean that the brain supplements may not work," says Dr. Marshall. "It's just that there is not much, if any, evidence from randomized clinical trials (the gold standard for research) on isolated vitamins or minerals and brain health."

"Thinking about supplements

So the question remains: with no evidence, why do people still buy in to brain health supplements? 'The idea still exists that it's easier to take a pill than to make lasting lifestyle changes,' says Dr. Marshall."

"Until more is known, Dr. Marshall's advice is to save your money. 'Invest more in doing aerobic exercise and following a plant-​based diet. These can help with memory and brain health in the long term more than any supplement.'"

Restaurants and health clubs can target Vitamin/​Nutritional Supplement Shoppers with both digital and traditional ads that showcase the news that diet and exercise can help brains more than supplements. Last year, these consumers took action after receiving direct mail ads, seeing TV commercials, receiving email ads and finding ads on daily deals sites such as Groupon, according to AudienceSCAN. Additionally, within the last month, 26.6% of this audience visited the website of a local newspaper, and 21.2% took action after seeing a newspaper ad.

AudienceSCAN data is available for your applications and dashboards through the SalesFuel API. In addition, AdMall contains industry profiles on health clubs and supermarkets/​grocery stores, as well as lead lists at the local level. Media companies, sales reps and agencies can access this data with a subscription to AdMall from SalesFuel.