7 On Your Side: Memory Boosters - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/9/06

7 On Your Side: Memory Boosters

Madeline Arruda has a "mind" boggling schedule. Between babysitting and helping to run her family business, she finds it hard to keep it all straight. "I have a calendar which I call my 'bible' that I write everything into. I also have post-its," says Madeline Arruda who takes Gingko Biloba. But Madeline says it's a daily dose of Ginkgo Biloba that keeps her memory in check. "It's a 'thumbs up' for me in my life!" The pills claim to boost memory, mental clarity and focus but is there science behind the supplements? Ginkgo expert Dr. Steven Dekosky says there are a number of studies published on the short term effects of the botanical. "Some suggest that it does have an effect on memory and others have not found that effect," says Dr. Dekosky. Even with the jury still out believers have made ginkgo a more than 100 million dollar business with dozens of brands on the market. Are consumers getting what they pay for?

We looked at dozens of supplements and put 13 of the most popular to the test. Of those 13, only six passed our test. Meaning that they had all of the compounds you'd expect to find in ginkgo," says Dr. Cooperman. Including naturally occurring compounds like flavonol glycosides and terpene lactones that Dr. Cooperman says may be the key to unlocking your memory. Of the seven that failed: "Either the right amount of ginkgo wasn't in there or they were using a very poor quality," says Dr. Cooperman. He also says while most supplements have trace levels of lead, he was concerned about what he found in three of the brands tested. "It's actually more lead than we've ever seen in supplements. We don't know if the levels in these products is enough to cause injury or symptoms in adults. It's just something you want to avoid!," says Cooperman. Canadian Sun, one of the companies flagged for lead by Consumer Lab, tells us it is in "total compliance with all the Canadian regulations" and that its products are "highly tested in accordance with very strict guidelines." Another manufacturer, Olympian Labs, says it "has issued a recall notice with respect to the product in question." We contacted the FDA which says it does not regulate supplements nor does it set lead levels for them. "The best we can do since these are unregulated is to tell people to be very careful," warns Dr. Dekosky. So what should gingko lovers do? First, read the label carefully. Experts say look specifically for gingko extract. "The clinical trials are usually done with the extract so you should try to stick with products made from extract," says Dr. Cooperman. He also says the studies that did show ginkgo had a positive effect on memory found the benefit in products with specific amounts of certain antioxidants. "Look for products that are standardized to contain 24% flavonol glycosides and 6% terpene lactones. At least you know those companies know what they're shooting for," Dr. Cooperman suggests. Madeline's brand didn't contain 6% terpene lactones. She says she'll remember to check the label next time she buys her ginkgo! "I do intend to take it in the future. I do believe it has helped me," says Madeline.

Dr. Dekosky is currently involved in a long term study on the effects of Ginkgo Biloba on alzheimer's and dementia. The six year study, supported by the National Institutes of Health, is still on going.

Christine Nelson reporting. cnelson@kltv.com

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