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BrainStrong™ Review: Why do we need them and what is the evidence that they work?

 

Dr. James G. Elliott, Ph.D.

July 5, 2011

 

What is BrainStrong?

 

BrainStrong is the name of a new category of supplements positioned for brain and eye development in babies, toddlers and children and for memory improvement in 55+ age adults. All four products in this line rely on life’sDHA the same DHA that is used exclusively in infant formulas. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to be essential for brain and eye development in babies and young children.

 

These four products are manufactured by i-Health Brands, a subsidiary of DSM, an international life sciences company that is the leader in manufacturing of vitamins and dietary supplement ingredients for human nutrition and health. 

 

BrainStrong™ Adult

BrainStrong™ Adult is an optimized supplement for adults 55+ to support brain health and to improve memory.  Each serving provides 900 mg DHA and 200 mg of a proprietary blend of L-theanine and green tea extract.

 

Its claim is: Clinically shown to improve memory

 

Although we continue to need DHA throughout the life span this product is focused on adults aged 55+ based on a new clinical study (the MIDAS study) in which 55+ year old subjects with a mild memory problem were given 900 mg DHA or a placebo daily for 24 weeks.  The subjects in the DHA group had almost double the reduction in errors on a test that measures learning and memory performance versus the subjects on placebo after 24 weeks (21). If taken daily this product should help protect against normal age-related decline in cognition and mental clarity.  However, don’t expect immediate results.  Subjects on the MIDAS study took it for 24 weeks before seeing these results.

 

Click Here to Buy BrainStrong™ Adult

 

 

BrainStrong™ Toddler and BrainStrong™ Kids

BrainStrong™ Toddler is a source of DHA for brain health development in children 1 to 3 years of age. BrainStrong™ Kids is an optimized source of DHA for kids ages 4 to 12 to help the brain, retina of the eye and heart continue to develop and function properly.

 

Both claim: Support Brain Development and Function

 

Infants up to 1 year of age get DHA from breast milk or infant formula fortified with DHA but the need for DHA does not stop there.  Toddlers also need DHA for their developing brain, eyes and nervous system. This product provides 100 mg/day DHA to meet that need and 90 mg of vitamin C.

 

   Click Here to Buy BrainStrong Toddler   

 

Children ages 4 to 12 continue to grow but do not outgrow their need for DHA.  At this age they are eating the same foods at the older family members but they may refuse to eat fish which contain the omega-3s.  This product provides 100 mg/day DHA in a form more acceptable to them.

 

Click Here to Buy BrainStrong™ Kids

 

 

BrainStrong™ Prenatal

BrainStrong™ Prenatal contains a complete multivitamin tablet formulated to meet the nutritional needs of pregnant women plus a soft gel of DHA. The tablet contains all the essential vitamins and some minerals at levels recommended for pregnant women including folic acid which is essential for prevention of neutral tube defects in babies.  The soft gel contains 350 mg of DHA for the baby’s brain and eye development.

 

Its claim is: Supports Brain and Eye Development for Your Baby

 

There are numbers of studies that demonstrate that DHA is essential for development of the brain and eye (1-13).  If the mother’s stores of DHA are low the baby will be born with low levels in the brain which may affect its cognitive development.  Studies show that prenatal DHA supplementation resulted in mental development in children such as improved psychomotor development at 2.5 years of age and improved attention skills at 5 years of age (14-20). After birth the newborn should continue to receive DHA either from breast milk or from infant formula.  Most infant formulas now contain DHA and in 99% of these the source is life’sDHA from Martek, the same as in the BrainStrong™ products. Pregnant and nursing women in the U.S. consume on average 60-80 mg of DHA a day from food and drink which is only 20-25% of the recommended intake. That's why DHA is one of the most important supplements for pregnancy and this product contains 350 mg DHA which is fully adequate.

 

Click Here to Buy BrainStrong™ Prenatal

 

 

 

 References:

1. Martinez M. Tissue levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids during early human development. Pediatr, 1992. 120:S129-38

2. Lauritzen L, et al. The essentiality of long chain n-3 fatty acids in relation to development and function of the brain and retina. Prog Lipid Res, 2001. 40:1-94.

3. Crawford MA. The role of essential fatty acids in neural development: implications for perinatal nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr, 1993. 57:703S-709S.

4. Benisek D, et al. Dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids by pregnant or lactating women in the United States. Obstet Gynecol, 2000. 95:S77-S78.

5. Innis SM. Plasma and red blood cell fatty acid values as indexes of essential fatty acids in the developing organs of infants fed with milk or formulas. J Pediatr, 1992. 120:S78-86.

6. Makrides M, et al. Effect of maternal docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) supplementation on breast milk composition. Eur J Clin Nutr, 1996. 50:352-7.

7. Carlson SE, et al. Docosahexaenoic acid status of preterm infants at birth and following feeding with human milk or formula. Am J Clin Nutr, 1986. 44(6):798-804.

8. Jensen CL, et al. Effect of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation of lactating women on the fatty acid composition of breast milk lipids and maternal and infant plasma phospholipids. Am J Clin Nutr, 2000. 71:292S-9S.

9. van Houwelingen AC, et al. Essential fatty acid status in neonates after fish oil supplementation during late pregnancy. Br J Nutr, 1995. 74(5):723-31.

10. Gibson RA, et al. Effect of increasing breast milk docosahexaenoic acid on plasma and erythrocyte phospholipid fatty acids and neural indices of exclusively breast fed infants. Eur J Clin Nutr, 1997. 51:578-84.

11. Hart SL, et al. Brief Report: Newborn Behavior Differs with Docosahexaenoic Acid Levels in Breast Milk. J of Pediatric Psychology, 2005. 31:221-226.

12. SanGiovanni JP, et al. The role of omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in health and disease of the retina. Prog Retin Eye Res, 2005. 24:87-138

13. Hoffman DR, et al. Visual function in breast-fed term infants weaned to formula with or without long-chain polyunsaturates at 4 to 6 months: a randomized clinical trial. J of Pediatr, 2003. 142 (6): 669-677.

14. Horwood LJ, et al. Breastfeeding and later cognitive and academic outcomes. Pediatr, 1998. 101:e9.

15. Helland IB, et al. Maternal Supplementation With Very-Long-Chain n-3 Fatty Acids During Pregnancy and Lactation Augments Children's IQ at 4 Years of Age. Pediatrics, 2003. 111:e39-44.

16. Jensen CL, et al. Effects of Maternal Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Supplementation on Visual Function and Neurodevelopment of Breast-fed Infants. Pediatric Research, 2001. 49:448A.

17. Jensen CL, et al., Effects of maternal docosahexaenoic acid intake on visual function and neurodevelopment in breastfed term infants. Am J Clin Nutr, 2005. 82(1):1579-86.

18. Jensen CL, et al. Effect of Maternal Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) Supplementation on Neuropsychological and Visual Status of Former Breast-fed Infants at Five Years of Age (abstr.). Pediatric Research, 2004. 49:181A.

19. Cohen JT, et al. A Quantitative Analysis of Prenatal Intake of n-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cognitive Development. Am J Prev Med, 2005. 29(4):366-374.

20. Willatts P, et al. Effect of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in infant formula on problem solving at 10 months of age. Lancet, 1998. 352(9129):688-91.

21. Yurko-Mauro K, et al. Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2010. 6:456-464.