Prevagen and Apoaequorin for Memory Enhancement?

28 July 2018 (16 May 2018)
Connie Packer


In 2007, Quincy Bioscience started selling Prevagen, a supplement containing apoaequorin. About a year ago, they added vitamin D to the formula. And today, Prevagen ingredients are vitamin D and apoaequorin at a couple different doses. Hypothetically, Prevagen uses apoaequorin to enhance memory. In fact, some apoaequorin reviews suggest that it may improve memory by binding to excess calcium in neurons. But, as we'll see, apoaequorin hasn't lived up to that hypothesis in the real world.


For many people, when they think of Prevagen, jellyfish come to mind. That's because apoaequorin is a protein found in Aequorea Victoria jellyfish. The apoaequorin protein has 3 sites where it can bind calcium. And when bound to calcium, the protein luminesces. That's how jellyfish glow.

The luminescent and calcium-binding properties of apoaequorin attracted attention from researchers in the 1960s. And eventually, in 2008, Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Y. Tsien were awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry for the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein, GFP, which is found in the same jellyfish and has similar applications. By way of these fluorescent proteins, GFP and apoaequorin, jellyfish have provided researchers with useful markers of protein synthesis and calcium presence.

How Does Apoaequorin Work?

Various factors affect human memory. They include amyloid, acetylcholine, glutamate, oxidative stress, and calcium. In particular, an increased level of calcium in neurons is associated with neurodegeneration. And the production of calcium binding proteins in neurons decreases with age.

So what does apoaequorin do? Remember the calcium binding property of apoaequorin. When neurons are studied in a laboratory environment, apoaequorin binds calcium and prevents neuron death. So scientists hoped that apoaequorin benefits could be extended from the lab to human neurons in the real world.

Is Apoaequorin Good for Memory?

There are a few hurdles to transporting a calcium binder such as apoaequorin to brain neurons in the human body. After ingestion, it must first travel from the gastrointestinal tract into the blood, then travel through the blood without binding to calcium, and finally cross the blood-brain barrier.

However, apoaequorin is a protein. And in the stomach, the digestive enzyme pepsin breaks down proteins, including apoaequorin. Apoaequorin is described as a rapidly digested protein. This characteristic makes it rather tolerable and inactive. So side effects of apoaequorin, interactions with drugs or other nutrients, and other health risks are rare. But rapid digestion also inhibits the protein from ever reaching the brain to help with memory, or to provide any other potential brain health benefits of apoaequorin.

Prevagen Memory Study

The Madison Memory Study was a 90 day clinical trial of Prevagen apoaequorin tablets. The study is available on the Quincy Bioscience website. In the study, the control group was given rice flour as a placebo with no noted protein in it. The treatment group experienced improvements in various test scores. However, the control group also experienced significant improvements in multiple test scores.

The clinical significance of the change in test scores was not discussed, and the individuals’ Reliable Change Index was not calculated as recommended by CogState, the developer of the testing tools. Only the improvements in verbal learning and recall were reported in the published part of the Madison Memory Study. The improvement in the treatment group was identified as a 7.41% increase in words recalled. That is less than one word from a list of 12, meaning the results may not be enough to have any significant impact on daily life, if any improvement at all could be attributed to the supplement.

While apoaequorin has had desired results in a laboratory environment, the oral supplement in a human body has not proven effective. The protein apoaequorin is digested in the stomach environment. And the trial using the Prevagen supplement was shown practically insignificant for improving memory.

How to Make Prevagen Work

A computer model suggests that binding apoaequorin with cholesterol molecules might solve the problem. Cholesterol might be able to protect the apoaequorin from being digested in the stomach, help it be absorbed into the lymph system, and aid it in crossing the blood-brain barrier. It still needs to be shown that this complex can be made, and that it is able to be transported through the human body to the brain. And, ultimately, it will need to be demonstrated that oral consumption of the modified complex results in memory improvement.

What Supplement Is Good for Memory?

Despite poor Prevagen reviews, and despite the current inefficacy of supplementing with apoaequorin, memory can still be improved today by supplementing with other nutrients. These Prevagen substitutes are known as "nootropics." And evidence suggests that there are good nootropics for memory. When considering a nootropic to add to your regimen, here are some factors to consider.

First, look for clinical trials that show effectiveness in humans. Research on neurons in controlled laboratory environments helps to understand how a compound may impact neuron function, but it does not take into account the challenges of delivery.

An example of the type of study to look for when considering supplementation was conducted on bacopa monnieri, which may be among the best nootropics for memory. In the randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, it was found that bacopa supplementation for 12 weeks improved measures of delayed recall and Stroop task (a measurement of focus), while the placebo group remained unchanged. Depression and anxiety scores improved in the bacopa group, while the scores worsened in the placebo group. It was also noted that heart rate decreased in the bacopa treated group. These findings agree with similar findings in other studies.

Second, as needed depending on your personal situation, look up the risk for medication interaction, toxicity, and contraindications (health conditions the supplement could exacerbate).

And third, buy nootropics and all dietary supplements from companies that standardize their products and responsibly seek out quality suppliers.

If you are looking for a supplement that will help you improve your memory, Thrivous recommends Clarity Daily Nootropic. Each serving of Clarity provides a dose of bacopa monnieri that corresponds to the doses that scientists have tested and found to be effective for improving memory in multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. Talk to your doctor about starting Clarity today!

Buy Thrivous Clarity Daily Nootropic