Does Prevagen Work? And What Is Apoaequorin?

Updated 19 February 2020
Connie Packer


In 2007, Quincy Bioscience started selling Prevagen, a supplement containing apoaequorin. Later, they added vitamin D to the formula. And today, Prevagen ingredients include vitamin D and apoaequorin at a couple different doses.

According to some Prevagen reviews, the supplement uses apoaequorin to enhance memory and promote a sharper mind. And some apoaequorin reviews suggest that the chemical may improve memory by binding to excess calcium in neurons. But, as we'll see, Prevagen and apoaequorin haven't lived up to those claims in the real world.

What Is Apoaequorin?

For many people, when they think of Prevagen, jellyfish come to mind. That's because apoaequorin is a protein found in the Aequorea Victoria jellyfish.

The apoaequorin protein has three sites where it can bind to calcium. And when bound to calcium, the protein luminesces with a blue light. That's how jellyfish glow.

What Does Apoaequorin Do?

The luminescent property of apoaequorin attracted attention from scientists as early as the 1960s. And in 2008, researchers received a Nobel prize in chemistry for the discovery of green fluorescent protein (GFP). GFP is also a jellyfish protein. And it has applications that are similar to those of apoaequorin.

Researchers can attach these fluorescent proteins to other proteins. Once attached, they serve as visible markers that researchers can easily observe as the combined proteins change in the body. And this has proven useful in advancing scientific understanding of how proteins work.

What Is Apoaequorin Used For?

Various chemicals affect human memory. They include amyloid, acetylcholine, glutamate, and calcium. In particular, an increased level of calcium in neurons is associated with their atrophy and loss of function. And the production of calcium binding proteins in neurons decreases with age.

Remember the calcium binding property of apoaequorin. In a laboratory environment, it binds to calcium, decreases calcium levels, and prevents neuron death. So scientists hoped that apoaequorin benefits could be extended from the lab to human neurons in the real world.

How Well Does Prevagen Work 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 digestive tract into the blood. Then it must travel through the blood without binding to calcium. And finally it must cross the blood-brain barrier.

However, apoaequorin is a protein. In the stomach, the digestive enzyme pepsin breaks down proteins. And apoaequorin happens to be a rapidly digested protein. This characteristic makes it relatively tolerable, but also relatively inactive.

So Prevagen side effects, interactions with drugs or other nutrients, and other health risks are rare. But rapid digestion also inhibits apoaequorin from ever reaching the brain. And if it cannot reach the brain, it cannot stop memory loss or provide any other brain health benefits.

Memory Loss

Prevagen Memory Study

In 2010, 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 treatment group was given Prevagen. And a control group was given rice flour as a placebo. The treatment group experienced improvements in various test scores. However, the control group also experienced significant improvements in test scores.

In their report, researchers did not discuss the clinical significance of all the changes in test scores. And they did not calculate the test scores as recommended by CogState, the developer of the testing tools. They only reported improvements in verbal learning and recall in the published part of the Madison Memory Study.

Words recalled by the treatment group increased by 7.41%. That is less than one word from a list of twelve. Such results may not have much impact on daily life. And it may be difficult to discern memory improvement from using the Prevagen supplement.

While they had interesting results in test tubes, apoaequorin supplements did not prove effective in the human body. The protein apoaequorin was probably digested in the stomach before reaching the brain. And the study showed that the supplement probably isn’t significant 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 protein from being digested in the stomach. And that may improve absorption into the lymph system, and aid apoaequorin in crossing the blood-brain barrier.

But researchers still need to demonstrate that this complex can be made. They still need to show that there’s a way to transport the complex through the human body to the brain. And, ultimately, they will need to demonstrate that oral consumption of the modified complex actually results in memory improvement.

Prevagen Lawsuit for Deceptive Claims

At least for now, it appears that there’s little to no peer reviewed evidence that Prevagen improves memory. And as a dietary supplement, Prevagen hasn’t been clinically shown to treat any disease. But that didn’t stop Quincy Biosciences from making such claims.

Consequently, Quincy Biosciences ran into trouble with government agencies in the United States. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent a warning letter to the Quincy Bioscience headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin. And in 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the New York state attorney general filed a lawsuit. They charged that Prevagen and Quincy Biosciences were “making deceptive memory, cognitive improvement claims.”


What Supplement Is Good for Memory?

Despite poor Prevagen reviews, there are Prevagen alternatives. These Prevagen substitutes are known as "nootropics." And peer reviewed evidence suggests that some nootropics actually can enhance memory.

Nootropics enhance cognitive functioning or promote brain health. They include various drugs and supplements. When considering a nootropic to add to your regimen, there are a few factors to consider.

First, look for clinical trials that show effectiveness in humans. Research on neurons in controlled laboratory environments helps researchers understand how a compound may impact neuron function. But that doesn’t account for the challenge of delivering the compound through the body to the neurons.

An example of the type of study to look for has been conducted on Bacopa Monnieri. Bacopa is a nootropic herb. And it may be the best nootropic for memory.

Researchers conducted a double blinded, placebo controlled, human study of Bacopa supplements. Participants used the supplements for twelve weeks. Afterwards, they exhibited statistically significant improvements to delayed recall and focus. By comparison, the memory performance of the placebo group remained unchanged.

Depression and anxiety scores also improved in the bacopa group, while those scores worsened in the placebo group. And researchers noted that heart rate decreased in the bacopa group. These findings agree with findings in other human studies of Bacopa.

Second, look up the risks, as needed depending on your personal situation. Risks may include drug interactions or toxicity. And supplements can exacerbate some health conditions. So talk with a qualified health care professional for medical advice before and during use of all supplements.

Third, buy nootropics and all dietary supplements from reliable vendors. In particular, look for vendors that use quality suppliers, adhere to good manufacturing processes, and publish evidence for their claims.

Thrivous Clarity

If you’re looking for a supplement to improve your memory, Thrivous recommends Clarity Daily Nootropic. Each serving of Clarity provides 320 mg of Synapsa® Bacopa Monnieri, standardized to 55% bacoside. This matches the standardized dose that scientists have tested and found to be effective for improving memory in multiple human studies.

Clarity Daily Nootropic also includes a clinical dose of Rhodiola Rosea, as well as nootropic vitamins and minerals. These nutrients complement Bacopa to enhance cognitive endurance, promote focus, and support healthy brain function. Each nutrient and each dose is based on multiple human studies.

Thrivous also tests each nutrient in Clarity and their combination multiple times. Rigorous quality control verifies each nutrient’s identity, potency, and safety from microbes and heavy metals. And Thrivous openly publishes all of our test results from suppliers, manufacturing, and third-parties. This is an exceptional practice in the supplement industry.

Expect the best science and the best quality. And expect real results. Buy Clarity Daily Nootropic today.

Buy Clarity Daily Nootropic

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