DMAE, also known as Dimethylaminoethanol is often touted as a way to improve memory mood and focus as well as it’s more commonly known use as a skin health supplement. The question is of course, whether DMAE is good for memory, or whether or not it’s a lot of hype from the supplements industry again, with little actual substance.
The short answer in this case is actually yes, there is some backing to the claims. Perhaps not as much as some DMAE manufacturers would like you to believe, but it’s definitely not a bad ingredient for a nootropic. It was actually at one point a prescription only ingredient. Which does of course go some way to demonstrating it has some reasonable backing. However, it was taken off the market due to the high cost of further medical testing.
So What Is DMAE?
DMAE is a compound naturally produced in the human body and can also be found in fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and anchovies. It is thought to work by increasing the production of acetylcholine (ACh), a neurotransmitter that enables communication between nerve cells.
While DMAE is naturally present in the body, it does survive when taken orally. Meaning that it can reach the brain when taken as a supplement. Which is of course, the first thing we have to look at when questioning whether or not it’s going to work.
How Does DMAE Work for Memory?
DMAE' has the ability to increase choline levels in the brain. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine which does have a positive effect on memory.
Acetylcholine is essential for the brain to create and retrieve of memories. As such we are working with some backing in terms of theory. So do the studies show it works in real life, not just in theory?
There have been several studies on DMAE’s impact on memory, with results generally being positive, there are some clinical studies which did however show it to not be too much better than a placebo.
For example a study published in the journal of psychopharmacology showed DMAE reduced the effect of scopolamine on deteriorating long-term memory in generally healthy volunteers.  And one of the more interesting studies used DMAE as an amnesia cure, The results we so positive that they suggested DMAE can be used as a standalone treatment, and that it actually worked. However, this was the only study of it’s type and has not been replicated. But it does show DMAE could work for both healthy participants and those with cognitive issues.
However, a meta analysis conducted in 2012 did suggest the results were more mixed, with the consensus being generally favorable, but we’re talking more about 70% positive and 30% having no benefit.  Meaning there’s a fair chance it does work for some people, but it’s not a universal supplement. This could mean that it makes up for a deficiency for some, but does little for others.
How Much DMAE Should I Take?
The recommended dosage for DMAE supplements typically ranges from 100 to 200 mg per day. That’s the amount used in most of the studies, and in this case the 100mg end seems to be as effective as 200mg.
DMAE Side Effects
While DMAE is generally considered safe for short-term or intermittent use, exceeding recommended dosages can lead to adverse effects. The most common side effects that result from overuse are gastrointestinal disturbances, body odor, drowsiness, confusion, increased blood pressure, moderate depression, or persistent irritability.
In terms of side effects when sticking to recommended DMAE dosages, it’s usually just the stomach issues.
So, Does DMAE improve memory?
We’d say there’s a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest it’s worth trying as a supplement, it doesn’t seem to have any major drawbacks and is considered safe. The evidence does also suggest that it could work for both healthy people looking to improve memory as well as people with memory issues, although the later would require further investigation.
Should you take DMAE before bed?
While there is no specific recommendation regarding the timing of DMAE supplementation, it is generally advisable to take it earlier in the day to prevent potential sleep disturbances.
Why is DMAE banned?
DMAE itself is not banned, but its prescription form, known as Deaner or Deanol, was taken off the market in 1983 due to the high cost of conducting additional clinical trials to prove its effectiveness.
Does taking DMAE cause anxiety?
While DMAE is generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience increased anxiety as a side effect. It is important to monitor your response to DMAE and discontinue use if anxiety symptoms persist or worsen.
What is the best way to take DMAE?
DMAE can be taken orally in the form of tablets or capsules, applied topically as a serum, or incorporated into skincare products. The best way to take DMAE depends on your specific needs and preferences.
How long does it take for DMAE to start working?
The onset of DMAE's effects may vary depending on several factors, including individual metabolism and dosage. Some individuals may notice improvements in cognitive function and memory within a few weeks of consistent DMAE supplementation.
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