Hyderabad: Using a legal loophole, brain supplements or ‘smart drugs’ are being grouped as dietary supplements and sold as over-the-counter drugs. They are being sold with promises of enhanced memory and sharper attention and focus. But there is no proof of the supplements actually boosting memory or slowing the decline of brain function, according to research and surveys.
According to a survey carried out by the Harvard Medical School, 25 per cent of adults over the age of 50 take brain supplements.
The survey found that the persons taking the supplements believed that their use would delay cognitive decline which leads to Alzhei-mer’s disease.
In India, brain supplements have made their way into homes through multi-level marketing schemes, non-resident Indians bringing them in for their parents or sold by abusing the over-the-counter medicine rules.
Nutritionist Dr Janaki Srinath said protein supplements are required only for those whose food does not have enough of it. Even vegetarians can get their protein from paneer, legumes and whole grains.
“Someone deficient in protein must opt for foods which provide it and not take chemicals in powder form. Protein powders are only for those who have a medical condition like a transplant or a surgery. The body absorbs protein best when comes from the food source,” Dr Srinath said.
The Indian population generally suffers from a protein deficiency. Each individual is different and it can’t be standardised. Surveys and researches are being used to say that protein deficiency causes nutritional deficiency, which is not the case.
“Don’t experiment with protein supplements as everybody does not requ-ire it. The total protein requirement for a regular person is 1 gm per kg a day and 1.5 gm per kg a day for body builders,” said Dr K.K. Aggarwal, former president of the Indian Medical Association.
Nutritionist Madhuri Ruia explained, “Consuming supplements has led to metabolic dysfunction and kidney damage. Those who consume high levels of protein food like non-vegetarians must not opt for protein powders as it generates more uric acid in the body. The load on the kidney is very high and that leads to early advent of kidney diseases.”