DMAE is one of the most common, potent nootropic ingredients available to us. It can lead to improved cognitive health and can slow down age-related cognitive decline. Amongst its many postulated health benefits, it can reduce the build-up of lipofuscin, the so called ‘age pigment’, whilst also boosting levels of acetylcholine, a compound closely associated with memory.
Written by James Dixon – fact checked by Jason M & the editorial team
James Dixon is one of the key players in the SOMA Analytics’ team. He is a personal trainer and is educated to Masters level in Philosophy. He is a published author and is a keen advocate of high quality nootropic supplements.
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It’s also good for your skin. You will often find it included as an ingredient in some of the better face and body creams, where it is thought to tighten the skin and improve skin quality and tone.
In this article I will look to determine just how effective DMAE is and whether or not you should look to include it in your nootropic supplement.
Benefits associated with DMAE
As mentioned above, DMAE is thought to increase acetylcholine production. If it does indeed do this – and there is a growing bank of evidence to suggest it does – then this represents a great boon for cognitive and mental health and wellbeing.
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical involved in facilitating nerve cell signal transmission. It is crucial in many different brain functions – it’s been linked with learning and memory. Therefore, DMAE proponents claim, taking DMAE as a supplement can improve these facets of cognitive health as acetylcholine levels raise.
For this reason, most nootropic supplements include DMAE as a core part of their formulae. DMAE has been used in the treatment of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), though the evidence attesting to its efficacy is pretty thin. More data are needed before we can say for sure that it works as desired.
DMAE has also been used for a wider variety of cognitive and mental health benefits, including in mitigating symptoms of depression and elevating overall mood and energy levels.
Drugs that work similarly to DMAE have been used as a potential treatment for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, though concrete results have yet to come in.
DMAE isn’t just known for keeping your brain young and healthy. As we’ve seen, it’s also used to keep your skin looking young. You will often find it as a key constituent of anti-aging skin creams and lotions. It is said to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, tighten the skin, especially around the neck, and reduce dark circles under the eyes.
There is a little bit of evidence suggesting that it may work well in these instances.
For instance, research published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology showed that DMAE may help to improve skin firmness whilst also mitigating the effects of skin inflammation. Previous studies cited in that study showed that DMAE may help to reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles on around the eyes and on the forehead, and that it may help to improve aging skin’s overall appearance.
DMAE is easy to take either in oral supplement form or topically, as skin cream. Common nootropic supplements and anti-aging creams use it.
There is little known about DMAE oral supplements’ safety and side effects. Though there is some concern that it may lead to several side effects, such as stomach irritation, muscular tension and headaches, confusion, drowsiness, and irritability – they aren’t based on any kind of concrete evidence.
Indeed, if it works on the brain as proponents claim, the opposite of many of these symptoms should come about – improved alertness and energy levels, a calmer mood, and so forth.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women shouldn’t take DMAE. There are some concerns that it may harm the baby’s neural tube development. Those suffering with either epilepsy or bipolar disorder should also avoid DMAE.
If you have any health concerns, always consult your healthcare provider before beginning any new course of supplements.
There is little to no evidence that topical use of DMAE causes side effects, though it may lead to skin irritation in some. In general, however, it is safe and effective for use on the skin.
There is also no scientific consensus on what constitutes safe or effective DMAE dosing. Broadly, different doses have been used across different studies, with some using as little as 300 mg and others going with as much as 2000 mg daily. Your age, gender, health, and medical history may greatly affect what constitutes a safe or effective DMAE dose for you personally.
Should You Take DMAE?
The science surrounding DMAE and its use is incredibly young and quite thin on the ground. Therefore, we can’t say with certainty whether or not it does as it is intended to do. There simply isn’t the clinical data to say either way.
However, there is some clinical evidence to support its use. There is certainly plenty of anecdotal evidence, for what it’s worth. I would encourage anybody to consider it. Make sure that you speak to your healthcare provider first, though, and follow a few simple guidelines to ensure you get the best product for you.
Firstly, make sure that any DMAE supplement you buy has a Supplement Facts label attached to the packaging, per the National Institute of Health’s (NIH’s) recommendation. This will tell you everything you need to know about the supplement’s formula – its active ingredients, hopefully its dosing (consider going elsewhere if this is missing), and any added bits and pieces like fillers, binders, preservatives, and so forth.
This way, you will be in full control of what you’re putting into your body. At the same time, you’ll be able to control any other variables to make sure that you can find out how DMAE specifically – and only DMAE – affects you.
I would also suggest you go further than the NIH’s guidelines and seek out third-party testing for any DMAE supplement you are interested in. Generally, you should be able to find a seal of approval from some form of third-party lab to ensure quality control. These can include organizations like ConsumerLab.com, NSF International, and U.S. Pharmacopeia.
Though these seals won’t guarantee safety or efficacy, they will at least guarantee proper manufacturing processes, proper dosing, transparent and truthful ingredients listing, and a formula free from harmful levels of contaminants.
Most of the scientific data point to topical use of DMAE as creams, gels, and lotions being safe for most. It has been found to be effective with far more evidence than exists for its use as an oral supplement, with few side effects associated with it.
The Bottom Line
Feel free to use DMAE as an oral supplement to improve your cognitive and mental health, wellbeing, and healthy functioning. However, do bear a couple of things in mind. Firstly, you should only ever do so under your doctor’s supervision, who will be able to guide you safely with your personal medical history in mind. Secondly, ensure that you use a reputable brand, like NooCube, who create their products with data in mind and who can provide evidence of third-party testing.
Also manage your expectations. We are working with shaky, incomplete data here, so do always beware that DMAE may not have any effect on you at all.
The same goes for topical DMAE use. You should consult your doctor, go with trusted brands, and manage your expectations. However, you should also note that the science is a little more robust, here. We can far more ably trace the benefits of using topical DMAE through far more rigorous, far fuller clinical data.
This article was written by: James Dixon – SOMA Analytics PT, Nutritionalist & Published Author
James Dixon is one of the key players in the SOMA Analytics’ team. He is a personal trainer and is educated to Masters level. He is a published author and is a keen advocate of high quality nootropic supplements. James enjoys helping others to reach their peak both physically and mentally and believes that expressing his knowledge through his writing is an effective way to positively impact the wellbeing of others on a larger scale.