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Vitamins, Minerals and Dietary Supplements

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DMAE

What is DMAE? Why do we need it?

DMAE stands for dimethylaminoethanol, a chemical produced naturally in the body, but which is also available from some dietary sources. It plays an important part in many of the brain's chemical processes, and may serve as a precursor to the brain chemical acetylcholine. As such, DMAE is believed to play a wide role in many conditions that affect the brain.

Initially, DMAE was marketed as a treatment for attention deficit disorder. Currently, the two main uses of DMAE as a supplement are for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder that results from long-term use of antipsychotic medications. Clinical research has yet to prove definitively that DMAE is effective in treating either of these conditions, however.

How much DMAE should I take?

Previous studies have used DMAE ranging in doses up to 1,600 milligrams per day. However, because of possible adverse side-effects (see below), DMAE supplementation is not recommended as of this writing.

What forms of DMAE are available?

In addition to being produced naturally in the body, DMAE is available in supplement form (including tablet, liquid and capsule), but it is not widely available.

What can happen if I take too much DMAE? Are there any interactions I should be aware of? What precautions should I take?

Although DMAE is considered relatively non-toxic, studies have shown that patients with Alzheimer's disease may experience drowsiness and confusion following DMAE supplementation. In addition, episodes of mania and depression have been reported as possible side-effects, and a study published in the early 1980s suggested that DMAE may actually cause, not prevent, symptoms of tardive dyskinesia. Patients diagnosed with epilepsy or bipolar disorder, or those suffering from kidney or liver disease, should not take DMAE.

As of this writing, there are no well-known drug interactions associated with DMAE. As always, make sure to consult with a licensed health care provider before taking DMAE or any other herbal remedy or dietary supplement.

References

  • Bonavita E. Neuropsychological study of the senile brain during and after single and combined treatment with deanol and citicoline. Clin Ter 1986;117(5):387-98.
  • Fisman M, Mersky H, Helmes E. Double-blind trial of 2-dimethylaminoethanol in Alzheimer's disease. Am J Psychiatry 1981;138:970-2.
  • Haug BA, Holzgraefe M. Orofacial and respiratory tardive dyskinesia: potential side-effects of 2-dimethylaminoethanol (deanol)? Eur Neurol 1991;31:423-5.
  • Russell RW, Jenden DJ, Booth RA. Global in vivo replacement of choline by N-aminodeanol. Testing a hypothesis about progressive degenerative dementia: II. Physiological and behavioral effects. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1990;37(4):811-20.
  • Stenback F, Weisburger JH, Williams GM. Effect of lifetime administration of dimethylaminoethanol on longevity, aging changes, and cryptogenic neoplasms in C3H mice. Mech Ageing Dev 1988;42(2):129-38.

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