There is a commercial that I see from time to time for a dietary supplement that states that it will help with “mild memory loss associated with aging.” The commercial touts that the product has an ingredient that was originally found in jellyfish. This statement caught my attention and made me wonder if jellyfish are smart and if they are supposed to have good memories.
I stumbled upon an article Hakai Magazine published in July 2015 titled “The Secret Social Lives of Jellyfish” that poses the age-old question of “Do helmet jellyfish play follow-the-leader?” The article quotes a marine biologist by the name of Stein Kaartvedt who states that jelly fish are not very smart. He notes that they have “no brain to process information.” This leads me to wonder how something from jellyfish who have no brain would help someone’s brain function.
A little more searching revealed that this key ingredient is apoaequorin. This was discovered when a group of researchers near Seattle, Washington noticed glowing jellyfish and decided to study them to find out what caused them to glow. The group developed an extraction process and eventually discovered that the cause of the glowing jellyfish was a specific ingredient, apoaequorin. Experiments, according to the website of the company that markets this product, helped determine that apoaequorin could play a useful role in supporting brain health. Notice “could play” is the wording used. The website also contains an asterisk that “These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
I also came across a story that the FDA has also claimed that the key ingredient, apoaequorin, a synthetic protein, is not an acceptable ingredient in a dietary supplement and that the FTC is also pursuing a lawsuit against the company regarding its promotion of this product.
So, when I asked myself what the connection was between jellyfish and memory, the apparent answer is that there is not much of one. I might consider the product if I want to start glowing at night. As for improving my memory as I get older, forget about it.