- What is DMAE? What other names does it have?
- DMAE health benefits
- DMAE in skin care products
- Is Dimethylaminoethanol a good cognitive enhancer?
- Could a DMAE supplement help with weight loss?
- Possible DMAE side effects
- How to use DMAE?
- Alternative health and weight loss techniques you can use
DMAE may be best known for its skin care and beauty benefits, but that is not all DMAE bitartrate has been linked to. Its DMAE benefits have also been connected to improved cognitive function and weight loss.
But what is the truth behind these claims? Are they real, or is DMAE just another product that makes promises it can’t keep? In this article, we aim to uncover the truth and answer the all-important question – ‘what is DMAE?’
DMAE (also known as Dimethylaminoethanol, dimethylethanolamine, AND Deanol) is a compound (a form of cholinergic) often used in lotions, creams and skincare products, as well as dietary supplements.
In fact, DMAE appears to dabble in a number of areas, from providing anti-aging benefits in DMAE creams, to being used within pharmaceutical products to improve the cognitive function of elderly patients.
DMAE is structurally similar to choline molecules (a vitamin) which are known to help regulate liver function, brain development, and metabolism. Thanks to it having fewer methyl molecules attached to it; DMAE is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and basically enter your brain’s circulatory system with less hassle than choline.
Yet, these are not the most common reasons for why DMAE is so widely used.
Its ability to tackle skin inflammation, blemishes and declining brain function have also made it so popular. This is due to DMAE being able to reduce the build-up of beta-amyloid (an age pigmentation) as well as increase acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter that is responsible for modulating your nervous system and improving your memory).
In addition, DMAE can:
- Protect neurons and other cells from certain types of oxidation. By embedding itself into the structure of the cell and acting as an antioxidant, this can protect your cells from damage.
- Sustain metabolic processes in the body using a process called ‘methyl donation.’
Combined, DMAE can essentially help to strengthen your mind, whilst also preventing/reducing the development of wrinkles by tightening and improving skin tone quality.
We touched on this a little in the section above. But to help paint a clearer picture of what DMAE creams and supplements can do; here is a quick summary:
- Improve brain function – DMAE achieves this by increasing the production of acetylcholine (a chemical that helps your nerve cells to send signals). By elevating acetylcholine production; this chemical can boost brain performance making it easier for you to learn and remember things (form memories).
- Prevention against age-related cognitive decline – DMAE is believed to reduce beta-amyloid build-up, making DMAE supplements a potential preventative measure against Alzheimer’s disease.
- Boost athletic performance.
- Improve your mood (may address symptoms of depression).
- Encourage weight loss.
Things to consider: whilst there are a lot of theories surrounding DMAE benefits and what it can do; there actually aren’t that many scientific studies to support these claims. For instance, there is no evidence to back the claim that oral DMAE supplements can alleviate depression or bolster your athletic performance.
DMAE’S biggest claim to fame is its ability to reduce the appearance of wrinkles; combat the dark circles under your eyes; improve nasolabial folds, and decrease sagging skin (primarily around your neck).
Admittedly, the research behind these claims is very limited. However, there does appear to be an element of truth surrounding its capacity to improve skin tone and quality.
For instance, one review (published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology) revealed that DMAE cream may be able to decrease skin inflammation AND increase skin firmness. During their analysis of past research, they noted that DMAE can reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles on your forehead and around your eyes, as well as generally assist aging skin to improve its elasticity.
In turn, they commented that DMAE doesn’t cause common skincare side effects of redness, peeling or dryness.
As seen in a separate 2009 study. Published in Pharmazie, this study revealed that when 3% DMAE cream is applied topically; it can increase the thickness of the epidermal and dermal skin layers. And this is a rare find as most skin creams that don’t contain DMAE only appear to increase the thickness of the participant’s epidermal layer.
And that is the important question, as numerous products would suggest that it can.
This theory stems to DMAE enhancing your cholinergic system and acetylcholine production. Both of these have been linked to memory function (of the nervous system) and learning optimization – meaning a healthier mind. At the same time, DMAE can supposedly enhance glucose uptake, oxygen consumption, and energy metabolism in the brain.
Yet not all research suggests these gains are possible. Take the following:
Study One: One clinical study published in the Journal of Neurochemistry found that whilst DMAE can boost your acetylcholine levels, it won’t necessarily make it more bioavailable.
Study Two: During a single double-blind study in 2012 (published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease), when the 242 participants – who’d all been diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer’s – were given either the placebo or 1500mg of V0191 (DMAE Pyroglutamate) for 24 weeks; researchers saw no significant difference in their cognitive behavior. The only change they noticed was that those who took DMAE had more response with treatment (more than a 4 point improvement on the ADAS-cog rating scale) compared to those who only took the placebo.
Admittedly, researchers on the 2012 study commented that there were several problems with the studies design, including the treatment period being too short and a lack of valid measures to accurately assess the participants. However, this lack of evidence does put a dampener on the whole ‘it can boost cognitive function’ theory.
It begs the question – is DMAE a complete bust? Well, apparently not. There are some areas of neurology where it may be able to help:
- Rheology – 0.6% DMAE (in vitro) appears to be able to protect your brain from iron-induced oxidation and protein cross-linking. It achieves this by preserving membrane fluidity via anti-oxidative effects directly or by halting the formation of Nitroxyl radicals (by non-oxidatively sequestering hydroxyl radicals).
- Tardive Dyskinesia – studies have shown DMAE supplementation can cause a small, albeit positive trend on the symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia. Despite this, it is NOT considered an effective treatment as this DMAE benefit is only slight.
Similarly, there are some theories which suggest taking 150-2000mg of DMAE a day could improve your brain and cognitive functions. It is just more effective at preventing age-related cognitive issues in advance of symptoms i.e. before symptoms have had a chance to take hold and develop.
Truthfully, a lot of the theory behind ‘DMAE and weight loss’ is strictly hypothetical.
True, DMAE can give you an energy burst, which – if used right – could help you to exercise for longer and burn more calories. However, there is no physical proof, research or studies to justify these bold claims.
Instead, this theory is based purely on the fact that as DMAE is a precursor to acetylcholine and can encourage feelings of wellness, it may – may being the operative word – reduce binge eating and cravings.
Similarly, some have confused bolstered concentration with the focus, drive and the motivation needed to lose weight. But again, these are entirely different characteristics. For instance, whilst improved drive and motivation could potentially give you the willpower to workout hard and manage your diet; better concentration will have no bearing on your ability to lose weight.
So can DMAE promote weight loss? No, it can’t.
Given the lack of research surrounding DMAE and how it works; there are growing concerns that it may trigger a range of side effects.
Some that have already been connected to DMAE include: high blood pressure, stomach aches, bloating, insomnia, excitation (in large doses), manic episodes, headaches, muscle tension, drowsiness, confusion, and irritability.
Now if you’re pregnant, nursing or are trying to conceive, it is recommended that you don’t take DMAE as it may cause neural tube defects (as evidenced in in-vitro studies on mouse embryonic cells where DMAE inhibited choline uptake during the first few days of neural tube formation). In addition, anyone with bipolar disorder, manic depression or epilepsy are advised to not use it due to its mood-altering effects.
Amusingly, there are concerns that when applied topically DMAE may cause skin irritation – ironic we know – but this is based on direct contact and not on the low dosages you usually find in skin creams.
Again, due to the lack of scientific research, a safe/effective DMAE dosage has never been established.
That being said, dosages have been experimented with over the years with participants taking 300-2000mg of Deanol per day (to improve their athletic performance) with little to no side effects.
The best advice we can give you though is to speak to your doctor first and allow them to determine a safe dosage based on your age, gender, and medical history. With this information, they can help you to personalize the dose and keep your body safe from DMAE side effects.
If you’re serious about losing weight and improving your health, then there are safer, more effective methods you can try that have got the backing to prove that they work:
- Protein – add more to your diet, as your body will naturally burn more calories whilst its digests and metabolizes protein. A high protein diet can boost your metabolism by 80-100 calories a day, whilst helping to reduce your appetite and make you feel fuller. FACT: high protein diets can lower your calorie intake by 400 calories a day.
- Whole, single ingredient foods – this can help you to eliminate the majority of added sugars, fats, and processed foods, whilst providing your body with many essential nutrients. In turn, it can help you to feel fuller.
- Avoid processed foods – not only will this help you to cut down on added sugars and fats; processed foods are designed to make you eat more.
- Eat healthy snacks – yogurts, whole fruits, nuts, carrots, and hard-boiled eggs are all great snacks that you can eat whilst you’re on the go, without giving you loads of unnecessary calories.
- Drink plenty of water – often what we mistake for hunger is us actually feeling thirsty. Bearing that in mind, try to drink more. For instance, drinking 500ml of water can increase your calorie burn by 24-30% for an hour afterward; whilst drinking a glass of water before a meal can help to reduce your calorie intake as you’ll get fuller faster. NOTE: aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day.
- Unsweetened coffee – not only is it loaded with antioxidants, but coffee can also boost your energy levels and the number of calories you burn. Caffeinated coffee can boost your metabolism by 3-11%.
- Natural supplements – formulated from herbs and natural ingredients, many can give your body the boost it needs to burn fat and feel more energized. PhenQ, for example, is currently one of the most effective natural supplements on the market, as it can help you to burn stored fat; suppress your appetite, and block fat production. More importantly, it is free of any negative side effects.
- Avoid liquid calories – soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks, hot drinks, milk, etc. all contain calories that can add to your daily intake without you even realizing it.
- Reduce refined carb intake – these may be easily digested carbs; however, they will have had most of their beneficial nutrients and fiber removed.
- Green tea – rich in antioxidants, green tea can boost fat burn and weight loss by increasing your energy expenditure by 4% and selective fat burning by 17%.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables – high in water, nutrients, and fiber, they have got a low energy density making it possible for you to eat large servings whilst consuming fewer calories.
- Use smaller plates – the idea may sound silly; however, it can help you to control portion sizes and prevent overeating.
- Eat more slowly – eating too quickly can mean you run the risk of eating too much before your body realizes it’s full (causing your stomach to stretch). For that reason, try to chew slower so your body has got time to catch up.
- Get plenty of sleep – sleep is very important for weight loss, because those who are sleep-deprived are 55% more likely to become obese. This is due to lack of sleep messing with your daily fluctuations in appetite hormones (causing you to feel hungry more often).
- Exercise – cardio and high-intensity interval training are both great ways to boost your metabolism, increase calorie burn and encourage fat loss. We recommend exercising 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes.
And these are just a handful of the many alternatives you can try.
Whether you’re looking to lose weight, improve your skin tone or maximize your cognitive function; the reality is DMAE can’t confidently provide you with the results that you’re looking for.
True, it may star in a lot of creams and supplements. And yes, they may all boast of its DMAE benefits. However, given that there is little to no scientific research to substantiate these claims; what they are really doing is making a promise that they can’t keep.
For that reason, we strongly recommend changing your lifestyle, eating a balanced diet and exercising more often. Do that and you can witness the health gains that you crave. Similarly, for added support, you can try incorporating a high quality, proven natural supplement into your regime.