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DMAE is a compound that many people believe can positively affect mood, enhance memory, and improve brain function. It’s also thought to have benefits for aging skin. You may have heard it referred to as Deanol and many other names.

While there aren’t many studies on DMAE, advocates believe it may have benefits for several conditions, including:

DMAE is naturally produced in the body. It’s also found in fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and anchovies.

DMAE is thought to work by increasing production of acetylcholine (Ach), a neurotransmitter that’s crucial for helping nerve cells send signals.

Ach helps regulate many functions controlled by the brain, including REM sleep, muscle contractions, and pain responses.

DMAE may also help prevent the buildup of a substance called beta-amyloid in the brain. Too much beta-amyloid has been linked to age-related decline and memory loss.

DMAE’s impact on Ach production and beta-amyloid buildup may make it beneficial for brain health, especially as we age.

DMAE was once sold as a prescription drug for children with learning and behavioral problems under the name Deanol. It was withdrawn from the market in 1983 and is no longer available as a prescribed drug.

Today, DMAE is sold as a dietary supplement in capsule and powdered form. The dosing instructions vary by brand, so it’s important to follow package directions and to buy DMAE only from trusted sources.

Shop for DMAE.

DMAE is available as a serum to use on the skin. It’s also an ingredient in some cosmetics and skin care products. It may be referred to by many other names.

other names for dmae
  • DMAE bitartrate
  • deanol
  • 2-dimethylaminoethanol
  • dimethylaminoethanol
  • dimethylaminoethanol bitartrate
  • dimethylethanolamine
  • dimethyl aminoethanol
  • acétamido-benzoate de déanol
  • benzilate de déanol
  • bisorcate de déanol
  • cyclohexylpropionate de déanol
  • deanol aceglumate
  • deanol acetamidobenzoate
  • deanol benzilate
  • deanol bisorcate
  • deanol cyclohexylpropionate
  • deanol hemisuccinate
  • deanol pidolate
  • deanol tartrate
  • hémisuccinate de déanol
  • pidolate de déanol
  • acéglumate de déanol

There’s no specific data on the amount of DMAE found in fish. However, eating fatty fishes like sardines, anchovies, and salmon is another way to include DMAE in your diet.

There aren’t many studies about DMAE, and most of them are older. However, there are a few smaller studies and anecdotal reports that suggest DMAE may have benefits.

Since it hasn’t been studied in-depth, it may make sense to have a “buyer beware” attitude.

Potential benefits of dmae
  • Reduce wrinkles and firm sagging skin. A randomized, clinical study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology found that a facial gel containing 3 percent DMAE was beneficial for reducing fine lines around the eyes and on the forehead when used for 16 weeks. The study also found it improved lip shape and fullness as well as the overall appearance of aging skin. A small study done on humans and mice suggested DMAE may hydrate skin and improve skin appearance.
  • Support memory. A small amount of anecdotal evidence indicates that DMAE may reduce memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, but there are no studies to support this claim.
  • Enhance athletic performance. Anecdotal evidence claims DMAE may help improve athletic ability when coupled with other vitamins and supplements. Research is needed to support this, though.
  • Reduce hyperactivity. Studies on children done during the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s found evidence that DMAE helped reduce hyperactivity, calmed children, and helped them focus in school. No recent studies have been done to support or deny these findings.
  • Support better mood. Some people believe DMAE may help enhance mood and improve depression. A small study done in 1977 on people who had aging-related cognitive decline found that DMAE reduced depression, anxiety, and irritability. It also found that DMAE was helpful for increasing motivation and initiative.

DMAE shouldn’t be taken by people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or epilepsy. Talk to your doctor if you have these or similar conditions before taking DMAE.

An animal study linked DMAE to spina bifida, a neural tube defect in babies. Since this defect might occur during the first few days of pregnancy, don’t take DMAE oral supplements if you are or might become pregnant.

It’s also recommended that you don’t take DMAE if you’re breastfeeding.

potential risks of dmae

When taken orally in high doses, inhaled, or used topically, DMAE has been associated with several potential risks, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These include:

  • skin irritation, such as redness and swelling
  • muscle twitching
  • insomnia
  • sneezing, coughing, and wheezing
  • severe eye irritation
  • convulsion (but this is a slight risk for people susceptible to it)

People taking certain medications shouldn’t take DMAE. These medications include:

Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors

These medications are also referred to as cholinesterase inhibitors. They’re used primarily to treat dementia in people who have Alzheimer’s disease.

These drugs affect Ach production in the brain. DMAE may make cognitive decline worse. Medications in this class include:

  • Aricept
  • Cognex
  • Reminyl

Anticholinergic medications

Anticholinergics are used for a wide range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, COPD, and overactive bladder. They work by blocking the effect of Ach on nerve cells.

Since DMAE may increase effects of Ach, people who need these drugs shouldn’t take DMAE.

Cholinergic medications

Cholinergic drugs may block, increase, or mimic the effects of Ach. They’re used to treat several conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease and glaucoma. DMAE may prevent these medications from working effectively.

Anticoagulants

You shouldn’t take DMAE if you use certain blood-thinning medications, such as Warfarin.

The benefits of taking DMAE haven’t been supported by research. DMAE may have some benefits for skin, hyperactivity, mood, thinking ability, and memory. But before taking DMAE, talk to your doctor about other medications you use.

To avoid a specific type of birth defect, don’t take DMAE if you’re pregnant or might become pregnant.