Vinpocetine is marketed as a supplement that can help to enhance memory, focus and mental acuity; increase your energy; and help you to lose weight.
It also might harm a fetus or cause a miscarriage, the Food and Drug Administration said.
The FDA issued a warning this week for women of childbearing age to avoid taking the artificial supplement.
“These findings are particularly concerning since products containing vinpocetine are widely available for use by women of childbearing age,” the FDA said in a press release. “That’s why today we’re advising pregnant women and women who could become pregnant not to take vinpocetine.”
Vinpocetine is sometimes referred to on product labels as Vinca minor extract, lesser periwinkle extract or common periwinkle extract.
The FDA based it’s warning partly on a recent report by the National Institute of Health’s National Toxicology Program. NTP studied the effects of vinpocetine on pregnant animals, concluding that the supplement decreased fetal weight and increased the chances of a miscarriage. The blood levels measured in the pregnant animals were similar to those reported in people after taking a single dose of vinpocetine, indicating pregnant women might experience adverse effects similar to those seen in the pregnant animals.
Although vinpocetine is regulated as a prescription drug in some countries, that’s not the case in the U.S.
“When products like vinpocetine are sold as dietary supplements in the U.S., they have not been reviewed by the FDA under the safety and effectiveness standards that apply to drug products,” the FDA press release stated. “This means that the FDA has not reviewed each vinpocetine product, or its labeling, before those products become available to consumers.”
Because of this, the FDA is also advising firms marketing dietary supplements containing vinpocetine to evaluate their product labeling so it provides safety warnings against use by pregnant women and women who could become pregnant.
If you have questions about vinpocetine, you can call the FDA at (888) 463-6332.
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