As an age-old supplement for treating the body’s nervous and circulatory systems, ginkgo biloba vitamins are known for remedying memory, mood, stamina and sexual dysfunction. Choosing the best ones depends on individual tolerance levels and health conditions to be treated, but supplements that have been approved through the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) are a good place to start. Ginkgo biloba is available in a liquid, pill or powder form, or can be consumed as a tea.
The best form of ginkgo biloba vitamins has been shown in studies to be the tablet, because the potency of ingredients circulating in the blood is far more effective than that circulated by capsules. Time-released capsules may be better for those sensitive to the supplement in large amounts. Teas are less effective, and nutrition bars and energy drinks advertising herb-specific benefits have negligible amounts of actual ginkgo biloba.
Choosing supplements with standardized ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) from the dried green ginkgo leaf is recommended. Use of non-standardized parts of the ginkgo tree — such as the leaves, fruit and seeds — is discouraged, because they haven’t been clinically evaluated for effectiveness. Consumption of the fruit and seeds is dangerous.
The best ginkgo biloba vitamins are those that contain less than 5 parts per million (PPM) of ginkgolic acid. Ginkgolic acid is a toxin, possible carcinogen, and allergen similar to an acid found in poison ivy, and it can cause serious reactions. Ginkgolic acid is not required to be listed on the label, so the best way to avoid it as much as possible is to choose from a manufacturer that has voluntarily undergone reputable testing, such as testing through the USP, an organization charged with setting standards for prescription and over-the-counter medications.
The best ginkgo biloba vitamins are those with doses small enough, ideally between 40 milligrams and 200 milligrams, that two or three doses can be spread throughout the day. For those who have never taken ginkgo biloba, taking the smallest dose is best until tolerance is gradually built up. For those who want to improve cognitive and memory function, heart health and circulation, 120 milligrams spread throughout the day in two or three doses is advised, and dementia patients can take up to 240 milligrams daily. Vitamins containing ginkgo biloba are not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and those with epilepsy or bleeding disorders. Its anti-coagulant properties mean ginkgo biloba shouldn't be taken with blood-thinning medications and should be stopped at least 36 hours before scheduled surgery.