As we age, our cognitive function can decline and our memory’s acuity can diminish. For some this starts younger and others later but it is often just accepted as a natural part of aging and life. If you are starting to notice a decline in cognitive function, or that you just cannot seem to remember things as well as you used to be able to, it is time to speak to a physician about what options you have to improve cognitive function and memory. There are a lot of ways to improve cognition and memory, including changes in activity level and frequent playing of “brain games” that give a workout to your mind, such as Sudoku. In addition to “exercising” your brain, it is important to eat a healthy diet, full of important vitamins and minerals that supply your brain everything it needs and consider the addition of a vitamin or supplement that may help improve cognition and memory. While nothing will be the “magic bullet” or “cure all” against diminished cognitive function, a combination of therapies that support your physical and mental health may improve cognition and memory.
The first supplement that has shown a great deal of promise in the battle against a decline in cognitive function and memory loss is ginkgo biloba. Gingko biloba is an ancient tree species and has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for centuries. The University of Maryland Medical Center describes how ginkgo biloba can be used to treat a decline in cognition or memory loss, “Ginkgo is widely touted as a “brain herb.” Some studies show that it does help improve memory in people with dementia. It is not as clear whether ginkgo helps memory in healthy people who have normal, age-related memory loss. Some studies have found slight benefits, while other studies have found no effect. Some studies have found that ginkgo helps improve memory and thinking in young and middle-aged people who are healthy. And preliminary studies suggest it may be useful in the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The dose that works best seems to be 240 mg per day. Ginkgo is often added to nutrition bars, soft drinks, and fruit smoothies to boost memory and enhance mental performance, although such small amounts probably do not help.”
In addition to ginkgo biloba, Vitamin B12 has been shown to help in the fight against memory and cognition loss. Vitamin B12 plays a critical role in the formation of red blood cells and provides a variety of health benefits. SFGate explains how B12 can help improve mental function, “BBC Health notes that vitamin B12 and other B vitamins are particularly important for short-term memory and fast memory recall. Vitamin B12 is critical for healthy production of red blood cells, which are needed to carry oxygen to every cell in the brain and body. It is also important for energy production, nerve function and maintaining healthy DNA.”
Finally, Vitamin E is a promising vitamin for treating cognitive decline and memory loss. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound that provides the body with strong antioxidant properties. Harvard Health Publications explains the role Vitamin E plays in memory and brain function, “A large study suggested that vitamin E, but not the other antioxidants, may help slow the rate of age-related mental decline. This study, which was published in Archives of Neurology in 2002, looked at 2,889 people ages 65 and older who did not have dementia or other cognitive illness. Researchers asked the study participants what they ate and which vitamin and mineral supplements they took, then tracked their mental function over about three years. Mental function was assessed with the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination and other standard tests. Participants who consumed the most vitamin E had 36% less mental decline than did people who consumed the least.” Speak to your physician to discuss whether or not adding one or all of these supplements to your dietary routine may help improve your cognitive function and memory.