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Loss of Memory: Nutrition Tips to Prevent Memory Loss

Loss of Memory: Developing defenses against loss of memory associated with aging

Loss of memory can be devastating, both to the person who has lost part of their memory, and also to their friends, relatives, and other acquaintances, like co-workers. There can be many underlying reasons for why someone loses their memory, including purely psychological reasons. However, memory loss often has a biochemical basis, and thus can be helped in a number of different ways as described below. Memory loss can be highly variable between people depending on the factors causing the impairment. For example, people suffering from depression may have excellent intellectual abilities and good memory of the events of the last few days. However, they may have very poor memory recall ability for the events of the immediate past. Alzheimer’s patients, on the other hand, will often do poorly on all parts of a memory test. Memory loss can be caused by: stress and fatigue, low blood sugar, heavy metal toxicity, adrenal gland exhaustion, chemical sensitivity, and underactive thyroid. Retrieval of information slows down roughly ten percent after age seventy. Short-term memory appears to be lost more than long-term memory in older people. Alzheimer’s disease is a special case of memory loss, and will be described in more detail below.

There are a number of brain exercises people can do to help sharpen their memory, including: math problems, drawing, learning languages, reading aloud, meditation, and aerobic exercise. Diet can also play a role in memory loss. Researchers originally noticed that there was a correlation between memory loss and diets high in saturated fat. However, some experts later concluded that either high blood pressure or high insulin levels may instead be the underlying reason for some memory impairment. Interestingly, blood sugar levels in the higher end of the normal range generally improve memory, possibly due to release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Moderate amounts of caffeine can improve memory, possibly due to caffeine moderately raising blood sugar levels. Alcohol intake inhibits memory recall, so minimize or avoid alcohol entirely.

There are some vitamins and minerals that may help combat memory loss. Low levels of beta-carotene can impair memory twice as much as normal. Therefore, it may be helpful to take beta-carotene supplements to help boost memory. Make sure to take the mixed carotenoids form and refrigerate the capsules. Heavy smokers and drinkers should not take beta-carotene, since the liver damage done may accidentally turn this antioxidant into a damaging prooxidant. The vitamin pantothenic acid aids in the conversion of choline into acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter. Supplementation with vitamin B6 significantly increased long-term memory. There is some evidence of the mineral boron helping to improve memory.

There are also some drugs, herbs, and accessory supplements that can help with memory loss. The herb Gotu Kola significantly improved memory in mice. Do not take Gotu Kola, or any other herbal supplement before consulting your physician. The drug arecholine may enhance memory. Unfortunately, it has many side effects. There is a more natural way to help boost choline levels, and that is supplementing with choline itself. People that took 500 mg/day of the supplement choline had about half the memory lapses as people who didn’t supplement with choline. Choline is converted in the body to acetylcholine, the “memory” neurotransmitter. Two tablespoons on lecithin a day for five weeks significantly improved memory scores in volunteers. The hormone estrogen may protect female brains from losing mass in old age, presumably by increasing acetylcholine activity. Some foods may also help memory problems. Blueberries and spinach contain nutrients called flavonoids that may help memory.

Alzheimer’s disease is a serious, progressive loss of neurons in the brain that results in poor memory, confusion, and eventual loss of independence and everyday functioning. The biochemical reasons for Alzheimer’s disease are not yet completely understood, but poor diet, lack of exercise, lack of intellectual stimulation, excess contact with aluminum, low levels of important hormones like estrogen, and low levels of certain antioxidants have all been offered as theories. Alzheimer’s disease generally falls into the broader category of dementia, except that the underlying causes of dementia and Alzheimer’s may be different. One theory of why Alzheimer’s patients have very poor memory recall is that they are deficient in the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is sometimes called the “memory neurotransmitter”. Egg yolks are a very good source of choline.

There is much evidence of a nutritional connection to Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s and dementia patients tend to have lower levels of the vitamin folic acid. The herb ginkgo Biloba can improve memory in people with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, there is no concrete evidence for Ginkgo Biloba significantly enhancing memory in young health adults. Ginkgo Biloba can have side effects, so notify your physician before taking this herb. Supplementing with vitamin E may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to memory loss, and many Alzheimer’s patients have low levels of this vitamin; supplementation with B12 may be helpful. Acetyl-L-Carnitine can significantly improve memory in Alzheimer’s patients. Alzheimers is, of course, much harder to deal with than normal memory loss, but a combination of nutritional therapies, proper diet, exercise, and a positive outlook may help almost any memory problem.

Dr. Jensen provides science-based holistic health care and guidance. He can advise you on specific problems you are experiencing, or help you create a comprehensive health care plan for optimum health.

Dr. Jensen will provide you with a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and suggest a course of action.

Contact Dr. Jensen at 1-800-390-5365 or use the contact form.

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