As you age, it's natural to take a little more time to remember information or have more trouble than usual paying attention. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy all that life offers. At Bethesda Gardens Fort Worth, we offer nutritious meals, exercise programs and plenty of activities to keep you physically and mentally healthy. If you're looking for a little extra support, you may be considering supplements to improve memory or prevent cognitive decline. These are some of the most common memory-related supplements on the market.
Ginseng contains compounds that may affect several functions of the brain. For example, ginsenosides act as antioxidants, which reduce the effects of free radicals on the human body. Free radicals are molecules that form as the result of some chemical reactions. Each molecule has at least one unpaired electron in its outer shell, making it highly reactive.
As a result, free radicals are associated with inflammation, cancer, heart disease and other health problems. They're also associated with cell damage in the brain, which may lead to memory loss and mood changes. Reducing the effects of free radicals has the potential to improve brain function, which is why ginseng is found in many supplements designed to combat memory loss and age-related behavioral changes.
Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which may positively affect memory and mood, as explained by researchers from Sepulveda VA Medical Center in California. Oxidative stress, an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals, is likely to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease. Curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation and fight the effects of free radicals in the brain, leading to improved memory in people with this type of dementia.
If you're an adventurous eater, you can increase your turmeric intake by eating Japanese beef curry, chicken tikka masala and other dishes containing this colorful spice. Otherwise, you can purchase turmeric capsules and take them as directed on the product packaging.
Alpha-linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid are classified as omega-3 fatty acids, which are important components of the cell membranes in your body. These substances play an essential role in preventing heart disease and reducing inflammation. Researchers from Germany have also determined that omega-3 fatty acids may improve memory.
In a randomized, controlled trial, the researchers selected 22 participants for the control group and 22 for the experimental group. Members of the control group took a placebo daily for 26 weeks, while members of the experimental group took long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid supplements for the same amount of time. Each participant completed an object-location memory assessment before and after the intervention. The researchers reported that participants who took long-chain polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acid supplements for 26 weeks had "significantly better" recall of object locations than those who took the placebo.
It's long been known that B vitamins play an important role in normal cognitive function. Now that researchers are investigating the link between elevated homocysteine levels and Alzheimer's disease, it's possible B vitamin deficiencies also play a role in age-related cognitive decline. Homocysteine, an amino acid, interacts with B-9 (folate) and B-12 to produce antioxidants and reduce inflammation.
When there isn't enough B-9 or B-12 available for these reactions, excess homocysteine builds up in the bloodstream, which may damage the lining of the arteries. Excess homocysteine may also contribute to nervous system damage, increasing the risk for dementia, while a lack of B-12 may contribute to cognitive dysfunction by allowing abnormal fatty acids to build up in the brain tissue. Although B vitamins aren't a magic cure for memory problems, it may be beneficial to take a supplement if a blood test indicates you're deficient in B-9 or B-12.
L-theanine, an amino acid, is known to improve mood, relieve stress and enhance sleep quality, but researchers are also investigating whether it has positive effects on memory. In a study led by Yoshitake Baba of the Central Research Institute in Japan, researchers administered multiple cognitive assessments to Japanese men and women between the ages of 50 and 69.
Each participant took an assessment before the intervention, after taking a single dose of L-theanine and after 12 weeks of daily L-theanine intake. Researchers determined that participants got more correct answers and made fewer omission errors in tasks related to working memory after taking just a single dose of L-theanine, indicating that the amino acid may have some memory-related benefits.
Although these products may have memory-related benefits, it's important to check with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your daily routine. Even if they're generally safe, some supplements interact with prescription medications or aren't safe for people with chronic diseases. Remember that supplements aren't a substitute for a healthy diet, regular exercise or professional medical care. Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, reduces stress and improves the brain's capacity to store and access memories.
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