Misplaced documents. Forgotten names. Missed appointments. More than two-thirds of people over sixty-five say that they have trouble recalling old details and absorbing new ones. To some people, memory problems are just part of what used to be called "senility," an unfortunate but natural part of old age. For others, periodic forgetfulness sets off alarm bells: Is this Alzheimer's? Stroke? Dementia?
Poor memory is a problem but not an inevitable part of the aging process. While it's true that nerve cells in the brain do shrink a little with advanced age and that it's harder for them to form connections with one another, most researchers now believe that memory loss is caused mainly by lifestyle factors. Most cases can be prevented or reversed with some simple changes in diet, exercise, and habits.
Many people with memory problems are actually suffering from a malnourished brain. The brain, like the rest of the body, needs to receive its supply of oxygen and nutrients from the blood if it is to function at its best. Chemicals called neurotransmitters, which enable the brain cells to communicate and create memory links, are especially dependent on good nutrition. The brain also needs high doses of nutrients to fight damage from free radicals. Of particular importance are essential fatty acids, which are required for the cell walls of the brain cells. These essential fatty acids, particularly DHA, impact memory and concentration in a positive fashion. When the circulation is sluggish and blood is low in "brain food," memory disturbances may well be the result.
Other factors can contribute as well. Several medications, alone or in combination, can cause memory loss, as can underlying illnesses like depression, thyroid problems, and chronic fatigue. Sometimes even allergic reactions to food can impair memory. Poor digestion can be at the root of memory problems, as can a hormone imbalance. In particular, elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can impair memory. One must also consider hypoglycemia as a possibility of poor memory. This makes sense, considering that glucose is the primary fuel source for the brain. Systemic candidiasis frequently causes a foggy or poor memory. Also, toxic metals such as lead, mercury, and others can impair mental function and should be chelated out, if they're a problem.
If you try the suggestion here and your problems don't improve within a couple of weeks, see your doctor.
- Difficulty recalling details
Caution: If you have trouble recalling the names of close friends and family members, or if your memory problems began after a head injury, see your doctor immediately.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements shown to
help Memory Problems:
The Prescription for Natural
Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
Prescription #1 Phosphatidyl Serine - LifeSource Products
Take 300 mg daily.
This naturally occurring phospholipids improves brain cell communication and
Prescription # 2 Bacopa (Bacopa monniera)
This nutrient has
been shown to improve memory and recall. Take 300 mg daily.
Prescription #3 Ginkgo Biloba - LifeSource
Take 120 mg two to
three times daily. It improves circulation to the brain, improves memory, and
has antioxidant benefits. Must be 24%.
Prescription #4 Vitamin B12 - LifeSource Products
Take 1,000 mcg
daily. Sublingual is the best form for helping this condition. A vitamin B12
deficiency contributes to poor memory.
Prescription #5 Memory Enhancer & Brain Connector - LifeSource Product
Take this product as
directed. This has shown great help with memory and brain function.
Prescription #6 Omega 3 - LifeSource Products - See All of our Omega 3 – Fish Oil Products.
Take 1 to 2
tablespoons of flax seed oil or 2 to 5 grams of fish oil daily. It supplies
essential fatty acids for proper brain function.
Prescription #7 Acetyl L-Carnitine - LifeSource Product
Take 500 mg three
times daily. It improves brain cell communication and memory.
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- A poor diet, especially one that's high in fat and low in nutrients
- Free radicals
- Inactivity, both physical and mental
- Abuse of alcohol or street drugs
- Underlying disorders, such as candidiasis, heavy-metal poisoning, depression, dementia, thyroid disorders, and hypoglycemia.
- Nutritional deficiencies (especially of DHA, vitamin B12, folic acid)
A good diet is crucial to brain health.
Eat a wholesome diet of basic, unprocessed foods. Because conventionally grown foods often contain toxins, buy organic whenever possible. If organic food is unavailable or too expensive, wash your food thoroughly before eating.
The antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E will combat damage from free radicals. Fresh fruits and vegetables are among the best sources of antioxidants, so have a couple of servings at every meal. For vitamin E, add wheat germ to salads, cereals, or juices. Nuts and seeds are other good sources of this vital nutrient.
A deficiency of the B-complex vitamins can cause memory problems. Brewer's yeast is a potent source of B vitamins, as are wheat germ, eggs, and spirulina.
To improve circulation, increase energy levels, and detoxify your body, drink a glass of clean water every two waking hours.
Eat plenty of fiber to keep toxins moving through your digestive tract and to prevent them from taking up residence in your body. Whole grains, oats, and raw or lightly cooked vegetables are good sources of fiber that are also nutritionally dense.
Consume fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and other clean fish, three times weekly for their essential fatty acids.
If you're older, your digestive system may not be able to absorb nutrients as well as it used to. Fresh fruit and vegetable juices are easily absorbable and packed with the vitamins you need, so have several glasses daily.
Foods to Avoid
Determine whether your memory problems are caused or aggravated by food allergies. You may want to focus on cutting out wheat and dairy, as allergic responses to these items are most likely to lead to memory problems. If your memory improves when a food or foods are removed from your diet and worsens when they are reintroduced, banish those products from your diet.
Drastically reduce your intake of foods that are high in cholesterol or saturated fat. They impede blood flow.
Avoid sugar and processed foods, which add nothing or very little in the way of vitamins or minerals and actually deplete much-needed nutrients from your brain cells.
Alcohol destroys brain cells, causes dehydration, and clouds the mind. Stay away from it.
If your memory problems persist, you may want to determine whether you suffer from heavy metal poisoning. Consult an expert for a test.
A three-day juice fast once a month will help flush toxins out of your body. Support your fast with a wide variety of juices so that you get the nutrition you need.
- Ashwagandha (Withania somniferum) is used as a brain tonic in Ayurvedic medicine. It reduces stress hormone levels. Take 100 to 3,000 mg daily.
- Phosphatidyl choline is a nutrient that increases acetylcholine levels to improve memory. Take 1,000 to 1,500 mg daily.
- Panax ginseng improves memory and balances stress hormone levels. Take a standardized product containing 4 to 7 percent ginsenosides at 100 to 250 mg twice daily. Do not use it if you have high blood pressure.
- DHEA is an important hormone for cognitive function. If your level of DHEA is low, talk with your doctor about starting at a dosage of 15 mg.
- Cordyceps sinensis is used in Chinese medicine for poor memory. Take 2 to 4 capsules daily.
- DMAE helps the body produce acetyl choline for memory and has antioxidant properties. Take 100 mg daily.
- Gotu kola is an Ayurvedic herb that historically has been used as a brain tonic. Take 120 mg daily.
- B-complex contains the B vitamins that are involved with brain function. Take 100 mg daily.
- Antioxidant formula: choose a formula that contains a wide range of antioxidants, such as selenium, carotenoids, vitamin C, and others.
- Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) extract improves mental alertness. Take 800 mg twice daily.
- Chlorella improves the detoxification of toxic metals that may be causing free radical damage. Take as directed on the container.
- A high-potency multivitamin supplies most of the vitamins and the minerals involved with memory. Take as directed on the container.
- When it comes to brain function, more and more evidence shows that the old adage "Use it or lose it" is good advice. If you don't work your brain, it will grow lazy and bored. By contrast, people who continue to engage in intellectual and social activities throughout old age retain their brain power and general health much longer than people who retire to the easy chair. Crosswords, chess, checkers, and reading are all examples of daily mind-exercising events.
- Regular, moderate exercise will keep the blood circulating to your brain. Consider taking up a sport, such as tennis or golf, that has a social component; that way, you'll stimulate your mind as well as your body.
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any disease. As always, consult your physician before taking any and all
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