Do you have difficulty concentrating? Is your mood often low? Do you struggle to find a memory or focus on a task? Do you often wonder if poor nutrition can affect memory? Is your brain often foggy and your mental energy not what it used to be? If you said yes to any of these, it’s worth looking at memory supplements to sharpen your faculties.
Bump up your Bs! B vitamins are vital to mental health, and the brain uses huge amounts of these. While all the B vitamins are important to brain function, in particular, deficiencies of the vitamins folate (B9), B12, and B6, are associated with neurological and psychological dysfunction.
In the elderly, cognitive impairment and dementia may be related to the high prevalence of inadequate B vitamin status and to elevations of plasma homocysteine.
In the Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPIMA), higher homocysteine levels were seen in patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s; they were also accompanied by both low folate and B12 levels. Supplementing with B Vitamins, particularly Vitamin B12, has been shown to lower levels of serum homocysteine.
Sublingual forms of B complex are often best absorbed. B12 is the most important component, and should be available at above 1000 mcg in the B-complex. This is because B12 does not survive stomach acid too well and you need quite a bit orally for a small amount to make it to your cells. Sticking to 100 % of RDA on the rest of the B vitamins should be fine.
Among the antioxidants, vitamin C has been regarded as the most important one in neural tissue. It also decreases β-amyloid generation in Alzheimer’s disease. In a Swiss study, researchers found that subjects who had the highest levels of vitamin C in their blood had the best scores in memory tests. Dosages of 3gm per day in divided doses often optimize levels, though there are doctors who like much higher doses. Vitamin C is water soluble, which means excess amounts are passed out through the urine. Individual doses are often determined by “bowel tolerance” – which means you take it to the point till you have loose stools to determine the maximum dose your body can handle.
Zinc is the most commonly deficient mineral in the West and one of the most critical nutrients for mental health, affecting brain function, mood, learning and boosting memory. It is a key cofactor in the development of neurotransmitters, is an antioxidant and helps to control glucose and insulin resistance. An ever-growing body of evidence suggests that a deficiency of zinc leads to an increased risk for the development of neurological disorders such as depression, Alzheimer’s disease, aging, and dementia. Supplementation of 25-30mg per day is beneficial. When using zinc over the longer term (more than 6 months, say) it is better to use a zinc supplement that is balanced with copper. These two minerals need to be in balance in the body and too much of one can upset the other.
Evidence is emerging about the specific role of vitamin D in the brain and research suggests it is a key player in the synthesis of neurotransmitters and brain development. Vitamin D supplementation of between 1000-5000IU per day is neuro-protective. Epidemiological associations have been made between low vitamin D and psychiatric disorders such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin D is also essential in the fight against insulin resistance, which negatively impacts brain function and promotes the development of neurological diseases. The sunshine vitamin performs several other body-wide functions too, so make sure you’re never deficient. (Many functional medicine experts now say blood levels of Vitamin D should be above 60ng/ml for optimum health.)
Magnesium plays a role in most biochemical processes of the body including the production of brain neurotransmitters and reducing insulin sensitivity. Low levels of magnesium are associated with nervous system symptoms including poor concentration, poor memory, confusion, irritability and headaches. Patients with AD and dementia have been found to have lower levels of both serum and brain magnesium. Research suggests supplementing magnesium at 300-500mg per day improves brain function. The magnesium citrate and malate forms are superior to the oxide form, which is often poorly absorbed.
Several studies have found that decreasing serum levels of vitamin E were consistently associated with increasing levels of poor memory after adjustment for age, and supplementation of 400-700IU per day was beneficial. Look for a supplement that has the natural form of vitamin E, alpha tocopherol, rather than the synthetic “dl-alpha” form.
This is an herbal remedy that has been used for memory enhancement in the East for centuries. Research has shown that at doses of 200-300mgs, it boosts short-term memory and age-related memory loss, slow thinking, depression and circulation, and improves blood flow to the brain.
Glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the cerebrospinal fluid, is both a brain fuel and a building block for the neurotransmitters GABA and Glutamate. It has been shown to enhance mood, mental performance and decrease addictive tendencies at a dose of 5gms per day. Some people may have mild bowel disturbances for a short period of time while adjusting to glutamine.
So you don’t have to put up with brain fog any more. Just give Nature’s wellness cabinet a try and get that grey matter sharper than ever before.