Vitamins for age-related memory loss?
I am 70 years old and am experiencing age-related memory loss. Would you recommend 2-3 vitamins that you consider the best? Thanks very much, Larry
Doug's Reply. Unfortunately there are no vitamins on the general market that reverse age-related memory loss. However, there is reason to believe that some may become available in the near future:
1) Baylor College of Medicine recently completed a study showing that suppression of a brain chemical known as PKR caused mice to develop a "super" memory. The brain cells of the mice became more excitable, and learning and memory were greatly enhanced. The scientists said it was likely that a drug could be developed in a few years that would have the same effect in humans, perhaps reversing age-related memory loss and/or helping with other memory loss conditions.
"It is indeed quite amazing that we can also enhance both memory and brain activity with a drug that specifically targets PKR," said one of the researchers.
2) The journal Nature reported this year that scientists have identified that the existing blood pressure / ADHD drug guanfacine (already available by prescription) seems to reverse age-related memory loss in monkeys. There is another study currently underway to see if it works in humans.
If I were you, I'd keep a close eye on these developments. It appears that help may be on the way!
For now, you might simply want to take a multivitamin once a day with meals, to help head off possible undiagnosed vitamin deficiencies.
However, some supplements do seem to improve concentration, thus improving memory indirectly and potentially helping with age-related memory loss. People react differently to the various herbal supplements, so you might need to experiment to find out which, if any, are effective for you.
As an example, one person I know takes huperzine and vinpocentine first thing in the morning with water, one hour before eating. This seems to enhance his focus during the morning hours and until the early afternoon.
I wouldn't rely on supplements to counteract your age-related memory loss, though. You may be able to decrease your symptoms (i.e., improve your memory) by increasing your brain's cognitive reserve.
Cognitive reserve means the extra mental skills and cognitive ability that your brain may have over and above its normal state. You can build this reserve by strengthening your brain through challenging intellectual activity.
Scientists have found that people with a large cognitive reserve who contract Alzheimer's Disease tend not to be diagnosed as early as their peers. They've trained their brains to the degree that their minds are able to compensate for some of the memory loss and other effects of the disease.
In my opinion, everyone should set aside specific time to exercise their brain every day. Play online brain games, solve crossword puzzles, learn a new language, learn to dance, join a club, take up a new hobby - or all of the above.
It is important to not get stuck in any one activity. That's because most intellectual pursuits train only a specific subset of brain skills. For example, learning to dance will train concentration, perception, mind-body coordination, some memory, etc. In contrast, learning a new language doesn't train perception, but it does strengthen short and long-term memory significantly.
The same is true of brain games, whether online games or paper-based. Some people decide to only play their "favorites", but a smarter strategy is to play a variety of games.
For instance, 3D Logic (a free online game on my website) helps with spatial orientation skills. Brain Tuner strengthens mathematical ability. Lightning Librarian trains short-term spatial memory. Trolley Dash trains short-term memory for lists. And so on.
The most important brain game on my site is without doubt the Dual N-Back game. This game has been shown in studies to directly improve working memory, and even a person's intelligence.
So, if you want to counteract your age-related memory loss, take steps now to build up your brain's cognitive reserve. And get ready for some effective anti-aging memory drugs to hit the market in the near future (if we're lucky).
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