As we age it is normal to experience some memory loss. But the ability to focus and retain information can be supported by time-tested natural compounds.
What works for Brain & Memory Health?
Natural substances found to improve cognitive function and prevent memory loss include DHA/EPA (Omega 3), Gingko Biloba, CoQ10 and Panax/American Ginseng.
Brain & Memory Health Supplements: what supplements should you take?
DHA/EPA (Omega 3): Essential Fatty Acids critical to healthy brain function.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in the oils of some fish and plants, are polyunsaturated fats essential for good health. The three most nutritionally important omega 3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA and EPA come from oils found in fatty fish like mackerel, salmon and tuna. The importance of dietary omega-3 fatty acids has come to the attention of scientists in the last 30 years, especially DHA and EPA. Research has found that people in North America have a diet drastically lacking in omega-3 acids.
Many scientists and doctors have recommended that people eat more fish or take supplements of DHA and EPA. In addition to broad health benefits, it has been found that EPA/DHA may be vital to neurological functions. Scientists believe that Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in nervous system activity and improve cognitive development and memory-related learning.
Gingko Biloba: used for thousands of years to enhance memory.
Ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years and is one of the most widely used herbs in the United States today. Gingko is being scientifically investigated in the treatment of many conditions. There is good evidence that gingko is effective in the treatment of Alzheimer's/multi-infarct dementia, and "cerebral insufficiency," characterized by impaired concentration, confusion, decreased physical performance, fatigue, headache, dizziness, depression, and anxiety. There is also very promising evidence for the use of ginkgo to enhance memory. Preliminary research has shown small improvements in memory and other brain functions in patients with AAMI (Age-associated memory impairment).
CoQ10: scientifically shown effective in the treatment of brain diseases.
Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, is powerful antioxidant found in all cells of the body. CoQ10is an essential part of the process of converting organic matter into energy, especially in the metabolism of energy from oxygen. Parts of the body that require large amounts of cellular energy like the brain and heart have the highest concentrations of CoQ10. Levels of CoQ10 drop as the result of taking certain medications, the onset of some diseases, and as the body gets older.
Research on the effects of CoQ10 has been especially successful in the treatment of neurological diseases like Parkinson's disease. Since brain cells are rich in CoQ10, it is believed to be neuro-protective, even in the case of stroke. CoQ10 may reduce the damage to the brain from stroke. CoQ10 also shows promise in slowing the progress of dementia in people with Alzheimer's Disease. CoQ10 supplementation has been demonstrated to enhance energy production in brain neurons and improve brain function.
Panax/American Ginseng: enhances memory and mental acuity.
Panax Ginseng has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. Panax Ginseng is believed to have a wide range of health benefits throughout the body, including increasing appetite, blood volume, strength, immune resistance, physical performance and vitality. Panax Ginseng is particularly valuable for Brain Health as it has been shown to enhance memory and improve mental acuity. Panax Ginseng is also believed to quiet the spirit, and impart wisdom and mental clarity.
Key Brain & Memory Health Issues
Alzheimer's disease is a common and serious brain disease which afflicts over 5 million Americans. Symptoms vary a great deal, but commonly the first problem people notice is forgetfulness severe enough to affect their work, hobbies or social life. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease, meaning that it gets worse over time. Symptoms that commonly follow are confusion, trouble organizing and expressing thoughts, misplacing things, getting lost in familiar places, and changes in personality and behavior.
Alzheimer's Disease is the most common form of dementia, a term for the loss of memory and brain function serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's Disease currently has no cure. But treating symptoms, and getting services and support can improve life for those living with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.
Nutritional Support for Brain Health: what should you eat?
To get an antioxidant-rich diet, begin by consuming the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Concentrate on a wide variety of colors, as different colored fruits and vegetables contain different healthful compounds with antioxidant action. If possible, augment what you eat with fresh vegetable and fruit juices to add even more antioxidants. If you are concerned that you may not be eating enough fruits and vegetables, you can also add antioxidant supplements to your regimen.
Safe Use of Natural Alternatives for Brain Health
Precautions in the use of Gingko Biloba:
There may be cross-sensitivity to ginkgo in people allergic to urusiols (mango rind, sumac, poison ivy, poison oak, cashews). Bleeding has been associated with the use of ginkgo taken by mouth, and caution is advised in people with bleeding disorders or taking drugs/herbs/supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Ginkgo should be stopped prior to some surgical or dental procedures. Ginkgo may theoretically affect insulin and blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Serum glucose levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare professional, and medication may need to be adjusted.
Sarah DeCamello is a professional writer with over 20 years of experience writing on healthcare topics, increasingly focusing on natural and alternative healthcare approaches. Sarah writes websites, articles, brochures, packaging and advertising, in addition to her work as a strategic consultant to healthcare-focused companies. Sarah also has advanced national certification as a yoga teacher, including training in meditation and Ayurveda. Contact Sarah H. DeCamello: email@example.com