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Can taking vitamins improve your memory?

Updated on April 5, 2012

Memory loss is something many people fear. We may have seen older relatives decline into Alzheimers Disease, or we may simply find it frustrating when we cannot find the words we want or keep track of appointments. Of course there are many tips and tricks for remembering the facts we have to keep track of, but how about tackling the problem from the inside – that is the brain?

The fact is, the brain is an extremely complex organ, and as such it’s biochemical needs are very complicated and precise. A balanced diet should theoretically provide all that is needed nutritionally, but it’s very easy for our diets to become imbalanced, and also for residual toxins to build up which prevent ideal absorption and assimilation of the nutrients we eat. In this event, supplementing is a good idea – it should always be the ideal to obtain all our vitamins and minerals in the natural wholefood form, but in the real world there is nothing wrong with supplementing. If a specific deficiency is associated with a symptom you are experiencing, such as memory loss, then there is nothing to lose – and so much to gain – but tackling the problem directly. The following vitamins and supplements may help, to improve memory:

Vitamins B6, B12 and B9 – all of these are closely linked to neural function and neurotransmitter development, and your first supplement to consider should be a broad-spectrum Vitamin B complex which contains at least the recommended daily amount of all three of these. They not only support brain health but cellular maintenance generally, thus improving circulation and ensuring the brain is adequately respirated and nourished. Vitamin B9 is better known as folic acid, and known to every pregnant woman for its dramatic affect on the birth defect statistics – its role in developing neural cells is beyond doubt, and if your diet is not high in natural folates, it is wise to supplement life-long. B12 and B6 have recently been linked to reducing blood homocysteine levels, which are implicated in Alzheimers and other cognitive impairments

Choline – choline is a precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is vital for brain function.  It is found in certain meats, and in whole eggs, but is also easily and safely supplemented if dietary intake is in doubt.  It helps to form and protect the nerve cells, and keeping them in optimal health is one of the most important concerns for good memory and information processing.

Acetyl-l-carnitine is a powerful antioxidant that can cross the blood-brain barrier, and acts directly to prevent brain cell deterioration from free radical attacks and general aging. It is currently being trialed as a treatment for Parkinsons disease, as a direct correlation with brain health is already apparent.

Coenzyme Q10 is a compound found in the cell mitochondria, where energy is produced for all of life’s processes.  It has an antioxidant effect, and has been associated with many brain concerns as well as cardiac benefits.  A recent study found improvements for migraine sufferers, and other research indicates a slowing down of age-related dementia.  As well as fighting free radical damage, coenzyme Q10 helps deliver oxygen to the brain cells themselves, which encourages peak performance in mental tasks.

Vitamin D – if you don’t get enough sunlight to synthesise sufficient vitamin D (for example during a Northern hemisphere winter), then supplementation can defend against mental illness and impaired cognitive function, particularly for older people.

If you are concerned about your memory, you should seek medical advice and testing, and you should also seek dietary advice from a qualified nutritional professional if you have any queries about supplementation.  Buy your supplements from a trusted and reputable brand, and respect their potency – just because dosages are phrased as recommendations rather than prescriptions doesn’t meant that overdosing cannot be dangerous and have side effects, the recommendations are for optimal results and more does not mean better.


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