Memory loss worries many of us as we grow old. You may surprise whether you will become one of the 10 million baby boomers who develops Alzheimer’s disease. Or, perhaps you are simply seeking ways to improve your memory with memory supplements, memory vitamins, or memory games.
Will these brain boosters help our memory? We discussed with the experts to find out whether -- and which -- memory pills really work.
(Note: if you feel you or someone you like may have Alzheimer’s, it’s necessary to seek medical advice.)
The Advantages Of Memory Enhancers
Finding new ways to slow memory loss can produce amazing results. For instance, if the start of Alzheimer’s could be delayed in modern day population by an average of only one year, there would be around 210,000 fewer people with Alzheimer’s 10 years from now. And that will produce a saving money of $10 billion.
“The issue with doctor’s prescription drugs is that they are extremely expensive and usually have limited effectiveness during a short time period,” says Evangeline Lausier, MD, assistant clinical professor in drugs, Duke Integrative Drugs, Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.
Memory Supplements With Potential
Although there are a variety of “Brain Boosters” on the market -- many chockfull of multiple ingredients -- most are missing research to support their memory-enhancing claims.
Ginkgo biloba is one that produce more results than many others and is commonly used in Europe for a type of dementia resulting from reduced blood flow, Lausier says. “Ginkgo biloba has a tendency to improve blood circulation in tiny vessels.”
“A couple of meta-analyses and systematic reviews show that ginkgo biloba is helpful for dementia in about the same range as drugs being pushed very heavily to treat Alzheimer’s,” says Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, an associate professor in the complementary and alternative treatment Master’s program of the dept of physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University School of Medicine.
Sad to say, that is not all that successful, she adds. Ginkgo doesn’t look to to prevent dementia. However in persons who already suffering from dementia, it may either better symptoms or stabilize symptoms therefore they do not get worse. Additionally, some but not all studies show benefits in mood, alertness, and mental ability in healthy people who consume ginkgo. More study should be done to be certain about these effects.
Here are a couple other memory supplements that may also have some potential, but require more study:
🧠 Omega-3 Fatty Acid. Omega-3 fish oil pills have piqued great interest. Studies suggest that a higher consumption of omega-3 essential fatty acid from meals like cold-water fish, nut and plant oils, and English nuts are firmly linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. However, thorough studies reviewing omega-3s to placebo are needed to prove this memory gain from supplements.
🧠 Huperzine A. Also called Chinese club moss, this natural remedy works in a similar way as Alzheimer’s drugs. But more evidence is required to ensure its effectiveness and safety.
🧠 Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Some studies suggest that this amino acid might help Alzheimer’s sufferers with memory problems. It may provide a greater benefit to people with early onset and a fast pace of the disease.
🧠 Vitamin E. Although vitamin E apparently doesn’t reduce the risk of building Alzheimer’s, it may slower its development. Recent studies have increased concerns about an increased chances of deaths in unhealthy people who take high doses of vitamin E, so be sure to talk to your health professional before taking this supplement.
🧠 Asian (or Panax) ginseng. A herb which is sometimes used with ginkgo biloba, Asian ginseng can help with fatigue and quality of life, Fugh-Berman explains to WebMD. But any benefit for memory, the lady says, has appeared mostly in a small group or part of research participants.
Ginkgo Biloba for Loss Of Memory? Carefully
Probably the top-selling herbs in america, ginkgo biloba has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine.
A National Institute on Aging (NIH) ginkgo test of more than 200 healthy people older than 60 showed no betterment in concentration or memory. It is possible that doses higher than the 120 mg used every day in this six-week trial could be beneficial. Check out results of current big, long-term trials, like the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s study with 3,Thousand volunteers. These will confirm whether or not ginkgo biloba can help prevent dementia or improve memory in healthy folks.
Some research suggests that ginkgo biloba works well for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Ginkgo biloba can be as effective as acetylcholinesterase inhibitor medicines like donepezil (Aricept). Studies have also established that ginkgo biloba may be good for cerebral insufficiency, a reduced flow of blood to the mind from clogged blood vessels.
However, a 2009 research in The Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that compared with placebo, 120 mg twice daily of ginkgo biloba did not cause less cognitive decline in older people with ordinary or just mild thinking impairment.
Ginkgo biloba is available in tablets, capsules, teas, and fortified foods. Do not use ginkgo biloba seeds, which can be very unsafe. Tea bags usually contain 30 mg of ginkgo biloba extract, while a regular dose used in ginkgo biloba studies is 90 to 220 milligrams of a standard extract daily orally in two to three divided doses.
Exercise apparently also can help enhance memory in a variety of ways. For example, it generates blood flow and formation of nerve cells in a portion of the brain called the dentate gyrus. And, it reduces other risk factors, such as cardiovascular disease, indirectly enhancing brain health.
One recent study underscored that it’s never too late to reap the memory benefits of exercise. A trial of 152 adults with mild cognitive impairment, aged 70 to 80, compared the cognitive benefits of B vitamins with aerobic exercise. After one year, the walkers fared better with memory tests.