Protecting your memory with supplements
Memory supplements with potential only…
Is there such a thing? Whilst there are a variety of these type of vitamins on the market, the scientific research to support these claims is still somewhat lacking. Though, whilst we all hope that these vitamins protect our memory loss, there are still benefits surrounding such efforts.
Here are a few other memory supplements that may also have some potential, but require much more study:
- Omega-3 fatty acid
Omega-3 fish oil supplements have piqued great interest. Studies suggest that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acid from foods such as cold-water fish, plant and nut oils, and English walnuts are strongly linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. However, thorough studies comparing omega-3s to placebo are needed to prove this memory benefit from supplements.
- Huperzine A
Also known as Chinese club moss, this natural medicine works in a similar way as Alzheimer’s drugs. But more evidence is needed to confirm its safety and effectiveness.
Some studies suggest that this amino acid might help Alzheimer’s patients with memory problems. It may provide a greater benefit to people with early onset and a fast rate of the disease.
- Vitamin E
Although vitamin E apparently doesn’t decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, it may slow its progression. Recent studies have raised concerns about an increased risk of deaths in unhealthy people who take high doses of vitamin E, so be sure to consult with your doctor before taking this supplement.
- Asian (or Panax) ginseng
An herb that’s sometimes used with ginkgo biloba, Asian ginseng may help with fatigue and quality of life, Fugh-Berman tells WebMD. But any benefit for memory, she says, has shown up mostly in a small group or subset of study participants.
Ginkgo Biloba for Memory Loss? With Caution
One of the top-selling herbs in the United States, ginkgo biloba has been used for thousands of years in traditional Chinese medicine.
A National Institute on Ageing (NIH) ginkgo trial of more than 200 healthy adults older than 60 showed no improvement in memory or concentration. It is possible that doses higher than the 120 milligrams used daily in this six-week trial could be effective. Look for results of current large, long-term trials, such as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine’s study with 3,000 volunteers. These will help to confirm whether or not ginkgo biloba can help prevent dementia or enhance memory in healthy people.
Some research suggests that ginkgo biloba is effective for early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Ginkgo biloba may be as effective as acetylcholinesterase inhibitor drugs such as donepezil (Aricept). Studies have also indicated that ginkgo biloba may be helpful for cerebral insufficiency, a decreased flow of blood to the brain from clogged blood vessels.
However, a 2009 study in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that compared with placebo, 120 mg twice daily of ginkgo biloba did not result in less cognitive decline in older adults with normal or only mild thinking impairment.
Ginkgo biloba is available in tablets, capsules, teas, and fortified foods. Do not use ginkgo biloba seeds, which can be very toxic. Tea bags often contain 30 milligrams of ginkgo biloba extract, while a typical dose used in ginkgo biloba studies is 80 to 240 milligrams of a standardized extract daily by mouth in two to three divided doses.
Although ginkgo biloba is generally safe, you should be aware of its blood-thinning properties. Stop using ginkgo biloba or use caution before surgery or dental procedures. Your risk for bleeding is also greater if you are taking blood thinners such as aspirin or warfarin. Also, it is possible that ginkgo biloba affects insulin or blood sugar. So be cautious if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, or if you take substances that affect blood sugar.
Minor side effects of ginkgo biloba may include headache, nausea, or intestinal problems.
Changing Your Lifestyle, Enhancing Your Memory
While there is no specific diet to prevent Alzheimer’s, studies have shown that a healthy diet may help lower the risk. Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet may lower the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, and may even help prolong life in people with Alzheimer’s. The Mediterranean diet has very little red meat. The diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, and nuts, with moderate amounts of dairy, fish, and poultry. Olive oil is an important source of healthy fats. Moderate amounts of alcohol, particularly wine, may also lower the risk of Alzheimer’s. However, doctors don’t recommend that people start drinking alcohol to prevent disease.
Researchers speculate that there may be a small protective quality of caffeine from the risk of dementia. But more research needs to be done in this area. In the meantime, Lausier recommends the “common sense” steps for enhancing your memory, such as not smoking and avoiding too much caffeine or alcohol. “Some of these changes may make more difference in the outcome than a lot of expensive drugs or supplements.”
Source: WebMD. Article by Annie Stuart, reviewed By David Kiefer, MD. Read full article here.
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