Memory is an active and ongoing process in your brain. It involves chemical and structural changes in brain cells and their connections at the moment you want to store something in your brain and when you want to recall it. Making new memories requires focus at the moment as well as a healthy brain to retrieve years — even decades — later.
Making new memories is also one of the first capabilities to deteriorate with brain decline. Research shows that memory problems can begin as early as the forties and continue to increase with age. However, declining cognition is not just an inevitable part of aging. Keeping your mind sharp is entirely possible, and it’s never too late to improve your brain function.
Your lifestyle habits play a large role in determining whether your mind stays robust or degrades. The foods you eat are also integral in determining whether your brain continues to function at its best. Giving your brain the nutrients it needs to operate optimally can improve your mood, cognition, and memory now and protect it as you age.
These Nutrients Are Particularly Important for Brain Health
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
Your brain needs polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) to function properly. Numerous studies have investigated the effects of PUFAs in preventing and or slowing brain decline. The potential for PUFA dietary intervention to prevent neuronal loss and cognitive decline stems from evidence that PUFAs are critical components of neuronal cell membranes. Maintaining membrane fluidity is essential for synaptic function and neurotransmitter communication within neural networks in your brain.
One of the most important categories of PUFAs are the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Among 11 different types, the three most important are ALA, EPA, and DHA. The most common omega-3 fatty acid in your diet is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is and mostly found in plants. ALA needs to be converted into EPA or DHA for your body to use it for something other than energy.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are fundamental components of all the cell membranes in your body. DHA facilitates brain cells making connections or synapses which is crucial to memory storage and recall and overall cognition.
Because your body produces very little on its own, you have to get PUFAs from your diet. Both EPA and DHA are plentiful in seafood, including fatty fish and algae. EPA concentrations are highest in herring, salmon, eel, shrimp, and sturgeon. Grass-fed animal products, such as dairy and meats, also contain small amounts of EPA. Some foods are fortified with DHA.
Antioxidants are molecules that neutralize free radicals, unstable molecules that can harm your cells and lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can cause free radicals to attack brain cells resulting in oxidative damage. Your brain is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress damage. Studies show that antioxidants help to counteract the unstable molecules that comprise free radicals, counteracting the negative effects of oxidative stress.
While there are many antioxidants, a select few target the brain. Some of the most well known include carotenoids and flavonoids, as well as key vitamins and minerals. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants. In general, the brighter the color, the higher the level of disease-fighting antioxidants in food.
- Carotenoids – (for example, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, and Meso-Zeaxanthin ) are important nutrients found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, and broccoli, that help protect the brain from inflammation, oxidative stress, and the negative effects of free radicals. Studies show these nutrients to have memory-enhancing effects when ingested daily as well as a positive impact on cognitive function.
- Flavonoids – are primarily plentiful in plants. These include anthocyanidins (from blueberries, grapes, and wine) and catechins/epicatechin (found in cocoa, dark chocolate and tea).
- Vitamin C – is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be stored and must be eaten on a regular basis. Foods highest in vitamin C include red berries, lemons, limes, and kiwi fruit. Vitamin C also helps prevent free radicals, supports the immune system, and helps build healthy tissue.
- Vitamin D – is classified as an antioxidant by some studies. Research links vitamin D deficiency to memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s. Vitamin D is produced from cholesterol in the skin using the energy from the sun. However, today it’s estimated that up to 50 percent of the world’s population may not get enough sunlight.
- Vitamin E – has proven particularly promising in helping the brain. It’s a fat-soluble antioxidant which allows it to cross the blood-brain barrier. Studies suggest that vitamin E can benefit memory in older people and even help slow dementia and Alzheimer’s. Nuts, seeds, dark-colored fruits, and vegetables are sources of vitamin E.
- Selenium – is a mineral which provides immune support and protects against free radicals. Fish, shellfish, chicken, and Brazil nuts are good sources of selenium.
Your Brain Is Probably Not Getting What It Needs From Your Diet
Research shows that correcting the diet is a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage, and counteracting the effects of aging. However, numerous studies indicate that over 90 percent of Americans do not get the recommended daily vitamins and minerals they need from their diets. According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, across almost every age and sex group, U.S. eating patterns are too low in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy, seafood, and oil and too high in refined grains, added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Eating this way primes the body for disease and illness — especially the brain.
Even the healthiest eaters may still not be getting the nutrition they need from their diets. Healthy food requires healthy soil. Because of soil depletion, each successive generation of vegetable is a little less good for you than the one before. The Scientific America article, “Dirt Poor: Have Fruits and Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?” said this:
A Kushi Institute analysis of nutrient data from 1975 to 1997 found that average calcium levels in 12 fresh vegetables dropped 27 percent; iron levels 37 percent; vitamin A levels 21 percent, and vitamin C levels 30 percent. A similar study of British nutrient data from 1930 to 1980, published in the British Food Journal, found that in 20 vegetables the average calcium content had declined 19 percent; iron 22 percent; and potassium 14 percent. Yet another study concluded that one would have to eat eight oranges today to derive the same amount of Vitamin A as our grandparents would have gotten from one.”
A nutrient-poor diet affects mental and brain health at every age. Unhealthy diets increase the risk of psychiatric and neurologic conditions. In older adults, poor diet is linked to brain shrinkage and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Supplement Your Diet for Brain Health
It’s estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease will be diagnosed in 2019 in the United States. Every three seconds, someone in the world develops dementia. When you combine those statistics with the information about the typical diet lacking in vital nutrients and the fact that most of us don’t get enough sleep, exercise, or sunlight, it can make getting older pretty scary. To adopt a brain-healthy lifestyle and supplementation with a product specifically designed to protect and preserve your brain’s health becomes a smart option.
The Memory Health supplement delivers three key nutrients directly to your brain to nourish, protect, and improve brain health: carotenoids, omega-3s, and vitamin E. Unlike many other nutraceuticals, the patented Memory Health formula was developed and tested independently, and the research results are published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. In the tests, both healthy and diseased brains showed improvement in cognitive function, memory, and mood taking the Memory Health supplement.
One independent clinical study concluded that it was the combination of carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids that achieved improvements in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers determined there was a superior biochemical response to the carotenoids when combined with the omega-3 fatty acid compared to supplementing with the same carotenoids in the absence of fish oil. According to the study:
The improved delivery of these important brain nutrients to the target (neural) tissue is likely to have contributed to the positive outcomes linked to this formulation (i.e. via enhanced absorption and distribution of the carotenoids.)”
The study goes on to say:
The results from the current study suggest that the improvements we identified in patients with AD were uniquely achieved only when a combination of the xanthophyll carotenoids and omega-3 fatty acids were provided to the patients. In this work, we observed noticeable differences between patients supplemented with xanthophyll carotenoids plus omega-3 fatty acids compared to patients supplemented with the xanthophyll carotenoids only, in terms of their health and function… In fact, the carers for patients in Trial 2 reported functional benefits in memory, sight and mood. Following completion of the trial, families and carers of the patients in Trial 2 have contacted our research center requesting continued access to the supplement, as they are adamant that the intervention with xanthophyll carotenoids and fish oil has had a very positive impact for the patient.”
Memory Health also contains 15mg of Vitamin E, which satisfies the FDA’s recommended daily input for adults and children older than age four. Memory Health is manufactured in the USA following pharma-grade standards and is made from 100 percent all-natural, non-GMO ingredients. It contains zero additives and preservatives and is gluten-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and cruelty-free. Unlike many other nutraceuticals, Memory Health has zero recorded negative side effects.
Use the code BB20 for a 20 percent discount on your first order.
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Interesting Debbie. I’m always open to knowing more about vitamins and natural foods and products that maintain the best health possible for me. Thanks for all your research.
The more you know, the better you can help yourself, Elle. 🙂 You are most welcome.
Thanks for this article, I hope to try the product in the future – is it something you yourself have used Debbie?
Much more valuable for me was the information about memory as my ability to encode and store memory has been compromised due to mild, global cerebral profusion deficits since I was a wee girl – my biggest issue today is deep memory deficits. A Prof in University, a cell biologist, told me that a long term deficit in global blood flow will lead to deficits in the global functioning of all brain areas. He also impressed upon me why exercise is important as it increases both brain circulation and microcirculation which in turn further nourishes the neurogenic stem cells that promote neuroplasticity and regeneration.
Thank you for your comment. No, I personally do not take it. I take the individual ingredients, I think I need – many of the same. This is a nice way to get it all-in-one. I am also very very particular about the products I recommend. This one has independent research to back it up. I also can’t stress enough the importance of exercise. I do it every day…and sleep and nutrition. All lifestyle habits, really. I don’t feel I can eat enough food in one day to get all the nutrients my brain and body need….and I eat really, really healthy. It would just be too much food – for me. So, I supplement.
Knowing that we need all these supplements for good mental health is SO helpful. I do take many of these off and on. But not regularly. Your post has inspired me to take it more consistently.