Maximizing Our Memory: Part 3 – Memory and Aging

Brain Shrinkage with Aging and Associated Memory Loss

Mental function, unfortunately, does deteriorate with age and is associated with the unpleasant reality of “brain shrinkage”.  Brain scans confirm that the brain normally shrinks 0.5% per year.

We now believe that the decline in mental function is a very long-term process, over at least 20-30 years.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, proper nutrition, and exercising regularly, while avoiding obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are believed to be very important.  We now know that memory decline begins at least in our 40’s and perhaps much younger.

Key nutrients are believed to have a significant impact on risk of mental decline.  Homocysteine, for example, is a metabolism by-product in our blood that has been associated with mental decline.  We know, however, that taking vitamin B-12, B-6, and Folate will lower the blood level of homocysteine significantly.  We also now believe that the rate of brain shrinkage can be reduced up to 53% for those with high homocysteine simply by taking these vitamins.

Recent research has confirmed that supplementing with B-12 and Folate promotes improvement in mental function within 24 months, in both immediate and delayed memory performance.  In fact, individuals with the highest blood levels of B-12 are 6 times less likely to experience brain shrinkage compared to those with low blood levels.

Also of interest, obese individuals have smaller brains than their normal weight peers. Again, weight control, a healthy lifestyle, and proper nutrition are keys to keeping your brain healthy as you age

Summary of Nutrition and Health Facts For Brain Preservation:

1.  Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil and flax oil, in the blood, are associated with improved mental function, particularly immediate recall.

2.  Excessive calorie intake seems to double the risk of mild mental impairment, particularly in those over age 70.

3.  Take true Folate, B-12, and B-6 in their natural forms, in proper doses to lower homocysteine.

4.  Low levels of Vitamin D are found in those with Alzheimer’s.  Higher vitamin D levels are associated with improved memory test scores.

5.  L-carnitine treatment increases mental function in older adults.

6.  Green tea consumption is associated with improved mental function.

7.  Ginkgo biloba complexed with phosphatidylserine in supplement form resulted in improved memory performance and increased speed of memory task performance.  Combining the two supplements seems to potentiate memory improvement effects.

8.  Gingko biloba has consistent evidence that chronic supplementation improves selective attention, some executive processes and long-term memory.

Summary Recommendations:

1.  Lifestyle factors:  Control your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol (preferably without statin medications which can impair memory), and maintain your fitness level.

2.  Nutrition factors:  Eat brain-friendly foods, such as fish, nuts and seeds, grains, fruits and vegetables.

3.  Supplement Core Vitamins and Minerals:  A quality multivitamin, such as Metabolism Essentials, along with makes sense for almost all adults.  (Folate, B-12, and B-6 in proper amounts are included, as are Zinc and Magnesium.)

4.  Supplement with Omega 3 oils:  A concentrated fish oil, such as Ultra Omega 3, 2 capsules daily supports a healthy brain.

5.  Supplement Strategically:  Discuss with your nutritionist if Green Tea Capsules, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Memory Support (Ginkgo biloba + Phosphatidylserine) are appropriate for you.

 

Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H. & T.M. is a nutrition & weight loss specialist and the Founder & Medical Director of the Center for Nutrition and Preventive Medicine, P.A.

Dr. Tague is an Alpha Omega Alpha honors graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He also holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Tulane. Dr. Tague is board certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine and the American Board of Family Medicine. His medical practice has focused on optimum health, nutrition, and weight loss since 1996.

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