Memory and Age By Neil E. Levin, CCN, DANLA The most important things for an older person to consider in protecting against minor memory loss – often attributed to “aging” – include: · Maintain at least a nominal physical activity level to keep circulation and body functions at optimal levels. · Take a good multivitamin to assure minimal levels of essential nutrients. Too many elders fail to eat properly or to get adequate levels of B vitamins and other key nutrients associated with proper cognitive function. Also, the elderly don’t absorb nutrients from food as efficiently, making supplementation even more important. · Don’t forget to eat meals. Often, single, divorced or widowed seniors fail to eat regular meals on schedule. This creates nutrient deficiencies that complicate their ability to maintain physical and mental health. · Don’t overeat on processed, high fat, high sodium foods such as fast foods to “compensate” for poor eating habits. · Take foods and supplements that are rich in antioxidants. Oxidative damage is clearly associated with many of the conditions that affect mental, as well as physical, capabilities in older people. This includes negative changes to the brain itself; and also the nervous system, the eyes and joints. · Use vitamin D, which may be in your multivitamin or calcium supplement, to compensate for the lack of direct sunlight on skin. This essential vitamin also helps with immunity, cardiovascular health and bone health. · If your dietary habits are reasonably good and you still want some more natural aids for brain and memory function, consider a brain nutrient formula. Of course, college age is a time when many students want to use brain nutrients to maximize their learning and recall, especially for tests. Many adults then coast through adulthood until they reach their 40’s or 50’s and start to get a little forgetful. By then, they should already be examining their diet, lifestyle and stress levels to consider whether they may need additional nutritional support for their mental functions. If they wait until things get bad - in their 60’s, 70’s or later - it may be too late to preserve their memories and mental acuity. Basic brain nutrients are multivitamins, lecithin and fish oil. Antioxidants will protect the brain’s structures and functions throughout adulthood. Magnesium, an essential mineral that is deficient in 90% of Americans, helps to reduce toxic effects of chemicals on neurons; as do antioxidants such as vitamin E, tocotrienols, and vitamin C. People will usually hint at the need, or ask about Ginkgo or look at the section. We’re not the family, friends or work colleagues that people try to hide symptoms from…after all; we are the ones that perfect strangers often disclose their bowel habits and other normally hidden quirks to. Speaking in user-friendly but technical structure-function language will often make the discussion less personal and more scientific, removing much of the emotional content of the health issue. Phosphatidyl Serine is a phospolipid compound derived from soy lecithin that plays an essential role in cell membrane composition and intercellular communication. Phosphatidyl Serine is a major structural component of neural membranes where it assists in the conduction of electrical impulses and facilitates the activity of neurotransmitters involved in learning, memory and mood. These properties make Phosphatidyl Serine formulas ideal basic supplements for the support of cognitive function. There is enough evidence of the safety and efficacy of PS for the FDA to have issued a qualified health claim for it. DMAE is known primarily as a precursor to choline and acetylcholine (chemicals in the brain responsible for nerve transmissions and cognitive function), and has been used most predominantly to improve memory and focus while stimulating neural activity. Many researchers believe that it may serve an anti-aging function by increasing the body’s capacity to produce acetylcholine – a deficiency commonly associated with memory loss. Scientific research has demonstrated that Ginkgo Biloba Extract has antioxidant activity in in vitro studies and thus may aid in maintaining healthy brain and memory function. The insulating myelin sheaths that protect the brain, spine and thousands of miles of nerves in the human body are almost two-thirds Lecithin. Lecithin is composed of many different components, including Choline, Inositol, Linoleic Acid, Phosphatidyl serine, fatty acids and triglycerides. These valuable constituents of Lecithin are vital for the proper functioning of many metabolic processes. And let’s not forget the benefit of DHA and fish oil. Fish oils are typically molecularly distilled and tested to be free of screened for the absence of potentially harmful levels of contaminants (i.e. mercury, heavy metals, PCB's, dioxins, and other contaminants). DHA is utilized in forming the brain and nerves. And last but not least, antioxidants and magnesium are very helpful in protecting brain structures and may be useful in preventing some of the feared declines associated with aging brains. For example, vitamin C actually pumps glutamates out of neurons.