Let’s face it; we aren’t getting any younger. As we age, our memory begins to fade and what we were able to do as kids and teenagers we are no longer able to do as adults. Remembering names, numbers, birthdays, computer passwords, etc. gets harder by the day. What if we could take preventative measures today to help improve our memory and brain function later in life? Today we are going to take a look at vitamins and natural treatments to help improve your mental function and keep it functioning at its highest potential.
Rhodiola rosea is an herb that grows primarily in dry sandy ground at high altitudes in the arctic areas of Europe and Asia. A common adaptogen, meaning it helps combat stress, this herb has long been known to increase physical endurance, combat fatigue, improve immunity, increase work productivity, enhance longevity, and improve depression. Human studies have shown that salidroside, an active principal of Rhodiola, improved mental ability. Another study looked at Rhodiola rhizome on non-specific fatigue. Fatigue was assessed based on the evaluation of audial and visual short-term memory and ability for mental attention. Results showed that Rhodiola extract possesses a clear anti-fatigue effect.
Ginkgo biloba has long been known as an herb that has a strong affinity for mental function and brain health. The ginkgo tree is the sole survivor of a primitive order of plants dating from 200 million years ago and is the world’s oldest living tree species. It is best known for its ability to stimulate blood flow through the smaller blood vessels, which in turn increases circulation to all vital organs including the brain. Studies have shown that it may delay mental decline in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease and can even slow senile dementia.
Bacopa Monnieri is an Ayurvedic herb that has been used for centuries. This plant has been used mostly as a brain booster that enhances memory development, learning, and concentration. Only minimal amounts of studies have been done on this herb and there have been mixed effects on Bacopa’s ability to enhance mental function. More research is warranted on this herb’s effect on memory and brain function.
Zinc deficiency has been shown to increase neuronal apoptosis which can lead to learning and memory deficits. At optimal physiologic concentrations, zinc has been shown to be neuroprotective, while excess amounts of zinc have shown to be neurotoxic. A lot of research is currently being done on zinc’s effect on mental function and brain health. This research includes the role of zinc in Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and aging. Avoid taking zinc on an empty stomach as it may make you nauseous.
Choline is a nutrient that is found in foods like saltwater fish, eggs, liver, chicken, milk, and certain legumes, including soy and kidney beans. Choline is the precursor to acetylcholine, one of the body’s major neurotransmitters. Acetylcholine has been found to play a key role in encoding new memories, but not affecting memories previously stored. Pharmacological drugs used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease are drugs that prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine. This is because it is a brain chemical that may be important for memory and may help to delay or prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s from becoming worse for a limited time. In a study looking at dietary choline intake, researchers found that better memory performance was linked to higher choline intake.