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Dude, Where’s My Car?

Filed Under: Vitamins and Minerals at 4:34 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
Gas StationA few weeks ago, a German man pulled into a gas station, filled his car, paid the bill and walked home. An hour later, authorities knocked on his door, informing him that his vehicle was still connected to the pump. He promptly returned to the station and drove home, none the worse for wear.

At first glance, it’s nothing but a laughable story, but when we look again, we catch glimpses of ourselves. How many times have we done similar things? I’ve searched madly for a working pen only to find three in my hair. I’ve made a point of printing directions and bringing them to the front door only to find them by that same door, three hours later, post-trip.  And you’ve done the same; you know you have. We all suffer from bouts of forgetfulness, moments that will grow more frequent as we age. In a dream world, there would be a magic pill that would help our minds stay sharp and keep memory lapses at bay, but that doesn’t seem to have happened yet. Or has it?

Researchers recently analyzed the effects of beta-carotene on cognitive function.  They found that taking the little vitamin, in supplement form, significantly improved test results, but only in the long-term. Men who had taken it for an average of a year didn’t differ from those who had not. However, men who ingested beta-carotene supplements for 18 years did. They demonstrated superior memory and problem-solving skills.

This study offers hope to the healthy. Most preceding research has made recommendations for the already fading, implying that there is nothing the fully mentally alert can do in terms of prevention. But now we know that there is: beta-carotene. However, we still have to be cautious. Findings are contradictory about the effects of antioxidant vitamins on cognitive function. And as with anything you consume, there can be risks.  Check with your doctor before adding beta carotene to your daily routine. Then, take comfort in knowing that you are not just adding a supplement to your diet but a moment to your memory.

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