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Feed your brain: Essential nutrients for memory and focus

Feed your brain: Essential nutrients for memory and focus | Mr Vitamins
With normal ageing comes gradual changes in thinking and memory, leading to many older Australians feeling frustrated with their mental performance, concentration and creativity. 

Nutrients for memory are the key

Today’s popular low-fat diets may actually be contributing to memory and focus problems. Good fats such as omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to facilitate our brain chemicals, and the brain needs a combination of nutrients to nourish it and help these brain chemicals do their job.

The good fats

Diets that restrict the intake of important proteins and fats can have great impact on brain function. What many people do not realise is that adequate protein intake with good fats is essential for good brain health. In the field of anti-ageing medicine, fish oils are increasingly being investigated as therapeutic agents with the potential to limit the decline in brain function that accompanies ageing. Studies show that omega-3 deficiency causes structural and functional changes in the brain, as well as problems with learning, memory, depression and aggressive behaviour.1 Studies have revealed a consistent association between higher fish consumption and a decreased risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia.2 Decreases in brain DHA levels are linked to ageing and cognitive decline in both healthy elderly individuals and patients with AD.3,4 DHA supplementation in healthy elderly individuals has been shown to improve learning and memory function in age-related cognitive decline.5

The best fish oils

Omega-3 supplementation in AD patients has so far produced mixed results, however this may be due to a relatively short treatment duration in clinical trials. Studies using long-term omega-3 supplementation in AD have shown positive results with improved cognitive function and reduced loss of brain function.3 If your diet does not include enough good fats or sources of omega-3 fatty acids, you may want to consider a high quality supplement. Fish oil quality can vary dramatically and it is of utmost importance that the purest and highest quality fish oil is recommended to ensure the lowest level of contaminants including PCBs, dioxins and heavy metals, as well as oxidation residues. Ask your healthcare practitioner to recommend a high quality, practitioner only omega-3 supplement that meets the strict international standards of the Global Organisation for EPA and DHA Omega-3s (GOED).

Herbal benefits

There are many herbal extracts that exist to enhance learning and memory and assist brain function. The leaf of the ancient ginkgo tree is one of the most widely recommended and consumed herbal medicines worldwide where it is used for conditions including memory loss, headaches, tinnitus, vertigo, dizziness and impaired concentration.6 Ginkgo is an antioxidant and improves circulation through the veins, arteries and capillaries, including in the brain, which may be why it is so beneficial for memory and concentration.7 Studies show gingko also improves mood and emotions.8 The herb Korean ginseng has been used for over 5000 years.9 Studies show ginseng improves memory and age-related loss of brain function.10,11 The Ayurvedic herb brahmi is known for enhancing brain health. Studies show brahmi is quite impressive and enhances verbal attention, memory acquisition, retention and recall, intellect and speed of information processing.12,13 Ask your healthcare practitioner to recommended the standardised extract of brahmi called BacoMind® which has been clinically trialled. As a complement to good fats and researched herbs for healthy brain function, you may also want to consider the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid to provide support for brain, energy and circulation.

Mr Vitamins Recommends:

Cognition Support, Lipoec, Ultraclean EPA/DHA Plus from Bioceuticals

‘Ask a Naturopath’ for more information about natural sleeping solutions

Know your memory

What are the differences between long-term, short-term and working memory? We break down the inner workings of your memory function. Working memory: attention control of short- term memory for temporary storage and processing of information. Spatial working memory: responsible for recording information about one’s environment and its spacial orientation. Executive functioning: the management of cognitive processes, including working memory, reasoning, task flexibility, problem solving, planning and execution. Secondary memory: stores information for longer periods of time; whereas primary memory temporarily stores information.

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