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Memory problems

What should you take to support your memory?

Memory, a veritable library of recollections, declines over time which can make it harder to memorise and recall information. Which are the best compounds for providing effective memory support?

Memory, synaptic plasticity and age-related decline

Memory refers to the cognitive function which allows us to record and recall information.

Working memory, semantic memory, procedural memory, perceptual memory … there are many complementary forms of memory.

Interestingly, there’s no single memory centre in the brain: memorisation involves many regions (the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, etc.) and works by creating and strengthening synaptic connections between neurons using electrical and biochemical signals. Synaptic plasticity is the mechanism by which these inter-neuron connections are strengthened or weakened, in response to experience.

With age, synaptic plasticity diminishes due to a decrease in neurotransmitter production, the decline in synaptic receptors and the consequences of oxidation, DNA damage and other forms of cellular wear and tear.

What can you do to boost memory effectively?

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is extremely important for maintaining optimal memory: sleeping well, exercising, avoiding stress and limiting intake of stimulants, alcohol and drugs, etc. It’s also crucial to make the effort to eat a varied diet with plenty of different nutrients.

Regular memory training is another effective way of maintaining this faculty. Stimulating your mind in a fun way is an excellent approach, with word games (crosswords), number games (sudoku), board games, computer games, meditation ... the possibilities are endless!

Which are the best nutrients and supplements for supporting memory?

DHA: a key ally of brain health and memory

Omega-3 fatty acids are often recommended for supporting memory … and this is no coincidence. The omega-3 DHA, in particular, is recognised for helping to maintain normal brain function and thus capacity for memorisation, amongst others.

DHA is naturally present in oily fish (wild salmon, mackerel, herring …) and seafood (oysters, shrimps, etc.) and can also be found at higher levels in dietary supplements (such as Super DHA).

The little-known role of phosphatidylserine in the brain

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid found in cell membranes, especially those of brain cells. It is being studied for its potential effects on memory.

More specifically, many scientists believe it may be able to support cell membrane fluidity, while promoting the release of neurotransmitters and combatting the oxidative stress that damages the brain.

The body’s ability to produce phosphatidylserine declines with age, but it is available in supplement form (such as PS 100). It’s worth noting that combining DHA with phosphatidylserine appears to offer a particularly effective synergy especially for elderly people.

Ginkgo biloba: powerful, natural memory support

Ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair tree, is one of the best-known medicinal plants for supporting cognitive function, including memory. Its properties come from two active ingredients, ginkgoflavonglycosides and terpene lactones (1-2).

In the main, ginkgo biloba works by:

  • dilating blood vessels, which improves microcirculation and thus ensures better oxygenation and transport of nutrients to brain cells;
  • and neutralising free radicals, which protects brain cells from oxidative stress-induced damage.

You can find gingko in the form of both dried leaves for making infusions and dietary supplements with a high content of active ingredients (such as Ginkgo biloba).

Bacopa monnieri: an aquatic plant excellent for brain function

Another key plant to consider in the context of memory problems is Bacopa monnieri (3). The benefits of this aquatic plant come from active principles called bacosides.

Bacopa monnieri supports cognitive function primarily by regulating the concentration and activity of certain neurotransmitters (serotonin, acetylcholine, etc.), which play a central role in memory.

This plant is available in the form of dried powders, tinctures, and standardised extracts sold as nootropic supplements (such as Bacopa monnieri).

Note that the synergistic formulation Neurex combines extracts of both Ginkgo biloba and Bacopa monnieri, as well as other beneficial compounds (such as centella and huperzia, excellent for cognitive and mental health).

Ginseng: did you know it was good for cognition and memory?

Ginseng is Chinese medicine’s most famous plant, known for supporting the immune system, vitality, sex life ... but it is also recommended for helping to maintain brain performance and reactivity (4).

The plant’s effects on brain function, including memory, are due to its adaptogen properties (it reduces the effects of stress on the brain), capacity to improve neurotransmission and potential neuroprotective benefits.

Have you ever benefited from the many positive effects of ginseng supplementation?

A promising mushroom for memory

Lion’s mane, or Hericium erinaceus, is a mushroom with a high content of hericenones and beta-glucan polysaccharides.

Studies suggest that Hericium erinaceus extract may support memory through its bioactive compounds which promote neuron growth and stimulate synthesis of nerve growth factor (NGF) (5). Definitely one to watch!

In fact, this mushroom is already available in supplement form (for example Lion’s Mane).

SUPERSMART ADVICE

References

  1. Ribeiro ML, Moreira LM, Arçari DP, Dos Santos LF, Marques AC, Pedrazzoli J Jr, Cerutti SM. Protective effects of chronic treatment with a standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba L. in the prefrontal cortex and dorsal hippocampus of middle-aged rats. Behav Brain Res. 2016 Oct 15;313:144-150. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2016.06.029. Epub 2016 Jul 14. PMID: 27424157.
  2. Evans JR. Ginkgo biloba extract for age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD001775. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001775. Update in: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;1:CD001775. PMID: 10796819.
  3. Kumar N, Abichandani LG, Thawani V, Gharpure KJ, Naidu MU, Venkat Ramana G. Efficacy of Standardized Extract of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize®) on Cognitive Functions of Medical Students: A Six-Week, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2016;2016:4103423. doi: 10.1155/2016/4103423. Epub 2016 Oct 10. PMID: 27803728; PMCID: PMC5075615.
  4. Kim KH, Lee D, Lee HL, Kim CE, Jung K, Kang KS. Beneficial effects of Panax ginseng for the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases: past findings and future directions. J Ginseng Res. 2018 Jul;42(3):239-247. doi: 10.1016/j.jgr.2017.03.011. Epub 2017 Apr 15. PMID: 29989012; PMCID: PMC6035378.
  5. Levi-Montalcini R: The nerve growth factor 35 years later. Science 1987; 237: 1154-62.

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