The brain is easily the most complex organ in your entire body. Packed with nearly 90 billion neurons, the brain is responsible for everything including our movement, speech, thoughts, the function of our other organs, and most importantly our ability to remember things.
Our memory is what makes us such unique individuals. It’s what allows us to form long-term relationships, it helps us learn from past mistakes, and it helps give us a reason to continue stepping through life.
Unfortunately, our memory will get worse as we grow older -- much like the rest of our organs. The parts of our brain that control memory will begin to deteriorate as we age and time will take its toll on us.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could not only disturb the natural aging process, but improve our memory over time -- instead of watching it slowly deteriorate over time? With the right diet and supplemental help, this is possible.
How Does Our Memory Work?
When we say the brain is a complex organ, we mean there’s still a lot we don’t even know about it -- including things about our memory and how they’re formed. At the same time, we’ve learned quite a bit and it has helped us in learning what nutrients are needed to help the brain perform at its best.
What we do know is that there are three main processes that occur inside your brain that involve the memory -- encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding refers to the initial learning of that specific memory, storage refers to storing the information we learn for later us, and retrieval refers to restoring that information and accessing it when we need it.
In a perfect world, these three processes will work seamlessly. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world and there will be times when your memory isn’t as powerful as you hoped it would be. This is where we start to forget things and have difficulty remembering even the simplest piece of information.
What Are the Different Types of Memory?
In addition to the three stages of memory, scientists have uncovered seven major types of memory that all play a role in our day-to-day ability to remember things.
Before we take a look at some of the most prominent vitamins and minerals to improve your memory, it’s essential you understand what the different types of memory are. Let’s take a look:
- Short-Term Memory - lasts about 20-30 seconds and will either be dismissed or transferred to long-term memory.
- Long-Term Memory - consists of anything that happened as soon as a couple of minutes ago. The strength of the memory will depend on how frequently the information is restored.
- Explicit Memory - a type of long-term memory; memories and information that requires you to consciously think about before remembering (the street you grew up on, for example).
- Implicit Memory - a type of long-term memory; memories and information that don’t require you to consciously think about them. (riding a bike, speaking your language).
- Episodic Memory - a type of explicit memory; memories linked to a specific moment in our personal lives. For example, your wedding day or the day you got in a car crash).
- Semantic Memory - a type of explicit memory; information and facts that are seen as general knowledge about the world (the sky is blue, dogs bark, cats meow).
- Procedural Memory - a type of implicit memory; memories and information that we learn through habits or procedures (tying your shoe, driving a car).
Now that we have a better understanding of how the memory works and the various different areas of our memory, let’s discuss the various ways vitamins and minerals can improve your memory both short-term and long-term.
Scientists have noticed a common link between Vitamin B12 deficiency and memory loss. A deficiency is most common in vegetarians and older adults, but it can haunt anyone without the right diet or supplemental help.
Also known as cobalamin, Vitamin B12 helps to maintain nerve cells and red blood cells in the body and brain. Vitamin B12 can also help build DNA, improve bone health, enhance your mood, and give you an energy boost.
You can increase your daily intake of Vitamin B12 by eating more fish, meat, poultry, eggs, and milk. Of course, supplements can also help you reach the daily recommended amount of 2.4mcg.
There have been numerous studies that have concluded Vitamin E as a potential help for Alzheimer’s patients. In higher doses, it was shown to help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease -- though it wasn’t clear how it slowed the progression exactly.
In addition to that, Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent oxidative stress in your cells. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals start to take over the cell due to a loss of antioxidants. Ensuring your body has a healthy balance will help prevent aging in the human body and brain.
You should be aiming for around 15mg of Vitamin E per day. You can find it in the following foods: green leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils.
Commonly referred to as Thiamine, Vitamin B1 was the first b-complex vitamin discovered by scientists in 1897. Over the past 120 years, scientists have discovered a link between Vitamin B1 deficiency and neurological problems.
In addition to that, Vitamin B1 is essential for breaking down carbohydrates into glucose -- otherwise known as energy. It also plays a role in normal heart, nerve, and muscle function. You will generally find it in nuts, oranges, oats, seeds, legumes, peas, pork, and eggs.
You should be aiming for around 1.2mg of Thiamine per day.
Magnesium is one of the most prominent and talked-about minerals in the human body. It’s essential for a wide range of processes and functions, including the body’s ability to process information and stimulating electrical activity in the brain. Magnesium will also help improve sleep patterns, which will also help your memory and overall brain health.
Outside of that, Magnesium is essential for regulating blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels, the production of bone, DNA, and proteins, as well as regular muscle and nerve function.
Commonly found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, and seeds, you should be aiming for 300-400mg every single day.
Much like Magnesium, Zinc is another very important mineral for the human body. In fact, it appears in all classes of enzymes, which is unlike any other mineral in the body. Many studies have found that zinc deficiency greatly increases the risk of memory loss.
Also in the brain, Zinc is known to help control excitability and facilitate learning. Outside of the brain, Zinc plays an important role in your body’s metabolism, healing wounds, treating a cold, and contributing to your sense of smell and taste.
You can find Zinc in most whole grains and milk, as well as beans, peas, nuts, poultry, and red meat. For men, you should aim for around 11mg per day. For women, aim for a little less -- about 8mg per day.
Studies have also linked a Vitamin D deficiency to memory loss and cognitive decline. Of course, Vitamin D3 is the body’s preferred form of Vitamin D.
There are Vitamin D receptors located all over the brain and will play an essential role in our ability to form memories. A Vitamin D deficiency will largely attack your ability to reason, your flexibility, your perceptual complexity, attention, ability to process information, and mental speed.
In addition to that, Vitamin D also plays a role in regulating your mood, bone growth, teeth development, and resistance to disease. While the sun is where we get a majority of the Vitamin D in our body -- by making contact with the skin -- we can also get a little Vitamin D in eggs, milk, and fatty fish.
You should aim for at least 600IU of Vitamin D per day.
Another one of the eight b-complex vitamins, Vitamin B9 has been shown to help slow down cognitive decline -- especially in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies suggest that supplementation can help improve memory, as well.
There are several forms of Vitamin B9, which leads to some confusion about the vitamin. Folate is the natural form found in food, Folic Acid is the synthetic form fortified in food and found in supplements, and Methylfolate is the active form the body utilizes immediately.
You should aim for about 400mcg of Folate per day. If you’re supplementing with it, you should take L-Methylfolate instead of Folic Acid for best results.
Contact Methyl-Life™ Today!
At Methyl-Life™, we understand the importance of a healthy mind and an active brain. With our line of supplements, we provide a wide range of help for anyone looking to improve their memory and brain health.
Not only do we provide Methylfolate-only supplements, but we have multivitamins, Magnesium capsules, Vitamin B12 supplements, and much more. We even have one called Focus & Recall that’s packed with Citicoline, Phosphatidylserine, and PQQ -- three powerful nutrients for the brain.
Contact us today to see how we can help you find the right supplement to improve your overall health and well-being.
“Memory Boosters.” Department of Neurology, www.columbianeurology.org/neurology/staywell/document.php?id=601.
Stuart, Annie. “Improve Your Memory With Supplements.” WebMD, WebMD, 16 Dec. 2010, www.webmd.com/diet/features/fortifying-your-memory-with-supplements.