Memory loss can be frustrating, whether it’s age-related or the result of illness. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for ways to manage and even improve memory loss. One of the most impactful things you can do for your memory and cognition is focus on dietary changes, including taking supplements for memory-boosting vitamins and minerals.
As a senior living community providing specialized memory care services, Melrose Gardens keeps up with the latest research and developments in memory care, including what vitamins and other supplements may be able to help. Here are five nutrients that are proven to strengthen memory in seniors.
Vitamin D deficiency is strongly linked with general memory loss, low mood, and cognitive decline , as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, severe deficiency can more than double the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in older adults. Unfortunately, it’s also a common deficiency, because vitamin D isn’t found in many foods. While regular sun exposure can improve your vitamin D levels, aging decreases the body’s ability to convert sunlight into this essential nutrient.
Foods rich in vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, beef liver, and mushrooms.
While the use of vitamin E for treating dementia is still being investigated, this essential antioxidant does seem to play an important role in cognition and memory. One study of Finnish seniors with no memory loss found that high vitamin E levels played a protective role against future memory loss and dementia. Fortunately, vitamin E deficiency is quite rare as vitamin E is found in so many different foods.
Nuts and seeds are the best sources of vitamin E, especially sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and peanuts. Other foods high in vitamin E include avocado, mango, abalone, turnip greens, and Atlantic salmon.
Zinc plays an important role in cognition and memory, yet zinc deficiency is common among older adults. Low levels of zinc are also associated with dementia, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease , as well as brain inflammation. That said, excess zinc in the brain is also linked with Alzheimer’s disease, so its role in the illness is not yet well understood.
To get more zinc in your diet, include red meat, oysters, hemp seeds, cashews, lentils, and eggs.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), have a significant impact on memory, learning, and cognitive function. Increasing DHA and EPA in the diet can reduce the risk of dementia and help improve memory for those with age-related cognitive decline or mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish, such as mackerel, salmon, herring and oysters. Omega-3s are also found in flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and soybeans.
There is some evidence that vitamin B supplementation can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and MCI. Vitamin B3 in particular was shown to reverse memory loss in mice, while vitamin B12 deficiency is linked to cognitive problems, Alzheimer’s, and memory loss.
Many foods are rich in B vitamins, including meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and green leafy vegetables.
Whether you’re dealing with age-related memory loss or dementia, there are things you can do to help improve your memory and slow further decline. Eating a balanced diet of healthful and nourishing foods is essential, as is avoiding fried foods, excess alcohol, and sugar. Other lifestyle changes, like regular exercise, social interaction, and learning new things, also play a crucial role in keeping your mind sharp.
Melrose Gardens is a senior living community in Los Angeles, CA. If you’re looking for memory care in the Los Angeles area for yourself or a loved one, contact us today to learn more about us or to request a personalized tour.