Many people, me included, begin to notice some memory issues around early to mid thirties. What was once at your fingertips seems to take much more time to bring out, and sometimes it remains hidden somewhere in the archives of one's mind. What gives, and could it be prevented?
Age-related memory loss, as well as decline in thinking skills, has baffled scientists for a while now. So far, it has not been clear whether or not it has something to do with onset Alzheimer's disease. But a recent study by Columbia University researchers seems to cast some light on the mystery of those "senior moments".
The researchers for examined postmortem brain tissue of eight healthy people from 33 to 86. Further, they looked at age-related changes in the brains of mice. Their findings are interesting.
One gene in particular reduced its expression by about 50% with age in both human tissue and in rodents, the researchers report today in Science Translational Medicine. The gene codes for a protein called RbAp48 that regulates gene expression in a part of the hippocampus, called the dentate gyrus, which has been implicated in normal memory loss.
Interestingly, excitingly even, the researchers also showed that increasing RbAp48 protein in older mice resulted in restoration memory function, to the level of younger mice. Could this be the fountain of intellectual youth? Only time can tell.
You can read the full report on the Science Mag News website.
Can Age-Related Memory Loss Be Prevented?
While at the moment we are not aware of supplements that can help increase RbAp48 protein, there are a few things one can do to perhaps prevent or slow down age-related memory loss and cognitive decline. Some supplements have been shown to be beneficial.
First, consult your doctor as soon as you notice a decline in memory function or thinking skills, as you want to rule out possible neurological issues.
While it may not actually help reverse conditions such as Alzheimer's disease as previously thought, omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, may help at least delay its onset. Researchers from Colombia University Medical Center found that eating a diet high in omega-3 may be linked with lower levels of beta-amyloid protein, which is linked with Alzheimer's disease. (Source: The Huffington Post)
Use of vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids may help halt amyloid plaques linked to Alzheimer's.
A group of scientists have published the findings from their research in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease that has pinpointed how vitamin D3 and omega-3 fatty acids may enhance the immune system's ability to clear the brain of amyloid plaques. Researchers identified key genes and signaling networks regulated by vitamin D3 and the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) that may help control inflammation and improve plaque clearance. (Source: Natural News)
Note that it is not all omega-3 fatty acids that offer these benefits, but the form known as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). This form comes from cold-water fish, krill and marine algae. Plant sources of omega-3 supply ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Though ALA can be converted into DHA in the body, the process is highly inefficient and leads to loss of majority of the DHA.
What if you do not actually have Alzheimer's but you are experiencing some memory loss?
Well, taking DHA omega-3 from supplements or eating fish regularly may still help. Your brain consists of a substantial amount of DHA, and mounting evidence suggests that deficiency could lead to decreased brain function, including memory.
Another compound that may protect memory, especially when used in the long-term, is the anti-oxidant beta-carotene. One study found that men who took beta-carotene for over 15 year years scored better on cognitive tests than those who took a placebo.
When the researchers analysed all the participants together, they found that beta-carotene supplementation gave small improvements in overall cognitive function and verbal memory compared with a placebo. (Source: Beta-carotene and memory)
The most famous food source of beta-carotene is the carrot. Others include sweet potatoes, pumpkins, kale,
We cannot help mentioning Linus Pauling virtually every time we post an article on vitamin C (ascorbic acid). This Nobel Prize-winning scientist, peace activist and educator was an avid believer of the benefits of vitamin C as well as a user.
It is reported that Pauling took 3 grams (that is 3000 milligrams) of vitamin C daily. Some sources put his vitamin C intake much higher than that. He lived to 96, mentally sharp all the way. Whether it is because of the vitamin C intake is not clear, but according to Harvard Health, taking vitamins may be beneficial.
Taking a good quality multivitamin daily can help keep your vitamin and mineral intake optimal. Proper diet and exercise are integral to maintaining a healthy body and mind.