Considering memory loss supplements? You’re not alone. Millions of adults take supplements to combat memory loss. There’s just one problem: Many of them don’t actually do anything.
That’s not to say that all supplements are ineffective, just that you should double-check the ingredients and source for any supplements you take. Supplements aren’t regulated as strictly as medications. As long as companies don’t make claims about treating specific diseases, they won’t be checked for quality or efficacy.
Some ingredients are scientifically-backed, while others don’t show any difference. And some are downright dangerous. Keeping a strong long-term and working memory is still important, though, so what does science say about the best supplements for memory loss?
In this article, we will cover if supplements can improve your memory, which supplements to try, and which to steer clear of.
Can supplements help with memory loss?
When it comes to how to improve your memory, there’s more to consider than a supplement or two. Diet, exercise, and genetics can all play a role in the way your memory functions, especially as you age.
Overall, you keep your brain healthy by keeping your body healthy! Some supplements can help, though, especially if you have any nutritional deficiencies.
The research on memory loss supplements is sparse, and many of the supplements that have been studied have more than one ingredient. This means that it’s difficult to tell which compounds caused the positive change.
However, there have been a few strong studies showing that certain vitamins or chemical compounds have an overall positive effect on memory. Some focus on long-term memory, others on short-term memory.
Some studies show the effects of supplements on spatial memory or language memory specifically.
Remember: Just because the study only looked at long-term memory doesn’t necessarily mean that the supplement doesn’t affect short-term memory, just that they didn’t measure it.
Can collagen help with memory loss?
Collagen peptides have been gaining a lot of popularity when it comes to solving a whole range of different problems from hair loss to weight loss, but does collagen help with memory loss?
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body, and it’s found in muscles and bones throughout the whole animal kingdom.
Collagen is found in eggs, meats, fish, and bone broth, but there’s a problem. Collagen is a large molecule, making it hard for your body to digest. Collagen peptides solve this problem because they’re smaller, broken-down collagen molecules that your stomach easily absorbs.
So where does collagen fit into the range of memory loss supplements? Can collagen help with memory loss, or is that a myth?
Actually, it’s true! Early studies suggest that collagen may protect against Alzheimer’s by lowering the brain’s levels of amyloid beta, a molecule that reaches toxically high levels in people who have Alzheimer’s.
On top of that, collagen’s positive effects on overall cognitive health are well-documented, although the reason why collagen is so powerful in the brain is still being studied.
Are there any supplements that make memory loss worse?
Determining whether a supplement makes memory loss worse is nearly impossible. Generally, memory loss is a degenerative condition, meaning it naturally gets worse over time.
While many daily supplements have little to no effect on your memory, there’s no evidence to suggest that some actively make memory loss advance more quickly.
This doesn’t mean all supplements are safe, though. There are two main problems you might run into when looking for memory loss supplements.
The first is interactions with other supplements or medications. Before taking any new supplement, make sure to check with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure it’s safe for your unique medical situation. They’ll be able to tell you if your supplement will negatively interact with any pre-existing conditions or prescription medications.
A few supplements have a higher rate of interactions compared to others. Ginkgo biloba, for example, has blood-thinning properties and may affect blood sugar levels. Bacopa is another Asian herb that can strongly interact with a variety of prescription medications, making it inaccessible to many people.
The second reason memory loss supplements can have a negative effect is much subtler. Supplements often give people a false sense of security. This means they may not reach out to their healthcare team when they notice a problem and go longer without real treatment.
Supplements are often a helpful step in your long-term health journey, but they aren’t the only step. If you notice your memory loss getting worse, you should reach out to a doctor immediately.
That being said, if you want to use supplements to assist you with your memory, let’s look at some of the ones that can help you.
The 7 best supplements for memory loss
So which supplements belong in your plan for how to slow aging?
The best supplements for memory loss have been well studied and don’t interact with any medications or pre-existing conditions. That means the best memory loss supplements for one person might not be the best for someone else.
Make sure to follow up with your healthcare team before making any decisions about trying a new supplement. You can also start by boosting your intake of vitamins and minerals through food. This will boost your body’s overall health – and body health is brain health!
Checking the ingredients list, or visiting the company’s website, can help you check the quality of your supplements. This means you won’t inadvertently purchase memory loss supplements that only have a small amount of the active ingredient you’re purchasing the supplement for!
With those disclaimers in mind, here are some of the best supplements for your memory:
1. B vitamins
When it comes to memory loss supplements, B vitamins will be most helpful to people already experiencing a vitamin B deficiency. Elderly populations do have a higher density of vitamin B deficiency, and that’s part of the problem.
For a study to understand the effectiveness of B vitamins in memory loss, the people participating can’t be deficient. Otherwise, it’s impossible to tell whether memory improvement is because of the B vitamins or simply because the deficiency is no longer impacting the person taking the vitamin.
Before trying vitamin B supplements, try increasing the amount of vitamin B in your diet. This means loading up on salmon, leafy greens, eggs, and liver to see if you feel the difference in your physical and mental health.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the most well-known supplements for mental health since vitamin D deficiency has a strong link to symptoms of anxiety and depression. There’s also some evidence to suggest that vitamin D deficiency is linked to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Like B vitamins, much of the research surrounding vitamin D memory loss supplements has more to do with treating deficiencies than anything else. So, like B vitamins, one of the best things you can do is increase the amount of vitamin D in your diet. Eating more fish, mushrooms, and fortified cereals will boost low vitamin D levels, without needing to take another pill.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is one of the best memory loss supplements, and it has the widest body of evidence to support it. Vitamin E is consistently associated with better cognitive performance, even in participants with Alzheimer’s.
This is because vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, but it also plays a key role in the way your brain sends and receives signals and regulates genes.
Like the other vitamins often taken as memory loss supplements, many elderly people have low levels or deficiencies in vitamin E. However, participants in studies where there was not a deficiency also saw the positive effects of vitamin E.
What is choline? Choline is an essential vitamin, meaning you can’t live without it. Choline impacts similar bodily functions to B vitamins, but it isn’t technically one of them.
One of the “youngest” vitamins, choline was only discovered in 1998, so very little is understood about its function in the body. So how did it land on our list of memory loss supplements?
One of choline’s most important jobs is helping your body make acetylcholine, a chemical that your brain uses to learn and remember things. People with Alzheimer’s have lower amounts of acetylcholine in their brains.
Choline improves memory loss symptoms partially because it can help build up acetylcholine levels in the brain.
5. Ginger extract
Ginger extract belongs right next to choline in any list of memory loss supplements. Just like choline, ginger extract improves cognitive functioning by increasing the amount of acetylcholine in your brain.
Unlike choline, though, ginger extract doesn’t help your brain produce acetylcholine. Instead, ginger extract helps by acting as a cholinesterase inhibitor. If those words sound familiar, it might be because many of the prescription medications used to treat Alzheimer’s are also cholinesterase inhibitors.
Ginger extract isn’t nearly as strong or precise as a prescription medication, and it should never be used as a substitute. It’s one of the best supplements for memory loss when it’s taken as a preventative measure, instead of after a diagnosis.
6. Green tea
Can your morning cup of tea help prevent memory loss? Maybe.
Some studies have shown that green tea can reduce the risk of cognitive decline in the elderly. These studies have a few limitations but seem to be generally positive.
Since many of the current studies focus on whether green tea is one of the effective memory loss supplements, there isn’t much information on how green tea might impact memory.
There are a few possible reasons green tea can help improve memory loss symptoms. Oxidative stress and inflammation both play a role in causing or increasing symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Green tea has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, so green tea memory loss supplements may reduce these symptoms.
7. Fortified collagen
Can collagen help with memory loss? There’s a wide range of benefits of taking collagen, and yes, cognitive functioning is one of them. Collagen supplements that are fortified to contain all essential and non-essential amino acids are especially powerful.
Amino acids are the most basic building blocks of life. Your body uses amino acids to build and repair itself, receive and send signals in the brain, and run basic bodily functions.
Collagen naturally contains 6 of the 7 essential amino acids, which were shown to improve cognitive functioning in middle-aged and older adults.
Look for collagen memory loss supplements that are fortified to include all of the essential and non-essential amino acids. Those missing pieces that aren’t naturally included in collagen are still part of the big picture!
Memory loss supplements to keep your mind clear
There is no fountain of youth, but there are things we can do to keep our minds clear as we age. Paying close attention to the foods we eat and supplementing our diets where necessary can slow or prevent mental deterioration.
Eat foods that are rich in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, especially B vitamins, vitamin D, and vitamin E. Take advantage of the big benefits you can reap from little changes, like including a cup of green tea in your daily routine.
And never forget that full-body health is brain health. Fortified medical-grade collagen will benefit your whole body while giving your brain an extra strong boost. Memory loss supplements like collagen can be the first step in a journey toward long-term mental resilience.