Vitamins for Memory Loss
Neurotransmitters are the keys to the
transmission of memories in the brain. Part of the constituent
material that comprise neurotransmitters are vitamins, particularly
those in the “B” group.
group of researchers in the Netherlands decided to see what would
happen if they added Vitamin B6
to the diets of healthy older men. First the men were given a mental
test that included things such as being able to remember different
objects flashed on a screen and the names and occupations of people
in a list. Then one group took 20 milligrams of B6 a day,
while the others took placebos (blank pills).
the end of three months, the men were tested again. The memories of
those in the vitamin B6 group showed “modest but
significant” gains, especially in long-term memory. The researchers
believe that Vitamin B6 helps create dopamine, serotonin
J, Bagley LC, Miller J, Rosenberg IH. B vitamins, homocysteine, and
neurocognitive function in the elderly. Am J Clin Nutr.
deficiency in Vitamin B12
has also been identified as a factor in memory loss. Yet,
nearly one-third of people over age 60 can’t extract the vitamin
B12 they need from what they eat. That’s because their
stomachs no longer secrete enough gastric acid, the stuff that breaks
down food and helps turn it into fuel for your brain and body.
Doctors who suspect vitamin B12 deficiencies in people
with memory problems give them B12 shots, thus bypassing
the faltering digestive system.
small portions of dairy products or animal protein gives you enough
Vitamin B12 . Virtually all animal products, such as milk,
cheeses, yogurt and lean beef, contain vitamin B12. The
Daily Value for B12 is six micrograms.
Memory Loss Supplements
Ginkgo biloba is obtained from the
Ginkgo biloba Linne tree. The chemical components of the ginkgo leaf
have distinctive intrinsic pharmacological properties, which work
synergistically to produce more potent pharmacological effects. For
example, they protect neurons from oxidative damage, potentially
preventing the progression of tissue degeneration in patients with
dementia. The Beta-amyloid peptides in Ginkgo biloba leaf extract
also appear to inhibit toxicity and cell death as well as increasing
the number of alpha-adrenoreceptors in the brain.
In 1998 Barry S. Oken of Oregon Health
Sciences University and his colleagues considered more than 50 Ginkgo
studies involving subjects with mental impairment and selected four
that met a conservative set of criteria, including sufficient
characterization of the Alzheimer's diagnosis, use of a standardized
ginkgo extract, and a placebo-controlled, double-blind design (in
which neither the subjects nor the investigators know until the end
whether a given patient is receiving the extract or the placebo).
Each of these studies showed that the Alzheimer's patients who
received ginkgo performed better on various cognitive tests than did
patients who received a placebo. Improvements were evident in
standardized tests measuring attention, short-term memory and
reaction time; the average extent of improvement resulting from
ginkgo treatment was 10 to 20 percent.
S. Oken, MD; Daniel M. Storzbach, PhD; Jeffrey A. Kaye, MD. The
Efficacy of Ginkgo biloba on Cognitive Function in Alzheimer
benefits of Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) rely primarily on two groups
of active components: the ginkgo flavone glycosides and the terpene
lactones. Many people with memory difficulties have reported clearer
thinking when taking Ginkgo. Some evidence indicates that Ginkgo can
offset damage caused by "age-related" disease.
It is important
to find a form of Ginkgo Biloba which is standardized for 24%
glycosides and 6% terpenes. As a memory enhancer, Ginkgo Biloba
should be taken in dosages of 120-240 mg per day. It may need to be
taken for six to eight weeks before desired actions are noticed. Click here to Learn More.
Droy-Lefaix MT, Christen Y, eds. Ginkgo biloba Extract (EGb 761) as a
Free Radical Scavenger. Paris: Elsevier, 1993).
Phosphatidyl Serine (PS) is a naturally
occurring phospholipid nutrient that is essential to our normal
bodily functioning. It is most concentrated in the brain. It is
involved in a whole host of nerve cell functions, including nerve
neurotransmitter release and synaptic activity. Human trials on PS as
a memory aid date back to the 1970’s. There are currently 64 human
studies on record in the peer-reviewed literature, the findings of
which unequivocally confirm that PS can alleviate, ameliorate and
sometimes reverse age-related decline of memory, learning,
concentration, word skills and mood. It appears to do this by
strengthening the ability of neurons to transmit electrical
potentials, which aids the communications between neurons which is
essential for memory. In addition, PS activates Protein Kinase C
(PKC), which aids in the release of such neurotransmitters as
dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine.
far, two double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials of PS
have been conducted primarily in the United States. Both were
multi-center studies coordinated by T. H. Crook, PhD, from the Memory
Assessment Clinics (MAC) of Bethesda, Maryland.
the first study (1991), 149 subjects, aged 50-75, were studied. PS
was given at 300mg per day (lOOmg three times per day), versus a
placebo, for 12 weeks. After a 3 week evaluation, the PS subjects
demonstrated significantly better memory than the placebo group.
These results did not hold for the complete trial period, however.
The researchers then turned to a sub-group or cluster of 57 subjects
who were more memory impaired than the first group. This time the PS
group had improved significantly by the end of the 12 week trial. On
average, the ‘cognitive age’ of subjects in the PS group was
reduced by 12 years.
TH, et al, 1991. "Effects of phosphatidylserine in
age-associated memory impairment." Neurol. 41: 644-649).
the second study (1992), 51 subjects were studied. The average
subject age was 71 years. Again subjects were given 300mg PS versus
placebo daily for 12 weeks. In this study, the PS group demonstrated
significant cognitive improvement throughout the entire 12 week
period. Again a sub group was identified (those with relatively mild
cognitive impairment at the outset). This group showed significant
improvement in their ability to recall names, locations, details of
events from the previous day and week, as well as ability to maintain
concentration. Click here to Learn More.
TH, et al, 1992. "Effects of phosphatidylserine in Alzheimer's
disease." Psychopharmacol. Bull. 28: 61-66).
Huperzine A (HupA) is an alkaloid found
in the Chinese herb Huperzia Serrata. Hup A acts as an inhibitor of
acetylcholinesterase , the enzyme which cuts acetylcholine in half.
In China it has been traditionally used to treat Alzheimer’s and to
improve cognitive and memory functioning. A number of clinical
studies have been undertaken in China to quantify the benefits of
using HupA as a memory enhancer.
In a 1999 study, 60 patients aged 52 to
80 with impaired faculties were treated with synthetic HupA (200
micrograms twice daily) or placebo for 60 days. Based on four of the
most important psychological tests, including memory function, the
improvement rates in the HupA group ranged from 43% to 70%. The test
also indicated that it made no difference whether HupA was
administered in capsule or tablet form.
(Xu SS, Cai ZY,
Qu ZW, Yang RM, Cai YL, Wang GQ, Su XQ, Zhong XS, Cheng RY, Xu WA, Li
JX, Feng B. Huperzine-A in capsules and tablets for treating patients
with Alzheimer's disease. Acta Pharmacol Sin 1999
another 1999 study, researchers selected 34 matched pairs of
apparently normal junior middle school students. In a double-blind
trial, one member of each pair, chosen randomly, was given 100
micrograms of synthetic HupA twice daily for four weeks, while the
other member received the placebo. The students' memory quotients
were measured before and after the trial, and their academic
performance in their Chinese, English, and mathematics lessons was
monitored as well. At the end of the study, the HupA group scored
significantly better than the control group on standard memory tests
described as "accumulation," "recognition,"
"reproduction," "association," "tactual
[tactile] memory," and "number of recitation," but not
on tests of "picture memory" or "understanding."
They had also done significantly better in their Chinese and English
lessons, but not in math. No side effects of any kind were noted.
(Sun QQ, Xu SS,
Pan JL, Guo HM, Cao WQ. Huperzine-A capsules enhance memory and
learning performance in 34 pairs of matched adolescent students. Acta
Pharmacol Sin 1999 Jul;20(7):601-3).
Carnitine occurs naturally in the diet,
and is particularly found in animal products. Acetyl-l-carnitine
(ALCAR) is the acetylated form of L-carnitine, both of which occur
naturally in the body and play a vital role in the transportation of
fats into mitochondria, as well as assisting in the production of
acetylcholine (ACh). ALCAR has been shown to increase levels of
dopamine in aged rats, as well as serve as a precursor for
acetylcholine, the most widely dispersed neurotransmitter in the
human brain, primarily responsible for learning and memory.
In a 1991 study, supplemental
acetyl-L-carnitine was combined with lipoic acid (a powerful natural
antioxidant). Subjects who were given the combination demonstrated
significant improvement in memory. Researchers said that together the
two chemicals "tune up" the mitochondria, the
energy-producing organelles that power all cells. Mitochondrial decay
is believed to be the primary reason for age-related deterioration of
cognitive function and energy levels. Click here to Learn More.
(Spagnoli A.U. et
al. Age-associated mitochondrial oxidative decay: Improvement
of carnitine acetyltransferase substrate-binding affinity and
activity in brain by feeding old rats acetyl-L-carnitine and/or
R-alpha-lipoic acid. PNAS 99(4):1876-81. 1991).
Vinpocetine is a
chemical derived from vincamine, a constituent found in the leaves of
common periwinkle ( Vinca minor) as well as the seeds of
various African plants. It is used as a treatment for memory loss and
In a 1991 double-blind,
placebo-controlled study lasting 16 weeks, 203 patients described as
having mild to moderate psychosyndromes, including primary dementia,
were treated with varying doses of vinpocetine or placebo.
Significant improvement was achieved in the vinpocetine-treated group
as measured by "global improvement" and cognitive
performance scales. Three 10-milligram doses daily were as effective
or more effective than three 20-milligram doses daily. Similarly good
results were found in another double-blind clinical trial testing
vinpocetine versus placebo in elderly patients with cerebrovascular
and central nervous system degenerative disorders. Studies of
Alzheimer's disease, however, have shown no vinpocetine benefit. Click here to Learn More.
I, Fuchs HH, Erzigkeith H. Efficacy and tolerance of vinpocetine in
ambulant patients suffering from mild to moderate organic
psychosyndromes. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1991;
Monniera is a small, creeping herb with light purple flowers. It
grows prolifically in wet soil, shallow water and marshes in India
and the Tropics. The plant is known as brahmi
in India, 'ae'ae in Hawai'i, and otomeazene in Japan.
For centuries it has been used as a ‘brain tonic’ to enhance
memory and concentration as well as providing positive benefits for
sufferers of epilepsy and anxiety.
active constituents that have been identified in Bacopa Monniera
include the alkaloids brahmine
and herpestine, saponins d-mannitol and hersaponin, acid A,
monnierin, betulic acid, stigmastarol, beta-sitosterol.
All of these are believed to be responsible for the pharmacological
benefits of bacopa. Bacosides
A and B.5 are the compounds that researchers believe are responsible
for it’s cognitive effects (Chatterji N, Rastorgi RP, Dhar
ML. Chemical examination of Bacopa monniera Wettst. Part I: isolation
of chemical constituents. Indian J Chem 1963;1:212).
Bacopa’s ability to positively impact
upon cognitive ability appears to be due to the enhancement of nerve
impulse transmission as a result of the actions of triterpinoid
saponins and their bacosides, specifically bacosides A and B. Damaged
neurons are repaired by these bacosides due to their ability to
enhance kinase activity, neuronal synthesis and restore synaptic
2001 double blind, placebo controlled study by Nathan, Clarke and
Lloyd, et al. gave a single dose of 300 mg Bacopa
monniera extract (standardized to 55-percent combined bacosides A and
B) or placebo to 38 healthy male volunteers, between the ages of 18
and 60. Subjects were tested two hours after administration. No
significant changes in cognitive function were exhibited in
comparison to baseline values (Nathan PJ, Clarke J, Lloyd J, et al.
The acute effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on
cognitive function in healthy normal subjects. Hum Psychopharmacol
another study, by the same researchers, showed significant cognitive
gains when the administration of Bacopa monniera extract was
continued over a 12 week period. 46 volunteers were divided into
treatment and placebo groups and tested at baseline and again after 5
and 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, significant improvements were noted in
the treatment group in terms of verbal learning, memory
consolidation, and speed of early information processing. No gains
were evident after 5 weeks ( Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, et al. The
chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on
cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology
In 1987, a study was
conducted in India by Sharma, Chaturvedi and Tewari to evaluate the
cognitive effect of bacopa monniera on children. The study involved
40 children ,divided into treatment and placebo groups. The treatment
group received one teaspoonful of Bacopa syrup three times per day
for three months. The placebo group were given syrup simplex. At the
end of the trial the groups were measured for cognitive enhancement.
The treatment group had significant improvements exploratory drive,
perceptual images of patterns, and perceptual organization and
reasoning ability (as measured by reaction time). (Sharma R,
Chaturvedi C, Tewari PV. Efficacy of Bacopa monnieri in revitalizing
intellectual functions in children. J Res Edu Indian Med
In 2000, Negi, Singh and
Kushwaha , conducted a study involving 36 children with diagnosed
attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 19 of the children were
given 50 mg of Bacopa extract (standardized to contain 20-percent
bacosides) twice daily for 12 weeks. The remaining 17 childen were
given a placebo. All children were given a final four weeks of
placebo treatment. The treatment group exhibited a marked improvement
in sentence repetition, logical memory, and paired associate learning
tasks after 12 weeks and managed to maintain these gains at 16 weeks
(Negi KS, Singh YD, Kushwaha KP, et al. Clinical evaluation of memory
enhancing properties of Memory Plus in children with attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ind J Psychiatry 2000;42:Supplement). Click here to Learn More.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an
omega-3 fatty acid. It is found
in seafood, especially mackerel, salmon, striped bass, rainbow trout,
halibut, tuna, and sardines. DHA is one of two key Omega-3 fatty
acids (the other being eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) that provide
fluidity to cell membranes and improve communication between brain
cells. DHA has also been shown to increase the rate of transmission
of the brainwave ‘P300”, which has been linked to memory and
K., K. Yonemura, and K. Yazawa. DHA shortens P300 latency in healthy
persons. In International Conference on Highly Unsaturated Fatty
Acids in Nutrition and Disease Prevention. 1996 Barcelona, Spain).
a 2001 Japanese study, scientists fed mice a diet of 5% sardine oil.
After 12 months the mice were able to navigate a maze much faster
than were mice fed a diet containing 5% palm oil. Brain analysis
revealed that the mice fed sardine oil had much higher levels of DHA
than the palm oil fed mice. Click here to Learn More.
S, Suzuki H. Changes in maze behavior of mice occur after sufficient
accumulation of docosahexaenoic acid in brain. J Nutr. 2001
Folic acid is a B vitamin which has
been shown to be beneficial for brain function and memory
enhancement. It is plentiful in green vegetables such as broccoli,
asparagus, peas, and lettuce, as well as beans, whole grains, and
orange juice. Breads, pastas, rice, and flour are also commonly
fortified with the nutrient.
In a 2005 study, Dutch researchers
tested 818 healthy older adults, ages 50 to 75, none of whom were
suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Half were given a pill containing
800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid for three years. The other half
were given a placebo. After three years, those adults taking the
folic acid had scores on memory tests that were similar to those of
persons five years younger. They also had scores of
information-processing and muscle speed that were similar to someone
two years younger.
(Jane Durga, et al. Wageningen
University, the Netherlands. International Conference on Prevention
of Dementia, Alzheimer's Association, Washington, D.C., June 20,
In another 2005 study, men and women
aged 60 and up who regularly consumed the daily recommended daily
allowance (RDA) of 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic through foods and
supplements cut their risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by
over 50 percent.
(Maria Corrada, Sc.D., Claudia Kawas,
M.D., et al: Reduced Risk of Alzheimer's Disease with High Folate
Intake: The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Alzheimer's &
Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association. Volume 1,
Number 1, July 2005).
Panax ginseng is one of the most widely
used and highly researched species of ginseng. It has long been used
to combat fatigue. Recent studies have shown that, when combined with
gingko biloba, panax ginseng can have cognitive benefits.
In a 2000 double blind, placebo
controlled UK study of 256 healthy middle-aged volunteers, a ginkgo /
ginseng combination was found to produce an average 7.5% improvement
to a number of different aspects of memory, including working and
(Wesnes KA, Ward T, McGinty A, Petrino
O: The memory enhancing effects of a Ginkgo biloba/Panax ginseng
combination in healthy middle-aged volunteers. Psychopharmacology
(Berl.). 2000 Nov;152(4):353-61).
Kola is a plant that grows in a widespread distribution in tropical
areas such as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and South
Africa. It has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine as a cure
for agitation, memory loss, anxiety, and insomnia, among other health
problems. An Indian study published in the Journal of Indian Medicine
looked at the effects of Gotu Kola on the general mental ability of
mentally retarded children. The findings showed that the youngsters
taking 500 mg of Gotu Kola a day increased their powers of
concentration and attention, while those given a placebo showed no
(Murray MT. The Healing Power of Herbs.
Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1995, 171-83).
DMAE (2-dimethylaminoethanol), may
increase levels of the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It
appears to enhance the brain’s ability to store and retrieve
information. Studies have shown that alertness and cognition are
improved at a dosage of 400 mg per day. Studies have used up to 1,600
mg per day, with no reported side effects. Click here Learn More.
(Fisman M, Mersky H, Helmes E.
Double-blind trial of 2-dimethylaminoethanol in Alzheimer’s
disease. Am J Psych 1981;138:970-72).