How to Improve Your Memory
Whether your memory isn’t what it used to be, or you’re looking to get a head start warding off memory loss, let’s talk about memory support.
As a general rule, the first line of defense against memory loss is an active brain, plenty of sleep, and proper nutrition (avoiding too many processed foods is key). But, if you’re looking for some extra help, there are a handful of supplements for memory support that have been found to be effective.
Yes, memory support supplements do work, and we’ll talk about why. Here are some of the best ones available to help you protect against memory loss and improve your memory from here on out.
Top memory support supplements
Phosphatidyl Serine (PS)
Phosphatidyl Serine (also phosphatidylserine or PS), is a nutrient that, while previously derived mainly from bovine sources, is now more commonly (and safely) derived from plant sources like soybean and sunflower lecithin.
PS is a critical component in brain membranes, whose job it is to enable cellular communication and hormone signals. This nutrient’s primary function in the brain is to help maintain the fluidity of the brain’s membranes, which are important for several types of brain activity::
- – neurotransmitter function
- – sodium and potassium transport
- – glucose utilization
- – stress hormone balance
A 2010 double-blind, placebo-controlled study indicated that soy-derived PS had positive effects on cognitive performance in subjects with memory concerns. One reason for this may be that, since PS helps maintain proper glucose utilization in the brain, which usually declines during aging, subjects who consumed PS in the trial experienced improved glucose utilization, and thereby improved brain activity.
Huperzine A is a supplement found in a plant called Hupersia serrata, a popular herb in traditional Chinese medicine. It has been shown to inhibit cholinesterase, an enzyme that degrades acetylcholine, the “learning neurotransmitter,” and, by doing so, improve neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
A 2014 article focused on Huperzine A as a disease-modifying drug for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) indicates the use of this supplement may be effective in improving brain function for people with AD and other neurodegenerative disorders by slowing the process of neuron death. Many studies on memory-supporting supplements focus on AD because the most common early symptom is the inability to remember newly-learned information. If a supplement has positive outcomes for AD patients, it’s a good bet it’s helpful for non-disease-related memory concerns as well.
DHA and EPA (fish oils)
You may have heard of Omega-3 fatty acids — we like to call them “good fats.” There are two key Omega-3s, Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), that are primarily found in fish. This is why you’ve likely heard fish oils are good for you. These Omega-3s play important roles in the structure and function of your cell walls, particularly in brain cells.
Numerous studies provide evidence indicating DHA and EPA may considerably support cognitive health in aging populations, especially when taken preventively. In one study, participants who took 900 mg of DHA daily experienced improved visuospatial learning and episodic memory test results and improved immediate and delayed Verbal Recognition Memory scores after 24 weeks, suggesting that DHA can be beneficial for improved learning and memory function in age-related cognitive decline (ARCD).
What to take for memory support
It’s important to note: none of the nutrients we’ve covered can magically make you remember things. They can, however, boost the overall health of your brain and help slow the degenerative process that happens with age — the primary contributor to memory loss..
If you’re looking for ways to improve or protect your memory, any of the above supplements may be helpful, but it’s often best to take a combination of memory-boosting nutrients to ensure that you’re getting maximum effects. Just be sure to talk to your pharmacist before you start combining things on your own.
Or, you could take one of the many available pre-blended options to ensure you’re a) getting the best memory-supporting potential possible and b) getting an optimal mix of nutrients backed by pharmaceutical approval. Below are two options you could consider:
Pharmacist-approved memory support supplements
- -Huperzine A
- -N-acetyl L-carnitine
- -Bacopa leaf
- -Dimethyl Amino Ethanol (DMAE)
- -Ginkgo biloba
- -Alpha R Lipoic Acid (ARLA)
- -Phosphatidylserine (from sunflower lecithin)
- -Ginkgo biloba
- -Lemon balm
- -Japanese knotweed
- -Bacopa extract
These brain and memory support supplements have been specially formulated to help boost your brain’s health and protect against memory loss. You can learn more about any of the nutrients listed above and how they help support your memory by following the product links above and reading the descriptions.
Kato-Kataoka, Akito et al. “Soybean-derived phosphatidylserine improves memory function of the elderly Japanese subjects with memory complaints.” Journal of clinical biochemistry and nutrition vol. 47,3 (2010): 246-55. doi:10.3164/jcbn.10-62. Accessed online Aug. 12, 2021.
Patel, Kamal. Huperzine-A. Examine.com. Updated July 11, 2018. https://examine.com/supplements/huperzine-a/. Accessed online Aug. 12, 2021.
Rowe, Keith. Top 5 Most Important Nutrients & Vitamins For Your Memory. Published January 16, 2019. https://brainmd.com/blog/top-nutrients-for-memory-and-aging-well/. Accessed online Aug. 12, 2021.
Yurko-Mauro, Karin et al. “Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline.” Alzheimer’s & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association vol. 6,6 (2010): 456-64. doi:10.1016/j.jalz.2010.01.013. Accessed online Aug. 12, 2021.
Qian, Zhong Ming, and Ya Ke. “Huperzine A: Is it an Effective Disease-Modifying Drug for Alzheimer’s Disease?.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience vol. 6 216. 19 Aug. 2014, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2014.00216