Wednesday’s Ask Dr. Walt — Help My Recollection

Dear Dr. Walt,

Do any supplements really help with brain function, like memory and cognition?

—Memory Lapsing in Montana

Dear Forgetful,

Have you heard the old joke? There are three signs of old age. The first is loss of memory. And, I forgot the other two!

You may be referring to age-related memory loss — those annoying senior moments, which are the result of a decline in brain activity that shows up in our 50s and affects most people older than age 65.

We physicians still find this old adage helpful: it’s normal to forget where you put the car keys; it’s not normal to forget what the car keys are for.

To answer your question, the experts at the Natural Medicines Database have rated four supplements as “possibly effective” for helping preserve memory.

The first one may surprise you. It’s caffeine. Taking caffeine 65–200 mg orally daily seems to improve memory function in some individuals.

Huperzine Aand Spanish sagemay help younger folks, while in adults, L-tyrosine150–300 mg/kg taken one to two hours prior to performing a memory task or performance may be helpful.

There’s also some early clinical evidence suggesting that Ginkgo leaf extractmight result in small improvements in memory and cognitive function in non-demented people with age-related memory impairment or early dementia.

Higher doses of Ginkgo(240 mg) seem to have a greater effect on cognitive function than lower doses (120 mg).

But there are a number of other ways we can help preserve our memory:

  • physical activity,
  • good nutrition,
  • getting  adequate sleep,
  • staying mentally active,
  • staying involved with faith community and friends,
  • avoiding tobacco products and too much alcohol.

Last, but not least, if you’re concerned about your memory, be sure to see your doctor. He or she can be sure that you have no medical issues affecting your memory.

Dr. Walt

© Copyright WLL, INC. 2018. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.
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