Fortunately, memory experts have found numerous ways to retain brainpower and even regain mental prowess.
It’s not uncommon to experience a little brain fog now and again. “I call it ‘losing a noun,’” says Holly Lucille, ND, nutritionist and author of Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Safe, Natural Hormone Health. “It’s when a person, place, or thing isn’t even on the tip of your tongue—it’s simply nowhere to be found.” The real culprit in these memory glitches is often elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can, over time, damage the brain’s memory center, called the hippocampus, explains Dr. Lucille.
Vitamin C and L-tyrosine
Since stress is such a brain drainer, it turns out that supporting your adrenal glands—the source of stress hormones—can indirectly clear up your thinking. The key nutrient is vitamin C. “During stress, the adrenal glands stockpile this antioxidant to protect against free-radical damage. However, ongoing stress depletes this vital nutrient from the adrenal glands,” Dr. Lucille says. She recommends at least 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) per day of vitamin C for anyone concerned with managing stress and preserving clear thinking.
Another of Dr. Lucille’s favorite ways to perk up the mind is supplementing with an amino acid called L-tyrosine, which helps both mind and body respond to stressful situations. While it is found in cheese and yogurt, she recommends supplementing the diet with 450 mg of L-tyrosine twice a day.
Chocolate offers a particularly tasty way to keep your brain sharp. Cocoa, which is the key ingredient in chocolate, is packed with brain-healthy antioxidants called flavonoids. Dark chocolate contains the highest levels of these brain-boosters, with milk chocolate having far fewer flavonoids and white chocolate having almost none.
Studies show that people who regularly eat dark chocolate have more blood flowing through their brains in both the short term and long term. Researchers believe that this could benefit overall cognition. In fact, a recent study of young adults given either dark chocolate or white chocolate to snack on showed that those eating the flavonoid-rich dark chocolate performed better in cognitive and memory tests compared to the white chocolate munchers.
It turns out that “fathead” should be considered a compliment, not an insult. The human brain is composed of a significant amount of fat, which it needs to run properly. Supplementing with the right fats helps make sure everything keeps humming along.
Omega-3 fatty acids contribute a lot to the brain, such as providing nutrients critical for the structure and function of brain cells. Research indicates that regular consumption of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA results in improved cognition and better memory. If you don’t eat fish several times a week, consider an omega-3 supplement providing 500 to 1,000 mg each day.