If you’re relying on pills, vitamins, supplements, or even herbs to boost your memory, it’s time to find a new remedy. Because researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto have conducted a thorough review of 32 randomized clinical trials, involving a total of 25,000 participants, to figure out exactly how drugs and supplements can boost memory and improve cognitive decline.
The answer: not a lot.
“This review provides some evidence to help clinicians and their patients address what strategies might prevent cognitive decline,” said Dr. Raza Naqvi, a University of Toronto resident and lead author of the review.
But after compiling the evidence and studying a variety of clinical trials, the researchers were surprised to find out that most drugs, supplements, and herbs that people take to boost memory did not actually do so.
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Since considering mild cognitive decline is a disease that affects 10% to 25% of American adults over 65 years of age, researchers are constantly looking at ways seniors can improve their health, boost memory, and improve thinking skills.
Based on this review of 32 studies, there was no evidence to support the following medications’ abilities to boost memory:
- Cholinesterase inhibitors, thought to help the chemical messenger acetylcholine that boosts memory and improves thinking and judgment skills, do not work
- B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vitamins did not help boost memory or reduce mild cognitive decline
- Herbal supplements like ginkgo biloba, commonly known to boost memory, were not found to definitely help cognitive decline
- The researchers also couldn’t find a strong enough link between physical exercise and memory improvement
- Patients taking anti-inflammatories showed a small decline in memory scores
- Worst of all: Taking estrogen was found to be associated with a higher risk of developing dementia and worsened cognitive decline
There was only one thing that was found to boost memory and improve cognitive decline: mental exercises. The clinical studies that tested mental exercises used computer activities or individualized sessions to determine their ability to boost memory. Since those options might not be available for everyone, the researchers suggest using whatever tools you have available to you—such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku puzzles.
If you’re taking vitamins, supplements, or prescription drugs solely to boost memory, then you’re not going to reaping the benefits. The best thing you can do to keep your brain active and healthy is to let it exercise—so next time you throw away your newspaper, cut out the crossword puzzle and any other exercises first and give your mind a boost.
Source(s) for Today’s Article:
Taylor, P., “Drugs, supplements no help in stopping memory loss, study find,” The Globe and Mail web site, April 15, 2013; http://goo.gl/GIhmw
“Mild Cognitive Impairment,” Alzheimer’s Association web site; http://www.alz.org/dementia/mild-cognitive-impairment-mci.asp, last accessed April 15, 2013.
Shephard, L., “Review finds no evidence drugs, vitamins, herbal supplements help prevent cognitive decline in healthy older adults,” St. Michael’s Hospital web site, April 15, 2013; http://www.stmichaelshospital.com/media/detail.php?source=hospital_news/2013/20130415_hn, last accessed April 15, 2013.