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Which Wards Off Dementia: Brain-Boosting Supplements or Good Old Exercise?

16 January 2021

Which Wards Off Dementia: Brain-Boosting Supplements or Good Old Exercise?

As we Age, we all want to avoid memory loss. Can certain brain supplements like ginkgo and ginseng help? What about regular exercise?

According to the Alzheimer’s Research & Prevention Foundation, regular physical exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent. What’s more, exercise can also slow further deterioration in those who have already started to develop cognitive problems. Exercise protects against Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia by stimulating the brain’s ability to maintain old connections as well as make new ones. Memory loss worries many of us as we get older. You might wonder whether you’ll become one of the 10 million baby boomers who develops Alzheimer’s disease. Or, maybe you’re simply seeking ways to fortify your memory with memory supplements, memory vitamins, or memory games. Will some of these brain boosters really help our memory?

The Need for Memory Enhancers:

Finding new ways to slow memory loss could produce astounding results. For example, if the onset of Alzheimer’s could be delayed in today’s population by an average of just one year, there would be about 210,000 fewer people with Alzheimer’s 10 years from now. And that would produce a cost savings of $10 billion.
“The problem with prescription drugs is that they’re extremely expensive and often have limited effectiveness during a short window of time,” says Evangeline Lausier, MD, assistant clinical professor in medicine, Duke Integrative Medicine, Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

Memory Supplements With Potential:

Although there are a variety of “brain boosters” on the market — many chockfull of multiple substances — most are lacking research to support their memory-enhancing claims.
Ginkgo biloba is one that shows more promise than many others and is commonly used in Europe for a type of dementia resulting from reduced bloodflow, Lausier says. “Ginkgo biloba tends to improve blood flow in small vessels.”

“A couple of meta-analyses and systematic reviews show that ginkgo biloba is helpful for dementia in about the same range as drugs being pushed very heavily to treat Alzheimer’s,” says Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, an associate professor in the complementary and alternative medicine Master’s program of the department of physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Unfortunately, that’s not all that successful, she adds. Ginkgo doesn’t seem to help prevent dementia. But in people who already have dementia, it may either improve symptoms or stabilize symptoms so that they don’t get worse. In addition, some but not all studies show benefits in mood, alertness, and mental ability in healthy people who take ginkgo. More research needs to be done to be certain about these effects.

Here are a few other memory supplements that may also have some potential for memory loss:

• Omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fish oil supplements have piqued great interest. Studies suggest that a higher intake of omega-3 fatty acid from foods such as cold-water fish, plant and nut oils, and English walnuts are strongly linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s. However, thorough studies comparing omega-3s to placebo are needed to prove this memory benefit from supplements.

Huperzine A. Also known as Chinese club moss, this natural medicine works in a similar way as Alzheimer’s drugs. But more evidence is needed to confirm its safety and effectiveness.

• Acetyl-L-carnitine. Some studies suggest that this amino acid might help Alzheimer’s patients with memory problems. It may provide a greater benefit to people with early onset and a fast rate of the disease.

Vitamin E. Although vitamin E apparently doesn’t decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, it may slow its progression. Recent studies have raised concerns about an increased risk of deaths in unhealthy people who take high doses of vitamin E, so be sure to consult with your doctor before taking this supplement.

Asian (or Panax) ginseng. An herb that’s sometimes used with ginkgo biloba, Asian ginseng may help with fatigue and quality of life, Fugh-Berman tells WebMD. But any benefit for memory, she says, has shown up mostly in a small group or subset of study participants.


10 responses to “Which Wards Off Dementia: Brain-Boosting Supplements or Good Old Exercise?”

  1. Alblue says:

    Thank you for reminding me about brain memory loss. One of my uncle suffered from dementia and alzheimer due to unhealthy living habits and lack of daily exercises. Your article here remind me of him. I always try to eat healthy diet, and now maybe I will try to eat some ‘brain booster’ supplements as investment for my future brain health. Aside from few supplements above, I’ve also heard that Turmeric can increase our brain function and reduce memory loss too. Thank you for your information.

    • admin says:

      I take Curcurim Tumeric every day and it so very healthy for you. I agree with you, it should be something that we should all take every day…:-)

  2. Pentrental says:

    Wow it’s nice to know that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by up to 50 percent! I’ll definitely be sharing that information with some seniors that I know. I’m glad to know that along with exercise there are some natural supplements that can help along the way. Particularly I like that Vitamin E and Asian ginseng are beneficial for memory loss. I’ll pass your post along and I thank you for another helpful post!

  3. Sandy says:

    Thank you for this very interesting and useful article about the ways to ward off dementia. I have been exercising regularly, mostly doing yoga, and I think this is one of the best way of warding off dementia.

    I have tried Ginkgo Biloba, but as I see in your article, it isn’t really useful for me, as I haven’t had signs of dementia.

    I have also read somewhere that apart from exercising and supplements, activities like playing chess, doing crosswords and learning languages can ward off dementia too. What do you think?

    • admin says:

      Yes, give your brain healthy exercise, healthy food and healthy nutrients and it will slow down the aging process…:-) 

  4. Shannon says:

    Thank you for this interesting article. I am a Herbalist and I regularly use herbs such as Gingko, Ginseng, and Ginger to boost circulation within the body and brain. Gingko and Ginger root will both help dilate blood vessels making room for more blood flow. The supplement I use also contains Skullcap herb and a few others. 

    One other simple action that can help improve memory that many people often do not think of is to drink plenty of water. A dehydrated brain means less blood and oxygen flow and it will have more difficulty with proper circulation. This makes “clogs” much more likely to form creating a sludgy foggy memory.

    I enjoyed browsing through your site. I will bookmark your page and return for advice and to learn more about maintaining a healthy brain. Thanks so much for creating this resource!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Informative and interesting Blog! Beautifully written, as usual, I like the post. Thank you so much for nice sharing with us. Keep posting!

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