Am I losing my mind?
Sudden or increasing problems with your memory can stir up a lot of worry and fear. If you’re like most people, you may wonder if your chronic forgetfulness is an early warning sign of dementia or Alzheimer disease. You might also begin questioning whether or not the problem will get worse, and what you can do to improve your memory.
In the search for answers, many people are coming across a new supplement that claims to protect brain cells and improve memory. This new supplement is called Prevagen.
What is Prevagen?
Prevagen is marketed by its makers as a “brain health supplement.” While its manufacturer claims that “Prevagen is proven to improve memory and increase brain cell survival,” if you take the time to read the fine print at the bottom of the Prevagen website, you’ll see that the FDA has not yet evaluated these statements.
The active ingredient in Prevagen is a calcium-binding protein called apoaequorin. This protein is found in jellyfish. According to a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, apoaequorin has been found to protect brain cells by regulating the amount of calcium in the cell.
Whether or not Prevagen provides the same brain cell protection and memory-improving benefits in people has yet to be officially determined. According to its makers, in a random placebo-controlled study that was conducted of a large group of participants over the age of 40, Prevagen was shown to improve short-term memory, learning, and word recall ability.
The Effectiveness of Memory Supplements
While Prevagen may be safe, it’s hard to find reliable, unbiased information about its effectiveness. Unfortunately, this is the case with many supplements. Although a healthy diet and moderate exercise really are the cornerstones of any effective therapy, there are other supplements out there that may help with memory, including ginkgo, fish oil, and others. The trick to knowing what works is finding the right combination for you.
Common Causes of Memory Problems
While dementia is a serious concern among the elderly, forgetfulness and other memory-related problems usually stem from other more common issues, many of which are treatable. They include:
- Stress & anxiety
- Adrenal fatigue / dysfunction
- Thyroid imbalance
- Heart problems (due to lack of oxygen to the brain and other vital tissues)
- Chemo brain (a common condition among cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy)
- Medications, such as those prescribed for:
- Stomach upset
- Heart problems
- Anxiety (stuff like Xanax and lorazepam)
- Insomnia (meds like Ambien, zolpidem, and Lunesta)
Effective Methods for Improving Your Memory
If you’re finding that you’re having trouble remembering things, the following can be very effective in decreasing forgetfulness and improving memory:
- Get plenty of sleep (8 hours or more)
- Reduce stress—take on less, ask for help, meditate, etc.
- Eat healthy—consume plenty of vegetables, fruit, etc.
- Get some exercise, but don’t get crazy (lots of walking, no marathons)
- Try a quality multivitamin & some fish oil
- Rule out other causes
From misplacing your keys to forgetting why you walked into the kitchen, when you have trouble remembering things, it can be very frustrating. The first step in resolving your memory problems is understanding what’s at the root of your symptoms. Not only will this help determine the most effective method of treatment for you, it can prevent you from having to experience these troublesome symptoms ever again.