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Brain Pills?

A look at what vitamins and supplements may actually help your memory!

If you get overwhelmed in the supplement aisle, we’re here to help you navigate what may be best for a memory boost.

Aspirin
Taking 162 milligrams is associated with a 40 percent decrease in arterial aging (a major cause of memory loss). Though science isn’t sure of the mechanism against memory loss, it can be because aspirin helps decrease the gunky beta-amyloid from your wiring and because it improves circulation.

Vitamins B6, B12, folic acid
Without B vitamins, your neurotransmitters wouldn’t work efficiently. Also, your homocysteine levels would rise, which doubles the risk of Alzheimer’s. Although no study has demonstrated a benefit of supplementation to your thinking process, the products are generally safe. You can try 400 micrograms of folic acid, 800 micrograms of B12 and 40 milligrams of B6 daily.

Rosemary, roses and mint
Not to ingest, but to smell. Inhaling these aromas at the time of learning a new task can enhance recall when you’re exposed to the scent at a later time.

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Other things you may want to try, but only if you want to! (AKA: read the fine print.)

Ginkgo biloba
There aren’t large studies to support its use, but there’s promise that this supplement’s effective in improving cognition. It can also thin the blood, which can be helpful if you have blood vessel disease, but dangerous if you have clotting disorders or will have surgery. Docs say it’s a safe antioxidant supplement to try 120 milligrams daily for positive effects.

Phosphatidylserine
About 70 percent of our cell membranes are made from this. As we age, the level drops and membranes become brittle. This supplement seems to strengthen cell membranes and the phospholipid sheathing around nerves. This protects the cables that transfer info from shorting out. There are few risks to taking 200 milligrams daily of this supplement.

Coenzyme Q10
This supplement has a beneficial effect in protecting against Parkinson’s, which viruses, genetics or traumas can cause. As a potent antioxidant, it may help prevent inflammatory damage to the brain. However, this remains unproven. The ideal dose? One hundred milligrams twice daily (or even more for Parkinson’s). This is one supplement where more than 90 percent of what’s sold doesn’t contain the real thing! Look for products that have actually been shown repeatedly to have in the bottle what’s on the label. You can check to see if it contains what’s on the label at consumerlab.com.

MORE: Supplement Your Beauty

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