What causes memory loss? Can we prevent the loss of memory? Do B vitamins improve memory? What else improves memory? We will answer all of this and more in this article.
Memory failures are due to the loss of synaptic connections between neurons in the pre-frontal cortex and the hippocampus, two areas of the brain responsible for memory processing. In turn, this disconnection is due in many cases to the disorganization of microtubules, rigid intracellular rods that maintain the shape of neuronal extensions.
In an environment marked by an increase in life expectancy, the interest in preventing the physical, cognitive or emotional deterioration associated with the passage of time is increasingly focused on the efforts of the international research community.
Anything that affects cognition – the process of reasoning, learning, and memorizing – can affect memory.
Doctors use a combination of strategies to get a better idea of what’s going on. They assess memory loss by establishing a medical history, asking questions about mental capacity, performing physical and neurological examinations, and performing blood and urine tests. Brain imaging – by computerized axial tomography (CAT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – can help identify tumors and strokes, which can sometimes lead to memory loss.
The goal is to eliminate potentially reversible factors and determine if memory loss is due to more serious brain disease.
1 – Some Causes of Memory Loss Can Occur Simultaneously or Individually:
– Excessive consumption of alcohol. This can cause vitamin B1 (thiamine) deficiency, which can impair memory. Alcohol and illicit drugs can alter brain chemistry and affect memory. From this case, we can conclude that added B vitamins improve memory.
– The stress. Especially because emotional trauma, can cause memory loss. In extreme and rare cases, a disorder called dissociative amnesia may occur. It can make someone wandering lost, unable to remember their name, date of birth, or any other basic information. This is usually corrected.
– The Depression. Common with aging, it causes a lack of attention and concentration ability that can affect memory. In general, the treatment of depression improves mood and also improve memory problems.
– A blow to the head. This can cause loss of consciousness and memory. The loss of memory resulting from a single head injury usually remains unchanged or gradually improves, but does not worsen. However, repeated injuries, as in the case of boxers and football players, can lead to progressive memory loss, among other effects.
– People with HIV, tuberculosis, syphilis, herpes and other infections, membranes, or gray matter of the brain may have memory problems.
– A hypoactive or overactive thyroid. This can interfere with the memory of recent events.
– Poor quality sleep can affect memory.
– Vitamin B1 and B12 deficiency. It can affect memory but can be treated with a pill or injection. So, even unnaturally added B vitamins improve memory.
2 – Drugs That Can Interfere with Memory:
* Sleeping pills.
* Antihistamines (first generation).
* Anxiolytics (benzodiazepines) to treat various anxiety disorders, agitation, delirium, and muscle spasms, as well as to prevent convulsions.
* Tricyclic antidepressants are prescribed for depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, chronic pain, quitting, and certain hormonal disorders, such as severe dysmenorrhea and hot flashes. heat.
* Medications to treat Parkinson’s disease.
* Statins in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia.
* Medications to treat incontinence.
* Opioid analgesics to relieve moderate to severe chronic pain, such as pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis.
* Antihypertensives (beta-blockers) slow down the heart rate and blood pressure. They are usually prescribed in cases of hypertension, congestive heart failure, and arrhythmia.
* Anticonvulsants, to treat neuropathic pain, bipolar disorder, mood disorders, and mania.
As part of the normal aging process, some people may have trouble remembering certain types of information, such as the names of people.
However, a mild cognitive impairment is a disease characterized by a memory deficit that exceeds that expected for age but is not sufficient to affect daily activities.
The most serious form of memory loss is dementia. Dementia leads to an increasing deterioration of memory and other aspects of thinking that are serious enough to disrupt everyday activities. Although it has many causes, the most common is undoubtedly Alzheimer’s disease, characterized by a progressive loss of neurons, accompanied by other brain abnormalities.
II – Can We Prevent the Loss of Memory?
Clinical trials are already underway to test specific interventions for memory loss. Despite the best efforts, the only strategies that have proven effective at stopping the decline of age-related mental disorders are not pharmacological – there are drugs when dementia is occurring – but are linked to healthy lifestyles. The most studied are the positive and protective effects of moderate and intense physical activity in healthy people against sedentary behavior.
However, some measures can help reduce the risk of memory problems:
* Reduce your cholesterol and your blood pressure. Several studies in recent years suggest that vascular diseases – heart disease and stroke – derived from high cholesterol and high blood pressure could contribute to the manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease, its severity, or dementia by multiple infarctions (also called vascular dementia).
* Do not smoke or drink alcohol excessively.
* Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help maintain blood circulation in the brain and reduce the risk factors associated with dementia.
* Maintain healthy eating habits. It has been shown that eating more green leafy vegetables and less saturated fat helps slow down cognitive decline. In addition, eating fish containing beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, can be beneficial for brain health.
* Maintain social interactions, which can help reduce stress.
* Keep your brain active. Some experts suggest that stimulating the brain with activities such as reading, writing, learning a new skill, playing and gardening stimulates neurons and connections between them, and may be associated with a lower risk of dementia.
III – How to Manage Memory Loss?
Everyone has slight mental deficiencies from time to time. In general, this indicates only a normal brain that constantly prioritizes, classifies, stores and stores all kinds of information.
But how do you know when memory loss is abnormal and needs to be evaluated by a health professional? Here are some questions to consider:
Does memory loss affect your daily activities? such as driving, calculating the balance of your checkbook, and maintaining good personal hygiene.
How often do mental deficiencies appear? It’s one thing to forget where you parked the car from time to time, but it’s not normal to constantly forget about the parking spot you’ve assigned to yourself or miss your appointments several times. you. It is likely that frequent mental breakdowns are obvious because they tend to affect everyday life.
What do you forget? Most people have trouble remembering some details of a conversation, but forgetting whole conversations could indicate a problem. Other warning signs include: forgetting the name of a friend or family member, repeating what you said, or asking the same questions frequently in the same conversation.
Are there any signs of confusion? Serious mental deficiencies can cause a person to get lost in a known place, or put something in the wrong place because they cannot remember where they are heading (like car keys in the fridge).
Is memory loss worsening? If you feel that you forget more and more things over time, you should be evaluated by a health professional.
IV – Discoveries and Prevention Tips on Memory Loss
Medical experts say that the best way to maintain active memory is a healthy lifestyle: moderate exercise and a Mediterranean diet rich in healthy fruits and vegetables and fats – avoid excess saturated fat, sugars, red meat, and processed foods. It is also important to stay active mentally and socially by performing activities that produce joy and have purpose and meaning.
1 – Olive Oil and Dried Fruits Against Memory Loss
A study by scientists from the August Pi I Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) of the Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, published in JAMA Internal Medicine in January 2019, shows that added to the Mediterranean diet, these products preserve the function cognitive in healthy elderly people.
Researchers focused on cognitive function in older adults – the average age of 67 years – and found that the same diet fortified with oil or dried fruit also prevents or delays the loss of mental faculties associated with aging in a healthy.
The study compares for the first time those on an enriched diet compared to a control population assessed at the beginning and end of the four-year trial.
Among the participants in the first group were 115 people who received a supplement of one liter per week of extra virgin olive oil and 147 who took a ration of 30 grams per day of a mixture of nuts (15 grams), hazelnuts, and almonds. For the remaining 145 people, they were simply recommended to reduce the saturated fat content of their diet. Cognitive abilities were measured by a battery of nine neuropsychological tests.
*** A Positive Effect of the Mediterranean Diet
At the end of the study, the researchers warned that people on a supplemented Mediterranean diet had better cognitive abilities than the control group, which had suffered greater losses in brain function. Those who consume dried fruit kept their memory better – one of the tests to measure it was to memorize seven words and hold them back after three minutes. Among those who took olive oil, the benefits were related to the executive function – among other things, they were faster at the time of joining a line of 12 numbers placed randomly on a paper.
This improvement in cognitive function is independent of variables such as age or gender – of the 447 volunteers of which 223 were women – participants. Both diets significantly improved the control group results.
*** Only as a Preventive Strategy
The researchers point out that the results are applicable to the healthy population, as a preventive strategy, but never as a treatment to stop the effects of a dementia process when it has already begun to manifest its symptoms. The diet being tested slows age-related cognitive deterioration, but for the moment, it cannot be said that Alzheimer’s disease is prevented, although the disease state after Alzheimer’s disease is.
In addition, the trial shows that a change of habit, in this case, food, is an effective resource for preventing cognitive degeneration, even if it occurs at a later age. The beneficial effects are probably due to a large number of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents of these products.
The importance of this work is that it reinforces the regime’s protective thesis and suggests that, while it is beneficial for the elderly, it will also benefit the general population.
A study from Oxford University, England, published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry in November 2011 and presented at the British Festival of Science held in Bradford, revealed that a daily tablet containing high doses of vitamin B6, B12, and folic acid has been successful in reducing memory deterioration and may delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
The drug, which was initially tested on 270 men and women over 70, also reduced brain shrinkage, a precursor symptom of many forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
All participants in the study had mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a disorder that affects one in six seniors and disrupts memory, language, and other mental functions.
About half of people with MCI will develop Alzheimer’s disease within five years of the initial diagnosis.
The results showed that the tablet was able to reduce brain shrinkage by an average of 30% over the two-year study.
*** Folic Acid and B Vitamins Improve Memory Through Homocysteine
It is known that B vitamins and folic acid can control the levels of an amino acid in the blood called homocysteine. It occurs naturally in the body but with aging, its levels begin to increase. This is how B vitamins improve memory.
Previous studies have shown that high levels of this substance can damage blood vessels and lead to narrowing of the brain, leading to an increased risk of dementia.
High homocysteine is a known risk for cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly as well as other types of dementia, such as vascular dementia. This substance can damage the endothelium, the inner lining of the blood vessels. It can also adhere to brain receptors in neurons and appears to contribute to atrophy associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
In this study, the researchers gave half of the patients the pills containing (extremely high) drug doses of vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid. And the other half received a placebo.
During several stages of the two-year study, participants were subjected to a simple memory test, in which they had to learn a list of 12 words and remember it 20 minutes later.
After the first year, people who had the highest homocysteine levels at the start of the study and who took the daily pill were found to be 70% more likely to perform the test correctly than those who had the placebo.
Little difference was found in memory tests of patients with homocysteine levels below normal, whether they took placebo or vitamins. The researchers report that this reveals that having normal amounts of the substance does not affect brain function.
*** Less Brain Shrinkage
Subsequently, participants who had undergone brain examinations and all those who had taken the medication had an average reduction in the withdrawal of 30%. The reduction has increased to 50% in patients with elevated levels of homocysteine. The higher the level of homocysteine in the blood, the better the response to treatment.
However, scientists point out that people should not start taking supplements without consulting their doctor because they could have a detrimental effect on the body. What they recommend is to try to maintain a low level of homocysteine by eating fish and vegetables and reducing alcohol consumption, which is known to deplete the body’s vitamin B12 stores.
Vitamin B6 is found naturally in meat, whole grains, hard-shelled nuts, and bananas.
3 – A New Mechanism Against Memory Loss in the Elderly
Scientists from the Biomedical Research Center (CIBIR) of La Rioja and the University of Navarre, whose research was published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience magazine in November 2017, discovered that reducing the protein called adrenomedullin could halt memory loss.
The expression of adrenomedullin increases with age and increases even more in people with Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers have succeeded in identifying the new molecular mechanism that can explain how memory loss occurs in old age and possible treatment against this process.
The increase in adrenomedullin may serve as a marker for identifying patients who may progress to advanced Alzheimer’s disease. And to understand what is the physiological consequence of this increase, the researchers turned to a genetically modified mouse model that does not express adrenomedullin in the brain.
During the research process, CIBIR scientists observed that older mice that expressed adrenomedullin had partial memory loss, similar to those affecting the elderly. In addition, in mice, these memory losses were more marked in females, which also occurs in humans.
However, mice of both sexes that did not express the protein maintained memory levels identical to those of young mice, indicating that adrenomedullin is actively involved in age-related memory loss.
*** CIBIR Develops Molecule Able to Prevent Memory Loss
Thanks to its long study on the role of adrenomedullin, the angiogenesis unit has developed a large number of tools to modulate its activity. One of these tools is a chemical molecule capable of reducing the activity of the protein, which logically could be used to counteract the increases of proteins detected in the brains of the elderly and thus avoid the disconnection of neurons. Currently, he is actively working to demonstrate that this molecule has this protective capacity. If the results are positive, the next step would be its pharmaceutical development.
4 – A Hormone Could Be the Key to Fight Age-Related Memory Loss
A team of researchers at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center’s Department of Genetics and Development, in a study published in Cell Reports in October 2018, says research on mice could be a gateway to repair age-related memory loss in humans. This research is based on the interaction of a protein and a hormone.
It all starts with a natural bone hormone called osteocarcin, which could reverse memory loss in an older brain (not by itself). Although now it has been tested only in rats, it seems quite promising.
It has been known for some time that exercise and good health habits have a positive effect on neurons, but this research opens new perspectives on what has already been mentioned and how they can positively affect the brain.
*** Almost All of Us Will Suffer from Some Type of Age-Related Memory Loss at Some Point in Our Lives
It is therefore very important to know their mechanisms and how to mitigate them.
This study leads to a more detailed understanding of the origin of memory loss in the aged brain and shows how osteocarcin interacts with a specific protein to reverse memory loss.
Previously, it was thought that any memory loss was exactly the same, but researchers were beginning to discover the differences.
For example, if we compare Alzheimer’s disease with age-related memory loss, both affect the hippocampus – the field of learning and memory – they affect the same part but in more regions. specific.
Alzheimer’s disease begins in the entorhinal cortex at the foot of the hippocampus, while age-related memory loss begins in a part called the dentate gyrus, which is also part of the hippocampus.
In 2013, the team noticed another significant difference between the two types of memory loss: a protein called RbAp48, whose level tends to decrease as our age progresses, is only a characteristic of age-related memory loss, but it is not observable in Alzheimer’s disease.
*** A Hormone Beneficial to Memory Stimulated by Physical Activity
Osteo-calcine is a hormone normally released by bone cells, of high molecular weight, and having a positive effect on memory, as has been observed in animal experiments.
However, when the function of RbAp48 is inhibited, the positive effect of osteocarcin treatment appears to be diluted, prompting researchers to assume that both molecules are needed to improve memory.
Through a series of experiments, it has been found that RbAp48 controls the levels of BDNF and GPR158, two proteins regulated by osteocarcin. The experiments to find these sequences were both molecular and behavioral. In addition, they artificially raised the RbAp48 protein in the dentate gyrus of aged mice, which improved the memory of these animals.
What has been observed so far has been to argue for physical activity as a means to improve cognitive health, because, according to experiments in the mouse, osteocarcin can be released by moderate physical exercise.
5 – Prevent Memory Loss in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE)
Researchers at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, New York, whose study was published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine in September 2018, found that activation of brain cells called microglia probably contributes to the lost memory and other cognitive impairments experienced by many patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
The study shows that ACE inhibitors – a class of drugs commonly used to treat hypertension – can block this process in mice and, therefore, can be used to preserve memory in patients with lupus.
Patients with SLE may have a wide variety of symptoms, but almost 90% develop neuropsychiatric lupus, which is often characterized by cognitive impairments such as memory loss or confusion.
*** Neurons Die or Lose Synapses
Researchers have previously discovered that patients with lupus who experience memory loss often produce antibodies called DNRAbs, which recognize both DNA and an essential brain protein called the NMDAR receptor. Antibodies cannot usually enter the brain, but after injury or infection, it is thought that DNRAb has temporary access to the brain, where they can target neurons that express NMDAR. As a result, neurons die or lose synapses that connect them to neighboring nerve cells, resulting in memory loss or other cognitive defects.
The researchers suspected that brain cells called microglia may be responsible for cutting neural connections after exposure to DNRAb. These cells help remove the remains of dead and dying neurons and can also eliminate excessive or unwanted synapses during brain development.
To address the role of microglia in LES, they analyzed mice producing DNRAb that could penetrate the brain and induce memory loss. The researchers found that microglia are activated when DNRAb enters the brain and a protein called C1q attracts it to the synapses of neurons attacked by these antibodies. The elimination of the C1q protein, or the depletion of the microglial cells, prevented the neurons from losing their synapses after exposure to DNRAbs.
ACE inhibitors such as captopril are a class of drugs used to treat high blood pressure. It is also known that they block the activation of microglia. The researchers found that captopril treatment protects neurons from DNRAb and preserves the memory of mice producing these antibodies.