Memory is an important tool for humans to emotionally and physically function; we use it every day as a faculty of the brain that helps information to be stored and retrieved at will. Memory is subdivided into short-term and long-term (1). Memory is necessary to perform an action and function properly in the world. Therefore, exercising how to boost memory recall is of utmost importance.
Ways to improve memory
Although it’s perfectly normal to forget things once in a while, to ensure our recall and memory function doesn't deteriorate later in life, there are certain things we can do each day (2). Fortunately there are certain ways to sharpen memory.
Incorporating physical activity into your day allows increased blood flow throughout the body as well as the brain. Exercise should be done for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. Staying mentally active through stimulating activities (e.g., solving puzzles, learning a new instrument or language) is also another way to boost memory recall (2).
Restful and adequate sleep stabilizes memories, while a healthy diet benefits overall health, which includes the brain (2).
Socialising with others prevents depression and stress, which both contribute to memory loss (18). Practice organisation both in your home, work, and other matters. Make to-do lists; note down appointments and events in a planner or calendar. Designate certain places to put important items like keys and wallets (2).
Taking care of any health conditions you might have is also paramount to boosting memory recall. Medication for certain conditions can affect memory but with regular consultations with your doctor, it should be manageable (2).
Vitamins that could protect your memory
Ashwagandha, or Indian ginseng, is used in tonics that benefit a person’s mental faculties. Due to its cognition-promoting effect, it is believed to promote short term memory. On a molecular level, it supports healthy stress response in the body by enhancing the synthesis of dendrites, through which impulses from neighbouring cells pass on their way to the nerve cell body (3).
Magnesium is another substance that can help boost mental recall. According to a study, this mineral improved learning ability, including short- and long-term memory, in rats – indicating that it supports mental function (4).
Vitamin B12, as part of the vitamin B complex family, is needed for amino acids to become neurotransmitters such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine (5, 6), suggesting that it maintains brain function.
Zinc, a mineral necessary for general health and wellbeing, is found in high levels in the brain’s hippocampus. A lack of zinc during pregnancy and lactation is associated with congenital issues related to the nervous system (7).
It is suggested that iron maintains brain function as it is involved in the breakdown of molecules into energy as well as in the production of neurotransmitters and myelin (8), which wraps arounds nerves for the proper transmission of impulses (9). Iron could play a role in how to boost memory recall.
A study on astaxanthin showed that it had a significant, positive impact on the memory of older adults who have memory problems, suggesting that it helps support mental function in ageing individuals (10).
Meanwhile, research on acetyl L-carnitine indicated that treatment with ALC mitigated cognition deficits (11), therefore supporting cognitive function.
Vitamin C too maintained good brain function by enhancing performance in cognitive tasks, according to a study on healthy adults aged 20 to 39 (12).
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil supports brain function: a study showed that it improved blood flow to the brain during mental activity (13). It also helped in brain development in adult brains (14). Veg omega promotes brain health by maintaining fluidity in the cell membranes (made up of lipids (14)), brain development, and cognitive function, among others (15).
Ginkgo Brahmi enhances mental recall as a study showed it improves mental processes such as long-term memory (16). It does this by activating pathways in the brain that deal with memory and learning abilities (17).
Find out more about other supplements that can support brain health:
*Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Vitamin and/or mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.
- MedlinePlus. "Memory". MedlinePlus. Published n.d. on https://medlineplus.gov/memory.html. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. "Memory loss: 7 tips to improve your memory". Mayo Clinic. Published 10 March 2021 on https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/healthy-aging/in-depth/memory-loss/art-20046518. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Singh, N., Balla, M., de Jager, P., & Gilca M. "An Overview on Ashwagandha: A Rasayana (Rejuvenator) of Ayurveda." National Center for Biotechnology Information. Published 3 Jul 2011 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3252722/. Accessed on 8 Jan 2022.
- Slutsky, I., et. al., "Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium." Neuron. Published Jan 2010 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20152124/. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Kennedy, David., "B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review". Nutrients. Published Feb 2016 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4772032/. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- PubChem. "Tyrosine". PubChem. Published n.d. On https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/tyrosine#section=Absorption-Distribution-and-Excretion. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Pfeiffer, C., Braverman, E., " Zinc, the brain and behavior". Biol Psychiatry. Published Apr 1982 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7082716/. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Pinero, D., Connor, J., " Iron in the Brain: An Important Contributor in Normal and Diseased States". SAGE Journals. Published Dec 2000 on https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/107385840000600607. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Medline Plus. "Myelin". Medline Plus. Last Updated January 2022 on https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002261.htm. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Sekikawa, T., et. al., " Cognitive function improvement with astaxanthin and tocotrienol intake: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study". J Clin Biochem Nutr. Published Nov 2020 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33293773/. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Malaguarnera, M., et. al., " Acetyl-L-carnitine improves cognitive functions in severe hepatic encephalopathy: a randomized and controlled clinical trial". Metab Brain Dis. Published Dec 2011 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21870121/. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Sim, M., et. al., " Vitamin C supplementation promotes mental vitality in healthy young adults: results from a cross-sectional analysis and a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial". Eur J Nutr. Published Sept 2021 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34476568/. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Northumbria University. "Boosting mental performance with fish oil?". ScienceDaily. Published Oct 2011 on https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111021074640.htm. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Lange, K., "Omega-3 fatty acids and mental health". Globe Health Journal. Published March 2020 on https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S241464472030004X. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Vitable. “Veg Omega”. Vitable. Published n.d. on https://www.vitable.com.au/products/veg-omega. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- Kaschel, R., " Ginkgo biloba: specificity of neuropsychological improvement--a selective review in search of differential effects". Hum Psychopharmacol. Published July 2009 on https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19551805/. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- ScienceDirect. "Bacopa monnieri". ScienceDirect. Published n.d. On https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/bacopa-monnieri. Accessed 19 Jan 2022.
- https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321019#Social-context-determines-healthful-habits. Feb 2018