Staying sharp as you age: Enhancing memory and mental function

Staying sharp as you age: Enhancing memory and mental function

08 Mar 2022

If you prioritise your health and train your brain every day to enhance memory and mental function, your age is merely a number!

With aging comes different things, good and bad. We gain more wisdom through a breadth of life experiences, but at the same time, our body inevitably shows signs of all the physical and physiological wear and tear it’s endured over the years.

Our mental sharpness in particular is one of the first bodily functions to reflect signs of ageing. You may notice little things like slips in memory or decision-making that tend to happen more often, challenges in remaining focused and alert, or difficulty learning new tasks and maintaining mental clarity throughout the day. Enhancing memory and mental function become a priority for older individuals as cognitive abilities begin to diminish as a normal part of life.

Though it is expected that mental function will decline over time, it can still be a stressful experience for older individuals that depend on retaining sharpness in their mental abilities to get through their day-to-day activities. You may relate to this as well, as your job, lifestyle, interests, or family life all require you to be able to think on your feet.

This article offers options for those individuals dealing with this health issue and who have made enhancing memory and mental function a top concern. Though the process of mental ageing cannot be stopped, there are things one can do to slow it down and make the transition to one’s sunset years more comfortable.

Below, we talk about how to enhance memory and mental function in your older years through continued strengthening of the body via exercise and diet, as well as through proper supplementation.

Enhancing memory and mental function

Enhancing memory and mental function through exercise and diet

Enhancing memory and mental function is not only a matter of keeping one’s mind healthy; it requires you to keep all body systems up and running, as a holistically healthy body contributes to overall brain health and good mental function. You can do this in two ways: making sure that your body gets adequate exercise as well as by eating well.

Exercising mind and body

The first thing to know about exercise and mental function is that physical activity is integral in the development of new nerve cells and increases the connections between brain cells. When these bodily processes continue to go smoothly even in old age, mental function is more likely to stay efficient and adaptive (1)  

Apart from getting enough physical activity, enhancing memory and mental function also involves doing adequate mental exercises. It’s a natural process for our brains to become familiar with our everyday tasks and habits, especially when we settle into a daily routine at work and with our personal lives. We’re exposed to much less mental stimulation as we advance in life, and this causes our brain to stop growing and developing. To combat this, we can engage in novel activities such as learning a new skill, exploring new hobbies, reading books, taking a class or joining a workshop or staying connected with others in a variety of social contexts (3).

Eating for healthy mental function

Healthy diets are a concern for individuals of every age. Though nutritional needs may change as we go through different life stages, it’s still imperative we eat in accordance with what our bodies need. While it’s true that old age means we become less active, need fewer calories, and are much more prone to developing aches and pains, there are foods that we should be conscious about avoiding or including during mealtimes.

Enhancing memory and mental function in old age requires one to incorporate fruits, vegetables, whole grains, as well as lean meats like fish and poultry into your diet. On the other hand, you must limit sugar, salt, and bad fats (2). You can always consult with a licensed nutritionist if you wish to deepen your knowledge about specific foods that are right for enhancing memory and mental function. A consultation on the best methods of food preparation should also be in order for one to reap the benefits of healthy foods you eat.

Supporting exercise and diet with supplementation

Enhancing memory and mental function may also be achieved by taking the right mineral and vitamin supplements for your specific health concerns. Older individuals may want to look into supplements that target maintaining mental function as they advance in age, some of which we list here.

Enhancing memory and mental function

Zinc

Zinc is a micronutrient that supports brain function. It is found in high levels throughout the brain, including the hippocampus, the brain's centre of learning and memory (13). A deficiency in this nutrient may affect working memory.

Iron

Iron is necessary for red blood cell production and maintaining oxygen levels in the blood. When iron contributes to these processes, it’s better able to support brain function (4).

Astaxanthin

Among older individuals, Astaxanthin has shown benefits in the maintenance of cognitive function. This substance contains neuroprotective properties that strengthen this function (5).

Ashwagandha

Traditionally used in India’s ancient system of medicine, this centuries-old super herb is beloved for its ability to reduce cognitive fatigue.

Magnesium

Despite not being produced by the body naturally, magnesium is necessary for protecting nervous system health as well as supporting overall brain function throughout life (6).

Vitamin B Complex

Vitamin B levels are linked with brain atrophy, hence, getting enough of it on a daily basis has been found to contribute to brain health and function (7).

Acetyl L-Carnitine

Supplementation of Acetyl L-Carnitine exerts neuroprotective effects and supports nervous system health. It’s also able to aid in the creation of neurotransmitters, ensuring that our brain is able to communicate effectively with other organs and systems in the body (8).

Vitamin C

Ascorbate, also known as Vitamin C, is a vital antioxidant that acts as a neuroprotective agent that is essential in supporting brain function (9).

Vitamin B12

The brain and nervous system as a whole benefit from Vitamin B12 supplements. This vitamin maintains brain health as we advance in life, being a critical ingredient in protecting mental function (10).

Ginkgo and Brahmi

The potent combination of Ginkgo and Brahmi is well known to those who subscribe to the ancient Indian and Chinese system of healing and health. Taken together in a single supplement, one can experience deep nourishment of the brain and support of brain heath (11).

Fish oil

With the brain being made up of mostly omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats such as those found in fish oil are crucial for brain development, integrity, function and overall health. It then comes to no surprise that this supplement supports nervous system functioning and brain health (12).

Remember that the brain is one of the most important parts of our body that we need to take care of and that this remains true even as we get older. Enhancing memory and mental function requires us to care for our brains and bodies overall via physical and mental exercise, eating healthily, and taking appropriate supplements such as those provided by Vitable Australia.

You can create your personalised vitamin packs to help you achieve your specific health goals thanks to Vitable Australia’s flexible and highly customisable vitamin supplement services. With Vitable’s vitamin subscription service, you can get the essential supplements for protecting mental function such as fish oil, iron, magnesium, vitamin B complex, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Vitamin C, zinc, Gingko & Brahmi, Ashwagandha, and Astaxanthin. Your vitamin packs from Vitable can also be delivered straight to you anywhere in Australia for maximum convenience and reliability.

*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.

References:

1. Harvard Health Publishing. “12 ways to keep your brain young”. Harvard Health Publishing. Published January 29, 2020, on https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/12-ways-to-keep-your-brain-young. Accessed January 10, 2021.

2. National Institute of Aging. “Cognitive Health and Older Adults”. National Institute of Aging. Published (n.d.) on https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cognitive-health-and-older-adults. Accessed January 10, 2021.

3. Help Guide. “How to Improve Your Memory”. Help Guide. Published (n.d.) on https://www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/how-to-improve-your-memory.htm. Accessed January 10, 2021.

4. Vitable. “Iron”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/iron. Accessed January 10, 2021.

5. Vitable. “Astaxanthin”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/astaxanthin. Accessed January 10, 2021.

6. Vitable. “Magnesium”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/magnesium. Accessed January 10, 2021.

7. Vitable. “B Complex”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/b-complex. Accessed January 10, 2021.

8. Vitable. “Acetyl L-Carnitine”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/acetyl-l-carnitine. Accessed January 10, 2021.

9. Vitable. “Vitamin C Plus”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/vitamin-c-plus. Accessed January 10, 2021.

10. National Center for Biotechnology Information. “Vitamin B12, cognition, and brain MRI measures”. Published September 2011 on https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3179651/. Accessed February 18, 2022.

11. Vitable. “Gingko & Brahmi”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/ginkgo-brahmi. Accessed January 10, 2021.

12. Vitable. “Fish Oil”. Vitable. Published (n.d.) on https://research.vitable.com.au/fish-oil. Accessed January 10, 2021.

13. Warthon-Medina, M., "Zinc intake, status and indices of cognitive function in adults and children: a systematic review and meta-analysis". European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Published April 2015 on https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn201560. Accessed January 21, 2022.