As we age changes occur in many organs of the body, including the brain! Struggles with memory and recall can be a common part of aging. However, there are some ways we can help strengthen the mind as we age.
Prevagen is an over-the-counter supplement used to help improve brain function and improve memory loss linked to aging. The active ingredient in pPrevagen is Apoaequorin. Interestingly enough, Apoaequorin is a protein found in a species of glow-in-the-dark jellyfish called the Aequorea victoria. This protein binds to calcium and research has linked calcium to brain health and memory. In fact, an imbalance of calcium in neurons might play a role in aging the cells, destroying them, or disrupting signals between them. The Madison Memory Study helps to illuminate Apoaequorin’s impact. This study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, where 218 adults were either given apoaequorin or a placebo. These adults were ages 41-90 and had concerns about memory loss. At the end of the 90-day study, the group given apoaequorin showed a statistically significant improvement in verbal learning and recall. Prevagen is typically well tolerated and safe, although some side effects may include nausea, dizziness, and headaches.
Prevagen can take up to 90 days to see any effect. However, the most notable changes are seen when coupled with a brain-healthy lifestyle. Memory loss can be linked to insufficient vitamins and exercise as well as emotional and physical reactions in the body. If you are worried about memory loss linked with aging some of the most beneficial changes are very simple to make. For example, sleep hygiene is crucial in the prevention of memory loss. Proper sleep for older adults is considered getting seven to nine consecutive hours. This means removing any daytime sleep and keeping a consistent routine by having a fixed wake-up time and bedtime. During the deeper stages of sleep, the area of the brain responsible for the formation and retrieval of memories transfers newly made memories to the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that is responsible for long-term memory storage. Another brain-healthy change you can implement is incorporating activities that stimulate the brain into your lifestyle. Games, books, and even social conversations keep our brains stimulated as we age. Introducing a brain-healthy diet can also benefit memory and recall in older adults. A brain-healthy diet includes leafy greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and broccoli which are rich in brain-healthy nutrients like vitamin K, lutein, folate, and beta carotene. Vitamin B12 deficiency has also been linked to memory loss, therefore a vitamin B supplement can be a good addition to a daily medication regimen.
Healthy aging is not only physical. It is important to take care of your mind as well. Over-the-counter supplements like Prevagen can be a good start but remember to couple it with lifestyle changes to support a healthy brain.
Adele Covelli, PharmD Candidate ’23