Feeling like you are losing your memory at midlife can be very scary, especially if you think it’s a permanent situation. Many women secretly wonder if these ‘senior moments’ are the beginning of dementia and are truly frightened. If you forget what you were saying mid-sentence, what you went into a room for or where you put your car keys you are not alone. It’s one of the commonest symptoms of the menopause.
And the reason? No-one knows for sure, but it’s thought most memory problems at this time of life are due to poor concentration, lack of motivation, tiredness, anxiety or stress, rather than loss of brain cells. Many surveys confirm that as we age many nutrients may be in short supply. Vitamin B deficiency, including B12 and Vitamin D can be associated with cognitive impairment as well as depression.
Vitamin E and other antioxidants may be important to help blood flow to the brain and central nervous system. One study showed for example that patients with early signs of dementia improved after being given high doses of Vitamin E.
As we grow older, our circulation slows down, thus less oxygen reaches our brain cells, so it’s no surprise we aren’t as sharp. Many of us don’t stretch our brains as much as we could. Like muscles, our brain needs to be used to function at optimum levels. The good news is forgetfulness doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of getting older. Following a nutrient-dense and phytoestrogen-rich diet, leading an active lifestyle and keeping your brain well exercised will help keep you sharp.
There is recent scientific evidence that soy isoflavones, whether in dietary or supplement form, can help with cognition and psychological symptoms around menopause. There is a high concentration of oestrogen receptors in the hippocampus - the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning - where these molecules might bind. For instance, an analysis of 10 randomised placebo-controlled clinical trials of isoflavone supplement use, covering over 1,000 women showed significant improvement in cognitive function and visual memory. It Is interesting that the impact was greatest among women under the age of 60 and, surprisingly perhaps, for shorter treatment duration. Maybe, the researchers said, there is an important 'window of opportunity' wherein supplementation and/or dietary changes should be started to gain maximum benefit for the brain and mind.
I was also excited to read in a new publication from Brazil this week that Yoga has been shown to reduce the rate at which the portion of the brain relating to memory ages. It also showed that women who practiced yoga regularly had increased levels of awareness, attention and what they called executive functions when compared to women of a similar age who didn’t practice yoga.
So, don’t delay! Reclaim your memory whilst you still can!
If you would like to find out more about what’s going on in your body as you hit the menopause feel free to join my free Virtual Class. I will be explaining about the changes that occur and how to overcome your symptoms without resorting to drugs or hormones based on a successful programme I have been running for over.