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Table of Contents > Articles > What Can You Do for Your Memory?
What Can You Do for Your Memory?

You've probably forgotten where you put your keys at some point. Or, worse, you've completely forgotten your wife's birthday. Did you worry that you were becoming more forgetful? Most of us are concerned about memory lapses, especially as we get older, and wonder if we're showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer's disease. If you are anxious about memory lapses or concerned that you maintain your memory as you age, there's good news: there are things you can do.

First, seek professional help or advise if you are struggling with alcohol abuse, depression, stress, or sleeping problems. All of these conditions may influence your ability to remember things. In addition, poor memory may be a result of other treatable medical conditions, such as dehydration or a thyroid disorder.

Second, talk to your doctor about replacing or reducing certain medications. Many prescription drugs, such as Elavil, Inderal, Miltown, Pepcid, Tagamet, and Valium, may affect your memory. Your doctor may be able to suggest some alternative medications or therapies. Whatever medicines you're taking, if you notice a change in your memory, consult your doctor. You should also know that medications that normally don't affect memory may become problems when they interact with other drugs or with alcohol.

Third, get your vitamins. Vitamin deficiencies (especially B12) may be to blame for poor memory. A recent study found that people who have good memories also have high levels of vitamin E in their blood. This supports prior research that seems to indicate that vitamin E may slow mental deterioration in people with Alzheimer's.

Finally, stay physically and mentally active. Try taking a brisk walk every day. Volunteer, learn a language, or take up a hobby. Work crossword and jigsaw puzzles. Write things down, such as ideas or plans, to force your mind to register the information twice and help you remember it. Practicing meditation will also help you to keep your memory sharp by teaching you how to focus your attention. The good news is that, while some memory loss may be an inevitable part of aging, memory is, to a large degree, retainable.


Halliwell B. Free radicals, antioxidants, and human disease: curiosity, cause, or consequence? Lancet. 1994;344(8924):721-724.

Perkins AJ, Hendrie HC, Callahan CM, et al. Association of antioxidants with memory in a multiethnic elderly sample using the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Am J Epidemiol. 1999;150(1):37-44.

Sano M, Ernesto C, Thomas RG, Klauber MR. A controlled trial of selegiline, alpha-tocopherol, or both as treatment for Alzheimer's disease. N Engl J Med. 1997;336(17):1216-1217.

Review Date: January 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

Alzheimer's Disease
Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)
Vitamin E
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