There are ingredients that have been used to improve memory and cognitive function in those with age-related memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Among some of the more promising ones are Acetyl-L-Carnitine, phosphatidylserine(ps), Huperzine A, Vinpocetine, Ginko and GPC. Below is a brief description of each and their function in the brain.
Acetyl-L-Carnitine: The acetyl component of acetyl-L-Carnitine functions as a precursor for the formation of acetylcholine, one of the neurotransmitters in the brain thought to be involved in age-related dementias, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Phosphatidylserine: Phosphatidylserine belongs to a class of compounds known as phospholipids. It is an integral component of the cell membrane in all life forms. It is found in high concentrations in brain tissue. It has been shown to be useful in treating conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, age-associated memory impairment and other types of dementia.
Huperzine A: Huperzine A is a plant alkaloid derived from a type of moss that grows in China called ‘huperzia’. Huperzine A seems to be effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline and memory loss. It functions as an inhibitor of the enzyme acetylcholinesterase. Acetylcholine is the primary neurotransmitter in the brain. Acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme that breaks down this neurotransmitter. Huperzines work well but should be used with caution and with your doctor’s approval if you are using other acetylcholinesterase inhibitors or cholinergic drugs. For persons with seizure disorders, asthma and cardiac arrhythmias, huperzine A is contraindicated.
Vinpocetine: Vinpocetine is an alkaloid derived from a plant in the periwinkle family. It is indicated for age-related cognitive decline, stroke, mental function and tinnitus. Vinpocetine may enhance the effect of anticoagulants such as Coumadine, so should be used with caution.
Ginko Biloba: I have written about ginko biloba before so I will only repeat the indications for it’s use, which are Alzheimer’s disease, age-related cognitive decline, intermittent claudication, depression, macular degeneration, vertigo, tinnitus, asthma and retinopathy. It has a slight thinning effect on the blood. If you are already on blood-thinning medication, check with your doctor before taking Ginko Biloba.
GPC (glycerylphosphorylcholine): The brain converts GPC into acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter whose decline is centrally implicated in brain aging and neurodegeneration. When research showed that choline and lecithin were not significantly reversing cognitive decline, researchers began looking at GPC. Results were dramatically different. Finally, a precursor with the ability to rejuvenate acetylcholine levels, receptors and neuronal structural integrity had been discovered.
Each product mentioned is available in the Co-op vitamin department.
Vitamin Department Manager