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October 3, 2011, last updated May 2, 2016
By Alison Turner, Contributing Columnist







Are you starting to forget things? If you are, you're not alone.
About 40% of people over the age of 65 have memory loss,
according to  Dr. Gary Small, a professor on aging at the UCLA
Neuropsychiatric Institute. That's 16 million people in the
United States alone. What causes memory loss? Is
forgetfulness a simple sign of juggling too many things in our
lives or is it a sign of something more serious? Are there any
natural remedies to help you remember?

We are all familiar with
Alzheimer’s disease, amnesia, dementia
and memory loss.  While many of the above diseases share
symptoms, there are variations that are important to remember
(or perhaps write down), because they may affect treatment.  

Memory loss is synonymous with amnesia, both indicating
remarkable forgetfulness of future or past events, or both.  The
word “dementia,” however, refers to any loss of
brain function
caused by a disease, two of the most common of which are
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and
vascular dementia.   

In other words, amnesia simply indicates that you forgot a fact.
This occasional forgetfulness can happen to anyone and does
not necessarily indicate disease. You misplace your keys every
now and then. You forget an appointment every now and then.
If you think of your brain as a bowl and facts as jelly beans,
when your bowl gets too full, a jelly bean can spill out every
now and then. No problem. But dementia is different. Dementia
indicates that your
brain itself has become less able to
remember.  Your bowl has a big hole in the bottom of it, and
jelly beans are escaping all the time.

Alzheimer’s disease affects memory, but also other brain
functions such as thinking and behavior, and is thus a different
diagnosis than “memory loss.”



Causes of Memory Loss

What exactly causes memory loss? The brain is a complicated
place, so that various areas work together to help us remember
events, dates and facts.  Damage to any of these areas may
result in memory loss, whether it be about the past, specific
details, entire events, words, or motor memory (in which the
body does not “remember” how to perform certain
activities).    Sometimes, the reason you are forgetful is some
other medical condition that has not yet been diagnosed.

Contrary to what was thought to be true years ago, memory is
not a fixed asset that naturally has to decline over time.

Scientists have now discovered that you can improve your
capacity to remember even as you age, with certain simple
changes in lifestyle, which we discuss below.

What we've done below is to pull together a list of the Top 10
causes of memory loss due to
something else which – write
this down so you don’t forget – may need more serious
attention:


























1.        
Smoking Can Make You Forgetful.  We are all familiar
with the giant list of reasons not to smoke.  Some of us use this
list to roll up tobacco.  There are, however, a few lesser-known
symptoms that may arise because of daily smoking – including
memory loss.  

In 2010, researchers Thomas Heffernan, Terence O’Neill and
Mark Moss with the Collaboration for Drug and Alcohol
Research at Northumbria University in the UK,  examined the
connection between “persistent” smoking and the ability to
remember activities in the future.  They concluded that their
results suggest that “persistent smoking leads to impairments
in everyday PM [Prospective Memory].”

Yet another reason to remember to quit smoking as soon as
possible.

2.        
Sleep apnea.  You have sleep apnea if you have one or
more pauses in your breathing (lasting from seconds to
minutes) while you sleep, often resulting in poor quality of
rest.  A 2003 study led by Dr. Mary Morrell at the National Heart
and Lung Institute in London analyzed the loss of gray matter
in areas of the brain “associated with memory processing” in
people with obstructive sleep apnea.  

The team concluded that patients with obstructive sleep apnea
also showed loss of gray matter in the hippocampus, a “key
area for cognitive processing.”   

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute  warns that sleep
apnea “often goes undiagnosed” because it cannot be detected
during routine doctor visits.  If you notice glitches in your
memory in addition to daily fatigue, you might want to consider
focused testing for sleep apnea.

You should also be concerned if you are a heavy snorer. Heavy
snoring can rob your brain of oxygen, much like sleep apnea.
Possibly for this reason,
heavy snoring has been linked with a
67% increased risk of stroke.

3.        
Vitamin B12 Deficiency Can Make You Forgetful. The
Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of
Health  posts that vitamin B12 maintains blood cell formation,
neurological function and DNA synthesis.  A deficiency of B12
can results in faulty memory, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight
loss, depression, and confusion.

In 2008, Anna Vogiatzoglou with the Department of
Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics at University of Oxford, led a
team of experts in looking at the relationship between Vitamin
B12 intake and loss of brain volume in the elderly.  The study
concludes that inadequate Vitamin B12 is associated with lower
brain volume, and is a probable “cognitive impairment in the
elderly.”

Vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products such as fish,
meat and milk products, and, just in case we forget to eat our
animal products, is often added to fortified breakfast cereals.

Once you reach 50, your body starts to lose its ability to absorb
Vitamin B-12, which is why adding this vitamin is one of the
changes you should make to your diet at age 50.

4.        
Stress Causes Memory Loss.  Cortisol is a hormone
produced by the adrenal cortex that aids in several functions of
the body, including stress response.  During times of excessive
stress the body produces too much cortisol, knocking other
hormones out of balance.   A group of experts led by Dr. John
Newcomer with the Department of Psychiatry at the  
Washington University School of Medicine, analyzed cortisol’s
relationship to memory .  They concluded that “several days of
exposure to cortisol at doses […] associated with physical and
psychological stress” can “decrease specific elements of
memory performance” – if the chaos of your life is further
complicated by an untrustworthy memory, minimizing your
stress levels may be a good place to start sorting it all out.
(Read more about
foods that fight stress.)

5.        
Untreated Herpes Can Damage Your Memory.  


Continue reading          page 1       
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Alzheimer's Disease -An Ideal Prevention Diet/

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