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How to Improve Your Memory

By , By Alyssa Shaffer, of Woman's Day
Keep Your Brain Sharp

Straining your brain to remember someone’s name or where you left your wallet? Forgetting things can be a pesky problem, but it can get serious without the proper attention. Thankfully, a few simple tricks are all it takes to prevent those forgetful moments and get your memory in shape.

The neurologist says...Eat your vitamins B, C, D and E

New research shows that older people who have higher levels of vitamins B, C, D and E in their blood have stronger memory and thinking skills. Make sure you're getting enough vitamin B12 in particular (found in meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk)—low levels of this vitamin have been linked to memory problems. Whenever possible, try to get these nutrients from food instead of pills. But if you're a vegetarian, over 50 years old and/or taking certain medications for diabetes or heartburn, ask your doctor about B12 supplements, since you may be at a higher risk for a deficiency. On the flip side, avoid foods that contain trans fats (including fried foods and many packaged baked goods). Studies show that people with high levels of this dangerous fat had worse cognitive functioning.

Orly Avitzur, MD, fellow of the American Academy of Neurology

The psychologist says...Play games

Try doing a word scramble, a crossword puzzle or Sudoku against the clock. Giving yourself a time limit challenges your brain's focus, speed and flexibility. Also choose hobbies that keep your mind engaged—painting, writing, playing board games—and do them regularly. Research shows that activities like these help keep your brain function strong throughout your lifetime.

Cynthia Green, PHD, author of 30 Days to Total Brain Health and president of Memory Arts, Montclair, NJ

The neuroscientist says... Take a brisk walk

Exercise triggers positive changes in your brain, including forging new connections between nerve cells, increasing blood flow and even creating new brain cells—all of which help strengthen your memory and problem-solving skills. A brisk half-hour walk every day can also lower your chances of developing dementia, since it helps keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check. Best of all, it's never too late to make a difference. Research shows that even longtime couch potatoes who started a regular exercise program experienced positive changes in brain function almost immediately.

Arthur F. Kramer, PHD, director, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Do you already use some of these tips to keep your brain sharp? Do you have any other tips to improve your memory?

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Interesting Report
I discovered a long time ago that extra B vitamins make a huge difference for me. My personal threshold seems to be about 20 mg in a complex. More is fine but no extra effect, but definitely the effect is better with the 20 mg of a Shaklee B complex that I take now than with the random cheaper 50 mg versions I used to take. A B complex is tricky to formulate because the different B vitamins are all absorbed at different places along the tract, so it's worth going for quality. At the 20 mg point, I sleep much better (through the night), remember my dreams, and my typing speed and accuracy improve appreciably. Plus I definitely get past the activation barrier for various projects. If I slack off on the B vitamins, it all reverses. A supplement is good insurance for me, since my eating isn't always too reliable. I do have allergies, which might be a factor- I might need more than most because of that.

Also- I find I proofread my work much faster and better if I stand and do a little walk in place most of the time. I keep focused much better compared with sitting. I have a second keyboard and trackball set up to do this, and my monitor can be raised. I have to proofread (checking my English translation against hardcopy original in another language) for several hours at a time frequently. I alternate between sitting and standing then. Report
I love vegetables with my meals and take extra B, C, D, and E vitamins daily, I do the crossword, sudoku, and jumble puzzles daily, enjoy reading, work out 3x per week and walk daily. Thanks for sharing your blog. Great advice. Report
This is a bit better than some of the journalists' blogs on here in that Ms. Shaffer at least names three sources. I would certainly prefer to know where/how these experts said what is attributed to them--not that it seems unreasonable, but it's so vague and general. Yes, it's a blog, but still, it's a blog on SP. That asks a certain level of quality. Report
Yahoo crossword puzzle every morning helps me. Report
I do take all of the vitamins, except E. I also walk, and play games every Sunday, now for 40 plus years. I mostly play all of the Trivia games, out there. I go to the pool, for an aerobics class, and ride my bike. Report
I heard that you should eat more blue berries, do push ups in the morning when you first wake up, and practice doing things with the opposite hand that you're used to using to complete that task (brushing your teeth, grabbing coins, shooting hoops). ~courtesy of Doctor Mehmet OZ Report
I do crossword puzzles, word games, Suduko ..... I hate those moments when I go into a room and "why am I here" ??? Thanks for posting. Report
I have to memorize music for a singing group I belong to.I just saw a show on memory. A math teacher who was having problems with his students learning put the lesson to rap music and the students improved -big time. Report
Thanks for posting!!! Report
I love cryptograms! And whenever I can grab DH's Ipad, I do Word Warp against the clock. Most days I exercise. Report
Love that Bop-It. You know the toy, the one that aggrivates parents: You Bop It, Spin It, Flick It, Twist It or Pull It. It can be played one on one, solo, or as a team. It keeps the mind sharp, trust me on this. It can be found in the Toy Department at your nearest Walmart. Report
I do play Suduko on my ipod. I do like trying to beat the clock. I also read regularly. I've read that learning to juggle is another good way to help improve a person's cognitive functions. that's something I've wanted to try for a long time.

thanks for the advice. I squeeze in exercise everyday. I also play board games, do crossword puzzles, etc . to keep my mind active. Report
Dementia runs in my family: both my mother and grandmother got it bad starting at the age of 60. I am very aware of this and it is one of the reasons why I try to incorporate exercise in my life every day. Report
Great Advice! Thanks for posting this. Report