Nearly 10 million seniors receive a dementia diagnosis each year, ushering in new challenges and concerns for their families. As caregivers evaluate treatment, strive to preserve quality of life, and hope to stave off symptoms, the connection between diet and dementia serves as a helpful entry point.
Recommended foods to prevent dementia often include robust, well-researched vitamins and minerals. These vitamins that help with memory can be tasty and easy to find — chances are some of your senior loved one’s favorite foods already contain these much-needed nutrients.
Vitamin C helps fight more than just the common cold. Researchers at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine found a link between this brain-boosting vitamin and high levels of cognition in their 2017 study, which compared those with Alzheimer’s disease to a control group without memory conditions. In most cases, researchers observed a greater vitamin C deficiency in participants with Alzheimer’s. Specifically, vitamin C helps neurotransmitters in the brain function properly and regulates enzymes.
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Vitamins B6 and B12 team up as some of the best vitamins for memory. A 2019 study published in Clinical Epigenetics found that memory-deteriorating genes can become more active due to a lack of these brain vitamins, which help repress cognitive decline.
Vitamin D deficiency counts as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s and dementia, asserts 2019 research in the leading publication BMC Neurology. This comprehensive review states that severe vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of dementia by 48%, while the likelihood of having Alzheimer’s climbs 51%. Counteract these troubling statistics by getting enough vitamin D, one of the best vitamins for memory.
The mineral phosphatidylcholine can drastically reduce cognitive decline, research suggests. This link in diet and dementia comes from a 2019 study that analyzed 2,500 men in Finland. The results, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, show a 28% lower chance of dementia in men who consumed high amounts of phosphatidylcholine. A wide range of research validates this finding in women, as well.
These brain vitamins and minerals are common recommendations for most seniors. For help addressing specific dietary concerns, consider consulting a dietitian or your doctor.
Chai, Bingyan et al. “Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: an updated meta-analysis.” https://bmcneurol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12883-019-1500-6
National Institutes of Health. “Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets.” https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/list-all/
Travica et al. “Vitamin C Status and Cognitive Function: A Systematic Review.” https://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/file/432fba75-a949-445d-af0e-577de4281112/1/2017-travica-vitamin_c_status.pdf
World Health Organization. “Dementia.” https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia
Kara Lewis is a content writer at A Place for Mom. She’s worked in writing, editing, and creative strategy for several years, most recently at Andrews McMeel Universal, Hallmark, and Gannett Media. Her writing has appeared in Bustle, Alma, and The Kansas City Star, among other outlets. She has won awards for digitally conscious journalism, investigative reporting, magazine writing, and poetry.