Dementia can be a difficult subject to think or talk about, especially if you know someone close who suffers from it. Whether you know someone who’s worried about getting it, or are just wanting to care for your brain health as you get older, giving your body the right nutrients on a regular basis can help lower your risk.
The risk factors for dementia go beyond nutrients, however. These factors include age, genetics, alcohol consumption, diet, and exercise. So while focusing on getting the best nutrients can be helpful, it’s not the only thing you should give your attention to. In fact, talking with your doctor or dietitian is a great place to start.
Continue reading to learn about some common supplements that can help lower your risk of dementia and help you care for your brain health overall. And for more healthy eating tips, check out The #1 Best Food for Alzheimer’s.
There’s one less known, powerful supplement that has been found to help your brain and cognitive functions.
“As a plant that has been used for centuries, Bacopa Monnieri may be beneficial for supporting learning and memory functions,” says medical board expert Lauren Manaker, MS, RDN, author of The First Time Mom’s Pregnancy Cookbook other Fueling Male Fertility.
One study found that Bacopa Monnieri extract could also have the potential to help manage cholesterol levels, which is a major risk factor in the development of dementia.
Vitamin B12, which is known to help with cognitive function, is something your body can’t make on its own, but you can get it from certain animal products or by taking a supplement.
“Some studies suggest that lower levels of vitamin B12 are linked to increased risk of dementia, so if a diet is low in vitamin B12, or a person has a difficult time absorbing this nutrient, a supplement may be beneficial,” says Manaker.
Choline is an essential nutrient that you can find in many types of fruit, vegetables, meat, and dairy products. This nutrient has many health benefits, one of which is that it has been known to help keep your brain healthy.
“Some data shows that higher intake of choline is linked to a reduced risk of dementia,” says Manaker. “Since approximately 90% of Americans are not meeting their choline needs, supplementation may be something worth considering.”
Fish oil is known as one of the healthiest supplements for your brain, and therefore can be helpful for reducing your risk of dementia.
“Fish oil contains DHA omega-3 fatty acid, which is the main fat found in the brain, and is essential to the function of this organ,” says Manaker. “Data shows that higher intakes of the omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements may reduce dementia risk.”
While the MIND diet is obviously not a supplement but a way of eating, it’s important enough to mention here because research has found it to be effective in helping reduce cognitive decline.
“The MIND diet’s goal is to reduce dementia and the decline in brain health that often occurs as people get older,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD author of The Sports Nutrition Playbook and another member of our expert board. “MIND stands for the Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay, and it combines components from both the Mediterranean and DASH diets.”
Some common foods found in the MIND diet are vegetables, berries, olive oil, whole grains, fish, beans, and nuts.
“An increased intake of these foods is thought to help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and improve better brain functioning over time,” says Goodson.