At age 78, the fabled actress, Dame Judi Dench has worked with everyone from Gwenyth Paltrow to Pierce Brosnan, and won practically every available acting award.
But, that doesn’t mean she’s immune to the effects of aging.
In a recent interview with Jon Snow, a reporter with the Britain-based, Channel 4 News, Dench admitted turning to memory supplements to help her keep track of the things her characters are supposed to say and do.
“It is more difficult to remember, to retain some things,” Dench said to Snow. “I take that wonderful thing called IQ [a brand name supplement] every morning—long may it last.”
Of course, Dench is no stranger to dealing with age-related obstacles to her acting.
She has to have special, large-print scripts made to accommodate problems with her eyesight, caused by macular degeneration—a disease which gradually diminishes the sharpness and clarity of a person’s central vision.
But, unlike bold-faced type, which is demonstrably easier for aging eyes to read, the effectiveness of memory supplements isn’t so easily determined.
Memory supplements: what’s in them?
Most products that purport to be memory-enhancing come in either pill or powder form.
David Perlmutter, M.D., a board-certified neurologist and author of, “Power Up Your Brain,” describes the three basic functions of memory supplements, and their common ingredients:
Increase overall brain energy: This is one of the most popular categories of memory supplement among consumers. Typical ingredients include:
- Coenzyme Q10—an enzyme found in every cell in the human body that is essential for cell repair and growth.
- N-acetylcysteine—an antioxidant thought to reduce cholesterol and increase immune system functioning.
- Carnitine—a chemical that enables the body to transform fat into usable energy.
- Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NADH)—a substance important for energy production and dopamine creation. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that contributes to a variety of mental functions, including: cognition, learning, voluntary movement, sleep cycles and mood.
Enhance brain cell functioning: These supplements aid memory by providing nutrients that brain cells need to operate smoothly. They boast the inclusion of vital cell membrane building blocks, including:
- Omega-3 fatty acids—thought to reduce inflammation, lower heart disease risk, decrease joint pain and stiffness in people with arthritis and possibly fend off cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
- Choline—a substance that performs similar functions to B vitamins, including reducing inflammation and aiding in nervous system functioning.
- Phosphatidylserine—a chemical found in cell membranes throughout the human body. The cell membrane is vital for the proper functioning of cells because it helps process nutrients.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—an especially-potent type of omega-3, that is important for the proper development of nerve tissues.
Promote new brain cell growth: The ability to create new brain cells—also known as neurogenesis—is an area of great interest for brain researchers, according to Perlmutter. DHA and lithium, two elements thought to play a prominent role in fostering new brain cell growth, are commonly found in these kinds of supplements.
Continue reading to find out whether memory supplements really work…