This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Whether you’re in the middle of a hot round of jeopardy or a casual conversation with a friend, slow recall can be maddening. But, according to a few new studies, there may be a quick fix for these frustrating moments: taking a multivitamin.
Far different than research on Alzheimer’s prevention — which primarily focuses on how to prevent the build-up of plaques and tangles in the brain — these studies explore how daily multivitamin supplementation may influence spatial working memory, electrical activity in the brain and short-term memory retrieval.
For example, one study that’s been receiving a lot of attention concluded that taking a daily multivitamin may finally put an end to slow recall and mental blocks. Researchers worked with 22 women over the age of 64, all with complaints of memory loss. After 16 weeks, researchers found the group supplementing with a daily multivitamin had improved measurements of electrical activity in the brain while performing a memory test.
Their findings, published in Physiology & Behavior, suggest that supplementing with a multivitamin for even a relatively short period of time may vastly enhance spatial working memory, memory retrieval and the efficiency of brain cells’ ability to communicate.
Supporting this conclusion is a study that was published last year in the journal Human Psychopharmacology. Researchers found that even short-term supplementation with a multivitamin dramatically improved memory performance. The 8-week, placebo-controlled, double-blind investigation concluded that multivitamin supplementation may boost contextual recognition and memory for older men at risk for cognitive decline.
How Multivitamins Improve Short-Term Memory
One school of thought indicates that multivitamins effectively boost short-term memory because they, quite simply, present an easy and attainable way for people to up their micronutrient intake, which, in theory, could improve many bodily processes.
According to Professor David Kennedy of the Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre at Northumbria University, “Optimal brain function depends on an adequate level of all of the vitamins. [They] are likely to be more effective because people have different deficiencies.” Multivitamins supply higher doses of memory boosting nutrients such as vitamin B12 and B6, in addition to free radical-fighting antioxidant vitamins such as vitamin E and vitamin C.
In fact, given what we know about the research behind antioxidants and memory, it would seem that antioxidant activity is a vastly underestimated force in the quest for brain health. A recent study on memory found that the antioxidants from berries may be valuable allies for those looking to ward off age-related memory loss, while another study concluded the antioxidants in green tea improve memory, spatial awareness and learning capabilities.
While brain-boosting omega-3 fats and plaque-busting herbs like cinnamon and curcumin remain the best research-backed ways to ward off cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s or dementia, these studies support the notion that a balanced diet with a high availability of micronutrients and antioxidants has the potential to protect your memory now and later, putting an end to those moments you have to utter, “It’s right on the tip of my tongue!”