Menopausal hormone changes cover so many areas, but feeling you are not as sharp as you used to be is definitely fairly normal. Research, published in the British Medical Journal, found evidence of cognitive decline from the age of 45 and underlined the importance of strategies to protect and support brain function as we get older.
What worries you?
In a survey about memory loss seven out of ten over-50s have some degree of memory loss. The most common concerns found were:
• In the previous month three out of five (59%) over-50s had entered a room and forgotten what they had gone there for, almost half (49%) had forgotten someone’s name and the same number relied on lists to ensure they remembered things
• Three out of four (73%) said they worried about their recall and cognitive health
• A quarter (26%) said they would rather be mentally sharp and have some physical problems
• Two out of five (40%) are taking steps to try to maintain their cognition, with the most popular strategies being crosswords and puzzles (76%)
• Only one in ten took a brain-boosting supplement, despite compelling evidence that omega-3 can help stall memory loss
• Only a third questioned (34%) were confident they got enough omega-3 from their diet
When do you need to start addressing this?
If decline is starting to happen from 45 onwards, then clearly the more preventive action you take the better. Professor Philip Calder from Southampton University says:
“We all know that longer life expectancy means that dementia and cognitive decline is becoming much more common. But I think a lot of people, including many healthcare professionals, will be shocked at how early this decline begins.”
How can you help yourself?
Progesterone is associated with helping the ‘brain fog’ that is common at menopause, and the ‘culprit’ is cortisol, a hormone released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol is designed to rise quickly in an emergency, shunting blood flow away from areas like the stomach and brain and into the muscles and nerves, and chronically high cortisol can cause irritability, inability to focus, a dysfunctional immune system and increased appetite.
Chronically high cortisol can affect progesterone, and your thyroid function, and is related to oestrogen dominance. Excess oestrogen in relation to progesterone can cause foggy thinking, memory loss and thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid dysfunction can cause foggy brain which makes it challenging to retrieve memories.
One randomised control trial of 485 healthy adults aged 55 or older found that those who had 900mg a day of the omega-3 DHA significantly improved immediate and delayed verbal recognition memory scores after 24 weeks. Another found that taking 3g of omega-3 fish oil daily for five weeks led to significant improvements in working memory.
We may know that oily fish is helpful, but very few get enough from their diet as data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey suggests most people are probably over-estimating their intakes. The suggested intake is 140grams a week so supplementing is an easier way to get good levels into your system, unless you really, really, love oily fish.
It’s never too soon to start protecting your health and Public Health nutritionist, Dr Emma Derbyshire says: “You wouldn’t consider travelling without an insurance policy, so why on earth would you journey through life without the insurance that a high quality supplement like Equazen provides.”
Tackling oestrogen dominance is a great step forward and ensuring good progesterone levels to balance the excess oestrogen is essential. Also, ensuring you have a healthy diet which includes brain-boosting elements such as Omega-3 will also help reduce or help with memory loss.
A good supplement should include a combination of omega -3 and omega -6 essential fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc and magnesium to support normal cognitive function and normal functioning of the nervous system.