The term brain fog has been widely used in the last few years, but it has been a problem for older people for much longer than that.
While many people may associate brain fog with long Covid the fact is that the elderly are more likely to suffer from it.
While it is not exclusive to the elderly, brain fog does affect them in greater numbers than the general population.
Previously this may have just been accepted as the consequence of aging, today there are supplements, minerals and vitamins for brain fog treatment.
Brain Fog Explained
Brain fog is a term used to describe a group of symptoms, it is not a medical condition.
It can be the inability to focus or concentrate on a task, forgetfulness, distracting thoughts or a lack of clear thinking.
There are several reasons why someone may suffer from brain fog.
Aging is one of the main reasons why thinking can become cloudy and is a form of cognitive decline.
Other reasons include hormonal changes such as during menopause as well as nutrient deficiencies.
As it consists of so many different elements and can be caused by different things it is difficult to offer a single solution to this problem.
However, by examining certain aspects of your life you may be able to pinpoint why it is happening.
You may then be able to alleviate the problem. For example, if you are eating a poor diet then taking vitamin and mineral supplements may help with brain fog.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for the health of our brains throughout our lives.
This begins in cognitive development in babies and continues throughout life helping with memory and learning.
High levels of omega-3 help brain cells to communicate better with each other and with other cells in the body.
It also helps to protect against neurodegeneration, promotes cognition and neuronal preservation.
In essence, omega-3 is like the oil that lubricates your brain and keeps it functioning smoothly and as it is designed to operate.
A lack of omega-3 can impair these functions and cause symptoms like forgetfulness, distracting thoughts and lack of focus.
Research has shown that supplementing with omega-3, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can support attention, memory and mood.
People who suffer from anxiety, loneliness or stress may find themselves dealing with brain fog.
This can add to their existing symptoms and make them feel even more anxious, stressed and isolated.
Taking omega-3 can help reduce the effects of brain fog and improve cognitive function and feelings of anxiety.
B Complex Vitamins
Vitamin B12 is one of the B complex vitamins and plays an important role in brain health.
It is essential for providing the body with the ingredients it needs to make myelin. This is the protective coating around nerve cells in the body, including the brain.
Choosing an active form of B12 or cobalamin is important as these are easier to absorb. This helps to optimize memory, cognitive function and clear thinking.
Other B vitamins are as important for alleviating brain fog as B12. In particular, vitamins B1, B2 and B7 all help to support brain health.
The nervous system benefits from B2 and B7 while B3 and B6 help cellular communication and support neurotransmitters in the brain.
B vitamins can be found in food, but it may be beneficial to take a B complex vitamin supplement to ensure you are taking all the necessary vitamins to reduce brain fog.
In addition some of the things we eat and drink, including alcohol, deplete B vitamins.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and provides protection against damaging free radicals which threaten the body’s cells.
Antioxidants in vitamin C will also protect the brain against the oxidative damage that free radicals can cause.
These unstable molecules are linked to aging and disease so using a potent source of antioxidants such as vitamin C will protect your brain.
Oxidative stress is potentially a key factor in the development of memory impairment conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies have shown that when the level of vitamin C intake increases the incidence of cognitive decline and dementia decrease.
As well as helping with fighting free radicals vitamin C aids the absorption of iron. This helps to regulate some hormones, in particular thyroid hormones.
Stress and anxiety can contribute to brain fog and the adrenal glands have one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C.
This allows them to produce catecholamines which are more commonly known as stress hormones.
Those with higher levels of vitamin C have lower levels of anxiety and stress, which in turn helps with brain fog.
Commonly known as nature’s mood booster, vitamin D is best for the body when it is absorbed from sunlight.
This is because you cannot take in too much vitamin D in this way as the body naturally regulates it.
For those suffering from low mood getting out into the sunshine is a wonderful way to boost their mood and get some vitamin D.
A diet rich in vitamin D including red meat, egg yolks and pure fruit juice also helps.
During the winter months depression, and anxiety can worsen and in these cases a vitamin D supplement is advisable.
This darker time of year can lead to increased feelings of brain fog including lack of focus, concentration and anxiety.
A lack of vitamin D can have physical and cognitive effects including an increased risk of depression.
Supplementing a good diet with vitamin D can help to relieve these symptoms and boost your mood.
Diets which are low in vitamin E increase the risk of poor brain health with a link to raised incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
The brain is particularly vulnerable to attack by oxidative free radicals so providing antioxidants to help counteract their effect is very important.
Foods which are high in vitamin E can provide protection against this degeneration and help to reduce the risk of brain fog and other cognitive disorders.
Eating a diet containing leafy greens, sunflower seeds, almonds and peanuts can help.
Alternatively a vitamin E supplement will maintain brain health and function.
Brain fog can be an early sign of cognitive impairment that can go on to become more serious such as Alzheimer’s disease.
It is thought that vitamin E regulates the brain’s ability to receive and use a type of omega-3 fatty acid, DHA.
This is an essential component of neural membranes which allow neurons to function properly.
Research has shown that levels of DHA are greatly reduced in patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Not having enough magnesium can have a detrimental effect on many body processes.
This includes nerve function, blood pressure, and energy production but also on brain health.
Many people are deficient in magnesium, especially those who don’t eat healthily or who eat a lot of processed foods.
Magnesium is primarily found in seeds, beans, spinach and dark chocolate.
The natural sources of magnesium may not be appealing to many people, so the alternative is to take a supplement of this essential mineral.
It is known that low levels of magnesium can contribute to stress.
This can then lead to poor concentration, anxiety and stress related cognitive impairment, all of which come under the umbrella term of brain fog.
Low magnesium can also contribute to poor sleep which just serves to add to the problem of brain fog.
Adding to your magnesium levels can improve your sleep and your mood too as low levels have been linked to anxiety and depression.
L-theanine affects brain function and in particular memory, attention and executive function.
It is an amino acid that is found in green tea, matcha and some mushrooms. Studies in Japan have found that L-theanine may improve age-related cognitive impairment.
It has been reported that L-theanine has neuroprotective effects and promotes neurogenesis.
Other studies have shown that this amino acid helps to improve mental alertness, memory and reaction times. This is promising for its effect on brain fog.
A recent study showed that taking a single dose of 100 mg L-theanine helps to improve working memory on cognitive tasks as well as speeding up reaction times.
Supplements of this amino acid may also promote relaxation, calmness and reduce tension.
Other research has shown that taking L-theanine may improve sleep which can help fight against brain fog.
The cumulative effect of improved sleep, reduced tension and memory boost can have a positive effect on the symptoms of brain fog.
Ginseng is a herbal supplement which acts as an adaptogen. This means that it helps the body to deal with external stressors.
By effectively suppressing stress, ginseng can help to reduce the risk of depression, and its associated effect of memory loss.
This supplement has been used traditionally to protect the nervous system.
It has been shown to be effective in improving memory and directly preventing diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
This neural protective effect of ginseng may prevent brain fog.
By improving memory, ginseng can have an indirectly positive effect on anxiety.
When people have brain fog, and it causes them to forget things, this can cause them stress. The stress can then lead to anxiety and depression which only serves to worsen the memory issue.
It is not entirely clear exactly how ginseng enhances cognitive function, but the results of several studies have shown positive results.
Ashwagandha is another herbal supplement that has adaptogenic properties meaning it helps the body to deal with outside stressors. It is also known as Indian ginseng or winter cherry.
In Indian medicine it is used to treat stress, fatigue, depression, anxiety and chronic inflammation.
It has been effective in increasing memory, information processing and attention span. Ashwagandha also helps to reduce cortisol levels which lowers stress.
During tests on the efficacy of ashwagandha subjects showed significantly improved recall memory.
Compared to a placebo group those who were given ashwagandha showed lower stress levels and significantly better psychological well being and sleep quality.
This could help those suffering from brain fog although more research and studies are needed.
There doesn’t seem to be any adverse effects from using ashwagandha, and it is deemed safe to use.
As brain fog is such a diverse group of symptoms it is not always clear what is causing it.
Before you decide to take any supplements, vitamins or minerals you should speak to your physician.
Once they have assessed what may be causing your symptoms they can suggest what you can do to help yourself through increasing your nutrient levels.
Alongside any treatment that your doctor may prescribe you can also make sure that you are taking care of yourself by staying hydrated and taking regular exercise.