Guide to Improving Memory Retention & Recall: Science-Backed Tactics & Supplements
With the copious amounts of stress that we put ourselves through on a daily basis, it is no wonder that our brain can lag at times.
Our jobs are becoming increasingly more demanding. Personal interactions have taken a backseat to those on social media. Many people are working several jobs just to survive.
Besides this added stress that is characteristic of the digital era, there are other reasons you might be looking for a guide on how to improve memory recall. Aging-related memory deterioration is natural. The onset of a neurodegenerative disease could be another.
Before we plunge in, let us look at how memories are formed:
Memory Formation and What it Entails
All memories begin with perception. Your nerve cells take the torch from your muscles from there. A synapse is where two nerve cells join and pass each other messages in the form of electrical pulses.
For the synaptic transfer to occur, your brain must release neurotransmitters. Those chemicals carry the message across to the neighboring cells. Since there are 100 trillion synapses, your brain cells can form as many links and talk to each other. That’s how memories are encoded.
New experiences lead to newer memories and more connections to be formed within your brain. Thus, everything you do makes your brain organize and reorganize itself in response.
If you want to get better at something, you should look to reinforcing the memory through repetitive action. Your brain will soon find it easier to repeat the firing of synapses in a particular sequence.
The result is that you improve at that task. You can also help out your brain by being attentive during that task, so you may recall more details later on.
From Short to Long-Term Memory Formation
Each memory begins its lifecycle as perception. Then it is stored for the short term. If it is important, your brain gradually transfers it into long-term memory.
The more you revisit a memory, the more likely it will for it to end up in long-term memory – and thus, retained. You can recall the memories your brain retains.
In short, a memory is: Perceived -> Memory encoding -> Retained -> Recalled
For easy reading, this article is divided into two big chunks. The first one focuses on several mind-sharpening and memory-aiding natural ingredients. In that section, you’ll find a discussion on how these substances can help and what their sources are. The next part centers on various strategies – besides dietary choices -- that you may employ to keep your brain young and active.
The B’s and C’s of Improving Memory Retention
Vitamin B5 (Panthothenic Acid)
With this vitamin are associated a multitude of benefits. In our bodies, vitamin B5 acts as the coenzyme A (CoA). According to a report in Vitamins and Hormones, CoA is involved in numerous chemical reactions. It is also an important part of the process that turns carbs into glucose. This converted product increases your resilience and makes you feel less tired when under stress.
The University of Maryland Medical Center counsels that like the other B vitamins, B5 is also essential for a healthy nervous system. All the Bs are water-soluble, so our bodies cannot store them. Moreover, your brain cannot synthesize B5 by itself. Therefore, your diet needs to contain an adequate amount of this nutrient.
Luckily, it is a part of many delicious foods. So, when you munch on the following, you will be getting healthy doses of vitamin B5:
- Sunflower seeds
- Meats (all varieties)
Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
If we are talking vitamins, we cannot deny the role of B9. It can boost your brain’s cognitive powers. Students looking for viable ways about how to memorize and ace their tests may find this interesting. In the study on 166 people with different types of dementia, researchers saw that the patients’ folate levels were down. The pattern was similar for people who had any of the three types of dementia – mixed, vascular, and Alzheimer’s.
Moreover, in a review, it became clear that falling folic acid levels are linked with cognitive impairment. The risk of mild cognitive impairment becomes higher with dwindling levels of folic acid.
Finally, a ScienceDirect article shows that high doses of folic acid may improve memory test scores. The participants in the experiment were 50-75 years old but healthy. Their scores after the dose were similar to individuals 5.5 years younger than them! Folic acid also increased their cognitive speed scores to match those of people 1.9 years younger than the participants.
So, if you are looking for foods to chomp on that can fulfill your recommended amount of folic acid requirements, try:
- Leafy green vegetables, such as iceberg, lettuce, and spinach
- Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit and orange
Vitamin B12 (Methylcobalamin)
Another answer to the query, how to improve memory, comes in the form of another B vitamin, i.e., B12. Research indicates that due to a deficiency of this vitamin, we could experience memory loss. This effect is more severe in older adults.
But what brain-enriching secrets is this nutrient hiding? For one, it can prevent brain atrophy. When our neurons start to die due to age or dementia, the brain can atrophy. Vitamin B12 can improve matters. In one study, we see a decrease in mental decline in people who had early-stage dementia. Researchers were using supplements of vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acid. In another, the result of falling vitamin B12 levels was poor memory performance. Therefore, even if your body isn’t deficient in B12, regular doses may boost your memory.
What foods contain vitamin B12? It is a part of many animal-based foods, including meat, fish, poultry, seafood, pork, dairy, and eggs! However, if you make clams and liver a part of your diet, you can get 60 and 100 times more vitamin B12 than you’d get from beef or eggs.
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Enough about the Bs, let us look at the role vitamin C plays in memory-protection as we age. When considering how to improve memory recall, pay attention to this nutrient. Two of the leading causes that put us at an increased risk for dementia are oxidative stress and an inflammation near the brain, nerves, or spine. Vitamin C is one of nature’s solutions to both those maladies since it is a strong antioxidant.
When its levels are dangerously low, we find it harder to think and recall. studies on people with dementia, their blood profile also showed plummeting levels of vitamin C! Both via food or through supplements, vitamin C intake protects us from the effects of aging on thinking and memory.
To keep this vitamin in your life and diet, try citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, green peppers, white potatoes, strawberries, tomatoes, and broccoli.
Other Neuroprotective and Memory-Improving Nootropics
A mushroom that has neuroprotective qualities, the Lion’s mane also improves memory.
Besides being an important part of the RNA in our bodies, Uridine stimulates neurogenesis – an integral process that improves cognitive function and memory.
Bacopa monnieriBacopa monnieri is well-known in Ancient Indian medicine or Ayurveda. It promotes learning and has function in memory improvement.
A bioavailable cholinergic, Alpha-GPC prevents cognitive decline, which is one of the main reasons we can develop disorders like Alzheimer’s. The compound also improves neuron communication.
Pine Bark Extract
This nootropic compound directs more blood flow to the brain. Thus, it has a hand in improving your working memory.
Since Huperzine-A stops the decomposition of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, it affects cognitive and memory-retentive functions in a positive manner.
Black pepper-extracted piperine can be found in Bioperine. It should be taken with other nootropic compounds, since it facilitates their absorption.
DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, helps new brain cells grow and results in improved memory.
Still wondering how to improve memory retention through supplements? Our nootropic supplement, metaMEMORY — part of the metaBRAIN box — is full of all these memory-enhancing nutrients and more.
Tips on How to Memorize
We cannot succeed without focusing on the memorization of important details. Whether you’re a student struggling to remember important dates in history or an employee in charge of a project, you cannot afford to forget significant stuff.
Below you’ll find some tips to assist you in doing exactly that:
Write Summaries for Better Understanding
Whenever you are studying or reading any material that you will need to memorize, start by summarizing each paragraph as you go. Don’t worry about the language or grammar. Just focus on writing it in a way that you find understandable. Doing so can help you retain the information you record!
Form Associations with Things you Know
A great strategy regarding how to memorize stuff has to do with forming a mental connection. Usually, relating something new to what you already know can help you remember it later. It is also why using mnemonics can bring improvement to recall.
Say No to Multitasking
While it may surprise you, it is nevertheless true. Multitasking defeats the purpose of practicing any of the other tips on how to memorize. Yes, in our technology-driven world, it is difficult to find a true moment of single-purpose action. We are always doing several things at once. Texting while eating, for example, is how most of us would define dinnertime!
Even so, this study clarifies that instead of making us more efficient, multitasking is undermining our ability to do something well. It takes our mental gears some time to shift from one task to another. We waste that time when we keep switching between multiple tasks.
Grow your Own Memory Tree
A successful suggestion for you if you are looking for ways on how to memorize stuff is to put them on your memory tree. For example, when faced with a huge number of facts, relate them by visually placing them on your memory tree.
To make this happen, begin with the thickest and biggest branches. As they are formed, label them in a way that is personally meaningful to you. Then organize leaves on them in the order that seems right – again, to you! Then move on to slender or smaller branches. This is similar to chunking information to make it easier to recall.
Tips on How to Improve Memory
Improving how your brain stores memories or forms them can also be helpful. Here are some tricks in that area too:
Train the Brain
If you want to determine how to improve memory, start training your brain! In essence, it is very similar to going to a gym to build muscles. A trial in PLoS One showed that people doing only 15 minutes of brain training activities throughout the week exhibited improved brain function. That included their working memory, problem solving skills, and short term memory.
A great way to get into a mental workout is by visiting the website Lumosity. Do the activities, solve the puzzles, etc., there to train the brain.
Say Om! for Another How to Improve Memory Trick
We refer to meditation here because it can help improve your working memory. That’s the one you use every day. Research on participants who had no experience in mindfulness meditation shows that it only took them eight weeks to start benefiting from it. Meditation can also improve standardized test scores in just two weeks!
Exercise could Help Jog your Memory
Regular exercise has so many benefits. Two great ones are improvement in memory recall and spatial memory. Don’t like hitting the weights? That’s okay. Just go for a quick walk and see how it ignites your brain functions.
Tips on How to Improve Memory Recall
Imagine life and how great it would be if you could recall every detail from an article that you read two days ago. No dice? How about the one you read just yesterday? Not that either? Okay, let us aim for an article that you read several hours ago. Were you able to succeed this time? Great, but we have even better news in this regard. You can improve your memory recall. It will just take practicing some of the valuable tricks mentioned below:
Take Learning Very Personally
How to improve memory recall becomes quite doable if you can tailor how you learn to how you like learning the most. Most of us favor one of the three learning styles:
If this is the first, you’re hearing of these styles, it is okay. Just focus on subjects that you are really good at -- or test well for. Then consider the way you study for them or approach them. You’ll likely realize that your learning style for these subjects doesn’t match the one for others. The learning style that works for you should be the one you affect for everything else too.
Now, visual learning is all about pictures, infographics, and diagrams. Listening to the audio version of information to learn it refers to the auditory way. Kinesthetic is linked with interaction with information in some form, way, or shape. So, pick the style you prefer and stick with it!
Be a Foreigner in your own Home
When considering ways on how to improve memory recall, think about becoming bilingual. Do that because, for one, it is good for the brain. That’s because you continually ask your brain to recall information and translate it into another language.
Secondly, when you learn another language, you make your brain exercise whenever you talk with people. Conversation stimulates the production of healthy chemicals, such as cortisol
How to Improve Memory Retention
Finally, while it is great to improve the way you recall or memorize things, it is equally essential to work on how to improve memory retention. After all, how your brain stores information will influence how well it can recall it later. The following suggestions come highly recommended:
Because it helps you build stronger memories! When facing new information, stick a piece of gum in your maw and chew. This study portrays how this action lent more accuracy to the completion of memory recall tasks and increased reaction times in participants.
Another one postulates that due to a higher heart rate, the brains of the participants who chewed gum received more oxygen. Thus, they did better on memory recall tests than others!
Be Interested Rather than Interesting
Or both. But only the former will be helpful in how to improve memory retention. That’s because we don’t forget what interests us. Think about the cutest individual you’ve met. Do you remember their name? Why? Because this trick works!
Therefore, being intrinsically interested in what you're learning will assist your brain in retaining that information. Don’t find the Krebs’s cycle remotely exciting? Well mate, you’d better find ways on how to make it so to ace your Biology exam.
So, were you looking for how to improve memory? Did you find any tips that you can use?
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