Making changes in your diet may be a good way to limit
memory problems, according to the researchers at the Indiana
University Center for Ageing Research. The study looked at the
relationship between blood levels of antioxidants (including
vitamins A, C and E, and selenium) and memory in a
multi-ethnic population of senior citizens.
Antioxidants have been shown to protect against cell damage
from "free radicals", which are produced as part of
the body's normal metabolic process. The study examined 4,809
people aged 60 or older between 1988 and 1994. Researchers
conducted two simple memory tests and blood tests, and
gathered information on the subjects' backgrounds.
Seven percent of the group had poor memory, and were at
least twice as likely to report problems managing their money
or preparing meals. Eleven percent of those with vitamin E
levels lower than 4.8 per unit of cholesterol had "poor
memory", while only 4 percent of people with levels
higher than 7.2 had memory problems.
"Increasing levels of vitamin E were associated with
better memory performance for this ethnically diverse elderly
population," the study authors wrote. Generally poor
eating habits had an even stronger effect: among those who
said they did not eat enough food or skipped meals, almost 20%
had poor memory. The study notes the importance of obtaining
Vitamin E from diet (almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds,
walnuts, whole-wheat flour, corn oil and peanut oil) rather
than through supplements.