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Why Memory Loss Strikes and How to Prevent It?

Do you ever feel like your memory runs away like a river? You aren’t alone. Most people forget something and many people forget many things.

why memory loss happens

Sometimes, forgetting is scary. But, it doesn’t have to be.

What Is Memory Loss?

By definition, memory loss is unusual forgetfulness. It is generally accompanied by confusion. Typically, memory loss involves no longer being able to recall something that you had previously remembered. This might be a temporary memory lapse or the memory might be completely gone. For most people, this is just a temporary state and they do not experience significant memory impairment. But, doctors are more concerned when they compare normal memory loss to Dementia or Alzheimer’s.

There are many different causes of memory loss. Typically, people think of memory loss as amnesia or Alzheimer’s disease. However, slight memory loss is quite a normal thing.

Memories are formed when specific neural connections are made and then reinforced by repeated memory. Sometimes, a shock can cause a permanent connection between two neurons. Memory loss occurs when these connections are degraded or completely gone. Generally, memories are formed in the frontal lobes of the brain, and this is where the memory loss would occur as well.

One example of normal memory loss is forgetting how to play an instrument you did in elementary school, not being able to remember the rules of the game you used to enjoy or forgetting somebody’s name. This type of memory loss is not dementia and usually is not a sign of a problem. It is a great example of not reinforcing the neural connections related to memory. The saying of ‘you use it or you lose it’ is quite apt.

Everything we do everyday forms memories. But, we don’t remember everything we did. We are actually born with the ability to forget unimportant and sometimes stressful details. Otherwise, at a certain point, we would be overwhelmed with too many thoughts and random remembrances. Therefore, we all suffer from some form of memory loss.

How much memory loss is normal is the big question when memory loss becomes abnormal people are hindered in their daily lives. They begin forgetting important dates, phone numbers, activities, and necessary health tasks. This type of memory loss becomes a problem when people begin endangering themselves. Doctors typically think memory loss occurs with age, but they are beginning to rethink this position. With the epidemic of memory loss becoming so serious, doctors are looking at other factors of health.

Memory Loss Types

According to the Harvard Medical School, there are 7 types of memory loss that are normal before moving into the memory loss diseases. The seven types are:

  • Transient

Forgetting details over time.


  • absent-mindedness

Missing details or events because you were distracted.


  • blocking

Purposely forgetting something.


  • misattribution

Switching details, such as wrong names or numbers.


  • suggestion

Remembering false details because another suggested it- this is a big problem for police and in courtrooms.


  • bias

Not remembering details correctly because of preconceived ideas.


  • persistence

Where one memory blocks remembering another.


None of these are memory loss conditions that normally cause problems in people’s lives. Although they can affect short-term memory and are inconvenient, the loss of information usually does not cause problems living one’s life. In fact, long-term memory loses information as stated above quite often. This type of memory loss can occur for a few seconds, a few days, or permanently.

For people in their twenties and thirties, memory loss tends to fall into the above types. Typically, transient, misattribution, bias, and persistence tend to dominate. People have so much on their minds that they are unable to concentrate on one task. This does not allow proper memory to form. There are many apps that help us to manage all our tasks in one place.   

What can strike people at any age is amnesia. This is generally due to a physical trauma, whether it be an accident or an illness. Despite what is popularly portrayed in movies and on TV, normal amnesia is temporary and sudden memory loss and focuses on a specific incident, not all-encompassing or large periods of time. It is exceptionally rare to have pervasive and complete memory loss.

However, as we age, memory loss begins to strike more often. Memory loss in the elderly is the same as memory loss at a young age, but with the increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. Generally, with Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, the memory loss begins in the short-term memory.

alzheimer's disease symptoms and stages infographic

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The typical type of memory loss, as we stated above, occurs more frequently. Short-term memories do not move over into long-term memories. Generally, people begin to notice Dementia symptoms when a long-term memory is affected. When long-term memory loss occurs, the life of a person is severely disrupted.

Memory Loss Symptoms

Normal memory loss should not affect your everyday life. It should not keep you from remembering important details, appointments, medication, or information about your loved ones. Typical small stuff tends to be forgotten normally. This is not memory loss, just general forgetfulness. You can improve your memory with certain techniques. Yes, you can have memory loss without Dementia, and memory loss without trauma. We have an article here about certain games and devices used to help improve your memory.

If you feel like you’re memory loss is a little bit more than just general forgetfulness, you want to look for the symptoms we list here. The first sign of serious memory loss is the sudden inability to remember information and details that you used to remember. When memory loss affects communication, a person may have difficulty saying or remembering specific words or names.

When memory loss affects your brain directly, a person has the inability to perform routine tasks. Often times the shows up as not being able to take medication or forgetting that you had taken the medication, not being able to retrace your steps or review what you just did, the inability to make decisions, and confusing dates and times.

memory loss when to see a doctor

Typically, memory loss affects the elderly more than young people. It’s the reason why doctors originally blamed memory loss on aging. However, other causes are emerging. Heavy metal accumulation in the brain, electromagnetic interference, simply too much to do all the time, and medication use are also being researched has to the causes of memory loss.

Memory Loss Causes

There are hundreds and thousands of causes of short-term memory loss. They are typically due to some poor life choices or shock.

The brain has an amazing way to protect itself from problems that are too great. If you watch a baby, they tend to fall asleep when over-stimulated. Loud noises, crowds, and too much excitement tend to put a baby to sleep. This is a defensive mechanism to avoid the brain being overloaded with too much information. As we grow older, rather than simply falling asleep, the brain tends to just avoid creating a short-term memory. Scientists are not quite sure why this happens or what the mechanism is.

If you’ve ever experienced one of following shocks, you will know exactly what we mean. Typically people cannot remember the few minutes prior to:

  • An accident
  • Heart attack
  • Surgery
  • Trauma
  • Seizures
  • Stroke
  • Severe Emotions
  • Anesthesia

There are also other reasons why people have memory loss. There are certain states that people will be in that either prevent short-term memories from forming or that the memories are so weak they do not transfer over into long-term memory. Some of these include memory loss from:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Pregnancy
  • Concussions

Some other issues that can cause memories to either not form or can induce memory loss:

  • Headaches
  • Hypothyroidism
  • High blood pressure
  • Medications (most medications can cause memory loss)
  • Depression Medication
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Diabetes
  • General aging

We know this is very confusing because we just touched on just about every problem that affects modern society. And I think that’s the problem. We have so much going on in the modern society that we just can't keep up. 30 years ago, the average person was exposed to the equivalent of just under 40 newspaper worth of information every day. Today, we are exposed to over 174 newspaper. 100 years ago, it was just one newspaper!

Another example is that 500 years ago, a person may have read 50 books in their entire life if they read any at all. Now, by the age of 5, a person is read to or reads that many books, not to mention movies and TV information.

On top of that, we also live in a society that is vitamin deficient and this can cause memory loss. Any vitamin deficiency can cause problems with memory, but especially the antioxidants of vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin D. Vitamin D * is especially important because it is so vital to the brain. People experience depression because of a lack of this vitamin. Magnesium * is also exceptionally important to form improper memories, a vitamin that many people are deficient in.

magnesium for your brain infographic

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Modern society has also produced a ton of food that has no nutritional value. These foods can cause memory loss, as well as depression, obesity, and many other lifestyle diseases:

bread

Bread

cookies

Cookies

candy

Candy

soy

Soy

corn

Corn

pasta

Pasta

cereal

Cereals

wheat

and anything made of wheat.

As you can see, there are so many causes of memory loss that it does not occur without reason. The confusion memory loss causes can really disrupt our lives, but it is until the diseases that cause memory loss are truly explored do we know if we had a problem or not.

When we move into the medical and serious forms of memory loss, we fall under the heading of Dementia and the many specific types of diseases therein. We’re going to list a couple, but we will not go into the details of each one. We recommend you talk to your doctor to see if your memory loss is just an inconvenience or a sign of something more severe.

  • Alzheimer's Disease
  • Corticobasal Degeneration
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease
  • Frontotemporal Dementia
  • Huntington's Disease
  • Lewy Body Dementia
  • Mild Cognitive Impairment
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
  • Vascular Dementia

Memory Loss Tests & Diagnosis

Most of the time, the first person to notice declining memory is the person who is experiencing it. Sometimes, your family members or friends will notice it as well. From there, you can seek out various tests for your memory loss, and if you feel necessary who can help treat your memory loss.

There are dozens of memory test websites out there. Most of them are put together by the average person and does not match well with what your doctor will do. Please do not self-diagnose or use internet tests to determine if you have Dementia. Most tests are biased to either overestimate or underestimate the problem.

dementia statistics

In order to seek out valid results, you will need to talk to your doctor. Treatments and diagnosis vary in different places around the world. Many times, your doctor will suggest various resources prior to medications or specialists.

In the cases of treating short-term memory loss, many times your doctor will send you places you might not expect. Visiting a nutritionist or an alternative care provider is often a valid and helpful first step. That’s because many of the techniques they use work on the body as a whole unit rather than just trying to force the mind not to degrade.

Below, we’re going to go into some of the techniques that will be recommended prior to medications and invasive treatments. We’re hoping that you can take to heart some of these recommendations and prevent your own memory loss.

Memory Loss Recovery

But before we get into some of the alternatives, there are some memory loss drugs that can help. They are provided by your doctor and can consist of a wide variety of medications designed to help preserve the myelin sheath that surrounds each of the nerves, combat depression, treat health issues, or suppress malfunctioning aspects of the body. Sometimes as well, chelation therapy helps remove heavy metals from the brain that may be preventing memories from forming. These memory loss medications are very potent and should not be used without a doctor’s supervision.

One of the best ways to know what helps memory loss is actually focusing on memory loss prevention. There are many memory loss herbs *, vitamins, and games that you can use prior to any issues with memory loss.

vitamins for memory loss

Some of the research that has been done with memory loss focuses in on how we create memories. The transfer of memory from your short-term to your long-term storage banks is a complex process. We know it takes repetition or shock in order to make a memory stick. Using this memory loss psychology, doctors are recommending using games and apps specifically designed to increase the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory, cognition, and critical thinking. By supporting all the areas that create memories, you can help your memory loss before it ever strikes.

We have an article on some of the games used for the treatment of Alzheimer’s and memory loss hereMany of the games were developed for the use of smartphones and tablets. However, some of the games have been used for many years within treatment facilities that specialize in memory loss.

Aside from doing games, you want to support your body so that the problems associated with the physical degradation of the nerves are avoided. Some natural supplements * used to help memory loss prevention are the same ones that support critical thinking, a clear head, and study habits. We have a couple articles that relate to various supplements and foods that are used for studying.

Insert Image

Some of the specific vitamins that help memory loss recover are vitamin C *, vitamin E *, fatty acids, and some phytonutrients. But, like we say in the other articles, don't focus just on these vitamins. Taking some supplements without the support of others will lead to vitamin deficiency, which leads to further memory loss. The best way to focus on getting all the vitamins you need is to eat a healthy diet filled with rich fruits and vegetables.


Which Foods are Good for Memory Loss?


We’re going to give you 3 of our top picks.

Our first one is almonds and walnuts

walnuts for brain health infographic

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Almonds and walnuts are so good for memory loss and preventing memory loss because they are filled with fatty acids. Not only are our brains 70% water, but nearly the remaining 30% are fats. Adding healthy fats to your diet help produce good tissues and brain development. Since our brains use nearly half of all of our resources, you want to make sure those resources are top quality. Unfortunately, in many developed areas, the fats that we get are poor quality. They are hydrogenated, over-processed, and just rancid. Getting in some nuts, especially almonds and walnuts, are a great way to supplement your fats with top quality. This is especially helpful if you don’t eat meat.

Blueberries

blueberries for brain health infographic

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Blueberries and other dark fruit are very good at helping prevent memory loss because they are filled with phytonutrients and antioxidants. Antioxidants are especially helpful because they prevent damage to the myelin sheath that protects and surround the nerves. It is believed that this myelin sheath degradation is one of the primary causes of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. Not only do blueberries another dark fruit help prevent heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, but they also are extremely helpful for your brain and taste wonderful.

Leafy Greens

broccoli for brain infographic

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The final memory loss food we’re going to talk about our dark leafy greens. Dark leafy greens are filled with vitamin K * and magnesium. Not only is Vitamin K vital for proper blood clotting, but it also helps utilize the fats we ate from the almonds and walnuts properly. Magnesium is perhaps the most under-appreciated vitamin out there. It is estimated 97% of all women are deficient in this vitamin. Dark leafy greens are one of the richest sources of magnesium.

Conclusion

At some point in our lives, we all forget something. How often we forget and to the degree we forget will be what is determined for true memory loss. If you suspect that you or a loved one may be experiencing a disease associated with memory loss be sure to contact your doctor. Prevention and early treatment can help reduce some serious side effects.

You want to begin preventing memory loss early. Focus on eating a diet filled with fruits and vegetables in order to get proper nutrition. And take a look at some of the games we recommended and have linked to. They can keep your mind sharp and help you develop skills that will reduce and prevent memory loss in the future.

If you liked our article, please share it and use the comment section below to tell us about your experiences or ask any questions. Thank You!

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About the Author: Christina Major is a Holistic Nutritionist, Traditional Naturopath, and Herbalist. She has a Master’s degree in Holistic Nutrition and an advanced degree in Traditional Naturopathy. Further certifications in herbalism and metabolic typing. She owns and operates Crystal Holistic Health Consulting based in PA, the USA since 2010.
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • RAVI RAMAN WARRIER April 20, 2018, 5:59 am

    I liked your articles; wish these supplementaries were more affordable.

    • Christina Major May 28, 2018, 5:20 pm

      Hey Ravi!

      Thank you for the compliment. We, too, wish the supplement were a little more affordable. We know that many of the manufacturers that we recommend here strive for purity and accurate standardization of their supplements. This involves more time and effort into making each supplement. The higher-cost reflects the higher diligence put into the making. Remember, cheap supplements have a history of not providing the amount of active ingredient they say.

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