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Memory: How does stress affect your memory?

 

It's true!  Chronic, long-term stress can indeed impair your memory.  When you're exposed to stress, your body releases hormones, including cortisol, which may prevent the brain 

from remembering new information or even retrieving already stored items.

 

Stress can actually damage that part of the brain which is central to learning and memory.  It's called the hippocampus, and according to Robert M. Sapolsky, the problem centers around the continued secretion of corticosteroids or cortisol.

 

When your body perceives a threat, the adrenal glands release a hormone called adrenalin. If thatperceived threat and a threat can be defined as anything from a life-changing situation to a looming deadline at work  is long-term, your system attacks it by releasing cortisol through the adrenal glands.  Cortisol remains in the brain for a longer period of time where it can adversely affect the brain cells.

 

You might think that improving your memory is pretty much hopeless, short of shutting out all the stress in your life.  Cheer up!  That's not the case.  Stress has another side effect on the body.  Exposure to constant stress literally gobbles up your reserves of the vitamin B-complex vitamins in your system.  And while that may sound like more bad news, it really leads us to a solution to stress-induced memory loss.

 

Research has discovered that simply by supplementing our diets with plenty of B vitamins, we can counter that memory fatigue. The B-complex of vitamins is really a family of eight related nutrients, including Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), folic acid, B12, pantothenic acid, Niacin (B3). B6, and biotin.

 

Another recent piece of research you might be interested in:  Your system has more trouble dealing with stress when it's low on the B-vitamins.

 

When it comes to B vitamins and stress, it's a lot like that proverbial vicious circle.  You're under increased stress at work, let's say.  You body, then, tries to compensate by using more of the B-vitamins.  You become dangerously depleted in these nutrients, and your body reacts by managing stress even more poorly, including a sagging memory.

 

Your brain, just like every other organ in your body, needs to be supplied with plenty of nutrients in order to perform at its peak efficiency.  Overexposure to stress depletes your system's reserves of vitamins.  If you find that your memory is failing you and you know that you've been dealing with anxiety or stressful situations, consider supplementing your diet with some B-vitamins.  You may find it's just that easy to have a great memory again.


Note: Some statements in this article may not be approved by the FDA. This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as professional medical advice.

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Greg Cryns
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