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Boosting Mental Skills With Vitamins, Gum And FB
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Boosting Mental Skills With Vitamins, Gum And FB

There seems to be hundreds of studies regarding boosting mental skills, and I’ve research a lot of them. When I retired there was a void of intense mental activity that followed. Not that I was a brainiac, but in the arena of sales and marketing your mind is always energized monitoring selling efficiencies, new products, prospecting, and keeping ahead of the competition, just to mention a few activities. And then, WHAM, you leave that environment. Now what?

Oh, I read business journals and daily news releases about my former industry, and even did some consulting work. But, after a while, I recognized that my interests were changing and I needed something to help keep me mentally active.

Almost every day I search for new information about mental health, not necessarily the clinical side of mental health but more into improving and maintaining good mental acuity. Recently I read about three different studies that are worthy of sharing for the information content.

The first report was a study of how vitamins B12 and B9 (folate) supplements affect the brain and mental processing. For years B Complex vitamins have been successfully used to boost a patient's energy levels and improve necessary muscle functions. Many have believed that the B vitamins help improve memory, attention and learning. However, in a study at the University of Otago in New Zealand, with adults 65 and older, reported this may not be true.

Earlier studies have shown that blood levels of homocysteine become higher as we age and may account for cognitive decline. A regimen of vitamins B12, B6 and B9 will lower blood levels of homocysteine. Testing this theory the New Zealand researchers found there was no change in mental testing scores between the group with lowered homocysteine levels and the control group.

The second study that caught my attention was about the cognitive benefits of chewing gum. Yep, I said chewing gum. This sounded a bit off-the-wall to me, but here’s the deal. At St. Lawrence University students were given a program of very difficult mental tasks to perform. These tasks included recall of numeric sequences and logic puzzles.

The results showed that those students who had been given gum to chew significantly outscored the control group who did not chew gum. It didn’t matter if the gum was sugar or sugar free. Interestingly, the one area the gum-chewers did not excel was verbal fluency. Also, it’s important to note that the cognitive burst by gum-chewers lasted only the first 20 minutes of the tests.

And lastly, a study at the University of Arizona involving older adults, aged 68 to 91, introduced to the social media site Facebook. The participants were divided into three groups. The first group was to make one daily post and befriend others within the group. The second group were to daily write in an online diary, which was private and unable to share. The control group was told they were on a waiting list, essentially on hold.

The Facebook group had a 25% improvement in mental updating skills, which is the ability to add or delete content in their memory.

For those of us in retirement we might want to add to our daily routine chewing gum and increasing our social media skills along with the crossword puzzles and Sudoku. The bottom line my friend, is to stay physically active and work on improving mental health.


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