10 Common Causes of Brain Fog and Memory Loss (and What to Do About Them)

April 10, 2017

10 Common Causes of Brain Fog and Memory Loss

Do you ever have those moments when you walk into a room and can’t remember why you’re there? Or you have trouble recalling names and just can’t seem to place where you left your car keys? While these scenarios often have us feeling like we’re senile, often it’s just a case of brain fog, and you don’t have to just live with it.

What is Brain Fog?
If you haven’t yet experienced the sensation of “brain fog,” then consider yourself one of the lucky ones. The majority of adults have experienced this at one time or another, if not chronically, throughout their lives. Brain fog is the inability to focus and think clearly. You literally feel like you’re in a mental fog.

Brain Fog Symptoms
Do you experience any of the following symptoms?

• Difficulty concentrating at work or performing basic tasks
• Trouble remembering people’s names or simple words
• Feeling like you’ve lost parts of your memory
• Wondering if you might have the onset of Alzheimer’s
• Feeling like you’re in a fog and state of confusion
• Decreased mental sharpness
• Unable to focus
• Short term memory loss
• Feeling depressed
• Feeling like you are losing your mind

Never fear – when you can pinpoint the underlying cause of your brain fog and memory loss, there is something you can do about it.

10 Common Causes of Brain Fog and Memory Loss

1. Hormone Deficiencies
Thyroid Hormone
Because the brain uses so much energy, individuals with hypothyroidism (slowed metabolism and less energy) tend to experience a decline in their mental sharpness – the brain fog that so many patients describe. It becomes difficult to maintain focus, sharp memory and clarity. Low thyroid function is a common cause of brain fog, depression (1), difficulty concentrating and short term memory loss.

Hypothyroidism is often associated with mood disturbances and cognitive impairment, implying that thyroid hormones are critical for normal brain functioning. In particular, hypothyroidism has been associated with several cognitive deficits, including general intelligence, psychomotor speed, visual-spatial skills and memory.(2)

Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone
These hormones act directly on nerve cells in the brain, protecting those cells from attack by neurotoxins and free radicals. They also enhance the blood flow of the brain, thus protecting against memory loss, cognition and progression of dementia. Progesterone also has a protective effect on the brain by reducing swelling and improving mental clarity after a traumatic brain injury.

Estrogen replacement therapy is associated with improved nonverbal memory and attention. (3) Estrogen and progesterone have a strong effect on memory and improve memory retention. (4) The addition of testosterone to estrogen replacement exerts a protective effect on memory performance in postmenopausal women. (5) Testosterone levels moderate cognitive functioning performance in males. (6)

2. Lack of Sleep/Poor Sleep
Lack of sleep and poor quality sleep leaves you tired, and therefore your brain is also tired. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Easier said than done? Click here for some tips to help you sleep better.

3. Candida
Your gut health affects your brain health. Candida, or yeast overgrowth, can cause inability to concentrate, brain fog, headaches, depression, and anxiety. If you have a leaky gut, then the 180 toxins produced by Candida can travel to the rest of your body through your bloodstream, affecting your different tissues and organs, including your brain.

4. Poor Diet
It is important to clean up your diet and eat organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats, and nuts. Vegetables, for instance, are full of antioxidants and vitamins that fight oxidative stress and help prevent brain damage. Be sure to eat enough protein and healthy fats. Eating processed and packaged, sugar-laden foods only contributes to inflammation, not to mention the fact that your body, and brain, aren’t getting the nutrients they need to function well.

5. Allergies and Food Sensitivities
Inflammation and swelling caused by allergies and food sensitivities can affect the brain, causing symptoms throughout the body, including headaches, migraines, depression, anxiety and memory problems.

6. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
Besides eating a healthy diet, here are a few important vitamins that are important for brain and memory support:

Fish OilFish oil supports the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. Omega-3’s help improve brain function and help prevent memory loss.
Ginkgo BilobaGinkgo Biloba has been clinically proven to provide extraordinarily high antioxidant activity that helps protect the brain and improve memory.
GABAGABA helps regulate brain and nerve cell activity and helps you to focus.
B Vitamins – A good B vitamin complex promotes nerve health and optimal brain function.

7. Prescription Drugs
There are numerous prescription drugs that negatively affect your brain function, here are a few:

Cholesterol lowering drugs
Anti-anxiety medications
Sleep medications
Narcotic painkillers
Cold medicines
Some pain medications
Muscle relaxants

8. Smoking
Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen to the brain, which can impair your memory. It is also noted that smoking can shrink a critical part of your brain – your cortex. Your cortex is the outer layer of your brain, and it naturally thins as you age, but smoking accelerates this.

9. Physical Inactivity
Regular physical exercise helps keep your brain sharp and protects your memory. Exercise also improves mood, sleep, and reduces stress, which can help improve brain function, as well.

10. Artificial Sweeteners
Think twice before reaching for the yellow or blue sweetener packets at the dinner table. Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda) and Aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) can have devastating effects on your brain, as well as your overall health.

Splenda can cause a spaced-out sensation, brain fog, depression, migraines, headaches, seizures, dizziness and anxiety. Aspartame is a neurotoxin that destroys brain cells. Forty percent of aspartame broken down in the digestive tract is aspartic acid, a known “excitotoxin” that excites brain cells literally to death. It causes problems such as epileptic seizures, headaches, migraines, dizziness, unsteadiness, confusion, memory loss, severe drowsiness and sleepiness, severe slurring of speech, severe hyperactivity and severe tremors.

Related Articles
One Really Important Reason to do the Candida Diet – Your Brain
How to Tap Into What Your Brain Can Do For You
Memory Loss Caused by Hypothyroidism, Not Alzheimer’s

1. The Link between Thyroid Function and Depression
2. Verbal Memory Retrieval Deficits Associated With Untreated Hypothyroidism
3. Long-Term Estrogen Replacement is Associated with Improved Nonverbal Memory and Attentional Measures in Postmenopausal Women
4. Memory Retention is Modulated by Acute Estradiol and Progesterone Replacement
5. Evaluation of High-Dose Estrogen and High-Dose Estrogen plus Methyltestosterone Treatment on Cognitive Task Performance in Postmenopausal Women
6. Free Testosterone Levels, Attentional Control, and Processing Speed Performance in Aging Men


Written By: Steven F. Hotze, M.D.

Steven F. Hotze, M.D., is the founder and CEO of the Hotze Health & Wellness Center, Hotze Vitamins and Physicians Preference Pharmacy International, LLC.


26 responses to “10 Common Causes of Brain Fog and Memory Loss (and What to Do About Them)”

  1. Rowan McLean says:

    Fish oil is totally toxic to the human microbiome-for a full disclosure I suggest you read Ray Peat and colleagues on the subject-true science not pseudo clap trap of todays pharma sycophants

  2. Kathy says:

    After using nicotine gum with aspartame for two years I have been experiencing memory loss. How can I fix the problem. I had to quit smoking because of copd 2 years ago it was the only thing that worked for me. They don’t make nicotine gum without artificial sweeteners. How can I reverse the damage now. Please help me.thanks Kathy

    • Sharon LaCombe says:

      I quit smoking with the nicorette lozenges. The origional flavor does contain aspartame however for example the cinnamon flavor of the CVS generic / store brand uses mannitol instead. Hope this helps. Certainly don’t want to go back to smoking. Best of luck to you.

  3. Sommanshu says:

    Can anyone plzz help me I am just 16 yrs old and suddenly after previous week my brain had become very inactive and I am not able to solve my questions as I can before previous week ..I feel sleepy all the Day and have loose my concentration ..I also feel some heaviness at my head region ….kindly plzz help me I want to study efficiently

    • Mars says:

      Sounds like a hormone issue, ladies. The week of ovulation brings us improved memory and productivity. But during weeks 2-3 of our cycles, we become more calm… and our brains feel a little slower. We may even experience some depression. Estrogen and progesterone are to blame for these monthly fluctuations.

  4. It’s interesting that physical activity can help keep your memory sharp. My mother has been having a hard time remembering things recently, and my sister and I aren’t sure if it’s something serious. I’ll suggest that she exercises to see if that helps with her memory, but maybe I should take her in for a neurological exam just in case.

  5. malika says:

    Thanks for the information… Got to know new one…I just want to know that can brain mapping help in this matter?

  6. adele says:

    I have found that if i get too much sleep or not enough , I’m sure to have brain fog…. For me 7 1/2- 8 hours of sleep is ideal… I also know that if I overeat or eat too much sugar, that cause me extreme brain fog.. I’ve learned to balance.

  7. Nuhu Nyan says:

    Please all the symptoms you mentioned I experienced it help proscribed a drug and diet to help me boost my memory.

  8. Francesca says:

    I was wondering if I am experiencing memory loss from aspartame is there anyway if I cut it out, will I regain my memory?

  9. Robert says:

    Worked well for my foggy mind especially as I don’t get enough sleep. I take cellvamp pills after a night of hard drinking as well as it helps me get it together quicker the next morning. My family member has ADHD and I gave him a pill and he notices a difference in 10 minutes. He also took 2 pills at once and he said it was amazing.

  10. Bobby Branch says:

    This is a eye opener for me fo real . my diet just changed. Love this information.

  11. Miranda says:

    I’m 41 years old I had a couple of disappointments lately then I had two short seizures and I find I’m always depressed not sure if it’s because of my disappointments but I’m really bad at remembering and I’m doing really strange stuff and snapping at anything

  12. Kyler Quirk says:

    In reference to aspartame, do these specific brain cells reproduce that die, or do they get permanently destroyed?

    In other words, if I remove aspartame from my diet, can the cells that previously died re-appear?

    • elmehdihdr says:

      As I know from my readings, dead brain cells are lost forever!
      But if a person stops consuming those cell-killing foods the remaining ones are preserved.
      I am not a specialist so if any doctor can confirm what I says it would be perfect.

  13. Trailsnet says:

    Artificial sweeteners have an immediate & noticeable affect on my short term memory & definitely cause brain fog. This includes all the artificial sweeteners you mentioned above and also Stevia. Interestingly, Xylitol does not cause the same problems.
    I’m amazed that there aren’t stricter labeling rules to inform consumers when there are artificial sweeteners included in a product’s ingredients.

  14. julie says:

    I think I might have thyroid problems. I checked my hormone balance a year ago and the nurse said two hormones were off but I had no problems although I clearly do that’s why I wanted to check and then when I asked she said no you don’t have hormone imbalances very strange behavior she wouldn’t help me I think they believe i’m too young for hormone problems i’ve heard other young people have been told by doctors that they’re too young for that so they’re not taken seriously.

    I have very bad brain fog right now and some headache and weakness I was dehydrated I believe (weather has been hot and very humid lately) and I hadn’t eaten for almost a day so when I woke up I was in very poor condition almost fainted but i’ve fixed it now with lots of water and i’ve eaten but brain fog is still present and I have experienced it before as well without any reason. It’s very annoying and concerning.

    • Hotze Team says:

      Dear Julie,

      Thank you for reaching out to us. We know it can be frustrating to not get the help you need from conventional doctors. You didn’t mention your age, but no one is too young to have hormone issues. Most women start having issues when they start their menstrual cycle. Thyroid problems can occur in anyone, even children. Please take our symptom checker quiz to help identify what could be the underlying cause of your symptoms: http://makeshift-worm.flywheelsites.com/symptom-checker/

      Hypothyroidism is commonly misdiagnosed because conventional doctors only rely on a single blood test – the TSH, which fails the majority of patients because the lab range is so wide it encompasses almost everyone. Our doctors focus on your symptoms to help them make the proper diagnosis.
      Here is a video of our doctors on diagnosing hypothyroidism: http://makeshift-worm.flywheelsites.com/2015/08/4-ways-to-diagnose-hypothyroidism-what-your-doctor-doesnt-know/

      If we may be of service to you, please call our Wellness Consultants for a complimentary wellness consultation at 281-698-8698. It would be our privilege to serve you.

      To your health,

      Hotze Team

  15. Sway says:

    Nicotine reverses hypofrontatlity, it doesn’t cause it. Google search more!

  16. Michael says:

    Ive had brain fog for one week now. im 25 and i just started vaping cannabis for 6 months now. pls help. im a programmer and its not making me focus at work

    • Hotze Team says:

      Dear Michael,

      We are so sorry to hear that you have brain fog – we know how frustrating that can be. Are you having any other symptoms? Please take our symptom checker to help discover what could be the underlying cause: http://makeshift-worm.flywheelsites.com/symptom-checker/

      If we may be of service to you, please call our Wellness Consultants for a complimentary wellness consultation at 281-698-8698. It would be our privilege to serve you.

      To your health,

      Hotze Team

    • Augusto says:

      Hey Michael,

      I’m also a programmer. I used to be a cannabis user and I had to quit when I was about 25 years old because I had the same symptoms that you are describing. You will get brain fog from consuming it. After quitting, your body and mind will need time to get readjusted.

      Trust me, cannabis will make you forget things, will make you focus ability, logical thinking very hard and it will make you very anxious because you start to miss deadlines and a simple tasks become very very complicated.

      Cannabis is good for creativity and entertainment, but no good for logical thinking, reasoning, focus and memory, attributes that a crucial for a programming career.

      I hope you can get better!!
      Kind regards,

  17. Zenia says:

    I was noticing brain fog and forgetfulness for a long time. I decided to give Cellvamp supplement a try and I’m very happy with the results. As an added exercise I also began using a daily brain training app. I’m beginning to see sharpness and clarity in response and decision making skills.

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