Preserve and Protect Your Brain with Fish Oil

Preserve and Protect Your Brain with Fish Oil

Fish oil is the biggest selling nutraceutical supplement in the world, and for good reason. There is an incredible amount of evidence for its health benefits and, given omega-3 fatty acids are an essential component of every single one of our cells’ membranes, it’s no surprise that I believe everyone should be taking it either! One of the key indications for fish oil is cognition and brain health. Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA for short, is a prominent fatty acid in our brain that is critical for optimal function. And this report just adds to what we know about how good omega-3 fatty acids are for our brain. Higher Omega-3 Levels = Less Brain Shrinkage With Age On January 22nd of this year, the journal Neurology® published an online report that  revealed an association between higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and greater brain volume in older age. “These higher levels of fatty acids can be achieved through diet and the use of supplements, and the results suggest that the effect on brain volume is the equivalent of delaying the normal loss of brain cells that comes with ageing by one to two years,” commented lead author James V. Pottala, PhD, of the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls. The study included 1,111 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, which was a subset study of subjects enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative. Subjects were between the ages of 65 to 80 years upon enrollment. Blood samples were analysed for red blood cell fatty acid levels (the best way to measure...
Omega 3 Improves Your Memory

Omega 3 Improves Your Memory

The journal PLOS One published an article on October 3, 2012 that reveals a benefit for supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids on working memory in young men and women. University of Pittsburgh researchers led by Rajesh Narendran of the Department of Radiology tested the effects of a supplement providing 930 milligrams eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 750 milligrams docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in 11 men and women between the ages of 18 and 25. Evaluation of working memory (via an “n-back test”), positron emission tomography (PET) imaging of the brain and tests for red blood cell fatty acid levels were conducted before and after the six month treatment period. Participants experienced an increase in plasma omega-3 fatty acid levels and improvement in working memory at the end of six months. “What was particularly interesting about the presupplementation n-back test was that it correlated positively with plasma omega-3,”observed Bita Moghaddam, whose lab conducted the research. “This means that the omega-3s they were getting from their diet already positively correlated with their working memory.” “Before seeing this data, I would have said it was impossible to move young healthy individuals above their cognitive best,” he remarked. “We found that members of this population can enhance their working memory performance even further, despite their already being at the top of their cognitive game.” Although the researchers had suggested increases in dopamine storage and a protein involved in decision making in a particular area of the brain as mechanisms supporting omega-3’s effect on cognitive function, PET scan results failed to support the hypothesis. “It is really interesting that diets enriched with omega-3 fatty acid can...
Sugar is Bad for Your Brain

Sugar is Bad for Your Brain

The September 4, 2012 issue of the journal Neurology® published the finding of Australian researchers of an association between high normal plasma glucose levels and a decrease in brain volume in non-diabetic men and women. Although research has established an association between type 2 diabetes and cognitive impairment, the current study suggests an adverse effect on the brain for glucose levels considered by most authorities to be within a normal range. “Numerous studies have shown a link between type 2 diabetes and brain shrinkage and dementia, but we haven’t known much about whether people with blood sugar on the high-end of normal experience these same effects,” commented first author Nicolas Cherbuin, PhD, of Australian National University in Canberra. “These findings suggest that even for people who do not have diabetes, blood sugar levels could have an impact on brain health.” The study included 266 men and women between the ages of 60 and 64 enrolled in the PATH Through Life Study, which is a longitudinal study of aging. Fasting plasma glucose and other factors were measured upon enrollment, and those with glucose levels of 6.1 micromoles per litre (110 mg/dL, classified as impaired fasting hyperglycaemia by the World Health Organization) or higher were excluded. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain were conducted at the beginning of the study and four years later. Fasting plasma glucose levels ranged from 3.2 to 6.0 micromoles per litre (57.6 to 108 mg/dL) upon enrollment. Dr Cherbuin and his colleagues uncovered a significant association between a decline in volume in the brain’s hippocampus and amygdala (cerebral structures affected by aging and neurodegeneration)...