Published on: October 7, 2015
by Barbra Cohn for Denver Alzheimer’s Examiner:
New evidence is showing that omega-3 acids are linked to increased brain volume in women. James V. Pottalla, PHD, and his colleagues at the University of South Dakota, Sioux Falls, measured red blood cell levels of EPA (eicosapentanoic acid) and DHA (docosahexanoic acid) in 1,111 post-menopausal women with an average age of 78. They also took brain scans to determine the size of the women’s brains. The women were participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study and were followed up for eight years.
Women who had the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had the largest average brain volume at the end f the study. They also had a 2.7 percent larger volume hippocampus, which is the area of the brain associated with memory. Alzheimer’s patients have declines in the hippocampus before any other symptoms, the researchers noted.
What are the other benefits of omega-3s?
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.
Several studies show that reduced intake of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with increased risk of age-related cognitive decline or dementia, including Alzheimer disease. Scientists believe the omega-3 fatty acid DHA is protective against Alzheimer disease and dementia.
What foods contain omega-3 fatty acids?
They are found in fatty fish, including salmon, macherel, herring, oysters, sardines, and fresh tuna. Omega 3s are also in flaxseed oil, chia seeds, cod liver oil, walnuts, whaet germ, olive oil and winter squash.
Omega-3 fatty acids provide numerous health benefits and have no side effects. However, if you take blood thinning drugs, check with your health provider before taking a nutritional supplement.
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