Omega-3s Reduce Brain-Shrinkage, Say ScientistsBy: Daryl Nelson - January 30, 2014
As many people already know, Omega-3s have all types of health benefits. It can reduce inflammation, it can help prevent heart disease and it increase bone strength. It can even help lower depression levels. And now a new study conducted by the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine has found that Omega 3s can help prevent brain-shrinkage, particularly in older women.
Of course, this isn’t the first time scientists have discovered this, but this study confirms even further that Omega-3s have multiple benefits when it comes to brain-health.
James Pottala, who led the study, said brain-shrinkage happens to everyone as they get older, but it happens at a faster rate for those who have dementia. “The brain gets smaller during the normal aging process, about 0.5 percent per year after age 70, said Pottala. “But dementia is associated with an accelerated and localized process of brain-shrinkage.”
And he says Omega-3s help to slow down that acceleration, which was confirmed when a group of women were observed for eight years.
Pottala and his team tested the blood level of 1,111 women, who were 70 years old on average, and documented the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids they had in their system. And eight years later, their blood was tested again, and they also received MRIs to determine how much their brain size decreased.
Afterwards, it was determined the women who had the highest levels of Omega-3 fatty eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acid and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), suffered from brain-shrinkage the least. However, the scientists were quick to point out this study didn’t measure the correlation between brain-shrinkage and cognitive ability, and more research would need to be done to determine if Omega-3s were the main reason some women had less brain-shrinkage than others.
Plus, the women’s lifestyle choices could also play a factor in their brain size, said Pottala. “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 aging by one to two years,” he said.