Omega-3s can increase volume of aging brains
New research published in the journal Neurology suggests that larger brain volumes associated with higher omega-3 levels may preserve up to two years of brain health.
In conducting their research, the team from the University of South Dakota first looked at the red blood cell (RBC) levels of omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in 1,111 postmenopausal women from the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. Then the team measured brain volumes via MRI scans. After eight years, the team followed-up with further brain scans on the women, who then had an average age of 78.
The researchers found that the women who had higher levels of omega-3s also had larger total brain volumes. Women with levels of fatty acids that were twice as high at 7.5 percent compared with 3.4 percent had a brain volume that was 0.7 percent larger, and women with higher omega-3 levels had a 2.7 percent larger volume in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that begins to atrophy in Alzheimer's patients before symptoms start to appear. Higher levels of omega-3 can be achieved by taking supplements or eating oily fish like salmon, as well as flax, walnuts, eggs and spinach.
The researchers concluded that this study supports previous studies that associate higher omega-3 levels with delaying cognitive aging and dementia.