November 26, 2007
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Protect Against Parkinsons Disease?

Here is yet another reason to eat more salmon.

Quebec City, November 26, 2007—Omega-3 fatty acids protect the brain against Parkinson’s disease, according to a study by Université Laval researchers published in the online edition of the FASEB Journal, the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. This study, supervised by Frederic Calon and Francesca Cicchetti, is the first to demonstrate the protective effect of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids against Parkinson’s.

Parkinson’s disease is caused by the progressive death of the neurons responsible for producing dopamine, a neurotransmitter closely linked with movement control. The disease is usually diagnosed when 50 to 80% of these neurons are already dead, and there is currently no medication to stop that process.

The Université Laval research team’s findings could help prevent the disease and, potentially, slow down its progression.

The researchers observed that when mice were fed an omega-3 rich diet, they seemed immune to the effect of MPTP, a toxic compound that causes the same damage to the brain as Parkinson’s. “This compound, which has been used for more than 20 years in Parkinson’s research, works faster than the disease itself and is just as effective in targeting and destroying the dopamine-producing neurons in the brain,” points out Calon.

By contrast, another group of mice that were fed an ordinary diet developed the characteristic symptoms of the disease when injected with MPTP, including a 31% drop in dopamine-producing neurons and a 50% decrease in dopamine levels.

Analyses revealed that omega-3 fatty acids—in particular DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a specific type of omega-3—had replaced the omega-6 fatty acids already present in the brains of the mice that had been given omega-3 supplementation.

I eat salmon 5 times a week. Most other omega 3 fatty acid sources are inferior in comparison. Though mackerel, sardines, and herring have high omega 3 concentrations close to salmon. But if you are worried about mercury then avoid mackerel since it has very high mercury concentrations.

A combination of omega 3 fatty acid DHA, choline, and uridine boosted synapse regeneration in rodents.

MIT researchers have shown that a cocktail containing three compounds normally in the blood stream promotes growth of new brain connections and improves cognitive function in rodents. The treatment is now being tested in Alzheimer's patients and could hold promise for other brain diseases and injuries.

The mixture, which includes a type of omega-3 fatty acid, is part of a new approach to attacking Alzheimer's. That approach focuses on correcting the loss of synapses, or connections between neurons, which characterizes the disease.

Each of the components of the mixture boosted synapse growth. But the combination of the 3 substances produced the biggest increase.

In the Brain Research paper, the MIT team reported that rodents given a cocktail of DHA (a type of omega-3 fatty acid), uridine and choline showed a greatly increased concentration of dendritic spines, which receive messages in the postsynaptic neuron. That indicates that synapse regeneration has occurred, which is unusual, Wurtman said.

Synapse regrowth could also prove an effective treatment for other brain diseases, such as Parkinson's, or for brain injuries, he said.

Salmon and eggs might deliver a double punch for increased brain performance.

Omega-3 fatty acids are not produced in the body but are found in a variety of sources, including fish, eggs, flaxseed and meat from grass-fed animals. Choline can be synthesized in the body and obtained through the diet; it is found in meats, nuts and eggs. Uridine cannot be obtained from food sources, but is a component of human breast milk and can be produced in the body.

Nuts and eggs and salmon. That's the ticket.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 November 26 11:48 PM  Aging Diet Brain Studies

Ivan Kirigin said at November 27, 2007 7:51 AM:

Have you seen any cheap & portable mercury tests around? I would love to send a fish back because it contains more than I'm willing to ingest. I'd also eat a lot more fish if I had something like this, and so would my nursing wife.

Wolf-Dog said at November 27, 2007 9:02 AM:

All Salmons are not created equal. It is VERY important that you do NOT buy Farmed Salmon that is raised in pools, because the latter contains a lot of pollutants, including PCBs.

There are NO cheap and portable mercury tests that are reliable. Even though there are blood and hair sample tests for mercury, these are NOT reliable because the ingested mercury gets installed deep in various cells of the organs inside the body, and the blood itself no longer carries mercury soon after it has already been ingested (unless you have ingested the mercury very recently, although I do not know how recent is recent enough for mercury.)

The ONLY reliable mercury test, is done at a very specialized clinic or expert doctor's office, where you are FIRST injected with a drug that stimulates the cells or mercury to kick out some of the mercury out of the cells, to force the mercury to travel in the blood for a while. AND THEN a blood test is made a few hours after that original injection, so that if there is really a lot of mercury in the body, this blood test would reveal its existence.

And if it is discovered that you have ingested too much mercury, there are some specialist doctors who have long term detoxification protocols. But the first step is to stop eating any kind of mercury containing food if you have too much mercury in your system. It might take up to a decade for the body to remove the excess mercury, but detoxification programs can accomplish this within a year or so.

Note that if you have too much mercury in your system (especially if you had a lot of mercury-silver amalgam dental fillings _AND_ if you had the habit of chewing gum every day, which would make the mercury evaporate a lot more and make it far worse), then you would probably need more selenium in the first place, since the body desperately uses selenium to isolate the existing mercury to render it harmless.

Wolf-Dog said at November 27, 2007 9:16 AM:

But on this occasion I must add that perhaps Salmon oil contains less pollutants than Salmon, but it is best if it is molecularly distilled:

And here is some molecularly distilled salmon oil at Amazon:

Separately, there are algae-derived DHA which do not contain the pollutants that big fish contain from the food chain.

TTT said at November 27, 2007 12:49 PM:

DOn't eggs have a huge amount of cholesterol?

TTT said at November 27, 2007 12:54 PM:


So when are you going to do the grand unified post that contains links to all your other articles which state what the benefits of each food are?

This was requested here.

It would be beneficial to get some indexing of your various ad-hoc posts that state that Salmon is beneficial for A, Cabbage is beneficial for B, Turmeric is beneficial for C, Tomotoes are beneficial for D.

Brett Bellmore said at November 27, 2007 5:36 PM:

So, I can get 1500mg of DHA and EPA at a cost of 18 cents a day from pills, carefully purified to avoid any heavy metals, or I can get the same amount from salmon for at least ten times the price, if I hit a sale. I'll grant you the salmon probably tastes better, but financially the pills seem to make more sense.

Brett Bellmore said at November 27, 2007 6:03 PM:

Incidentally, how are DHA and EPA for cooking? Can you use it for frying? Does it have a clean taste and decently high smoke point?

Ok, some quick research suggests that omega 3 fatty acids are not suitable for frying in.

What I'm getting at here is that my wife does not tolerate pills well, and really dislikes the taste of salmon, so I'm trying to figure out how to incorporate this stuff into our diet in a relatively non-"in your face" form, as an ingredient in cooking, rather than a conventional supplement.

She does like 40 clove garlic chicken cooked in olive oil; Do you suppose it would be feasible to "spike" the olive oil with omega 3s?

Randall Parker said at November 27, 2007 7:28 PM:


Most cholesterol is made in your body. Diet contributes a very small portion. If memory serves the liver makes 4+ grams of cholesterol per day (it is the precursor to testosterone, estrogen, cortisone and several other hormones and is a necessary component of membranes). Again, if memory serves, an egg has maybe 250 mg.

If you lower the average glycemic index of the foods you eat you will lower your cholesterol.

Beneficial foods: I'll get around to it eventually. Keep nagging. But in the mean time: particular foods matter less than getting more vegetables and lowering your diet's glycemic index.

Rob said at November 28, 2007 7:00 AM:


Do you practice caloric restriction? I've always wondered. I saw a report that both low fat and low carb diets improve cognitive ability, low fat diets improve it more.

cancer_man said at December 4, 2007 8:44 PM:

But many of these foods have multiple benefits.


broccoli , especially with cooked tomatos/sauce
brocolli sprouts (lowers stomach cancer risk)
red grapes
(other fruits and green vegetables I left off)

wild salmon
other fish

coffee (for liver)
red wine (supplements probably better)
green tea (I drink 1 liter a day but not sure much people need)

omega 3
resveratrol (Longevinex reliable, even if maybe overpriced)
vitamin D (1200mg, but 2000mg probably a good idea)
vitamin C

Oreo cookies (happiness index rises)
cigarettes (low tar!)

Shaheeda Parvin said at December 26, 2008 5:29 AM:

Is Nutritlite's Salmon Omega-3 good for someone who has Parkinson's disease early stages?

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