February 28, 2012
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Slow Brain Aging?

Fish might help you slow the rate of mental decline. You'll still be on the downhill slope. But the slope will be a little less steep.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – A diet lacking in omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients commonly found in fish, may cause your brain to age faster and lose some of its memory and thinking abilities, according to a study published in the February 28, 2012, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Omega-3 fatty acids include the nutrients called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

"People with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids had lower brain volumes that were equivalent to about two years of structural brain aging," said study author Zaldy S. Tan, MD, MPH, of the Easton Center for Alzheimer's Disease Research and the Division of Geriatrics, University of California at Los Angeles.

For the study, 1,575 people with an average age of 67 and free of dementia underwent MRI brain scans. They were also given tests that measured mental function, body mass and the omega-3 fatty acid levels in their red blood cells.

The researchers found that people whose DHA levels were among the bottom 25 percent of the participants had lower brain volume compared to people who had higher DHA levels. Similarly, participants with levels of all omega-3 fatty acids in the bottom 25 percent also scored lower on tests of visual memory and executive function, such as problem solving and multi-tasking and abstract thinking.

More here.

Really can't get into eating fish? Some whimsy might help. Makes me like trout a lot more.

What we really need: stem cell therapies, gene therapies, and other treatments to repair the aging brain and turn back the biological clock. Minds made youthful again will soar to higher levels of productivity as years of experience combine with better memory and the ability to think much faster and learn more easily.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2012 February 28 10:10 PM  Aging Diet Brain Studies

PacRim Jim said at February 29, 2012 1:35 AM:

A practical question:
If healthy life were increased to, say, 300 years, how would that affect the following:
* prisoners serving life terms
* Senators serving life terms
* dictators making subjects serve life terms
* wives (but then I repeat myself)
* formal education
* Social Security

Questions such as this should be addressed now that we are ineluctably accelerating toward the event horizon of the technological singularity.

Steve Parker, M.D. said at February 29, 2012 7:35 AM:

Folate, B12, and B6 supplementation may also slow the rate of brain shrinkage, although the study I found didn't report on cognition. And that's where the rubber meets the road.


Reference: Smith, David, et al. Homocysteine-lowering by B vitamins slows the rate of accelerated brain atrophy in mild cognitive impairment: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS ONE 5(9): e1244. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0012244 [published September 8, 2010]

Tim said at February 29, 2012 8:38 PM:

Prisoners: tough twinkies...maybe give him an option of euthansia
Senators: only life terms if we are stupid enough to keep re-electing them
dictotors: "retire" them the way Quadaffi, Hitler, Samozoa etc were
wives: not married can't help you there suppose you could divorce them
formal education: you would probably end up having to acquire more over time..could be fun on-line or whatever.
Social Security: probably out-of-luck there if your plan was to retire and loaf...still with 300yrs of compounding my 401K could make me very rich, who needs SS anyway?

Ben said at March 1, 2012 6:42 AM:

"What we really need: stem cell therapies, gene therapies, and other treatments to repair the aging brain and turn back the biological clock."

And that's exactly what we'll get.

I first became interested in the biology of aging about five years ago. The end game is still a long way off, but I'm now at a point where I can look at the milestones that have occurred within that time and say with confidence that we'll get there. Every day another small piece of the puzzle falls into place, and what once seemed like a distant dream now seems like a soon to arrive inevitability.

This has been true of all fields of technological endeavor I have observed since I became interested in futurism. Self driving cars exist. Augmented reality enabled glasses exist. Mice have been scrubbed of their senescent cells and are healthier because of it. Impossible things are happening all around us and we greet them with a shrug.

Phillep Harding said at March 2, 2012 2:08 PM:

(blink, blink, blink)

Are you saying that "fat head" should be praise, or something?

Vermillion said at March 2, 2012 2:56 PM:

Who needs fish? Isn't there omega 3 in olive oil, omega-3-enhanced eggs, walnuts, and flax?

Alicia said at March 2, 2012 3:37 PM:

Sorry to say that omega-3 fatty acids in plants do not meet our needs. If your grocer carries the enhanced eggs, great, but not all do.

Fish oil has DHA/EPA which is the ticket for the brain. Plant sources do not have this. Vegans find DHA/EPA in some sea weeds and algae.

If you like fish, then mercury is a concern with big fish. Sardines from Norway are good sources. Easiest thing is to find a high-quality (mercury-free) bottle of fish or krill oil from cold seas and read the label to find out the amounts of the various fatty acids.

Ranjit Suresh said at March 5, 2012 8:29 AM:

To PacRim Jim: life-extension will only operate one year at a time. It's not as if, under the best-case scenario, we're going to wake up with 300 year old people tomorrow. On the contrary, by definition it will be more than 200 years until we have 300 year old people.

Moreover, all the concerns listed need to be weighed against the pain and suffering associated with aging, and the deaths of 150,000 people everyday. Now, supposing the situation was reversed and those 150,000 weren't dying everyday - would you be willing to solve the problem of life-time Senators and Social Security by allowing those 150,000 people to die and call that a reasonable trade-off?

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