January 23, 2014
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Slow Brain Aging?

More omega 3 fatty acids are correlated with larger brain sizes.

MINNEAPOLIS – People with higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may also have larger brain volumes in old age equivalent to preserving one to two years of brain health, according to a study published in the January 22, 2014, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Shrinking brain volume is a sign of Alzheimer's disease as well as normal aging.

For the study, the levels of omega-3 fatty acids EPA+DHA in red blood cells were tested in 1,111 women who were part of the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. Eight years later, when the women were an average age of 78, MRI scans were taken to measure their brain volume.

Those with higher levels of omega-3s had larger total brain volumes eight years later. Those with twice as high levels of fatty acids (7.5 vs. 3.4 percent) had a 0.7 percent larger brain volume.

"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," said study author James V. Pottala, PhD, of the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls and Health Diagnostic Laboratory, Inc., in Richmond, Va.

Those with higher levels of omega-3s also had a 2.7 percent larger volume in the hippocampus area of the brain, which plays an important role in memory. In Alzheimer's disease, the hippocampus begins to atrophy even before symptoms appear.

The results would be more convincing if the report said that the brain scans were done also at the beginning of the 8 year period. Maybe people with bigger brains just eat more omega 3 fatty acids.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2014 January 23 09:09 PM 

4a552f55cbb9 said at January 26, 2014 7:46 AM:

Omega 3 counteracts some of the negative effects of excess Omega 6. But Omega 3 on its own is immuno supressive and builds up in tissues over time and is linked to cancer. The best advice is to eat as little unsaturated fat as feasible. Avoid both Omega 3s from things like fatty fish, as well as omega 6s and 9s from seed oils and avacados. Dairy fat, coconut oil, and olive oil are the only really safe fats.

coolball said at January 26, 2014 4:37 PM:


Omega 3s are essential fatty acids. As in ESSENTIAL. Do you claim that fish oil consumption is vinculated to cancer? It's been associated with increased lifespan and reduced probability of death from stroke, coronary-heart disease, etc.

Organic milk contains significantly higher concentrations of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids compared to milk from conventionally-managed-source dairyreporter article Organic-milk-higher-in-heart-healthy-omega-3-US-study iirc dairy also has omega 6

Olive oil is between 55 and 83% omega-9 (monounsaturated), and 3.5 and 21% omega-6 (polyunsaturated). sourcece chriskresser article how-too-much-omega-6-and-not-enough-omega-3-is-making-us-sick

Or do you think the omega 6s and 9s from olive oil and dairy are different?

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