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Can Omega-3s Protect Your Brain?

Perhaps you’ve heard that recent research has suggested that omega-3s, as part of a balanced diet, support the health of both brain and body. A study in Nutrition Journal adds to this science and finds that middle-aged and older people who took a daily fish oil supplement improved brain performance and lowered risk factors for chronic disease.


Omega-3s May Boost Brain and Lower Risk

In this study, 40 healthy participants (ages 51 to 72 years) were randomly assigned to 3 grams of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements from fish oil (1,500 mg of EPA, eicosapentaenoic acid, 1,050 mg of DHA, docosahexaenoic acid, and 450 unspecified), or placebo for five weeks. Both groups completed a placebo and supplement trial in this cross-over design. Brain performance and blood markers for chronic disease risk were measured at baseline and the end of the intervention.

Results showed that the omega-3s supplement group had statistically significant, improved memory performance, lower triglycerides, and lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) by as much as 7 mm Hg, compared with the placebo group.

The study authors point out that people who are at higher risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes may also be at higher risk for decline in brain function. They stress the importance of early dietary prevention to tackle both brain and body health and comment, “The dietary prevention strategy should preferably include fish in quantities to supply sufficient amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, in addition to other food groups with potential metabolic benefits e.g. whole grain, low glycemic index foods, fruits, berries, vegetables, and prebiotics.”


Choose Wisely for Better Brain and Body Health

Omega-3s for overall health. Omega-3s, commonly found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, are important for brain function and many other functions in our body, and may work to promote health because of their anti-inflammatory effects, according to the study authors. The study authors point out that research has linked chronic inflammation to poorer brain function, and low-grade chronic inflammation has also been linked to the development of diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Omega-3s may be one important option, as part of a balanced diet, to optimize your health.

Healthy lifestyle habits for prevention. Remember it’s not only about what you eat, but all of your lifestyle habits combined that help you prevent disease and keep your memory intact. Regular exercise—at least 20 minutes three times a week—has also been shown to boost brain function and lower the risk for chronic disease. Engaging in social activities and keeping your mind stimulated also adds health benefits as we age.

The research on omega-3s continues to uncover the myriad benefits of these essentially fatty acids. From boosting your mood to encouraging healthy, glowing skin, omega-3s are number #1 on Dr. Rodier’s Top 14 Supplements list for good reason.