Based on recent studies, high levels of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the blood may lower the risks of brain abnormalities and other brain dysfunction that are linked to cognitive decline in the elderly. The research was published in the “Journal of the American Heart Association”, it studies the link between the plasma phospholipid omega-3s ( objective biomarkers of exposure) and the subclinincal brain abnormalities using MRI ( magnetic resonance imaging).
Previous studies and research have linked higher intake of certain fish and the reduction of such brain abnormalities like losing the ability to think and reason, speech and emotion which are known to be associated with dementia or stroke.
The study was headed by Dr. Jyrki Virtanen from the University of Eastern Finland, they analyzed data from about 2,000 elderly that were closely monitored for 5 years. The study showed that elderlies with high levels omega-3 fatty acids were about 40% at lower risks of small brain infarcts as compared to elderlies with low omega-3 in their blood. The study also found that people taking regular omega-3 fatty acids show fewer changes in the brain’s white matter over the 5-year study period.
The plasma phospholipid long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fats specifically DHA were linked with specific findings that are consistent with better brain health, an enhanced white matter grade, lowering the risk of a worsening white matter and lower risk of prevalent lacunar infarcts. The researchers stated that their results support the need for more observational studies using fatty acid biomarkers and randomized intervention research that will evaluate the role of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the brain’s heath and normal function later in life. They also added that the potential role of the intermediate-chain omega-3 fatty acids like the plant based polyunsaturated fatty acids ALA is less evident.
The Details Of The Research
Dr. Virtanen and his team of experts analyzed data from the cardiovascular health Study in the USA. The study included 3,660 people that were aged between 65 and older. The study group underwent brain scans to detect small lesions in the brain that can cause memory loss, the ability to think clearly, stroke and dementia. Blood samples were also taken to check the level of omega-3 in each patient.
MRI scans were performed again 5 years later on 2,313 individuals in the study group. The MRIs were analyzed and read by neuroradiologists in a blinded and standardized manner. The researchers also told that individuals in the study group with known transient is chemic attacks or stroke were excluded. After making variable adjustments, they stated that the odds ratio for having a prevalent brain lesions are 40% lower for individuals with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids as compared to individuals with low levels of the essential fat.
Omega-3 And Alcohol-induced Dementia
Another study that was made by the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine have suggested that omega-3 can help in protecting people against alcohol-induced dementia. There are a number of studies that linked long-term alcohol abuse in the increase of the chance of developing dementia. The study found that in the brain cells of lab mice that were exposed to high levels of alcohol, a fish oil compound protected the brain from inflammation and brain cell death.
The research team was headed by Micheal A. Collins, PhD and was reported at the 14th Congress of the European Society of Biochemical research on alcoholism that was held in Warsaw, Poland. He stated that small amounts of alcohol toughen up the cells and make them stronger in coping with the stresses that can contribute to developing dementia down the road. The researchers found that DHA helped in preventing any brain inflammation and neural death.