Omega-3 (2014) Alzheimers & Brain Volume
Researchers wanted to find out whether levels of omega=3 fatty acids found in red blood cells were correlated to brain volume - which normally shrinks with aging.
The Women's Health Initiative Memory Study, conducted in 2003, evaluated the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in their diet. Eight years later an assessment of EPA, DHA and brain volumes (as measured via MRI) determined that the greater the amount of omega-3s the greater (marginally) the overall brain function, and the greater (more so) the volume of the hippocampus. The hippocampus appears to be responsible for emotion, memory and the part of the nervous system which controls un-consciously directed functions such as heartbeat and metabolism.
Their conclusion is that a larger omega-3 level is tied to total brain volume and hippocampal volume in older women.
A later study connects supplementation with omega-3s to maintenance of brain volume.
Researchers: J.V. Pottala
Published: Higher RBC EPA + DHA corresponds with larger total brain and hippocampal volumes: WHIMS-MRI study, Neurology, Feb. 2014
Researchers substantiated earlier indications that a diet that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids can help protect the brain against developing Alzheimers disease. The protective powers stem from an ability to regulate the brain's natural level of zinc, which can prove toxic at elevated levels, They found that when the level of DHA in neuronal cells drops, the level of zinc rises. Omega-3 fatty acids contain a combination of EPA, DHA and alpha linoleic acid.
Previous research had shown a reduced incidence of neurodegenerative diseases in populations with a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Researchers: Leah Aukland, et al,
Published: Omega-3 fatty acid may help prevent brain cell death, FEBS Letters, February, 2010