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Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may cause memory problems

Date:
February 27, 2012
Source:
American Academy of Neurology (AAN)
Summary:
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 new study. Omega-3 fatty acids include the nutrients called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

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.

The study was supported by the Framingham Heart Study's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Z. S. Tan, W. S. Harris, A. S. Beiser, R. Au, J. J. Himali, S. Debette, A. Pikula, C. DeCarli, P. A. Wolf, R. S. Vasan, S. J. Robins, S. Seshadri. Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging. Neurology, 2012; 78 (9): 658 DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e318249f6a9

Cite This Page:

American Academy of Neurology (AAN). "Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may cause memory problems." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120227162549.htm>.
American Academy of Neurology (AAN). (2012, February 27). Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may cause memory problems. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120227162549.htm
American Academy of Neurology (AAN). "Low levels of omega-3 fatty acids may cause memory problems." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120227162549.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

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