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HealthBrief – Higher omega-3 levels equal less brain shrinkage with age

A report published online on January 22, 2014 in the journal Neurology® reveals an association between higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and greater brain volume in older age. “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,” commented lead author James V. Pottala, PhD, of the University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls.

The study included 1,111 participants in the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study, which was a subset study of subjects enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative. Subjects were between the ages of 65 to 80 years upon enrollment. Blood samples were analyzed for red blood cell fatty acid levels and magnetic resonance imaging was conducted a median of eight years later to evaluate brain volume.

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