Omega-3s Protect Against Brain Abnormalities

abbyNew study shows high long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content in blood may lower risk of brain abnormalities in the elderly.

According to a new study, high long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content in blood may lower the risk of small brain infarcts and other brain abnormalities in the elderly. The study was published in Journal of the American Heart Association.

In the Cardiovascular Health Study in the USA, 3,660 people aged 65 and older underwent brain scans to detect so called silent brain infarcts, or small lesions in the brain that can cause loss of thinking skills, dementia and stroke. Scans were performed again five years later on 2,313 of the participants.

Research shows that silent brain infarcts, which are only detected by brain scans, are found in about 20 percent of otherwise healthy elderly people.

The study found that those who had high long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content in blood had about 40 percent lower risk of having small brain infarcts compared to those with low content of these fatty acids in blood. The study also found that people who had high long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid content in blood also had fewer changes in the white matter in their brains.

Previously in this same study population, similar findings were observed when comparing those with high or low intake of fish. High content of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in blood is a marker for high intake of fatty fish, so the results from the current study support the beneficial effects of fish consumption on brain health.

The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute on Aging in the USA, and by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, North Savo Regional Fund.

Weekly Abstracts:

EPA and DHA May Prevent Increases in Oxidative Stress in Type 2 Diabetics


“Effects of pure eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids on oxidative stress, inflammation and body fat mass in patients with type 2 diabetes,” Azizi-Soleiman, Jazaveri S, et al, Int J Prev Med, 2013 Aug; 4(8): 922-8. (Address: Department of Nutrition and Biochemistry, School of Public of Health, Tehran, Iran).

In a randomized, triple-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 60 patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus in which patients received supplementation with ~ 1 g/d EPA, or ~1 g/d DHA, or canola oil (as placebo) for a period of 12 weeks, results found that supplementation with either EPA or DHA prevented increasing oxidative stress levels, without changing markers of inflammation. Specifically, of the 45 patients who completed the study (mean age: 54.9 years, BMI: 27.6 kg/m(2), fasting blood glucose 96.0 mg/dl), 18% of those in the placebo group experienced an increase in the oxidative stress marker, MDA, while no change in MDA was found in either the EPA or DHA groups. At the dosages given, no significant changes in serum FBS, C-reactive protein, body weight, BMI, or fat mass were found.

Vitamin D and Autoimmune Diseases

AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, IMMUNITY – Vitamin D, Cholecalciferol, Vitamin D3

“High-dose cholecalciferol supplementation significantly increases peripheral CD4+ Tregs in healthy adults without negatively affecting the frequency of other immune cells,” Prietl B, Treiber G, et al, Eur J Nutr, 2013 Sept 3; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 15, 8036, Graz, Austria).

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 60 healthy volunteers, 12 weeks of supplementation with high-dose cholecalciferol (vitamin D3, 140,000 IU/month) was found to be associated with significantly increased numbers of peripheral Tregs (regulatory T cells) in vivo, which play a key role in maintaing “self-tolerance” and thereby reducing the risk of autoimmunity. While this beneficial effect was attained, the function of Tregs and the frequency of other immune cells remained unchanged. The authors also conducted studies in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and found that cholecalciferol showed the same effects. The authors conclude, “Our results indicate a substantial effect of a supplementation with inactive vitamin D on the immune system of healthy humans in vivo and provide a rationale for future studies to investigate the immunomodulatory effects of vitamin D in autoimmune diseases.”

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