Psychiatric Services in Newport Beach

Omega-3 Deficits Accelerate Brain Aging

Previously, higher dietary intake and circulating levels of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) have been suggested to associate with a reduced risk of dementia. Zaldy S. Tan, from the University of California/Los Angeles (UCLA; California, USA), and colleagues studied data collected on 1,575 men and women, average age 67 years, who were enrolled in the Framingham Offspring Study. At the study’s start, none of the subjects had dementia, and the researchers conducted routine blood sampling to measure omega-3 levels, assessed brain volume via brain imaging, and cognitive performance via and neuropsychological assessment. The researchers found that those subjects with lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids showed smaller brain volumes and performed worse on cognitive testing. Further, the team observed that people with omega-3 deficits may have brains that each faster than normal: lower brain volumes equated to about two years of structural brain aging. The study authors conclude that: “Lower [red blood cell] [docosahexaenoic acid] levels are associated with smaller brain volumes and cognitive impairment even in persons free of clinical dementia.

Z.S. Tan, W.S. Harris, A.S. Beiser, R. Au, J.J. Himali, S. Seshadri, et eal. Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging. Neurology, February 28, 2012, 78:658-664.

Alexis Meshi, MD, Psychiatrist

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