Brain Health: Salmon is a Good Natural Source of Omegas
Fatty anything doesn’t sound too good at first blush, right? But, the fatty acids prevalent in salmon, and certain other fish and foods, are great for our brains. Here’s what our good friend and collaborator, Dr. Paula Desai, had to say on the subject…
Having sufficient levels of long chain Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (DHA and EPA) which are abundant in Salmon may be important for preserving brain structure and function with aging. Starting at around 20 yrs of age, our brains loose 2%-3% of volume yearly so that by the time we are in our 70s and 80s our brains have shrunk by about 25%. (1)
Studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and pre-dementia have lower levels of DHA and EPA in their brains and/or blood (brain levels correlate with blood levels). (2,3) Furthermore, lower DHA and EPA levels are associated with smaller brain volumes and cognitive decline, while higher levels correlate with maintaining brain
volume over time as well as slower rates of cognitive decline.(4,5,6)
Most importantly, consuming DHA and EPA has been shown to significantly improve both brain function and structure in healthy older adults.(7) People who don’t eat fish may not be able to achieve protective levels of DHA and EPA to help preserve brain function and structure.(6,8) Eating approximately 250 mg per day was observed to bring levels into the protective range within 4 months.(8)
Eat your salmon jerky!
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2. S C Cunnane, J A Schneider, C Tangney, J Tremblay-Mercier, M Fortier, D A Bennett, M C
Morris. Plasma and brain fatty acid profiles in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s
disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;29(3):691-7.
3. P Y Lin, C C Chiu, S Y Huang, K P Su. A meta-analytic review of polyunsaturated fatty acid
compositions in dementia. J Clin Psychiatry. 2012 Sep;73(9):1245-54.
4. G L Bowman, H H Dodge, N Mattek, A K Barbey, L C Silbert, L Shinto, D B Howieson, J A
Kaye, J F Quinn. Plasma omega-3 PUFA and white matter mediated executive decline in older
adults. Front Aging Neurosci. 2013 Dec 16;5:92.
5. J K Virtanen, D S Siscovick, R N Lemaitre, W T Longstreth, D Spiegelman, E B Rimm, I B
King, D Mozaffarian. Circulating omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and subclinical brain
abnormalities on MRI in older adults: the Cardiovascular Health Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2013
6. 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 ω-3 fatty acid levels and markers of
accelerated brain aging. Neurology. 2012 Feb 28;78(9):658-64.
7. A V Witte, L Kerti, H M Hermannstädter, J B Fiebach, S J Schreiber, J P Schuchardt, A Hahn,
A Flöel. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and structure in older adults.
Cereb Cortex. 2014 Nov;24(11):3059-68.
8. B Sarter, K S Kelsey, T A Schwartz, W S Harris. Blood docosahexaenoic acid and
eicosapentaenoic acid in vegans: Associations with age and gender and effects of an algalderived omega-3 fatty acid supplement. Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr;34(2):212-8.