One of the five major pillars of my brain health lifestyle ® is nutrition and we have learned how important nutrition is for the brain. In fact, an entire field called “nutritional neurosciences” has emerged to reflect this reality. While the amount of what we eat is always important and we should all strive for some level of caloric restriction, the types of foods we consume are certainly also important.
The brain is composed of nearly 60% fat and it is thought that the lipid in the brain helps to insulate neural tracts and to propel information electrically in an efficient manner. The brain can slow down and function less optimally if the lipid is reduced or damaged. To this end, the study of omega 3 fatty acids, an essential fatty acid in the body, has been studied and continues to be a major area of interest in relationship to the brain.
Omega 3s including DHA and EPA are critical to optimal brain function. They can be found in fish such as salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. They are also found in unsalted nuts. Long chain omega 3s such as DHA is now found in other foods and in many different supplements on the market. DHA appears to be a credible and critical nutrient for the brain at all ages and helps with both neuropsychological and cardiac function. Fish are good sources of DHA because they consume algae in their own diet. Smaller fish that do not swim at deeper levels of the ocean also reduce the risk of mercury levels that might be a risk for humans.
A recent study published in Alzheimer’s and Dementia revealed algal DHA (algal-900) improved memory in healthy older adults. The memory benefit was nearly equal to skills of those one three years younger. Similar cognitive benefits of DHA have been published elsewhere in healthy populations, but some question remains regarding the benefit of such nutrition in those already diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. DHA may have a preventative effect more than a treatment effect and there may be a relationship between efficacy of DHA and the presence of APOE-4 genotype.
It is important that consumers speak to their physicians about any supplements they take and to be aware that many of the products across the counter have filler which have little if any benefit. Americans do not consume enough DHA omega-3 in their diet and supplements may need to be considered. In addition to the DHA supplement noted above, consumers may wish to review Moxxor (www.moxxor.com) for research on omega 3s.