Mental decline is common, and it’s one of the most feared consequences of aging. But cognitive dysfunction is not inevitable. Here is an article by www.lifeextention.com on how you can help maintain good brain health.
Several studies have noted a strong association between higher seafood intake, or higher blood or dietary levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and better cognitive function. The long-chain omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid
(DHA) is a critical nutrient for brain health, and deficiency can cause symptoms such as poor mood and cognitive dysfunction.
DHA is found in high concentrations in neuronal cell membranes where it plays an important structural role in maintaining membrane fluidity.
Preclinical research shows DHA plus eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), another omega-3 fatty acid from fish, may protect against amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, as well as prevent blockages and improve blood flow in small vessels in the brain. Adequate omega-3 fatty acid status may also be needed for proper use of B vitamins in the brain. In addition, DHA has anti-inflammatory effects and is a precursor for neuroprotectin D1, a signaling molecule involved in neuronal growth and survival.
One study in 2,622 older adults found those with the highest blood levels of long- chain omega-3 fatty acids (including EPA and DHA) had an 18% lower risk of unhealthy aging, defined as chronic disease, physical or cognitive dysfunction, or death for any reason, over a 13-year period. Results from other research indicate the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids may be an important factor affecting brain
structure and cognitive function.
A meta-analysis of six randomized controlled trials using doses ranging from 400 to 1,800 mg daily of combined omega-3 fatty acids for periods of 3–40 months found that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can slow the rate of cognitive decline in the elderly. Similarly, a large review of 24 studies found evidence suggesting a beneficial effect of omega-3 fatty acid intake on cognitive aging. In a randomized placebo-controlled trial, 1,680 participants aged 70 and over with subjective memory complaints received either 800 mg DHA plus 225 mg EPA daily or placebo for 3 years. Although DHA plus EPA supplementation did not affect cognitive function in the initial analysis, a secondary analysis including only those with a low baseline omega-3 index (a measure of omega-3 fatty acids in red blood cells) showed supplementation led to improved executive function in this group. Data from the same study suggest those with an omega-3 index of ≤ 5% have increased odds of cognitive decline and may benefit most from supplementation.
The Norwegian health authorities recommend eating fish 2-3 times a week. Taking cod liver oil / or an omega 3 product as a dietary supplement might be a good alternative to secure a daily sufficient intake of fatty acids.