Women with high blood levels of fish oils have larger brain volumes then those with lower levels, suggesting the oils may delay the normal loss of brain cells due to aging, research found. Those who raised their levels of two major omega-3 fatty acids by eating fish or taking supplements had larger total brain volume than those who didn’t, according to research posted online today by the journal Neurology.
People with higher levels of the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil may also have larger brain volumes in old age equivalent to preserving one to two years of brain health, according to a study published in the January 22, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Shrinking brain volume is a sign of Alzheimer's disease as well as normal aging.
For the study, the levels of omega-3 fatty acids EPA+DHA in red blood cells were tested in 1,111 women who were part of the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study. Eight years later, when the women were an average age of 78, MRI scans were taken to measure their brain volume.
Those with higher levels of omega-3s had larger total brain volumes eight years later. Those with twice as high levels of fatty acids (7.5 vs. 3.4 …
More studies are needed looking at men and women at risk for dementia and whether increasing their fish oil dose until their red blood cell levels were more than 8 percent benefited them.