Omega 3 and your brain

Written by Jo Ann Prior

Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids Food for the Brain? According to the State Health Institute (SZÚ) YES.

It turns out that science continues to prove new positive links between omega-3 fatty acids (FA) and brain health. And while consuming the long-chain omega-3s EPA and DHA found in fatty fish (and supplements) may not make you smarter, scientific research points to the benefits of these nutrients for a range of brain functions. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are essential nutrients that, among other health benefits, help build the structure of the brain and regulate its function. Three studies published this summer looked at the relationship between omega-3s and the brain. Each study focuses on a different area of ??brain health: brain aging, Alzheimer's disease and depression. Although we do not yet have definitive answers in these areas, the studies are promising. They provide impetus for a better understanding of how omega-3s benefit the brain.

Omega-3 EPA and DHA may help counteract the effects of air pollution on the brain

Air pollution is a growing problem that environmentalists say is responsible for many millions of premature deaths globally. Air pollution may indirectly damage the brain, according to a 2019 study in the scientific journal Brain, which found that exposure to airborne particles 2.5 microns in diameter and smaller (PM2.5) may increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, a dementia-related disease and accelerated memory loss.

The new study was published in the journal Neurology, American Academy of Neurology. The researchers found that omega-3 fatty acids have previously been shown to affect inflammation and thus maintain structure in aging brains. Other research has found that these nutrients reduce brain damage caused by lead and mercury. In the study, the authors specifically investigated whether omega-3 fatty acids could have a protective effect against PM2.5 dust particles – found in air pollution. A prospective cohort study was conducted among a subset of women involved in clinical trials of the so-called Women's Health Initiative. From this population of 7,000 subjects in the late 1990s, approximately 1,400 of these women were enrolled in a supporting study known as the WHIMS-MRI study. The current study drew on the WHIMS population using stored blood of 1315 non-demented women aged 65–80 years, who lived in areas with very different levels of air pollution. The experiment was designed to investigate whether blood levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids could modify the potential neurotoxic effects of PM2.5 exposure on "normal brain volumes."

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An article on, based on an interview with Dr. Harris, the company OmegaQuant, who is the author of this latest neurological study, confirmed that the researchers also tried to correlate the effects of PM2.5 in the study group of women with the level of the omega-3 index in the blood (measured by the Omega-3 test, OmegaQuant). The surprise was that omega-3s had a protective effect in this area, although it was not clear how these nutrients work protectively. It was thought that this might be from some kind of anti-inflammatory effect. The study authors recommended that more research be conducted to see if these results could be generalized to a wider population.

Using the right dose of omega-3 is key to benefiting Alzheimer's disease

In order for omega-3 fatty acids to benefit the brain, a way must be found to get them into the brain. A study investigated this question in patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). AD is a form of dementia and a brain crippling disease. It leaves family and friends of patients watching helplessly as their loved ones disappear into a fog of memory loss, erratic behavior and isolation. About 50 million people worldwide have some form of dementia. There is no known effective drug. Animal models and observational studies with omega-3s EPA and DHA have shown an association between higher levels of these fatty acids and a lower incidence of AD and dementia. Clinical trials testing the direct effects of omega-3 supplementation on AD have so far come with disappointing results. Why? Now, researchers at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC) have reported the results of a pilot study and think

Why a dose? The USC study used a daily dose of over 2 grams of DHA, a dose that far exceeds the usual dose used in previous clinical trials testing the preventive power of omega-3s, which is typically 1 gram or less per day. And with a higher dose, they found some positive results. Although a previous study tested the effects of high-dose omega-3s on blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF, the fluid that bathes the brain) in AD patients, the USC clinical trial was the first to examine this question in people without AD. The study included 33 participants from Los Angeles—men and women aged 55 and older—who, while not themselves cognitively impaired, had a family history of the disorder. They usually had a sedentary lifestyle and ate little or no oily fish. None of them had taken omega-3 supplements for at least three months before the study.

About half of the group (15 people) carried a gene variant known as APOE4, which is associated with inflammation in the brain and is known to increase the risk of AD fourfold or more.

New research offers a positive outlook for  Omega-3 and bipolar disorder

Participants were randomly assigned to either a treatment group or a control group. Those treated were required to take omega-3 supplements containing  2,152 mg of DHA for 6 months and were also instructed to otherwise limit their intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The control group was told to take similar-looking placebo capsules that contained corn/soybean oil. Both groups were instructed to take daily vitamin B supplements (note the effect on nerve tissue regeneration), which help the body process omega-3. All participants were assessed three times: at screening, baseline and after 6 months (end of study). The researchers looked for changes in plasma and CSF levels of DHA and EPA and how these correlated with APOE status (E4 or not) and CSF levels of a biomarker of brain amyloid deposition (A-beta-42). Cognitive function tests were also performed.

What did the scientists find? They found that using the appropriate dose is essential.

At the end of the study, the treatment group had a 200 percent increase in blood plasma DHA levels compared to the placebo group, but only a 28 percent increase in CSF DHA. But this 28% increase was better than that previously reported with lower doses of DHA. In both plasma and CSF measurements, the percent increase in DHA in those who did not have a copy of the APOE4 gene (which is the case for about 75% of Americans) was usually higher than in those who were carriers. In the treatment group that did not carry the APOE4 gene variant, they showed an increase in EPA in their CSF that was three times greater than that seen in APOE4 carriers. (Recall that only DHA was supplemented, not EPA. This finding means that DHA can increase both DHA and EPA levels in the body to some extent). Note that the study used a dose of over 2 grams of DHA per day versus many previous clinical trials that administered 1 gram or less per day.

Key takeaways

The results suggest that blood omega-3 levels may not indicate how much EPA and DHA ultimately reaches the brain. This is to be expected because of the blood-brain barrier, which carefully protects the brain by allowing only certain compounds from the blood. Therefore, future research should carefully consider whether a dose of 2 grams of omega-3 per day is sufficient to be beneficial for diseases such as AD, or whether even higher doses should be administered.

This may be especially true for those with known risk factors for AD… such as carrying the APOE4 gene variant. It appears that these people may be less able to transport DHA from the blood to the brain than those who do not carry the gene. Researchers need to consider studies with higher doses of omega-3.

The study results also support the unique relationship of nutrients to the individual – how much of a nutrient a person needs, in this case omega-3 fatty acids, in relation to your lifestyle, eating habits, genetics, ability to absorb nutrients and more.

Fortunately, a simple blood test such as the omega-3 index, which measures blood levels of EPA and DHA, can be used in research studies (and in individuals). The goal is to achieve an optimal index of 8-12%. The study highlights the need for researchers to measure omega-3 levels at the beginning and end of their studies to better understand which level of omega-3 is associated with the best outcomes.

The results of the study were interesting enough to attract funding for a larger study. The plan is to follow more than 300 participants over two years to see if high doses of omega-3 can slow cognitive decline in APOE4 gene carriers. Dr. Hussein Yassine, lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine and neurology at the Keck School of Medicine, states, "These pilot studies are an important step toward much larger and more complex studies."

Alzheimer's disease is a very complex multifactorial disease. The results of the study may be the key to research that unlocks preventive measures regarding omega-3 EPA and DHA doses. However, consumers should not rush to use high doses just yet. The role of omega-3 in Alzheimer's prevention needs further investigation. The good news, however, is that we are now in an era where personalization plays such a growing role in health. As a first step in taking omega-3s, it makes sense to find out the Omega-3 Index and see how much, if any, additional DHA and EPA one needs. "

New meta-analysis of perinatal depression finds positive benefits of omega-3s

Moving from brain problems in older people to those affecting young women, another study - Meta-analysis - examined the safety and efficacy of omega-3 fatty acids in brain health - perinatal depression, which is generally defined as the onset of an episode of depression, from mild to severe, during pregnancy or postpartum up to one year postpartum.

After a thorough review of the literature, researchers from Peking University, other Chinese universities, hospitals, and research centers identified eight randomized controlled trials that met the selection criteria for inclusion in the analysis. Together, these studies included 638 participants. The studies were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials that evaluated the efficacy of omega-3 therapy in perinatal depression.

A meta-analysis, published online in  Translational Psychiatry , June 17, 2020, found a significant effect of omega-3s EPA and DHA on mild to moderate perinatal depression compared to placebo.

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The authors further found that these nutrients were well tolerated with a low incidence of side effects. In fact, among the included studies reporting adverse events, there was no significant difference in the incidence of gastrointestinal and neurological events between the omega-3 and placebo groups. The researchers evaluated the effects separately in the pre- and post-partum periods and found that the effects were significant in both, but were more pronounced during the postpartum time period. The authors supported the importance of DHA, especially in the perinatal period, when DHA is transferred from mothers to children, for brain development and retinal formation, either through the placenta or through breastfeeding. They warned that there is a danger of omega-3 deficiency for mothers without timely and proper supplementation. But the study had several limitations, including the fact that the sample size and the number of included studies were relatively small. Furthermore, they were unable to suggest an appropriate range of positive doses. The exact mechanism by which omega-3s improved depressive symptoms in perinatal women remains unclear. The authors call for more high-quality randomized controlled trials with larger sample sizes to verify their conclusions.


DIANA YOUNAN, ANDREW J PETKUS, KEITH F WIDAMAN, XINHUI WANG, RAMON CASANOVA, MARK A ESPELAND, MARGARET GATZ, VICTOR W HENDERSON, JOANN E MANSON, STEPHEN R RAPP et al. Particulate matter and episodic memory decline mediated by early neuroanatomical biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease; Brain , Volume 143, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 289–302,


HANK SCHULTZ Omega-3s linked to protection against brain damage from particulate exposure.  20-Jul-2020

With the use of OmegaQuant information, on 23/07/2020 the article was taken from

prof. J. Ruprich, CZVP SZÚ, 6 August 2020

Omega 3 Ratio with Cardiovascular Disease and Other Chronic Diseases

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