Omega-3 may provide a brain boost for people in midlife

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Higher omega-3 levels are linked to better brain health for people in their midlife, a study finds. Susan Brooks-Dammann/Stocksy

Omega-3 fatty acids have many benefits and play a role in heart health and cognitive functioning.

A new study demonstrates that there may be a connection between consuming omega-3 and an increase in brain functioning for people in midlife.

The cross-sectional study analyzed the omega-3 blood levels of people in their midlife and assessed their MRIs and thinking skills to see whether there was a difference in people with higher or lower omega-3 levels.

According to a new study published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, people who have higher omega-3 levels in their middle ages may have an edge over people who take in lower levels of omega-3.

The study was led by researchers at the University of Texas Health at San Antonio, TX, who were concerned about the lack of research on how omega-3 can impact people in their midlife.

Omega-3: Things to know

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source, omega-3 fatty acids “are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are important for a number of functions in the body.” In addition to playing a role in heart health and cognitive functioning, omega-3 fatty acids are also part of the cell membraneTrusted Source and affect cell functioning.

As Professor Stuart Phillips noted during a Live Long and Master Aging podcast, “Some fats that we ingest, and particularly the omega-3 or long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are actually what we refer to as essential fats. We need to have them in our diet because we don’t have the ability to make them ourselves.”

Prof. Phillips is the director of the Physical Activity Center of Excellence at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada.

The NIHTrusted Source lists three types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The daily recommendation for the omega-3 fatty acid ALA for adults and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding: Men 1.6 g Women 1.1 g Pregnant teens and women 1.4 g Breastfeeding teens and women 1.3 g This recommendation is only for ALA as experts have not yet established recommendations for the other two fatty acids.

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