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Nutrients protect brain, support cognitive health

Omega-3s and air pollution

Earlier studies found omega-3s reduced brain damage due to lead and mercury, but there are no studies on omega-3s and air pollution. Fine particle matter, 2.5 microns in size—30 times smaller than the width of a hair—can directly enter the bloodstream through the respiratory tract, damaging body systems including the brain. Maintaining brain volume, or size, is essential for healthy cognition later in life.

In this study, doctors compared omega-3 index scores in 1,315 dementia-free women, average age 70, who had a brain structure MRI in the tenth year of the study. All the women lived in areas with high air pollution.

Compared to women with the lowest omega-3 index scores, women with the highest scores had a greater volume of white matter in the frontal, parietal, and temporal brain lobes. Volume in the hippocampus—the area of the brain involved in short- and long-term memory, and in spatial memory that enables navigation—was also larger for women with higher omega-3 index scores.

Reference: Neurology; August, 2020, Vol. 95, No. 8, WNL 10074

Astaxanthin, tocotrienols, and cognition

A new, objective, digitized test can measure and monitor brain performance, and reliably detect mild or subtle cognitive deficits compared to healthy individuals. In this study, 44 men and women, average age 55, healthy but complaining of memory loss, took a placebo or 9 mg of astaxanthin plus 50 mg of tocotrienols, daily before or after breakfast.

After 12 weeks, those taking the astaxanthin/tocotrienols combination showed significant improvements in tests of short-term, long-term, and verbal memory. In addition to the objective tests, participants reported better memory of names of people and things, compared to placebo.

The new test, called Cognitrax®, also measures motor performance—how the body responds to brain signals; attention, and neural processing speed. Doctors said astaxanthin and tocotrienols safely improved memory performance.

Reference: Journal of Clinical Biochemistry & Nutrition; June, 2020, Vol. 19, No. 116


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