Food For The Brain
Recently, there has been a series of health supplements-bashing doing the rounds in the media. One study suggested that multivitamin supplements might not of any use, and as usual with media proclivity for anything negative, they ate it up like a starving hound. It didn’t seem to matter that multiple studies prior to and after that suggested otherwise. Like a recent study on the effects of vitamins and Omega 3 on older persons’ physical brain as well as cognitive abilities.
Older adults with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B, C, D and E in their blood performed better on certain measures of thinking abilities, and also tended to have larger brain volume, a new study finds.
Seniors with high levels of trans fats in their blood fared worse on certain thinking tests than those with lower levels of the unhealthy fats, and also had more brain shrinkage.
Researchers said the findings suggest that nutrients work “in synergy” with one another to be protective of brain health.
“For people with a vitamin profile high in B, C, D, E, those particular nutrients seem to be working together on some level,” said lead study author Gene Bowman, an assistant professor in the department of neurology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. “Having high scores for those vitamins was associated with better cognitive function and larger brain volume.”
The study is published in the Dec. 28 online edition and the Jan. 24 print issue of the journal Neurology.
In the study, researchers measured levels of more than 30 nutrients in the blood of 104 people with an average age of 87. Overall, participants were well-educated, healthy nonsmokers who had relatively few chronic diseases and were free of memory and thinking problems. Researchers also did MRI scans of 42 participants to measure their brain volume.
Some amount of brain atrophy, or shrinkage, occurs with aging. More significant shrinkage is associated with mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
The investigators found that the various nutrients seemed to affect different aspects of thinking, suggesting that they work on different pathways in the brain.
People with high levels of vitamins B, C, D and E performed better on tests of executive function and attention, and had better visuospatial skills and global cognitive function. They also had bigger brains, the study authors noted.
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in foods such as salmon, were associated with better executive function and with fewer changes to the white matter of the brain, but there was no association between omega-3s and any of the other measures of mental abilities.
“Executive function” is a term used to describe higher level thinking involving planning, attention and problem solving. In this case, seniors were asked to do an exercise that involved matching the number 1 with the letter A, the number 2 with B, and so on, which shows flexibility in thought, Bowman explained. See full original story
It is refreshing to see a test on positive effects real humans. In a separate recent test (see Anti-Aging Supplements Becoming A Reality?), it was observed that the mice that were put on a supplements actually learned better as they aged. However, vitamins and other dietary supplements have not been found to reverse effects of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. I don’t know about you, but I will continue taking my multivitamin and Omega-3.