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Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce dementia risk

May 27, 2013

Increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may counter oxidative stress in older people with mild cognitive impairment – a warning sign for dementia – suggests a new study from Malaysia.

The observational study estimated omega-3 fatty acid intakes (based on food frequency questionnaires) and measured blood concentrations of lipid hydroperoxide (LPO), a marker of oxidative stress, of 67 people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and 134 healthy elderly people (1). The study results showed that partici-pants with MCI had significantly higher blood LPO levels than the healthy participants. Higher eicosapenta-enoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) intakes were associated with significantly lower LPO levels in the MCI group.

The researchers commented that research has indicated that increased intakes of omega-3 fatty acids may improve cognitive function, particularly attention, short-term memory and recall capabilities. In addition, higher LPO concentrations were shown to be linked to reduced global cognitive function, attention, short-term memory and immediate and delayed learning. DHA could accelerate the production of antioxidant enzymes, which subsequently activate the antioxidant defense system to decrease oxidative stress, which seem to contribute to a progressive loss of brain functioning, the scientists said.

References

1. Lee L. K. et al. The role of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in reducing lipid peroxidation among elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment: a case-control study. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2013; 24(5):803–808.