Brain and Central Nervous System

A Moderate Dose of Fish Oil: Beneficial for Drug-Resistant Partial-Onset Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) in which individuals experience epileptic seizures, displays of transient deregulated neural activity in one or both hemispheres. Epileptic activity displays as changes in sensory awareness and involuntary motor activation of specific body parts, which can occur with consciousness preserved, or with loss of consciousness. Seizures can range from mild and unnoticeable to others to generalized seizures that can last several minutes or longer. The different forms and grades of severity of epilepsy may be linked to specific areas of the central…

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Facilitating Transport of DHA into the Brain

The brain is rich in docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). This fatty acid is a structural element for brain tissue, plays a number of important roles in neural development and plasticity, and protects the brain from inflammatory insult. The brain is relatively separated from the rest of the body by the presence of a blood-brain barrier, which restricts the uncontrolled access of substances, and possibly infectious material, present in blood, and thus remains relatively isolated from immune reactions occurring in the rest of the body. Oxygen and those nutrients that the brain…

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EPA/DHA – Perspectives for Neuropsychological Improvement in Malnourished Pre-adolescent Children

Malnutrition, defined by insufficient energy and protein intake, seriously affects cognitive functions. Nutritional deficiencies early in a child’s development have marked consequences for cognitive development and overall growth at later ages of development. Malnutrition is a preventable malady but is tightly linked to low socio-economic status, hampering implementation of corrective strategies. Along with insufficient energy and protein intake, generalized or specific micronutrient deficiencies can occur. Omega-3 deficiencies can also result from malnutrition, as a result of i) the utilization of dietary linolenic acid to generate energy, ii) deficient transformation of…

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Attention and Working Memory of Term Infants Unrelated to Prenatal Maternal DHA-Supplementation

One of the most important reasons to assure the adequate intake of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) during pregnancy and early infancy is the importance of these fatty acids, especially DHA, in the structural and functional development of the brain. Although DHA is found in cell membranes throughout the brain, it is especially concentrated in the hippocampus, basal ganglia and frontal lobes, which are involved in cognition and executive functions. Animals and humans fed diets deficient in n-3 PUFAs during fetal and early postnatal life experience significantly reduced content of…

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Greater Brain and Hippocampus Volume with Higher Red Blood Cell EPA + DHA in Older Women

If you want to peer into the brain, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the instrument of choice. MRI is used for identifying and assessing brain changes in healthy aging, normal cognitive behavior, predicting Alzheimer’s disease, studying memory and intellectual development, understanding diverse other brain functions and much more. MRI studies have shown that structural changes in different brain regions occur throughout life, but the patterns differ with aging. Efforts to distinguish what happens in normal, healthy aging compared with pathological changes suggest considerable overlap between the two conditions. For example,…

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Fish Intake, not Red Blood Cell Omega-3s, Linked to Poorer Cognitive Performance in Older Adults

More frequent consumption of fish, especially fatty fish, and higher blood levels of long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) have been associated with a lower risk of developing dementia and cognitive decline in several prospective cohort studies of older adults. As is often the case, not all studies agree. Fewer investigators have asked the basic question, does fish or n-3 LC-PUFA consumption affect normal cognitive performance in older individuals? Studies in Norway and the U.K. reported a direct association between higher fish consumption and cognitive performance in adults 70 to 74…

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EPA + DHA for 26 Weeks Linked to Improved Executive Function and Brain Structure

Positive links between DHA, long-chain omega-3 PUFA (n-3 LC-PUFA) status or intake and LC-PUFA supplementation and cognitive function have been reported in infants, children, adults and the elderly, but the literature is inconsistent and effects have usually been small. Several, but not all, studies have reported a reduced risk of mild cognitive impairment with higher intakes or blood levels of n-3 LC-PUFAs, sometimes, but not always, a forerunner of dementia. Few interventions can slow or halt the decline of cognitive function with aging, and none has been shown to improve…

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Diet Low in n-6 and High in n-3 LC-PUFAs Associated with Reduced Chronic Headache Pain

Clifford Woolf, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, Boston, once described pain as being “like love, all consuming” and “when you have it, not much else matters.” Shorn of its poetry, the International Association for the Study of Pain writes that pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage.” Most pain is transitory and resolves itself once the stimulus is withdrawn and healing is complete. Chronic pain persists even after tissues have apparently healed. Three types of pain are commonly recognized: nociceptive,…

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DHA-Triglycerides Reduce Brain Damage by Half in A Model of Neonatal Stroke

Less well known than adult strokes are those occurring in infants. They may affect up to 1,700 infants in the U.S. each year. Pediatric strokes are often related to changes in hemostasis in the mother or the placenta, particularly around the time of birth. An infant experiencing a stroke faces an increased risk of long-term neurological disability, particularly cerebral palsy. Faced with possible life-long neurological damage, infants could benefit considerably from interventions that limit the cellular and tissue damage from these strokes when they happen. A promising candidate for reducing…

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Low Seafood Consumption Associated with Higher Anxiety Levels in Late Pregnancy

Excessive anxiety during pregnancy increases the chances of lower birthweight and shorter gestation and may adversely affect the infant’s neurodevelopment. Cognitive behavioral therapy, prescription medications, yoga, complementary therapies and exercise may be beneficial in reducing maternal anxiety during pregnancy, but almost no attention has been given to the potential usefulness of improved nutrition in alleviating stress and anxiety. The growing literature describing the benefits of n-3 LC-PUFAs in treating a variety of mood disorders without the side effects of pharmacological interventions suggests that these fatty acids might be appropriate for…

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