Brain and Central Nervous System

Omega-3 Intakes and Plasma Amyloid-Beta Peptides in Non-Demented Older Adults

Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive and debilitating form of dementia, is most common among older adults. In the U.S., 1 in 8 people aged 65 and older or about 5.4 million of all ages have the condition. This number is predicted to treble to more than 13 million by 2050 because more people are living longer. Worldwide, the disease afflicts about 36 million people. Currently, there is no cure or effective treatment for the disease, although various medications are used to improve memory and several cognitive tasks. What determines a person’s…

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EPA and DHA Intakes Linked to Better Cognition and Gray Matter Volume in Older Adults

DHA is critical to the development of brain structure and function, neurotrophic factor expression, neurogenesis, neurite outgrowth, synaptogenesis and plasticity and other aspects of a healthy brain. Studies suggest that infants whose mothers have higher DHA status have improved cognition and attention. Further, the occurrence of behavioral and psychiatric disorders has been associated with lower concentrations of n-3 LC-PUFAs in plasma and erythrocytes. Treatment of various psychiatric and behavioral disorders with DHA or n-3 LC-PUFAs was linked to improved outcomes in some, but not all studies. However, fewer data are…

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Stepping Stones to Treating Alzheimer’s Disease: Is Insulin the Key?

The development and characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease have been extensively described, centered largely on the deposition of sheets of amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides as extracellular plaques and the protein tau as intracellular neurofibrillary tangles (Figure 1). The disease increases the production of the Aβ peptides in the brain, destroys neurons and synapses, and exhibits several features of metabolic dysregulation, including insulin resistance. It has never been established whether the abnormal pathologies observed in Alzheimer’s disease are a cause or consequence of the condition. Further, definitive diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease depends on…

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Possible Links Among Depressive Symptoms, Cognitive Function and Seafood Omega-3s

Some evidence suggests that depressive symptoms and lower cognition performance go hand in hand in older adults. A high rate of depressive episodes has been reported in patients with Alzheimer’s disease and it has been suggested that depressive symptoms may affect an individual’s perception of cognitive function. A possible link with long-chain or seafood omega-3 fatty acids (seafood omega-3s) is their association with slower rates of cognitive decline and improved learning and memory among those with mildly impaired cognition. There is also evidence that increased consumption of seafood omega-3s is…

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Omega-3 Intakes Linked to Fewer Harmful Amyloid-Beta Peptides in Older Adults

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive and debilitating form of dementia in which brain tissue is gradually destroyed (Figure). It occurs most frequently among older adults. In the U.S., 1 in 8 people aged 65 and older—about 5.4 million Americans of all ages—have the condition. With people living longer, this number is expected to treble by the year 2050. Right now, there is no cure or effective treatment for the disease, although various medications are used to improve memory and functionality. What determines whether a person will develop Alzheimer’s disease? The…

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Higher EPA and DHA Intakes Linked to Better Cognition in Older Adults

DHA, one of the main long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in seafoods, is found in large quantities in brain where it affects the structure and function of neurons and the growth of new ones. It has been linked to cognitive function, attention, visual acuity, behavior and some psychiatric disorders. It also helps protect neurons from the damaging effects of Alzheimer’s disease. It is difficult to study the brain and neurons directly in living individuals, so that substitute methods must be used. One of the most useful of these is magnetic resonance…

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Unimpaired Neurodevelopment in Adolescents of Mothers with High Prenatal Fish and Methylmercury Intakes

The benefits of fish consumption during pregnancy, which provides nutrients and long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs), consistently outweigh the potentially harmful effects related to the exposure of environmental contaminants, particularly methylmercury, in fish and shellfish. Not all women and health care providers see it that way, but scientists familiar with the literature do. Evidence from populations in the Arctic and Seychelle Islands who consume large amounts of ocean fish indicates that children exposed to high DHA intakes and environmental contaminants from seafoods have better visual acuity into late childhood and…

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Is DHA Transport Altered in Alzheimer’s Disease?

Several reports have documented the relationship between low intakes of fish or long-chain omega-3 PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs) and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or cognitive decline. Some areas of the brain, such as the orbitofrontal cortex, may gradually lose DHA with age. In one study, patients deceased with Alzheimer’s disease had less brain DHA than non-demented controls, but another report found no differences between the two groups. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease develop synaptic damage, intracellular neurofibrillary tangles (insoluble twisted fibers in neurons) and abnormal accumulation of amyloid plaques…

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Peripheral Neurons with More Long-Chain Omega-3s Better Protected from Injury

Peripheral nerves connect the brain and spinal cord to all other parts of the body. If disease or injury damages the peripheral nerves, communication between the brain and the affected area is disrupted and sensory information, such as temperature, may not be appropriately relayed. How an individual detects nerve damage depends on the type of injury or disease and which parts of the body are affected. Some of the dangers from peripheral neuropathy are increased susceptibility to burns and infections, poor control of movements and possible permanent nerve damage. With…

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Challenge: Assessing Brain Fatty Acid Changes During Cognitive Decline

There is a growing literature about the links between the consumption of fish and shellfish, tissue levels of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (omega-3s) found in seafood and the odds of developing age-related dementia. The most well known example of advanced mental loss is Alzheimer’s disease, a condition prevalent in adults above the age of 65. About 13% of these adults have Alzheimer’s disease, but nearly half (45%) of those 85 years of age or more have the condition, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Ultimately, the disease is fatal. Although much…

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