Mental Health and Cognition

Higher Maternal PUFAs Not Methylmercury Associated with Language Scores at Age 5

The importance of long-chain PUFAs, especially arachidonic and docosahexaenoic acids, in fetal and infant development is now well recognized, yet the consumption of fish and seafoods, the primary food source of the omega-3 long-chain PUFAs (n-3 LC-PUFAs), is clouded by concerns about the developmental effects of contaminants. All fish contain some mercury in the form of methylmercury, a known neurotoxin. Yet fish consumption in pregnancy at levels above the U.S. recommended amount is most often associated with better performance scores on tests of cognition and behavior in the offspring, even…

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Maternal Fish Consumption Associated with Fewer Symptoms of ADHD-Like Behavior

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common behavioral disorders in childhood and its occurrence appears to be increasing. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that parent-reported ADHD increased 20% from 2001-2003 to 2007-2009, from 7.5% to 9.0 % of children aged 5 to 17 years of age. Others have estimated that the worldwide prevalence ranges between 8% and 12% of all children. A recent review of prevalence studies estimated the prevalence of ADHD among children and adolescents at 5.9% to 7.1%. Caution is warranted…

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Amygdala Atrophy, Plasma EPA and Cognitive Function in Older Adults

Much is known about the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia in older adults, but little is clear about what triggers the condition and how it develops. Why do some people develop the disease and others do not? Diagnosis is only known with certainty from postmortem analysis. A range of physical, neurological, laboratory, neuroimaging and psychological evaluations form the basis of a clinical diagnosis, but onset of the disease is believed to begin 20 to 30 years before the first clinical symptoms. New criteria for the…

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Improved Motor Function and Less Cell Loss With DHA in Mouse Spinal Cord Injury

Traumatic spinal cord injury has severe consequences for survivors including pain, paralysis and impaired sensory and motor function and various effects in the cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine and autonomic systems. The consequences depend on the site and extent of the injury. Surgical decompression, especially when performed within 24 hours after the injury is associated with improved neurological outcomes, although the timing of surgical decompression is controversial. Pharmacologic and neuroprotective agents tested in spinal cord injury include erythropoietin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, minocycline and progesterone. A promising agent for neuroprotection, cell survival and…

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DHA-Supplemented Healthy Term Infants Score Higher in Gesture Communication

Although the need for sufficient long-chain PUFAs to meet the postnatal developmental needs of pre- and term infants is well recognized, trials aimed at demonstrating the neurodevelopmental benefits of providing infants with abundant LC-PUFAs are inconclusive. For example, preterm infants fed 1% DHA from day 2 to 4 of life until term corrected age did not have increased Bayley Mental Development Index scores at 18 months corrected age, but in subgroup analysis, girls’ scores were higher. A recent meta-analysis of 12 trials using LC-PUFA-supplemented infant formula found no significant effect…

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EPA + DHA Associated with 25% Lower Risk of Depressive Symptoms in US Adults

Substantial evidence links low blood concentrations of long-chain PUFAs (LC-PUFAs), especially n-3 LC-PUFAs, to the risk of depressive illness, yet the data are inconsistent. For example, serum n-3 LC-PUFAs were not associated with severe depression in middle-aged Finnish men, but were significantly lower in patients with recurrent depressive illness. Others have reported significantly lower concentrations of DHA or total n-3 LC-PUFAs in patients with major depressive illness and bipolar disorder. Low LC-PUFA concentrations may be unrelated to dietary intake in randomized or case-control studies, although observational studies suggest that low…

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Neither Folate Nor Long-Chain Omega-3s Affect Depressive Symptoms in Heart Patients

Depressive symptoms and anxiety are common occurrences among patients with coronary heart disease. These conditions adversely affect the prognosis of heart disease patients and increase the risk of cognitive decline. For example, one study reported that the risk of major adverse cardiac events over 2 years in men with acute coronary syndrome was increased in the presence of depressive illness and elevated C-reactive protein. A recent analysis of the prevalence of depressive symptoms in patients from 22 countries who were hospitalized for coronary heart disease reported a prevalence in men…

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Supplemental EPA or DHA May Be Linked to Improved Depression Scores in Older Adults

Depressive symptoms and cognitive impairment may go hand in hand. If so, treatments for both conditions may be necessary for improving the quality of life and daily functioning of these individuals. A study conducted in the U.S. among cognitively normal 75-year-old adults reported that greater depressive symptoms and cognitive impairments were associated with more cognitive complaints. Individuals without cognitive impairments had the strongest association between depressive symptoms and cognitive complaints, suggesting that depressive symptoms may affect an individual’s perception of cognitive function. Research on the relationships among depressive symptoms, chronic…

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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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