Mental Health and Cognition

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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DHA-Supplemented Term Infants Score Higher in Gesture Communication

Many studies of infant development have reported improved visual, cognitive and neurodevelopmental scores in infants with higher consumption of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Improvements have been easier to demonstrate in preterm infants compared with term infants because of the nutrient shortages many preterm infants have. However, not all studies have observed improved development scores, so the value of providing higher levels of long-chain PUFAs through breast milk or infant formula has been controversial. Some reasons for the mixed findings are the inadequacy of the dose, sensitivity of the assessment…

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

There is an extensive accumulation of studies linking low intakes of long-chain or seafood omega-3 fatty acids (seafood omega-3s) with a greater likelihood of developing depressive symptoms. Eating little or no seafood has also been associated with higher risks of this condition across several countries. Investigators have reported that the red blood cells of patients with major depressive illness have significant deficits in DHA. Further, postmortem examination of the frontal cortex in the brains of individuals who died with major depressive illness revealed that only DHA was significantly lower in…

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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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Seafood Omega-3 Supplementation Without Effect in Depressive Heart Patients

There have been several encouraging studies reporting improved symptoms in depressive illness among those who consumed long-chain (seafood) omega-3s. Other research has observed lower levels of these fatty acids in patients with heart disease and/or depressive illness. The benefits to heart health of increased consumption of these fatty acids, especially among survivors of a heart attack, suggest that higher intakes of these substances might improve both conditions in heart patients who develop depressive symptoms. Thus, increasing the consumption of seafood omega-3s in heart patients with depressive illness appears an obvious…

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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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Low Breast Milk DHA Linked to Greater Risk of Depressive Symptoms in Pregnancy

One of the more pressing questions about perinatal depressive symptoms is why some women develop the condition and others do not. A history of depressive illness, high levels of stress and adverse socioeconomic conditions increase the risk of a woman’s developing depressive symptoms, but other factors also contribute to the risk. One of these may be a woman’s long-chain PUFA status, especially her blood and tissue concentrations of DHA. This fatty acid is especially important during pregnancy because maternal diet and stores supply DHA for fetal and infant brain development….

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Dietary n-6:n-3 PUFA Ratio Higher Than 9 Linked to Higher Risk of Postpartum Depression

The World Health Organization estimates that perinatal depressive disorders affect between 10% and 40% of women worldwide. In low- and middle-income countries, the average prevalence of common perinatal mental disorders was estimated at 15.9%. Rates in developed countries tend to be lower, ranging from 6.5% to 12.9% for major depression at different times during the first year postpartum. In Brazil, where this study was conducted, the prevalence of depression during pregnancy was reported at 24.3%. After delivery, postpartum depression prevalence fell to 10.8%. Many factors contribute to the risk of…

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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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