Omega-3 oils (EPA & DHA) from fish and flax
Latest research: omega 3's improve memory and IQ, reduce AMD, aid weight loss and lower PSA levels
by Newsletter Editor
Better memory with DHA
Omega-3 DHA improved memory in women and men. In the study, 176 non-smokers, aged 18 to 45, with low DHA from diet, took a placebo or 1,160 mg of DHA per day. After six months, compared to placebo, memory improved in both men and women taking DHA. Women had the most improvement in remembering times, places, and emotions—brain functions known as episodic memory. Men were able to more quickly recall images and words, and to comprehend, reason, and act or react faster to this information—brain functions known as working memory.
Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; May, 2013, Electronic Prepublication
Omega-3 may reduce age-related macular degneration
Age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, is the increasing blindness in the center of the field of vision, and the most common form of age-related visual impairment. In addition to lutein and zeaxanthin, the eye also stores omega-3 DHA, which helps the retina filter light.
In this study, doctors testing for a link to AMD measured omega-3 levels in 963 men and women, aged at least 73, and followed up with an eye exam seven to ten years later. Compared to those with lower levels, those with higher circulating levels of omega-3 fatty acids were 38 percent less likely to have developed late-stage AMD.
Reference: The Journal of Nutrition; 2013, Vol. 143, No. 4, 505-11
Omega-3s help women lose weight
Doctors in this study gave 39 obese women a placebo or an omega-3 supplement while the women maintained their normal diets for four weeks. The supplement contained 420 mg EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and 1,620 mg DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) per day. After the first four weeks, the women continued to take the placebo or omega-3 supplement while everyone followed a low-calorie diet for the next four weeks.
While there were no changes in weight or body mass index scores for either group during the first four weeks, EPA and DHA levels doubled for the omega-3 group. After eight weeks, while the placebo group had not improved, women in the omega-3 group had lost an average 7.2 percent body weight and reduced average body mass index scores by 7.4 percent.
Reference: Food & Function; 2013, Vol. 4, No. 4, 650-8
Omega-3s and girls' metabolism
In this study, 25 obese boys and girls, aged 14 to 17, took a placebo or a daily supplement containing 930 mg EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), 290 mg DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), 100 mg GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), and 19.8 IU vitamin E for three months. After a six-week rest phase, participants alternated placebo and supplement for another three months.
While there were no changes for placebo, or blood sugar benefits for boys, girls taking omega-3s had 17 percent greater insulin sensitivity, a 34 percent increase in insulin levels during a glucose tolerance test, and 39 percent better glucose tolerance. Circulating levels of EPA and DHA increased significantly for both boys and girls, and both had higher tissue and skeletal muscle levels of omega-3s and lower tissue levels of omega-6s, which doctors said raised the chances of maintaining healthy metabolic function in the future.
Reference: Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism; 2012, Electronic Prepublication, Article ID 395757
Fish oil, preschool, and engaged parents raised child's IQ
Doctors reviewed four groups of studies on child intelligence: supplement studies, early education, interactive reading, and preschool. Combining results, researchers found:
Pregnant mothers and newborns who took omega-3s raised the child’s IQ by more than 3.5 points.
Economically disadvantaged children enrolled in an early education program saw IQ rise by 4 to 7 points, with more-in-depth academic and social programs delivering the greatest benefit. Children of parents who read to them and engaged the child in a conversation about the reading raised IQ by more than 6 points. Children who attended preschool had higher IQ than those who did not, and if the program included language development, the IQ gains were larger.
Reference: Perspectives on Psychological Science; 2013, Vol. 8, No. 1, 25-40
Omega-3s help preserve cognitive function and cardio-metabolic health
Prior studies suggest omega-3s help preserve healthy cognitive function, and heart and metabolic health. Doctors said metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes have a link to cognitive decline but few studies explore this relationship. Here, researchers sought a connection between omega-3s, cognitive performance, and cardio-metabolic factors in healthy men and women.
In the study, 40 participants, aged 51 to 72, took a placebo or a supplement containing 1,500 mg of EPA, 1,050 mg of DHA, and 450 mg of other omega-3 fatty acids per day, in two alternating five-week phases. Doctors tested cognitive performance and measured metabolic markers after each phase.
Compared to the placebo phases, during the omega-3 phases, participants had a 5 percent decline in one marker of inflammation, had 6 mmHg lower average systolic blood pressure, an average decline in triglycerides of 16 mg per deciliter of blood, and scored better on cognitive assessment tests.
Reference: Nutrition Journal; 2012, Vol. 11, 99
CoQ10 and omega-3s and 6s lower prostate PSA levels
Doctors wanted to test the ability of coenzyme Q10, omega-6, and omega-3s to alter prostate-specific-antigen (PSA) levels in healthy men with normal PSA levels, which can rise when the prostate is inflamed, enlarged, or cancerous.
In the study, researchers divided 504 healthy men with PSA levels at or below 2.5 nanograms per milliliter of blood into four groups. The men took a placebo, 400 mg of CoQ10 per day, 2,400 mg of the omega-6 GLA per day, or 4,480 mg of EPA plus 2,880 mg of DHA (omega-3s) per day, in divided doses. After 12 weeks, while there was no change for placebo, and a 15 percent increase in PSA levels in the omega-6 GLA group, those who took omega-3s saw a 30 percent reduction in PSA levels, and those who took CoQ10 had 33 percent lower PSA levels.
Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; 2013, FirstView Article, 1-8