Omega-3s and pycnogenol linked to longer life, faster motor skills and better memory

Older adults lived longer and functioned better as Omega-3 and Pycnogenol levels increased, according to several new findings.

Doctors in a lifespan study noted there is firm evidence that omega-3s reduce heart disease and wondered if the fatty acids might also extend life. To find out, researchers measured blood levels of an omega-3 (eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA) in more than 250 older adults hospitalized with an acute illness and followed up three years later. About one-quarter started the study with low EPA levels and by the end, that group was 40 percent more likely to have died compared to the three-quarters who started the study with higher EPA levels.

In a reflex and reaction-time study, doctors measured blood plasma levels of omega-3s in over 800 participants, aged 50 to 70. After three years, those who had started with higher omega-3 levels had 69 percent less decline in hand-eye speed and 60 percent less decline in skilled-movement speed compared to those who started with lower omega-3 levels.

In an Alzheimer’s disease (AD) study, about 175 participants with mild to moderate AD, average age 74, who were taking drugs to slow the disease, began taking 1,700 mg of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 600 mg of EPA per day or a placebo. After six months, those who had very mild AD had slowed the progress of the disease much more than the placebo group without side effects.

In a memory study, about 100 healthy adults, aged 60 to 85, took 150 mg of the antioxidant Pycnogenol per day or a placebo. Researchers matched the age, sex, intelligence, diet and body mass of each participant in the Pycnogenol group to a similar person in the placebo group. After three months, the Pycnogenol group had much better memory for surroundings and numbers and fewer signs of cell damage (oxidative stress) compared to placebo.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 2008, Vol. 88, No. 3, 722-9.

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