Fish oil may preserve brain cells later in life, especially women

Published On: Jan 23 2014 04:23:49 PM EST

A new study finds omega-3 fatty acids, which typically come from fish oil, may help preserve brain cells later in life- especially in women.  

"The blood levels of some fatty-acids that you see after the consumption of some fish correlates with sizes of some areas of the brain that are involved in memory," explained Dr. Jagan Pillai, who did not take part in the study but is a neurologist at Cleveland Clinic.

University of South Dakota researchers tested the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in more than 1,100 women.  MRI scans were taken of their brains eight years later to measure their brain volume.  At that time, their average age was 78.

Results show those with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids had a 2.7 percent larger volume in the hippocampus area of the brain, which plays an important role in memory.  Researchers say the larger brain volume could delay the normal loss of brain cells that comes with aging.

"This is very encouraging and it gives support for you to take the FDA recommendation of having fish in your diet two days a week pretty seriously as part of your healthy diet routine," said Pillai.

Complete findings for this study are in the journal Neurology.

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