Fish may help maintain brain volume, function, with age

Fish may help maintain brain volume, function, with age

Credit: KING

Fish may help maintain brain volume, function, with age

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by NANCI HELLMICH / USA TODAY

KING5.com

Posted on February 17, 2014 at 2:02 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 17 at 3:35 PM

While a diet rich in fish has been touted as a way to improve brain health, research has been mixed.

Now, a new study of older women finds those with higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, had less brain loss as they aged. That might mean they would maintain better brain function for an extra year or two.

Results suggest fish oil may help delay cognitive aging and dementia, says lead author, Jay Pottala of the University of South Dakota. The new study is in the journal Neurology.

Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, herring, mackerel, tuna, sardines and swordfish.

Shrinking brain volume is part of aging, Pottala says, but MRI scans found that the brains of women with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids "didn't atrophy as much."

These benefits could be achieved with fish or fish oil supplements, he says; to get to enough, you would have to eat fish five times a week, or twice a week and take supplements.

Physical activity also has been shown to potentially reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease, adds Heather Snyder of the Alzheimer's Association.

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