Omega-3s plays a pivotal role in early development, especially of the nervous system. It is also important for maintaining a stable physiological environment and preventing chronic inflammation. There are two major types of omega-3s. These are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Between the two, DHA is more commonly found in the brain, where it helps prevent cell death caused by inflammation. This effect is important for preventing neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. Meanwhile, EPA is not as abundant in the brain but it is found in high amounts in the arteries.
A study published in the journal Nutrients showed how omega-3 supplementation is beneficial for memory decline caused by aging. For this study, the researchers recruited 48 participants who were between 40 to 85 years old and had blood pressure that was slightly above normal. These participants were divided into two groups. The first group received four capsules of fish oil, which contained 400 mg of DHA and 100 mg of EPA, daily for 20 weeks. Meanwhile, the other group was given four capsules of corn oil placebo per day for the same period of time.
The researchers evaluated brain function of the participants at the beginning of the study and after 20 weeks. This was done while the participants were at rest and while they were performing cognitive tasks. From these tests, the researchers found that omega-3 supplementation caused significant improvements in blood flow in response to cognitive stimuli. Additionally, they found that blood flow improved when there were elevated carbon dioxide levels in the blood. Both of these effects were associated with an increase in serum levels of EPA.
Overall, the results of this study suggest that omega-3s, especially EPA, are beneficial for preventing age-related memory decline due to poor blood flow. This effect is especially beneficial since stressful situations often have a negative effect on blood flow.
Omega-3s can be acquired either from supplements or dietary sources. These include cold-water fatty fish, nuts and seeds, plant oils, seaweed, and edamame. By increasing your intake of foods rich in omega-3s, you can enjoy the following health benefits:
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