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Omega-3’s May Help Protect Brain Health

Exposure to air pollution may result in several health effects including difficulty in breathing, worsening of existing respiratory and cardiac conditions, and cognitive problems. A recent study suggests that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against shrinkage of brain matter related to air pollution exposure.

Participants in the study included 1,315 women with an average age of 72.5. All of them were dementia free at the beginning of the study. Diet questionnaires were used to evaluate the average amount of fish the participants consumed each week. The researchers determined the participants’ three-year average exposure to air pollution. They used blood samples to measure the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in their red blood cells, and administered MRI’s to measure brain volume.

Participants with the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood had significantly greater volumes of white matter and hippocampus than participants with the lowest levels. When the researchers looked at increasing levels of exposure to air pollution, they found that white matter volume was on average 11.52 cm3 smaller in participants with lower levels of omega-3’s, compared to 0.12 cm3 smaller in participants with higher levels of omega-3’s.

The study was conducted by researchers from Columbia University. It was published online ahead of print on July 15, 2020 in the journal Neurology.

 

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