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Brain Health Benefits of B Vitamins Shown to Be Dependent on Omega-3 Levels

Previous studies have shown that B vitamin supplements may support brain health by reducing brain tissue loss, but the results have not always been consistent.  In a new study of individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), those given B vitamin supplements and who already had high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids experienced a 40% slowdown in brain atrophy. On the other hand, those who had low omega-3s at the outset, did not experience a benefit from B vitamin supplementation.

Participants in the study included 168 people over the age of 70. They were given a placebo or a vitamin B supplement containing 0.8 mg folic acid, 20 mg B6, and 0.5 mg B12 every day for two years.

 

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that found that participants with the highest average omega-3 levels at the start of the study — levels higher than 590 micromoles per liter — had a 40% slower rate of brain atrophy when compared with the placebo group. They did not observe any association between the lowest average omega-3 levels, those that were less than 390 micromoles per liter, and brain atrophy.

 

The researchers also found a link between B vitamins, omega-3s, and homocysteine levels. The results of their study showed that a sufficient level of vitamin B and low homocysteine levels are needed for the optimal utilization and distribution of omega-3 fatty acids. Homocysteine is an amino acid that has been linked to suspected or confirmed dementia.

 

The researchers concluded that pre-existing levels of plasma omega-3 fatty acids in the body to be high enough to enable vitamin B to counteract brain atrophy. This would explain why some studies looking at vitamin B and brain health have found no link.

 

Researchers from the University of Oxford and other universities conducted the study. It was published in the July 2015 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

 

B vitamins have been linked to numerous health benefits, including improving breast health, nervous system function, red blood cell formation, and hormone function. Studies have also suggested that B vitamins may reduce the risk of hearing loss, and birth defects

 

Our bodies do not naturally synthesize B vitamins. However, it is easy to increase your intake by eating more folate- rich foods. Some foods rich in folate include liver, eggs, beans, sunflower seeds, asparagus, leafy green vegetables, oranges, strawberries, cantaloupes, and other melons. B  vitamin intake also can be bolstered through supplements or fortified foods.

 

Omega-3s have also been linked to a number of health benefits, including improving joint health, heart health and eye health and boosting moods and immune system function.

 

Like B vitamins, omega-3s are not found naturally in the human body, so it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA and EPA omega-3s. T If you dont like the taste of fish or are just finding it hard to work it into your meal plans, consider taking a high quality supplement. Make sure your supplement is tested for purity and potency.

 

 

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