Omega-3 From Eating Fish May Protect Our Brains From Toxic Effects of Air Pollution

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Older females who consume more than one to 2 portions a week of baked or broiled fish or shellfish might take in enough omega-3 fats to neutralize the results of air contamination on the brain, according to a brand-new research study released in the July 15, 2020, online concern of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers discovered that amongst older females who resided in locations with high levels of air contamination, those who had the most affordable levels of omega-3 fats in their blood had more brain shrinking than females who had the greatest levels.

“Fish are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and easy to add to the diet,” stated research study author Ka He, M.D., Sc.D., of Columbia University in New York. “Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to fight inflammation and maintain brain structure in aging brains. They have also been found to reduce brain damage caused by neurotoxins like lead and mercury. So we explored if omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect against another neurotoxin, the fine particulate matter found in air pollution.”

The research study included 1,315 females with a typical age of 70 who did not have dementia at the start of the research study. The females finished surveys about diet plan, exercise, and case history.

Researchers utilized the diet plan survey to determine the typical quantity of fish each female taken in weekly, consisting of broiled or baked fish, canned tuna, tuna salad, tuna casserole, and non-fried shellfish. Fried fish was not consisted of due to the fact that research study has actually revealed deep frying damages omega-3 fats.

Participants were provided blood tests. Researchers determined the quantity of omega-3 fats in their red cell and after that divided the females into 4 groups based upon the quantity of omega-3 fats in their blood.

Researchers utilized the females’s house addresses to identify their three-year typical direct exposure to air contamination. Participants then had brain scans with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine different locations of the brain consisting of white matter, which is made up of nerve fibers that send out signals throughout the brain, and the hippocampus, the part of the brain related to memory.

After changing for age, education, smoking cigarettes, and other aspects that might impact brain shrinking, scientists discovered that females who had the greatest levels of omega-3 fats in the blood had higher volumes of white matter than those with the most affordable levels. Those in the greatest group had 410 cubic centimeters (cm3) white matter, compared to 403 cm3 for those in the most affordable group. The scientists discovered that for each quartile boost in air contamination levels, the typical white matter volume was 11.52 cm3 smaller sized amongst individuals with lower levels of omega-3 fats and 0.12 cm3 smaller sized amongst those with greater levels.

Women with the greatest levels of omega-3 fats in the blood likewise had higher volumes of the hippocampus.

“Our findings suggest that higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the blood from fish consumption may preserve brain volume as women age and possibly protect against the potential toxic effects of air pollution,” stated He. “It’s important to note that our study only found an association between brain volume and eating fish. It does not prove that eating fish preserves brain volume. And since separate studies have found some species of fish may contain environmental toxins, it’s important to talk to a doctor about what types of fish to eat before adding more fish to your diet.”

A restriction of the research study was that a lot of individuals were older white females, so the outcomes cannot be generalized to others. Also, scientists were just able to take a look at direct exposures to later-life air contamination, not early or mid-life direct exposures, so future research studies ought to take a look at direct exposures to air contamination throughout an individual’s life-span.


The research study was moneyed by the National Institutes of Health.

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