Omega-3’s Associated With Better Executive Function in Cohort of Young Children

Omega 3 and Childhood Brain DevelopmentNew research has found young children outperformed their peers on a measure of executive function when they had higher levels of Omega’s in their blood.

Over 300 children between the ages of 2 thru 6 years of age were participated in this recent study.  Blood spots tests were used to measure the participants Omega-3 index.  Children with higher blood levels of Essential Fatty Acids were more like to perform better on the standardized test of executive function, called the Dimensional Change Card Sort (DCCS).  This test involved children sorting cards based on the image shape, which represented a different set of rules than previously learned.  Participants were then asked to sort the cards by color.  The tests had a series of conditions or steps to follow.  Each step was given a pass-fail grade.

Older children performed better than younger participants and children with the highest Omega-3 levels performed at the highest levels.  This study confirmed earlier research which showed similar associations in older participants.  So the relationship between executive boosting and Omega-3 is not linked to any one stage of life.  Researchers believe larger study groups are needed to confirm this link.



Actions of Green Tea and Red Wine Compounds May Slow Neurodegeneration

Resveratrol-Green Tea and NeurodegenerationNew research suggests the nutritional compounds (phytonutreints) found naturally in Red Wine (Tannic Acid-TA) and Green Tea (EGCG-Epigallocatechin gallate) may inhibit the creation of the toxic metabolites that contribute to the progressive loss of function and structure of neurons, including the death of neurons which are seen in Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease. These nutritional compounds seem to aid in preventing the toxic amyloid structures from building up in the brain which when unstopped, advance into neurodegeneration.

Researchers used Culture Cell Systems and In Vitro techniques to test TA and EGCG.  The 2 compounds were tested on three amyloid protein-like metabolites related to three metabolic diseases.  The 2 compounds appeared to reduce the cytotoxicity triggered by these protein-like metabolites.  Computer simulations were used to verify how these compounds worked.  Polyphenols specifically seem to interfere with the amyloid assembly at the molecular level.

Researchers have found that certain amyloid protein-like metabolites are capable of self-assembly and can form amyloid structures like those seen in patients with Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease and other Neurodegenerative Diseases.  Additional studies have found that other metabolites that accumulate in other inborn congenital metabolic diseases also undergo this self-assembly process and form toxic amyloid aggregates.


Omega-3 and Cognitive Health

Omega 3 and Cognitive HealthThere is a lot of research out there that looks at the connection between brain health and Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, from cognitive function and memory to PTSD and mood elevation.

Here is a recap about the current science on Omega-3:

There are many randomized clinical studies that show very clear benefits for Omega-3 and its ability to reduce the rate of age-related cognitive decline and increase cognitive performance.  A key area of research now centers on the role Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids plays in the developments of a healthy fetus during pregnancy.  A new study reported increasing the intake of DHA, a component of Omega-3, could produce improvements in motor function later in life in offspring.  Another study showed improvements in motor, cognition, and visual development in offspring whose mother’s supplemented with Omega-3. The results of a meta-analysis that reviewed 15 randomized controlled gold trials showed an improvement in motor skills in children when Omega-3 supplementation occurred during pregnancy and infancy.

Other studies have reported Omega-3 supplementation supports improvements in behavior and mood, including benefits of EPA and reductions in depression symptoms.  One study found a 50% reduction in depression ratings in participants supplementing with 1,000 mg of EPA which matched the effects seen in patients taking the antidepressant drug Fluoxetine.  A recent study found EPA was helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms in suffers of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  Increased levels of EPA and DHA, EPA only and the ratio of EPA to Omega-6 AA (arachidonic acid) were all associated with low PTSD severity symptoms in individuals who supplemented with Omega-3 after a 3 month period.  Another recent study found people suffering from PTSD benefited from Omega-3 supplementation for relieving psychophysiological symptoms like a pounding heart.

The findings in these new studies are of particular interest to both former and current members of the armed forces.  Additionally interest in Omega-3 for mood improvement, reductions in suicide rates amount current and ex-military personnel, increasing recovery from traumatic brain injury as well as improvements in reaction time for fighter pilots is being reviewed by the military.

Further studies of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids and its benefits are imminent.



Fighting Malnutrition:High-Dose Vitamin D Aids Weight Gain and Brain Development

Vitamin D and MalnutritionAccording to a new study supplementing with a high-dose of Vitamin D may improve language and motor skills development as well as improve weight gain in malnourished children.

185 severely malnourished children between the ages of 6 and 58 months provided the data for this trial.  All the participants were given high energy food sachets and were randomized to either receive a Vitamin D supplement or a placebo.  The study lasted 8 weeks.

The group who were receiving the supplement of Vitamin D experienced a significant improvement in weight (.26 kg compared to the control group).  Additionally Vitamin D seemed to considerably reduce the proportion of children experiencing delayed global development, delayed language development and delayed motor development, which were defined by reaching milestones like learning to talk or walk.

Throughout the world may children live with severe malnutrition which increases their risks of suffering from both physical and mental health conditions.  Currently only modest amounts of Vitamin D are included in the high energy food sachets, which are the typical protocol for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition.

Further studies are planned.



Study Links Lutein Levels to Higher IQ

Lutein and Higher IQA new study finds higher levels of MPOD (macula pigment optical density), a measure of Lutein levels in the brain and eye, is associated with higher IQ levels.  Data from the study showed a higher MPOD level was an independent predictor of fluid intelligence, the ability to problem solve in unique situations and to think creatively in regard to everyday challenges, and IQ levels.

114 obese and overweight individuals between the ages of 25 and 45 participated in this study.  Individuals who are overweight and obese are known to be at risk for having a lower MPOD status.

Many studies in children, the elderly, middle age individuals and primates show Lutein’s importance in brain health.  The link between Lutein’s ability to support the eye and the brain is not a surprise since the brain and the eyes are connected.  In recent studies from pediatric brain tissue samples, Lutein made up about 60% of the total carotenoids identified in the brain tissue.  Considering Lutein makes up 12% of the carotenoids found in the diet, a preference for Lutein in the brain seems evident.

Prior studies have also shown higher blood levels of Lutein and Zeaxanthin are associated with better executive function, memory and cognition.

Further studies are needed.



Higher Omega-3 Index Linked to Better Processing Speeds in Teenagers

Omega 3 and Improvements in Processing SpeedsResearch shows teenager with higher blood levels of Omega-3 may see improvements in information processing speeds compared with those individuals with lower blood levels of Omega-3.

Over 250 teenagers had blood samples taken in order to calculate the participants Omega-3 Index.  Cognitive performance was also assessed using many different cognitive tests.  The average Omega 3 index was determined to by 3.83%, which is well below the recommended range of between 8%-11%.  Participants with high Omega-3 index were excluded when figuring out the mean.  However the mean including those with a high Omega-3 index was still only 3.89%.

A higher Omega-3 index was associated with higher test scores on the LDST and lesser errors on the D2 test of attention.

The Omega-3 Index has also been linked to cardiovascular health.


The Health Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin EVitamin E, an antioxidant, is a fat-soluble nutrient and can only be obtained through food or through supplementation.  It is well known for its benefits for the skin, however it also beneficially for the heart and the brain.  A deficiency of Vitamin E is usually caused by a genetic abnormality or a fat malabsorption disorder.

Health Benefits for the Skin:

People have long recognized that Vitamin E is good for their skin.               Vitamin E in addition to Vitamin C has been proven to provide anti-aging benefits by preventing oxidative damage caused by sunlight.  These two antioxidants are also able to protect the skin against UV irradiation as well as eliminate free radicals, known to break down the polyunsaturated fatty acid membranes that provide cellular protection for every cell.  These two antioxidants used in combination have been shown in studies to provide a synergistic benefit not seen by either antioxidant when taken by them self.  Additionally studies have shown people with vitiligo, a condition where the skin loses its pigmentation, who have taken Vitamin E supplements have improved re-pigmentation of the skin as well as a reduction in the worsening of the condition.  Reductions in inflammation and lesion growth have also been seen with Vitamin E supplementation.Brain

Health Benefits for the Heart:

Vitamin E aids in protecting cells from oxidative stress in addition to preventing LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol from oxidation.  A severe deficiency of Vitamin E can cause cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle.  Animal studies have shown beneficial effects of Vitamin E for atherosclerosis.  In a large study with almost 40,000 women participants over 45 years of age, cardiovascular death rates were reduced by 24% in participants supplementing with Vitamin E.  Women older than 65, experienced a 49% reduction in cardiovascular death rates and a 26% reduction in nonfatal heart attacks.

Health Benefits for Other Things:

New interest in Vitamin E and its ability to support brain health has prompted research.  Some studies have shown Vitamin E could provide protective effects against injuries occurring in brain cells caused by strokes, reducing the risk for neurodegenerative diseases.  It is believed that Vitamin E influences the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment as well.

Vitamin E also has been linked with benefits for individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL).  Studies have found supplementation with Vitamin E improved biochemistry features and microscopic tissue structures of patients with NAFL.

Increased Vitamin E supplementation during pregnancy may be needed to meet the increased needs of the body and to prevent gestational complications including several brain conditions.

In a study of over 29,000 male smokers who supplemented with Vitamin E for 5 – 8 years, a 32% reduction in prostate cancer incidence was seen when compared to the placebo group.

Over 90% of adults in the United States do not meet the average daily requirement of Vitamin E (around 15 mg) according to the Linus Pauling Institute.  Older individuals needing to improve their immunity should take higher dosages.