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Keep Older Brains Sharp with Omega 3, Vitamins

Researchers are finding that perhaps we truly are what we eat. Diet does play a significant role in how our brains work as we age.
By Hana Levi Julian, MSW, LCSW-R
First Publish: 1/1/2012, 10:10 AM

Elderly
Elderly
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Researchers are finding that perhaps we truly are what we eat. Diet does play a significant role in how our brains work as we age. And now a team of scientists has found that omega-3 and vitamins B, C, D and E may help keep your brain sharper as you get older. The findings of the study were reported in the December 28, 2011 edition of the journal Neurology.

Scientists from the Departments of Neurology and Public Health and Preventive Medicine and Center for Research in Occupational and Environmental Toxicology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland; Portland VA Medical Center, and the Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis wrote in their report, Nutrient biomarker patterns, cognitive function and MRI measures of brain aging, that higher levels of vitamins and fish body oils resulted in less brain shrinkage that is typical of Alzheimer's disease.

Diets higher in trans-fats -- margarine, baked and fried foods, fast foods and other less healthy dietary items -- produced the opposite result.

The researchers studied 104 people with no special risk factors for poor memory or mental acuity. Their average age was 87. All had blood tests in which 30 different biomarkers were identified, and 42 also had MRI scans to measure their brain volume.

"The vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers," explained Traber in a statement.

"If anyone right now is considering a New Year's resolution to improve their diet, this would certainly give them another reason to eat more fruits and vegetables."

Meanwhile, researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have also found a new way to diagnose and track Alzheimer's disease, using an innovative MRI technique called arterial spin labeling (ASL), to measure changes in brain function.

According to a report published on the Alzheimer's Weekly website, the research team determined that the ASL-MRI test appears to be a promising alternative to the current standard, a specific PET scan that requires exposure to small amounts of a radioactive glucose analog and costs approximately four times more than an ASL-MRI.