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Fish oil can fight off Alzheimer's

Vitamins and the fatty acids in fish oil can help prevent brain shrinkage in older age, linked to Alzheimer's disease, a study has found.

And, conversely, unhealthy trans-fats found in some convenience foods and margarine spreads are likely to promote brain shrinkage.

Scientists studied 104 individuals with an average age of 87 and few risk factors for memory and thinking problems. Tests were carried out to determine the levels of various nutrients in participants' blood samples.

All the volunteers also underwent tests of their memory and thinking skills. In addition, 42 had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to measure their brain volume.

The study found that people with diets high in omega 3 fatty acids and levels of C, D, E and B vitamins were less likely to experience brain shrinkage.

They also had higher mental performance scores than those with diets low in those nutrients.

Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D are primarily found in fish, while B vitamins and vitamins C and E can be obtained from meat, fruits and vegetables.

In total, 7% of the study participants were deficient in vitamin B12 and 25% were deficient in |vitamin D.

The findings have been published online in the journal Neurology. Study author Dr Gene Bowman, from Oregon Health & |Science University in Portland, USA, said: “These results need to be confirmed.

“But obviously it is very exciting to think that people could potentially stop their brains from shrinking and keep them sharp by adjusting their diet.”

Other factors such as age, number of years of education and high blood pressure accounted for 46% of test score variation.

Symptoms

Some of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease include lapses in memory and problems with finding the right words.

Other symptoms that may develop include:

  • Memory problems, such as forgetting the way home;
  • Mood changes, such as feeling sad, frightened or angry;
  • Communication problems.


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