Be A Brainiac


Betsy's is your back-to-school health headquarters

Back-to-school means back to keeping our brains as sharp as possible.  Enjoy these recent articles on the brain and see if you can keep them off your mind (lousy pun intended).

Healthy and Happy

Nutrients help protect the brain and mood

Vitamin E protects the brain

The brain is made of grey and white matter, which store and retrieve information, respectively. Lesions, or damage, in white matter can slow or halt information retrieval, and can be a sign of more serious conditions including decreased brain volume, memory and vision loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

In this study, 88 volunteers with white matter lesions and higher chances of cardiovascular problems took 200 mg of mixed vitamin E tocotrienols twice per day or a placebo. After two years, the placebo group had a larger area of white matter with lesions while lesions in the vitamin E group remained stable.

Discussing their findings, doctors said this is the first clinical trial to show vitamin E tocotrienols slow progress of white brain matter lesions, and that vitamin E may help minimize injury to brain tissue in those who have a stroke.

Reference: Stroke; April, 2014, Published Online

 Omega-3s reduce depressive symptoms

Prior studies found fewer depressive symptoms in those with higher levels of omega-3s. In this study, doctors evaluated 1,746 men and women over a six-year period. Researchers found low levels of the omega-3s EPA and DHA were common in the group.

Comparing omega-3 levels to depressive symptoms, while there was a small benefit in men, women with the highest levels of circulating omega-3s were half as likely as women with the lowest levels to have depressive symptoms.

Doctors said there may be a link between chronic inflammation and depression, and that omega-3s support an anti-inflammatory response while omega-6s are more pro-inflammatory. Comparing levels of omega-3s to omega-6, as omega-3s increased, depressive symptoms decreased.

Reference: Journal of Nutrition; 2013, Vol. 143, No. 11, 1743-52

Betsy’s Note: Those on blood thinners, remember that E and omega-3s also thin blood.  Also, because E is fat-soluble, there are some restrictions, especially for those with diabetes, high blood pressure, cardio and kidney disease.  Consult your healthcare provider.


Better Brains

Omega-3 helps kids and adults perform better

Omega-3 improves kids’ cognition

Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in the developing brain, and in physical and mental health.  In this study, doctors measured fatty acid levels in red blood cell membranes in 493 healthy public schoolchildren aged seven to nine with below average reading performance.

Average concentrations of omega-3s were 2.46 percent, far below the optimal range of eight to 12 percent, and raising chances for circulatory diseases in adulthood, doctors said.

Children with higher levels of omega-3s, particularly DHA, had better reading and working memory, and fewer symptoms of ADHD, regardless of other factors such as gender, family income, or education.  Kids with lower DHA levels tended to have more oppositional behavior and emotional trouble reported by their parents.  About nine in 10 kids ate fish less than twice per week, and one in 10 ate none at all.

Low levels of omega-3s, and DHA in particular, predict behavior and learning problems, and omega-3s may benefit ADHD and related conditions in a wider population, doctors said.

Reference: Public Library of Science One; 2013, Vol. 8, No. 6, e66697

Omega-3 and healthier brains

Small declines in memory and thinking can be a sign of dementia, which is linked to oxidative stress.  In this study, doctors estimated omega-3s in the diets of 67 older adults with mild cognitive impairment and in 134 healthy elders.

Those with cognitive impairment had much higher levels of lipid hydroperoxides, a sign of oxidative stress, than did healthy participants.  Within the group with cognitive impairment, signs of oxidative stress decreased as levels of the omega-3s EPA and DHA increased.

Reference: Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry; 2013, Vol. 24, No. 5, 803-8

Betsy’s Note: Remember that omega-3s also thin blood.  Also, remember these articles are for informational purposes only.  They are not meant to treat, cure, prevent or diagnose any disease.  Consult your healthcare provider.

ARTICLES COPYRIGHT NATURAL INSIGHTS FOR WELL-BEING, 2013-2014.  All rights reserved.  Used with permission.

In health,