Life Extension Update
Tuesday, January 3, 2012. In an article published online on December 28, 2011 in the journal Neurology, Gene Bowman, ND, MPH, of Oregon Health & Science University in Portland and his colleagues report a beneficial effect on brain volume for healthy dietary patterns as reflected by plasma nutrient levels in older men and women.
One hundred four participants with an average age of 87 who had few risk factors for cognitive impairment were tested for 30 nutrient biomarkers including vitamins B, C, E and E, omega-3 fatty acids and trans fatty acids. All subjects were evaluated for memory and cognitive function, and 42 participants also underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to assess brain volume, which frequently declines with aging.
While a pattern of high plasma levels of vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, D and E, and folate, or high plasma marine omega-3 fatty acids were each associated with greater brain volume and better cognitive function, having an increased plasma level of trans fat was associated with reductions in both brain volume and test scores. The researchers attributed 17 percent of the variation in cognitive test scores and 37 percent of the variation in brain size to nutrient status.
The study is among the first to assess the relationship between a wide range of blood nutrient levels with brain volume and function. "This approach clearly shows the biological and neurological activity that's associated with actual nutrient levels, both good and bad," stated coauthor Maret Traber, who is a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute. "The vitamins and nutrients you get from eating a wide range of fruits, vegetables and fish can be measured in blood biomarkers. I'm a firm believer these nutrients have strong potential to protect your brain and make it work better."
"These findings are based on average people eating average American diets," she added. "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."
Dr Bowman remarked that "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."
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