24 Jul Brain volume improved by omega-3 supplements
Baby boomers are reaching the age where it's important to keep the brain active, and a number of recent studies have found some solutions. Adding certain dietary supplements and making a few simple lifestyle changes have been shown to prevent cognitive decline so you can stay sharp and enjoy the golden years.
Supplement your brain
Just like other important organs, the brain can become slower and weaker without proper nutrients and care. Scientists working with the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study examined the effect that fatty-acids can have on different parts of the brain.
The levels of EPA and DHA, important omega-3s, were measured in more than 1,000 postmenopausal women during a study by James Pottala, Ph.D. The results showed that over a period of eight years, women with higher levels of EPA and DHA had an increased total brain volume. Further, greater levels of omega-3s fatty acids were linked to a higher volume in the hippocampal region, which controls the limbic system and certain memories.
A step further
There are also a number of other steps to prevent cognitive decline as you age. It may seem trivial, but studies show that getting a proper amount of sleep can impact brain volume.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all adults, including the elderly, should get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. A study published in the journal Sleep examined how shorter sleep time affects brain function. June Lo, Ph.D., concluded that healthy older adults who sleep less are shown to have greater risk of brain atrophy. The research shows that not getting enough shut-eye is related to ventricular expansion, which can lead to a faster decline in cognitive ability.
While regular exercise is always a good idea, you might need to take it a step further to work your brain. A study published in Psychological Science revealed that regularly engaging in mentally stimulating activities can improve cognitive ability.
"It seems it's not enough just to get out and do something – it's important to get out and do something that's unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially," said Denise Park, Ph.D., a psychological scientist at the University of Texas at Dallas and the lead researcher. "When you're inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone."
Park recommends learning a new, challenging skill such as photography or quilting to keep your brain strong. However, it would also be valuable to add a fish oil supplement, such as Omax3, to your diet, and to make sure you're getting the requisite amount of sleep.