Marine Omega-3s Linked to Prevention of Parkinson's Disease and More
A milestone report links long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) with the prevention of Parkinson's disease, according to the December 2007 Fats of Life and PUFA Newsletter electronic publications, which summarize the latest scientific findings on PUFAs.
"Papers with the potential to redirect our thinking about diseases are rare, but this study from Laval University in Quebec City, Canada, might do it for Parkinson's disease," said Editor Joyce Nettleton. "The researchers showed that the consumption of marine omega-3s-mainly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)-- protected Parkinson's animals from losing their dopamine-producing neurons. Animals without these omega-3s lost 30 percent of these essential cells, a hallmark of the disease. The implication is that sufficient brain DHA might be able to prevent the onset of Parkinson's disease."
The e-newsletters cover other studies linking marine omega-3s and better cognitive abilities in aging. Eating fish regularly or having higher amounts of omega-3s in the blood are characteristic of older people who have escaped dementia or Alzheimer's disease, according to research from France and the Netherlands. In Norway, participants in their 70s who consumed fish at least once a week had superior mental abilities compared with those who avoided eating fish.
Cognitive benefits from omega-3s seem not to be limited to older adults. Research from Australia found that infants consuming breast milk high in DHA had higher cognitive scores at age 21/2 years. The same study showed that mothers taking a high dose of fish oil in their last part of pregnancy increased the amount of omega-3s in their milk and in the infant for at least 6 weeks after delivery.
Research from Spain reported that more frequent fish consumption in children 6 1/2 years of age with higher risk of allergies was linked to significantly lower chance of developing allergic conditions. Evidence now suggests that maternal intake of omega-3s in pregnancy and a child's consumption of fish are associated with lower risk of childhood allergies.
"For all of these reasons, expecting mothers and people at risk for Parkinson's disease should resolve in the new year to consume more marine omega-3s," Nettleton concluded.
The quarterly Fats of Life and PUFA Newsletter, sponsored by DSM Nutritional Products, are online at http://www.fatsoflife.com/ and by complimentary subscription.