Omega-3 deficiency will shrink your brain
Essential fatty acids are called "essential" because they have to be obtained from the food that we eat and cannot be created from monounsaturated or saturated fats. Strict vegetarians who do not consume animal products, including fish, can potentially develop omega-3 deficiency. However, flax seed oil is a good vegetable source of alpha linolenic acid (ALA) which is an omega-3 fatty acid with 18 carbon atoms that can be converted by the body into EPA with 20 carbons, and DHA with 22 carbons, although at low efficiency.
A recent study tried to find out why higher dietary intake of omega-3 fats and higher blood levels of DHA and EPA have been associated with a reduced risk for dementia. The researchers performed cognitive tests and measured the brain volume of 1,575 dementia-free participants of the Framingham Study. The participants with the lowest blood levels of DHA had lower total brain volumes. Participants with lower omega-3 levels also had lower scores on tests of visual memory, abstract thinking, and executive function which includes cognitive processes such as planning, memory, attention span, problem solving and verbal reasoning. The study concludes that lower blood levels of DHA are associated with smaller brain volumes and cognitive impairment even in persons free of clinical dementia.Beyond the 120 Year Diet: How to Double Your Vital Years", 2000.
 Edwards R, et al., Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in the diet and in red blood cell membranes of depressed patients, J Affect Disord. 1998 Mar; 48(2-3):149-55. PMID: 9543204
 Tan, Z.S., et al., Red blood cell omega-3 fatty acid levels and markers of accelerated brain aging, Neurology, February 28, 2012 78:658-664
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