Slice your dementia risk in half with surprising omega-3 shield

You know the importance of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, and how critical it is to your heart and brain.

The real task is getting it.

You can get it from food, such as fatty fish, and of course a fish oil supplement (and I hope you're taking one).

But there's one more way to not only boost your DHA levels, but deliver this essential fatty acid right to where it's needed most -- a way to get your own body to produce more DHA and send it straight to your brain.

All you need is curcumin, a compound found in the turmeric commonly used in curries and other Indian dishes.

Your liver has the power to convert ALA (a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid) as well as DPA into DHA. A little curcumin can dial that ability up a notch and improve the production of DHA, according to experiments involving both in vitro cell culture tests and animal modeling.

Then, it sends the DHA to the brain, as the new study finds that DHA levels in the brain rise after taking curcumin. Once in your brain, DHA can help protect against oxidative damage and even decrease the risk of cognitive decline.

One study from Tufts University a few years ago found that higher levels of DHA can slice your risk of dementia in half.

DHA has also been shown to cut inflammation as measured by C-reactive protein and interleukin­1 beta, both of which have been linked to cognitive problems such as dementia as well as heart problems and other serious health risks.

You can get curcumin from diet if you cook with turmeric. It's a delicious spice that's a member of the ginger family, but since it's not to everyone's taste you can also find it as a supplement.

Along with enhancing DHA production, curcumin has also been shown to fight inflammation and help protect the brain on its own.