Protect your brain from ZOMBIES!
It's Halloween, and if your neighborhood is anything like mine you've probably got your share of ghosts, ghouls, and goblins on the prowl for candy today.
You might even have a few zombies out looking for brains!
Believe it or not, there are some REAL zombies out there -- brain-eating cells trying to wreck your gray matter, leaving you locked in a battle with dementia.
But the latest research shows a quick and easy way to protect your brain from zombie cells: the omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA.
The gold-standard study out of China tested DHA supplements against placebo capsules filled with corn oil in seniors battling mild cognitive impairment.
One year later, the seniors given the DHA supplements saw improvements in two major measures.
First, they had less of the dreaded "brain shrink" that marks the advance of dementia, especially in the all-important hippocampus.
And second, they ran rings around the folks given corn oil on tests of intelligence.
Over the course of a year, the seniors given the DHA had a 10 percent improvement over the placebo group on IQ tests, according to the study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
Of course, testing for IQ is not quite the same as testing for memory and cognition. However, the study did use IQ subtests and found that the folks given the DHA scored improvements on both information and digit span.
Information relies on long-term memory, while digit span is a solid measure of short-term memory.
There are a number of ways DHA can help protect against cognitive decline, including better circulation so your brain gets the oxygen and nutrients in your blood more efficiently.
Omega-3 fatty acids can also help your brain produce the enzymes needed to fight off the damage of oxidative stress. A 2013 study found that seniors with the highest EPA and DHA intake had lower levels of an oxidative stress marker linked to cognitive decline and memory loss.
For even bigger benefits, add some B vitamins to the mix. In a study published earlier this year, omega-3 supplements and a B complex led to improvements on tests of both thinking and memory in seniors with mild cognitive impairment.
I recommend omega-3 supplements to my own patients, with a minimum of 1,000 grams of DHA per day. Some folks might benefit from the 2,000 mg used in the new study, but you may need to take several capsules to reach that level (check the side panel carefully for the "serving size").
Be sure to speak to a doctor first. While there is nothing unsafe about high-dose fish oil, it can thin the blood and interact with certain medications -- so, you'll need him to sign off on your plan.