docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

  1. Power your sperm with seafood

    Gentlemen, if you want to keep your sperm swimming -- and who doesn't? -- head on over to the nearest fish market and load up on tuna and salmon.

    The fattier the fish, the better -- because the same fatty acids that make these fish such healthy choices for everything from your heart to your eyes to your brain are also positively critical to your fertility.

    The omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is one of the essential building blocks of sperm -- and a new study on mice shows how it's also a key part of the acrosome, which is what enables the sperm to penetrate the egg.

    You might say it's the most important part of all. The mice would agree: When they were denied DHA, they produced fewer sperm -- and the ones they did create were misshapen, rendering them infertile.

    But once DHA was put back into their diets, they began to produce again like, well, mice. (Side note: There has to be a pest-control angle in here somewhere).

    This is, of course, just one study on mice. But human studies have also shown how high levels of these essential fatty acids can boost your fertility.

    One study from just a couple of years back found that fertile men tended to have higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, while infertile men had higher levels of omega-6 fatty acids.

    And these days, with diets heavy in grain fed animals from factory farms, most of us get less of the desirable omega-3s and far more of the undesirable omega-6 fatty acids.

    Call it one more reason to switch to fresh all-natural grass-fed meats.

    Naturally, omega-3 fatty acids aren't the only answers for sperm health. A lot goes into male fertility -- and studies over the years have shown that high levels of vitamin D can boost the speed and forward motion of sperm, an essential trait called motility.

    Other studies have also shown that junk food, soda and the BPA used to line canned goods (including soda cans) can slash sperm levels and turn the ones that are left into the microscopic equivalent of couch potatoes: slow, lazy and uninterested in the quest for the egg.

    That would explain the recent rise in male infertility.

  2. Aging signs -- or warning signs?

    Millions of seniors battle the three S's in their later years: the stoop, the shakes, and the shuffle. And most docs will respond with their own S: the shrug as they tell you it's just part of getting older.

    Bull.

    Just because you're getting older doesn't mean you have to sit back and tolerate a slow descent into feebleness -- and now, a new study finds that the three S's aren't signs of aging.

    They're warning signs of something much more serious.

    Researchers have been tracking some 1,100 aging priests and nuns since 1994, examining them for the "typical" signs of aging -- like the three S's -- while they're alive, and then studying their brains after death.

    In autopsies of 418 of the volunteers who lived to an average age of 88, the researchers found a surprising number of microscopic brain lesions -- including lesions in 30 percent of the patients who had never suffered a stroke or brain disease.

    Those who had the most trouble walking in their final years often had multiple lesions, and two-thirds of the patients overall had at least one blocked blood vessel in the brain -- leading researchers to conclude that these blockages may be the real cause of the three S's.

    The only problem here is that they're so small they can't be spotted in a living brain with any current technology -- only under a microscope during an autopsy.

    If it's a warning, it's a real quiet one -- and if you think spotting these lesions is hard, treating them can be downright devastating: In many cases, the choice comes down to doing nothing, or undergoing a risky brain surgery that no senior wants to face.

    Fortunately, emerging research has found that fatty acids can work wonders when it comes to brain injuries, especially the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in fish oil.

    That's no surprise, since more than half of your brain is fat, and one of the main fats in your brain is DHA.

    Some studies have shown that this essential fatty acid can help improve patients who suffer from the types of brain lesions associated with cognitive decline, while other recent studies have found that DHA may help the brain to recover from traumatic injuries.

    It's too early to say whether fatty acid supplements can prevent or heal the types of brain lesions uncovered by the new study -- but why wait? The omega-3s can help your brain, heart, eyes, and more -- and unless you've got a pretty steady fatty fish habit, you should be taking this stuff anyway.

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