A Higher Omega-3 Index May Protect the Brain from Air Pollution, According to New Study Published in Neurology

OmegaQuant’s William S. Harris, PhD, is an author on a new study published in Neurology examining the protective benefits of omega-3s EPA and DHA in the brain. The study showed that women who had a higher Omega-3 Index were more protected from the adverse effects on the brain from air pollution than those with a lower Omega-3 Index. As expected, the Omega-3 Index correlated directly with the reported consumption of non-fried fish.

A total of 1,315 women (aged 65 to 80 years) free of dementia were enrolled in this study between 1996 and 1999. They underwent structural brain MRI in 2005-6. Based on prospectively collected and geocoded participant addresses, researchers used a spatiotemporal model to estimate the 3-year average air pollution exposure before the MRI. Then they examined the relationship between the amount of pollution the women were exposed to and the size of different sections of the brain.

Overall, the more pollution exposure, the greater the shrinkage of the brain. But the important finding was that a high Omega-3 Index markedly blunted this correlation whereas it was quite strong among those with a low Omega-3 Index.

More specifically, participants with higher Omega-3 Index levels had significantly greater volumes of white matter and hippocampus, suggesting that the benefits of omega-3s on brain aging may include protection against potential adverse effects of air pollution on white matter volumes.

Dr. Bill Harris believes this is significant because it shows the protective brain benefits of omega-3s against air pollution and subsequently brain aging. Even more important, he said, it underlines the benefits based on an omega-3 blood level, lending yet another layer of substantiation for the Omega-3 Index in maintaining brain health.



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About OmegaQuant: OmegaQuant is an independent, CLIA-certified lab that offers Omega-3 Index testing to researchers, clinicians and the public and sets the standard for fatty acid testing. OmegaQuant performs fatty acid analysis in Sioux Falls, SD, for commercial and academic research collaborators, and for consumers interested in monitoring their nutritional status in both blood and breast milk. Its goal is to offer the highest quality fatty acid analytical services to researchers and to provide simple tests of nutritional status to consumers, with the ultimate purpose of advancing the science and use of Omega-3 fatty acids to improve health. Most recently, OmegaQuant formed a partnership with CSIRO to help process lab samples coming from Australia and the APAC region, with a lab based in Adelaide, Australia. OmegaQuant also has a lab partnership with the University of Stirling, based in the Scotland, to help process blood samples from Europe.

About Dr. Bill Harris: William S. Harris obtained a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota under Dr. Patricia Swan (FASN 2003) and did post-doctoral research in lipid metabolism under Dr. William Connor (FASN 1996) at the Oregon Health Sciences University. He then served as the Director of the Lipid Research Laboratories at the University of Kansas Medical Center (KUMC) and at the Mid America Heart Institute, both in Kansas City, MO, for 22 years during which time he was on the faculty at KUMC and at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine. In 2006 he moved to Sioux Falls, SD where he became the first Director of the Cardiovascular Health Research Center at Sanford Research/University of South Dakota (USD). He is currently a Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at the Sanford School of Medicine at USD.

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