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Vitamins, Omega-3s May Keep Brain From Shrinking: Study
Date:12/28/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Older adults with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B, C, D and E in their blood performed better on certain measures of thinking abilities, and also tended to have larger brain volume, a new study finds.

Seniors with high levels of trans fats in their blood fared worse on certain thinking tests than those with lower levels of the unhealthy fats, and also had more brain shrinkage.

Researchers said the findings suggest that nutrients work "in synergy" with one another to be protective of brain health.

"For people with a vitamin profile high in B, C, D, E, those particular nutrients seem to be working together on some level," said lead study author Gene Bowman, an assistant professor in the department of neurology at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. "Having high scores for those vitamins was associated with better cognitive function and larger brain volume."

The study is published in the Dec. 28 online edition and the Jan. 24 print issue of the journal Neurology.

In the study, researchers measured levels of more than 30 nutrients in the blood of 104 people with an average age of 87. Overall, participants were well-educated, healthy nonsmokers who had relatively few chronic diseases and were free of memory and thinking problems. Researchers also did MRI scans of 42 participants to measure their brain volume.

Some amount of brain atrophy, or shrinkage, occurs with aging. More significant shrinkage is associated with mental decline and Alzheimer's disease.

The investigators found that the various nutrients seemed to affect different aspects of thinking, suggesting that they work on different pathways in the brain.

People with high levels of vitamins B, C, D and E performed better on tests of executive function and attention, and had better visuospatial skills and global c
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