Algae Brain Food

Interesting reading about omega 3 and DHA!

DHA: An Essential Brain Food

When NASA scientists began their search for the perfect space food for astronauts, they turned their attention to marine algae. What they discovered was that algae was a rich source of the fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The result of their investigation produced a nutrient dense food that could be used not only for astronauts but for those here on earth.1

DHA is a brain food. Studies show that brain tissue contains the highest concentration of DHA in the body, which indicates its value for brain function.2 Within the brain itself, regions most closely related to memory show the greatest DHA concentrations.3-6 Those with a DHA deficiency often show cognitive deficiencies and an increased risk for Alzheimer’s.7,8 Children with high levels of DHA often perform better on tests.9 As a key fatty acid, DHA plays critical roles throughout the body and is a component of the brain’s cerebral cortex, the retina, and human sperm.

As we age, DHA levels normally drop off in older individuals, especially in the all-important hippocampus region of the brain. Studies have shown that supplementation to older animals results in the normalization of hippocampal DHA content.10,11

Algae-based DHA supplementation increases the omega-3 index by 75%!12 A low omega-3 index indicates high risk for developing coronary artery disease. While most people obtain their DHA from fish or fish oil supplements, NASA’s discovery created an option for those who need to boost their vital DHA levels to avoid cognitive degeneration. Thanks to our space program, the benefits of DHA are available for everyone who seeks to avoid the risks of a DHA deficiency.

DHA: Triple-Acting Neuroprotection

Brain tissue has the highest concentration of DHA in the body, suggesting that brain function relies in unique ways on this powerful fatty acid.2 Within the brain itself, regions most closely related to memory show the greatest DHA concentrations.3-6And even at the cellular level, DHA concentrates in the structures involved in forming new memories, such as synaptic membranes and tiny outgrowths called “neurites.”3,13

Large-scale epidemiological studies reveal the benefits of sustained high DHA intake on brain function. Consuming an average of 3g/day of fatty fish offers a 19 to 23% reduction in the risk of mild cognitive impairment, a condition associated with later progression to Alzheimer’s disease.14 People who eat still larger amounts of fatty fish may experience protection of up to 75%.14 On the other hand, low fish intake and low blood DHA levels correlate strongly with increased risk of cognitive impairment and especially Alzheimer’s.7 Animal studies show learning and memory deficits under conditions of DHA deficiency; studies of the animals’ brains demonstrate inflammatory and oxidative damage to neurons.7,8 All of these deleterious effects resolve when adequate DHA intake resumes.

Unlike other fats, which accumulate in fat cells for storage and later release for energy, DHA resides almost exclusively in cell membranes, which undergo continuous degradation and renewal.2 That means in turn that your body needs a constant dietary supply of DHA to avoid depletion and neuronal injury.

One study showed that DHA supplementation in humans at 2g/day provides sufficient DHA to maintain healthy function, but levels drop when the patients stopped taking the supplements.2 To achieve these levels often requires additional DHA supplementation beyond eating a regular diet of fish.

DHA influences how the brain develops and functions; it helps to determine brain structure, and it protects brain tissue from damage. DHA’s protective effects come from three distinct mechanisms:

  1. DHA protects brain tissue from inflammatory damage. It accomplishes this by promoting development of anti-inflammatory molecules while suppressing pro-inflammatory molecules in brain cell membranes.15,16 That alone offers powerful protection against oxidative and other stresses that age brain tissue.
  2. DHA stimulates physical changes that underlie learning and memory. DHA promotes outgrowth of neurites, the tiny projections that form intimate connections between cells as memories form.6,17 DHA promotes rapid signal transduction across synapses and helps membranes maintain their fluidity, a condition required for rapid changes in shape and function we recognize as memory.18,19
  3. DHA promotes healing after injury to brain tissue. Immediately after such an injury, cell membranes release DHA in massive amounts for conversion into compounds calledprotectins.”4,5,13,15,20

Protectins are nature’s way of maintaining the balance between oxidant damage and recovery. They begin to form at the very first sign of damage at the cellular level, whether from a seizure, a stroke, or a traumatic brain injury.4,5,13,15,20

Scientists say that DHA-derived protectins function in a dual manner: they trigger anti-inflammatory processes and simultaneously begin the process of injury resolution.13,15 Acting fast enough and in sufficient quantities, protectins may be able to quash widespread brain degeneration, stopping or slowing neurodegenerative diseases like mild cognitive decline, and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.

The best way to stimulate protectin synthesis? Make DHA maximally available to brain cells, where it’s available for immediate release.20

Let’s now look at laboratory and human studies that demonstrate how DHA protects memory, enhances learning, and slows brain aging.

Source: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/nov2012_DHA_Essential_Brain_Food_01.htm?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=normal

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