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Omega-3 Home Test to Predict Cognitive Ability and Dementia Risk

by Patrick Holford(more info)

listed in essential fatty acids, originally published in issue 295 - June 2024

A new "do it at home" pinprick blood test for omega-3 can predict your cognitive ability, dementia risk, brain size and intelligence.

Foodforthebrain.org, a charity dedicated to researching cognitive function and helping people look after their brain and reduce their risk of dementia and other brain-related health challenges, has today (31st Oct.) launched a new "do it at home" pinprick blood test for omega-3.

Omega 3 Test Food for the Brain

https://foodforthebrain.org/product/omega-3-index/

Omega 3 Index Basic Test

Multiple studies, including a new study by psychologists at the Linda Loma University in California and published in the journal Brain Sciences,[1] have found that the higher a person’s omega-3 index was in their blood, the more white matter there was in their brain, and the better they performed on cognitive tests that predict less risk for dementia.

With omega-3 such an important brain-health indicator, FoodfortheBrain.org has launched an easy, do it yourself, home pin prick test, so your omega-3 levels can be accurately determined. Research also shows that the test can predict brain size and intelligence.

The study in California not only found omega-3 was a clear predictor of cognitive function and dementia risk (the higher the omega-3, the lower the risk), it also found that in older people in good health, levels of omega-3 predicted both their brain volume and their cognitive abilities on tests of memory and speed of thinking (the higher the level the bigger their brain volume and the faster their thinking).

Fish

Fish

“This confirms previous growing evidence that a person’s omega-3 index, which is a composite score of the two main brain-friendly omega-3 fats found in seafood, called EPA and DHA, predicts both the risk for depression[2] and dementia,[3] and poorer reading ability, lower IQ, worse memory, difficulty sleeping, aggression and emotional instability in children – hallmarks of ADHD [4]”says Patrick Holford, founder of FoodfortheBrain.org.

The Omega-3 index, which should be above 8%, also predicts risk for heart disease[5] and developmental problems in babies from measures taken in women both before and during pregnancy. “Pregnant women with a higher omega-3 index have a much lower risk of having a baby with developmental problems, according to research at Imperial College London from the Institute of Brain Chemistry at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital campus.” adds Holford. “It is wise for a woman considering pregnancy to check their omega-3 index and ensure it is above 8%.”

The home test kit, available from FoodfortheBrain.org, also includes a free Cognitive Function Test and a questionnaire to complete about your diet and lifestyle that then identifies the key changes that lower risk of dementia.

“We have tested over 400,000 people and our goal is now to track people’s blood levels of omega-3 with cognitive function to work out exactly what the optimal intake of omega-3 for brain health actually is” explains Holford.

walnuts

Walnuts

While there is a type of omega-3 fat (called linolenic acid) in green leafy vegetables, as well as walnuts, chia and flax seeds, its conversion into EPA and DHA is poor. The ability to convert plant-based omega-3 into EPA, which is associated with better mood, and DHA which is the main brain-building omega-3 fat linked to lower risk of age-related memory decline and dementia, varies from person to person. The charity hope to find out whether other factors such as age, sex, alcohol consumption and dietary habits, other than seafood intake, make a difference to the ability to make the brain-friendly types of omega-3 measured in this test.

The intake of marine foods has continued to decline over the past hundred years and countries with the lowest intake have the most risk for depression,[6], dementia[7] and suicide.[8] Even the rate of homicide is linked to a country’s omega-3 intake according to World Health Organisation data.[9]

“Less than 5 per cent of children achieve the basic government guidelines for eating fish and omega-3;[10] however we really don’t know if even these guidelines are optimal for mental health.” Says Holford. “The more people who are willing to take this inexpensive test and complete a short questionnaire about their dietary habits, plus take a 10 minute online Cognitive Function Test, the more effectively we can discover what an optimal intake of omega-3 for brain health and the prevention of dementia later in life is. We are calling for members of the public to become citizen scientists in this way.” The test, which costs £49.95, helps to support this research.

Further Information

To check your omega-3 status go to www.foodforthebrain.org/tests

About the Food for the Brain Foundation

The Food for the Brain Foundation (foodforthebrain.org) is an educational and research charity, focussing on dementia prevention. Its free online validated Cognitive Function Test, followed by the Dementia Risk Index questionnaire assessing eight drivers of dementia, including “brain fats” and “low carbs & GL [glycaemic load]” thus identifying those eating too many carbs and not enough brain fats, then advising them what to do. www.foodforthebrain.org/tests

References

  1. Loong, S.; Barnes, S.; Gatto, N.M.; Chowdhury, S.; Lee, G.J. Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Cognition, and Brain Volume in Older Adults. Brain Sci.2023,13,1278. DOI: 3390/brainsci13091278  
  2. Yonezawa K, Kusumoto Y, Kanchi N, Kinoshita H, Kanegae S, Yamaguchi N, Ozawa H. Recent trends in mental illness and omega-3 fatty acids. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2020 Nov;127(11):1491-1499. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-020-02212-z Epub 2020 May 25. PMID: 32451632.
  3. Wei BZ, Li L, Dong CW, Tan CC; Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative; Xu W. The Relationship of Omega-3 Fatty Acids with Dementia and Cognitive Decline: Evidence from Prospective Cohort Studies of Supplementation, Dietary Intake, and Blood Markers. Am J Clin Nutr. 2023 Jun;117(6):1096-1109.DOI: 1016/j.ajcnut.2023.04.001   Epub 2023 Apr 5. PMID: 37028557; PMCID: PMC10447496.
  4. Montgomery P, Burton JR, Sewell RP, Spreckelsen TF, Richardson AJ. Low blood long chain omega-3 fatty acids in UK children are associated with poor cognitive performance and behavior: a cross-sectional analysis from the DOLAB study. PLoS One. 2013 Jun 24;8(6):e66697. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0066697  Erratum in: PLoS One. 2013;8(9).  https://doi.org/10.1371/annotation/26c6b13f-b83a-4a3f-978a-c09d8ccf1ae2   PMID: 23826114; PMCID: PMC3691187; see also Raine A, Ang RP, Choy O, Hibbeln JR, Ho RM, Lim CG, Lim-Ashworth NSJ, Ling S, Liu JCJ, Ooi YP, Tan YR, Fung DSS. Omega-3 (ω-3) and social skills interventions for reactive aggression and childhood externalizing behavior problems: a randomized, stratified, double-blind, placebo-controlled, factorial trial. Psychol Med. 2019 Jan;49(2):335-344. DOI: 1007/s11920-018-0894-y   PMID: 29623453.
  5. see also Liu, J., Cui, Y., Li, L. et al. The mediating role of sleep in the fish consumption – cognitive functioning relationship: a cohort study. Sci Rep 7, 17961 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17520-w
  6. 1 Elagizi A, Lavie CJ, O'Keefe E, Marshall K, O'Keefe JH, Milani RV. An Update on Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Health. Nutrients. 2021 Jan 12;13(1):204. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13010204 . PMID: 33445534; PMCID: PMC7827286.
  7. Yonezawa K, Kusumoto Y, Kanchi N, Kinoshita H, Kanegae S, Yamaguchi N, Ozawa H. Recent trends in mental illness and omega-3 fatty acids. J Neural Transm (Vienna). 2020 Nov;127(11):1491-1499. DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s00702-020-02212-z   Epub 2020 May 25. PMID: 32451632.
  8. Hibbeln JR. Depression, suicide and deficiencies of omega-3 essential fatty acids in modern diets. World Rev Nutr Diet. 2009;99:17-30. DOI: 1159/000192992    Epub 2009 Jan 9. PMID: 19136836.
  9. Hibbeln JR. From homicide to happiness--a commentary on omega-3 fatty acids in human society. Cleave Award Lecture. Nutr Health. 2007;19(1-2):9-19. DOI: 1177/026010600701900204   PMID: 18309762.
  10. Kranz, S.; Jones, N.R.V.; Monsivais, P. Intake Levels of Fish in the UK Paediatric Population. Nutrients 2017, 9, 392. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9040392

Further Information and Media Contact

For media enquiries please contact Sophie at Panpathic Communications: Sophie@panpathic.com on Tel: 01323440998; Mob: 07815 860 082.

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About Patrick Holford

Patrick Holford BSc DipION FBANT NTCRP is Nutrition and Mental Health Expert & Founder of the Institute for Optimum Nutrition Advice, VitaminC4Covid, and the charitable Food for the Brain Foundation, which studies how to prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. Patrick reads thousands of studies a year assimilating the latest health breakthroughs and turn them into practical advice to make it easy for everyone to live a healthy life. He is author of over 45 health books translated into 30 languages. https://www.patrickholford.com/ 

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