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Eating more fish linked to lower cognitive decline in the over 65s

By Stephen DANIELLS , 06-Aug-2014
Last updated on 06-Aug-2014 at 16:45 GMT2014-08-06T16:45:00Z

Eating more fish linked to lower cognitive decline in the over 65s

Consuming more fish could significantly reduce the annual rate of cognitive decline in older adults, says a new study from researchers at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

Increased intakes of fish were also associated with a better verbal memory scores, according to findings published in the Journal of Nutrition .

The new paper ties in with a review from scientists from DSM Nutritional Products. For our coverage, please click HERE. In response to the review, Dr Michael McBurney, PhD, VP Science, Communication & Advocacy – DSM Nutritional Products, told NutraIngredients-USA that, “not enough people are talking about nutritional status and brain function.

“With aging populations in many nations of the world, understanding the role of nutrition in maintaining cognitive function is increasingly important. Not only from a health care cost standpoint but because age-related changes in memory and cognitive skills stress personal relationships and decrease quality of life for all involved,” he said.

One of the key nutrients identified in that review was the omega-3 DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The new study lists other nutrients such as vitamin D, B vitamins, the amino acids arginine and taurine, or trace minerals such as selenium and magnesium as possible contributors to the brain health benefits of fish consumption, in addition to EPA and DHA omega-3s.

Study details

The North Carolina-based scientists evaluated data from 1,566 adults over the age of 55 in China. Dietary intakes were assessed using three day 24 hour recalls at the start of the study and the participants were followed for about five years.

Results indicated that the age of the participants influenced the association between fish consumption and cognitive function, with no associations for the 55-64 age group. However, in people over 65 there was a strong association with fish consumption and cognitive function.

The data showed that at least one serving of fish per week, equivalent to about 100 grams, was associated with a disparity in the annual rate of cognitive decline of 1.6 years, compared with people who consumed less than one serving per week.

Fish consumers also had better scored for composite and verbal memory, said the researchers.

“Our findings of a null association for adults aged 55–64 years were not directly reported in previous literature,” wrote the researchers. “Such null findings do not necessarily indicate that there is no cognitive benefit of fish consumption at younger ages, considering that the window for accruing cognitive benefits may occur over a long period, and that there may be diminished ability to detect associations at younger ages, when the rate of cognitive decline is less pronounced as observed in our study and others.”

“The current study supports a favorable role of fish consumption in deterring cognitive decline,” they added. “At least 1 serving/wk fish (i.e., 100 g) predicted slower cognitive decline among Chinese adults aged [65 years and older]. Future studies should evaluate more precisely whether the beneficial factors are related to particular types of fish or specific nutrients.”

Source: Journal of Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.3945/​jn.114.193854
“Fish Intake Is Associated with Slower Cognitive Decline in Chinese Older Adults”
Authors: B. Qin, B.L. Plassman, L.J. Edwards, et al. 

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