Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Boost Brain

Preliminary Study Shows More Gray Matter in Brain's Mood-Regulating Areas

From the WebMD Archives

March 7, 2007 -- Omega-3 fatty acids -- found in foods including walnuts, flax, and fatty fish such as salmon and sardines -- may boost brain areas that govern mood.

That's the finding from a preliminary study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh's Sarah Conklin, PhD.

Conklin studied 55 healthy adults who completed a survey on two separate days -- each saying what the participants had eaten the day before. Participants also got brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Conklin focused on gray matter -- which processes information -- located in three brain areas that regulate mood.

Participants with the highest intake of omega-3 fatty acids had the most gray matter in those brain areas, the study shows.

But don't jump to conclusions. The study doesn't prove that omega-3 fatty acids build gray matter. Perhaps participants with the most gray matter in those brain areas happen to favor foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

But if omega-3 fatty acids boost gray matter, that could explain earlier findings linking omega-3 fatty acids to mood regulation, Conklin notes.

She presented the study's results in Budapest, Hungary, at the American Psychosomatic Society's 65th annual scientific conference.

WebMD Health News Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on March 07, 2007


SOURCES: 65th Annual Scientific Conference of the American Psychosomatic Society, Budapest, Hungary, March 7-10, 2007. News release, University of Pittsburgh Schools of Health Sciences.

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