January 27, 2012

Why salmon protects your brain

On Wednesday, I showed you how cinnamon can help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s. I also showed you several other nutrients that have brain-protecting properties. But there’s one relatively unknown nutrient that I didn’t mention. And according to a new study, this super nutrient can have a dramatic impact on the health of your brain.

The researchers conducted this fantastic study on humans! They noted that people getting dementia had higher levels of rancid fatty acids in their blood cell phospholipids. They set to lower that damage with the nutrient astaxanthin.

Astaxanthin is the carotenoid that provides the red color in salmon, shellfish, and microalgae. Like curcumin provides the yellow pigment in curry, astaxanthin provides a redish pigment. And it’s highly nutritious.

In this study, the researchers designed a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial (considered the best study). They had 30 middle-aged and senior participants. They divided them into three groups and gave them either a placebo or astaxanthin (6 mg or 12 mg) daily.

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After 12 weeks, the treatment groups had higher astaxanthin levels than the placebo subjects. The real good news is that the higher levels of the nutrient appeared to lower oxidative damage of the red cell membranes’ phospholipids. They concluded that this might help reduce the incidence of dementia.

In the February issue of Second Opinion, I show you why fish oil doesn’t protect your brain. Here we see that there’s more to salmon that’s healthy than just the oil. I’ve always considered the whole food better than the separate parts. And this study shows why.

However, this is another case where I don’t recommend eating enough salmon to get the right amount of this super nutrient. You would have to eat five ounces of wild salmon daily to get the right dose of astaxanthin.

So if you’ve ever had a test showing undesirable lipid peroxidation or if you show signs of dementia, you might want to add an astaxanthin supplement (6-12 mg) to your daily routine.

You can find astaxanthin at any health food store and online.

Ref: Br J Nutr. 2011 Jun;105(11):1563-71. Epub 2011 Jan 31.

Soundview Communication, Inc.

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