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Lower Risk Of Cognitive Decline With Fish Consumption
In a new study, published in the prestigious Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), researchers found that eating fish or seafood at least once a week lowered the risk of cognitive decline as you age. (1)
The study followed 544 elderly adults for four years, observing the amount of seafood they consumed. After the four-year period, 286 of the volunteers had passed away and their brains were autopsied.
Their brains were evaluated for evidence of cognitive decline, heavy metal (mercury) accumulation, beta-amyloid plaque, brain tangles and vascular concerns.
While the individuals that ate seafood once a week or more had higher levels of mercury from the consumption of fish, surprisingly, the signs of cognitive decline were significantly lower.
This finding was noteworthy for two reasons. First, the group that ate more fish and had lower rates of cognitive decline was found in the individuals who also had a genetic predisposition to cognitive decline from carrying the genotype ApoE4. (1)
Secondly, the mercury levels were much higher in the brains of the group who ate more fish and had lower levels of cognitive decline. While high mercury levels in the brain have been linked to cognitive decline, the higher amount of fish oil consumption may have protected the brain from toxicity. (1)
The public health concern of eating too much fish has been a concern as it may have harmful effects on the functioning of the brain. For example, the FDA has confirmed that eating fish more than twice a week for pregnant women is to be avoided. For more on the mercury levels in fish, please read my recent article, “Is Mercury Lurking In Your Brain?”
This study suggests that exposure to mercury from fish may not be associated with brain and cognitive concerns. Highly purified EPA/DHA extracted from molecularly distilled fish oils has no detectable levels of mercury or any other heavy metal contaminants. However, whole seafood does contain varying levels of heavy metals that must be taken into consideration when eating fish regularly. (1)
If you consume high amounts of fish, you may consider a regimen of oral chelation therapy once or twice a year to lower the risk of heavy metal concerns. Learn more about oral chelation here.