Omega 3, Diet & Lifestyle Factors Influencing Brain Health
Our friend and colleague Dr. Tim Radak is one of our advisory board members of our Human Ecology Project. Dr. Radak has a masters and doctorate in Public Health Nutrition from the leading university for vegetarian science and nutrition, CEPH accredited Loma Linda University,is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has worked in the nonprofit sector and academia for over 20 years, authored or co-authored articles related to plant-based diets in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Dr. Radak has interned at the California Department of Health, and the McDougall program and worked in the nonprofit sector including serving as Director of Nutrition for The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
In this latest article, Dr. Radak shares extensive research on Omega 3, diet and lifestyle factors influencing brain health and risk for cognitive disease and impairment and relevance to vegan diets.
Diet vs Supplements
Diet rather than supplementation should be emphasized, with the exception of Vitamin B12, similar to protective strategies for other chronic diseases. Dr. Tanzi a leading neuroscientist at Harvard university believes that “For heart and brain health, there’s nothing better than a plant-based diet.” (Tanzi, 2014). A 2014 International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain concluded with several guidelines including “Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples of the diet” (Barnard, 2014) and a recent review suggested there is mounting evidence in support of plant based diets for reducing or preventing age related cognitive decline and dementia via their neuroprotective effects (Rajaram, 2019). while unhealthy Westernized diets increase risk (Agarwal, 2021).
Dementia & Alzheimer's
Supplements in studies for AD or dementia or cognitive decline have largely been without success or significant benefit, including Vitamin E, D, B vitamins, calcium, copper, zinc, selenium and mixed to low evidenced of benefit for beta-carotene and Vitamin C (Rutjes, 2018; Kryscio, 2017)
In 2019, the FDA cracked down on 17 supplement companies who had false claims for brain health on their labels (FDA, 2019) including vitamins, minerals, Omega 3, herbal products, as well as "nootropics", supplements purported to benefit cognitive function.
And in 2016, CVS drug, who touted an algae DHA supplement that prevents dementia was successfully sued for this deceptive claim and the FDA forcing removal of the claim.
“There is zero evidence from any reasonably rigorous study that any supplement or dietary aid has any benefit on cognitive function or decline in late life,” says Dr. David Knopman at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota (Knopman, 2019). Other concerns about fish oil supplements in particular include adding insult to significant depletion and overfishing of fish stocks and increasing concern regarding sustainability. Pollutants are also a concern. A 2013 study examining children’s fish oil supplements found that every sample contained levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (Ashley, 2013).
Please read Dr. Radak's extensive article and share with family, friends and colleagues. Where you get your information on health becomes even more important day after day. Please trust the pioneers who are our advisory board members, Bill and I are blessed to have all them contributing excellent articles to our resources packs for schools. All of these fine people share their work freely for a healthy world and not for profit. Heart-warming to say the least.
In good health