Too often, we look at the physiological effect of different nutrients in isolation, however, more and more research is uncovering the synergistic benefits of nutrients in combination. Take omega-3s and B vitamins, for example. An unlikely pair, they have been shown to work better together when examining brain health and cognition.
Research has already determined that B vitamin supplements may support memory and learning in elderly patients, and, also, omega-3s are strongly associated with neuroprotective benefits, but newer research suggests these benefits magnify when the two are combined.
One Oxford University study looked at whether or not lowering homocysteine levels by supplementing with high-dose-B-vitamins (folate, B6 and B12) would influence people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). They also tested baseline plasma omega-3 fatty acid levels to further investigate its role. Because MCI as defined by a subtle decline in cognitive function may foreshadow clinicaldementia, any information that may help in maintaining healthy cognition is important.
In those with increased homocysteine levels, supplementing with B-vitamins over a two-year period did, in fact, slow the rate of brain atrophy, particularly in those regions susceptible to Alzheimer’s Disease. Those subjects also clearly demonstrated a slowing down of cognitive decline. What they found, however, was that these effects were greatly enhanced in those people with high baseline levels of omega-3 fatty acids versus those with lower levels, suggesting that yes, B-vitamins are effective, but the cognitive benefits may be enhanced with a higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body.
The takeaway? Take your Bs with omega-3s for better brain health!