From: Roman Bystrianyk on
A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids is known have an Alzheimer's-
proofing effect on the brain, and Australian scientists believe they
have figured out why.

Researchers at Melbourne's Deakin University have found its protective
powers stem from an ability to regulate the brain's natural level of
zinc, which can prove toxic at elevated levels.

Cellular biologist and project leader Professor Leigh Ackland said
previous research had shown a reduced incidence of neurodegenerative
diseases in populations with a diet rich omega-3 fatty acids.
Prof Ackland and her colleagues looked specifically at the
relationship between one of these acids - docosahexaenoic acid or DHA
- and zinc in neuronal cells which are responsible for transmitting
signals in the brain.

"We found that when the level of DHA in neuronal cells drops, the
level of zinc rises," she said.

"The higher levels of zinc can be toxic, resulting in cell death ... a
key feature of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's.

"We believe that having omega-3 fatty acids in the diet helps keep the
levels of zinc in the brain in balance and helps prevents the increase
in levels that triggers cell death."


Source: Sydney Morning Herald