Can a new “do it at home” pinprick blood test for omega-3 predict your cognitive ability, dementia risk, brain size, and intelligence?
FoodfortheBrain.org, a charity dedicated to researching cognitive function and helping people care for their brains, has launched this test to reduce the risk of dementia and other brain-related health challenges.
Multiple studies, including recent research by psychologists at Loma Linda University in California published in the journal Brain Sciences, have found a correlation between a person’s omega-3 index in their blood and their brain’s white matter volume. Higher omega-3 levels have been associated with better performance on cognitive tests, indicating a reduced risk of dementia.
With omega-3 recognised as a significant indicator of brain health, FoodfortheBrain.org has introduced an easy-to-use, at-home pinprick test. This allows individuals to accurately determine their omega-3 levels.
The test also claims to predict brain size and intelligence. The California study not only linked higher omega-3 levels with decreased cognitive decline and dementia risk but also found that in older, healthy individuals, omega-3 levels predicted both brain volume and cognitive abilities in memory and processing speed tests.
Patrick Holford, founder of FoodfortheBrain.org, explains, “This confirms the growing evidence that a person’s omega-3 index – a composite score of the two primary omega-3 fats found in seafood, EPA and DHA – forecasts the risk for depression and dementia. It also predicts reading difficulties, lower IQ, memory issues, sleep problems, aggression, and emotional instability in children, which are hallmarks of ADHD.”
The omega-3 index should be above 8% and is also a predictor of heart disease risk and developmental issues in infants, as measured in women before and during pregnancy. “Pregnant women with a higher omega-3 index have a much lower risk of having a baby with developmental problems,” Holford adds, referencing research from the Institute of Brain Chemistry at Imperial College London’s Chelsea & Westminster Hospital campus. He advises women considering pregnancy to ensure their omega-3 index is above 8%.
The home test kit from FoodfortheBrain.org includes a free cognitive function test and a diet and lifestyle questionnaire. This helps identify key changes to reduce the risk of dementia.
Holford explains: “Having tested over 400,000 people, our goal is to correlate blood omega-3 levels with cognitive function to determine the optimal intake for brain health.”
While plant sources like green leafy vegetables, walnuts, and flax seeds contain a type of omega-3 fat (alpha-linolenic acid), the conversion to EPA and DHA is inefficient. The charity aims to investigate if factors other than seafood intake, such as age, sex, alcohol consumption, and dietary habits, influence the conversion to the beneficial types of omega-3.
Marine food intake has declined over the last century, with countries consuming the least facing higher rates of depression, dementia, and suicide. Homicide rates are also linked to omega-3 intake, according to the World Health Organisation.
“Less than 5% of children meet the basic government guidelines for fish and omega-3 intake, and we do not know if these guidelines are optimal for mental health,” says Holford. He encourages public participation in this research through the test, which costs £49.95, to better understand optimal omega-3 intake for brain health and dementia prevention.
Click here to check your omega-3 status.