supplement

  1. Fish oil for brain health

    You don't have to be among the alt-health faithful to believe in omega-3 fatty acids anymore. They're so mainstream now that even Big Pharma is selling them.

    Don't overpay for their version, but do make sure you get yours from either a steady fish habit or a quality supplement -- because there's barely a part of the body that doesn't need those fatty acids, starting with your brain.

    And as the latest research shows, people low in omega-3s tend to have a few lights out in the attic, if you know what I mean.

    In one study, researchers measured the blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids in 1,575 dementia-free people with an average age of 67.

    At least, they're dementia-free for the moment... because some of them are hurtling down the path towards cognitive decline, and they just so happened to be the ones with the lowest levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

    MRIs, along with a host of mental tests, revealed that the people with the highest levels of DHA had more brain volume than those with the lowest. That's critical, because while all our brains shrink as we age, a faster shrink is usually a sign of dementia risk.

    It makes sense, since of all the fats in your brain -- and your brain is more fat than anything else -- DHA is the most dominant, so of course less DHA = less brain.

    Think size doesn't matter? The people with lowest overall omega-3 levels didn't just have the smallest brains... they had the weakest ones, scoring lower on tests measuring problem solving, multitasking, and abstract thinking.

    Throw in the fact that omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent heart attacks, protect your bones, ward off gum disease, improve your vision... and taste great poached, grilled, fried, or baked... and I think you've got a keeper here.

  2. Vitamin C for your eyes

    If you want to protect your eyes, forget carrots -- there's another "C" that plays a much more important role in how you see: Vitamin C.

    Two new studies show how C can keep your peepers performing at their peak -- including one that finds that certain retina cells literally shut down when they run out of C.

    The researchers wrote in the Journal of Neuroscience that their finding suggests a diet rich in vitamin C may protect against glaucoma -- but more importantly, they say the retinal cells used in the study are closely related to similar cells in the brain.

    And if low C can cause those cells in the eye to go dark, just imagine how it can dim your mind.

    But let's get back to your eyes here, because another new study -- this one out of India -- finds that people with the highest dietary intake of C have a 39 percent lower risk of cataracts than those with the lowest C levels.

    That study was based on a questionnaire over dietary habits, so I'm not going to waste your time with the details -- but it's worth mentioning because plenty of other studies have also made a much more direct link between low C and cataract risk.

    I remember one a few decades back that found every 1 mg/dl increase in blood levels of vitamin C led to a 26 percent decrease in cataract risk.

    Along with vision, vitamin C also appears to have a direct impact on hearing: When I say "vitamin C," most people just hear "orange juice" -- and that's the last place you should be looking for this nutrient.

    OJ is pure sugar with some vitamin C swimming around in it. You may as well put vitamin C in your Coke.

    The best natural sources of C are actually peppers -- bell and chili -- along with broccoli, kale and papaya. But to get what you really need, you'll probably want a supplement.

    I suggest at least 1,200 mg a day, or roughly 15 times what the U.S. government recommends.

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