Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It starts with Mom


It's so good to be back! I love my morning routine, which involves getting up, checking my email, giving milk to the cats, working out, fixing my coffee, then settling in for an hour or two of reading research that I end up sharing in my blogs. It's been about a month since I've been able to indulge that routine, and I am so glad to be back in the groove! Today I'm going to share some more research about what happens to the brains of developing babies whose mothers don't get enough omega-3 fatty acids. This time we're looking at linolenic acid (ALA), which comes primarily from flaxseed oil and nuts. This omega-3 appears to be important for the metabolism of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

When ALA is deficient, in the hippocampus, levels of enzymes that help to create dopamine from its building blocks drop. There is also a reduction in the number of vesicles that transport the finished product, dopamine, to where it can be released and used as a neurotransmitter. As a result, dopamine levels may back up in the neuron, which the researchers in this study propose may potentially damage the terminals in charge of processing dopamine.

In the cortex and striatum, under these same conditions, there is an increase in dopamine receptor levels. These same researchers propose that this is some sort of compensatory mechanism that allows cells "downstream" from the problem to maximize their ability to capture and use what dopamine is available.

Dopamine is important for impulse control. It is also the focus of much Parkinson's disease research. The D2 receptor mentioned in this study is especially important for managing weight, carbohydrate cravings, and addictions.

Could it be that many of the chronic problems medical professionals deal with and that we as people live with...have their origin before we're even born?

I've been saying for years that the population that needs the focus of our preventive nutrition and medical education is women of childbearing age. If we don't catch problems then, and if we focus on telling them what NOT to eat instead of helping them best eat for two...well, unfortunately, it may end up being job security for anyone whose work uniform includes a lab coat.

Kuperstein F, Eilam R, Yavin E. Altered expression of key dopaminergic regulatory proteins in the postnatal brain following perinatal n-3 fatty acid dietary deficiency. J Neurochem. 2008 Jul;106(2):662-71.

1 comment:

Verne said...

Very insightful article ! I'm not a parent yet (plan to be one day I hope) this was a very interesting read :thumbsup:

Undiagnosed Illness