Alzheimer's and Fish Oil

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

If you stay attuned to news about Alzheimer's disease, you have likely seen the coverage of a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluding that fish oil (or the omega-3 fat commonly known as DHA), has no benefit for Alzheimer's patients.

This was a well done study on more than 400 patients and the results were clear. However, as is often the case, readers of the press are advised to interpret specific scientific findings within their specific context, while being careful not to casually generalize the conclusions.

In this case, please keep in mind that the "no benefit" conclusion was drawn with regards to Alzheimer's patients. As we know, the current definition of Alzheimer's disease (although it is evolving) requires "dementia", which means that the subjects in this study had advanced pathology and significant brain damage with extensively impaired cognition. Given that degraded state of the brain, it's really not a surprise that fish oil supplements showed no improvement in cognition.

More importantly, this conclusion should not be generalized as meaning that previously well-established benefits of fish oil have been repudiated. The benefits shown in numerous epidemiological studies have shown that diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

In other words, once you have brain damage due to Alzheimer's disease, it is probably too late for fish oil to benefit your cognition. But earlier, while your brain is still healthy, omega-3 fats probably do have important benefits and likely reduce the risk of Alzheimer's down the road.
A better understanding and more awareness of Alzheimer's related issues can impact personal health decisions and generate significant impact across a population of aging individuals. Please use the share buttons below to spread this educational message as widely as possible.

1 comment :

  1. I would say that like with many other things related to diet and well being, supplementing with omega 3 has developed into some kind of religious theme. There are those in favor and other that would kill to demonstrate against it.

    The same happens, for example with protein, some people believe it is almost evil matter, while some other believe it is essential in our diets.

    Remember that the effective amounts of omega 3 reaching your organism depend upon the omega 6 you ingest since they both “fight” for the same digestive enzymes. Too many starches or sugars and the omega 3 may be going down the drain.

    Omega3 fats, both EPA and DHA, are an important part of our brain cells. The fact is our high grain diets lack active omega 3 and we need to supplement with it if we are not getting enough omega 3 in our daily routines.