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Slow Alzheimer’s with Omega-3?

A Swedish study finds that Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may slow cognitive decline in some patients with very mild Alzheimer’s disease. The study, published in the October issue of Archives of Neurology, is the first clinical trial on the benefit of adding dietary supplements although several studies have shown that eating fish, which is high in omega-3 fatty acids, may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a severely debilitating condition that affects thinking, learning and memory, beginning with declines in episodic memory. Medications are available to treat the symptoms, but these drugs do not affect the underlying cause and progression of the disease.

The study did not find benefit in adding Omega-3 to the diets of individuals with more advanced Alzheimer’s.

Dr Yvonne Freund-Levi and colleagues at KI in Stockholm and Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden, compared the effects of supplements containing two omega-3 fatty acids with placebo in 204 patients with Alzheimer’s disease, by which 174 completed the entire study. For six months, 89 patients (51 women and 38 men) took 1.7 grams of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and .6 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), while 85 patients (39 women and 46 men) took placebo. For an additional six months, both groups took the omega-3 fatty acids. Patients had physical examinations, which included blood tests and blood pressure measurement, and took cognitive tests at the beginning of the study and at the six- and 12-month marks.

After six months, there was no difference in the rate of cognitive decline between the two groups. However, among a subgroup of 32 patients with very mild cognitive impairment at the beginning of the study, those who took the fatty acids experienced less decline in six months compared with those who took placebo. Among those who took placebo during the first six months, decline decreased during the second six months, when they also began taking the omega-3 supplements. The supplements appeared safe and well-tolerated, with no change in blood pressure or blood test results other than a higher ratio of fatty acids in the blood.

“These findings cannot serve as a basis for general recommendations for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease with dietary DHA-rich fish oil preparations”, says professor Jan Palmblad. “Studies in larger cohorts with mild cognitive impairment, including those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease, are needed to further explore the possibility that omega-3 fatty acids might be beneficial in halting initial progression of the disease.”

Source: Karolinska Institute

Slow Alzheimer’s with Omega-3?

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Slow Alzheimer’s with Omega-3?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2006/10/12/slow-alzheimers-with-omega-3/327.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.