Beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in fish provide numerous health benefits. In clinical studies, Omega-3s have been shown to promote healthy heart and brain function, as well as support the nervous system, digestive system and other organs.* Now, scientists believe the healthy oils may provide additional support for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
A team of experts from the Oregon Health & Science University Department of Neurology recently conducted a randomized placebo-controlled pilot trial to evaluate the effects of supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid (an antioxidant) in Alzheimer’s patients. After a 12-month treatment period, they found that participants taking a combination of Omega-3 fatty acids plus ALA experienced reduced cognitive and functional decline.
While further research is planned to evaluate the combination as a possible treatment for the disease, the results of the study are encouraging. “The ultimate outcome is to be able to look at these (treatments) as a potential preventive formula—if someone could take a gram or two grams a day of fish oil before signs of the disease, it’s preventive in that it’s either decreasing the chance of turnover to Alzheimer’s disease or it’s delaying its progression. And I like the idea of using something that is cheap, accessible and easy to take,” said Lynne Shinto, N.D., assistant professor of neurology and the project’s lead investigator.
According to the OHSU study abstract, oxidative stress, inflammation, and increased cholesterol levels are all mechanisms that have been associated with Alzheimer’s disease pathology, and several studies have reported a decreased risk of the disease associated with fish oil consumption.