Fish Oil and Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia

Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease Research

GUELPH, CANADA. Dementia now affects about 47% of the population over 80 years of age in Western countries. The incidence of Alzheimer's disease, a leading cause of dementia, is growing especially rapidly. There is no cure for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and it is not at all clear what causes it. Researchers at the University of Guelph now report that they have found low levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, notably DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, which is found in fish oil supplements) in people suffering from AD and dementia.

Read more: Dementia associated with low DHA levels

Benefits of DHA

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a major component of fish oils, is an absolute requirement for the development of the human central nervous system and the continuous maintenance of brain cell function. DHA is an important part of the plasma membranes of nerve (neuronal) cells and is essential in the maintenance of their fluidity and integrity. It is also involved in the generation of certain metabolites (docosanoids) of which the most important is neuroprotection D1 or NPD1. Both DHA and NPD1 are involved in ensuring membrane stability and fluidity and inhibiting the activation of inflammatory signaling mediators such as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). NPD1 is also beneficial in preventing excessive oxidative stress from degrading DHA. Furthermore, one clinical trial concluded that supplementation with DHA and lutein significantly improved cognitive abilities in elderly people. Researchers in Louisiana sought to determine if there was a significant relationship between DHA and Alzheimer’s disease.

Read more: DHA and Alzheimer's Disease Prevention

Fish Oil Supplements Contain DHA

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. Cognitive decline and dementia are common among the elderly. It is estimated that 10% of people aged 65 years and 33% of individuals aged 85 years suffer from cognitive impairment, more specifically, a reduced ability to learn and remember. There is considerable evidence that both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), a major component of fish oil supplements, and lutein, a common dietary carotenoid, are essential for brain health. There is also evidence that lutein tends to accumulate in the macula (a small area of the retina essential for clear, detailed vision) and thereby helps prevent the initiation and progression of age-related macular degeneration. Now researchers at the Center on Aging at Tufts University report that supplementing with DHA and lutein is effective in preventing cognitive decline.

Read more: DHA and lutein prevents cognitive decline