Fish Oil and Alzheimer's Disease, Dementia

Does Taking Fish Oil Supplements Affect Age-Related Cognitive Decline?

PARIS, FRANCE. Aging is often accompanied by cognitive decline, i.e. increasing difficulty in remembering things. A scale, the Cognitive Difficulties Scale (CDS), has been developed in order to quantify the degree of cognitive decline. The scale asks 39 questions about cognitive function and the higher the score the worse the decline. Typical questions asked are:

  • Do you forget appointments, dates, etc?
  • Do you forget to return phone calls?
  • Do you have trouble describing a TV program?
  • Do you forget what day of the week it is?
  • Does your mind go blank at times?

A group of French researchers report the results of a study aimed at determining whether the dietary intake of fish or fish oil affects age-related cognitive decline as measured by the CDS. The study included 1772 men and 1522 women (average age of 64 years) who underwent a detailed medical examination and had provided at least six 24-hour dietary records at baseline.

Elderly Who Took Fish Oil Reported Cognitive Complaints Less Frequently

After 13 years of follow-up, all participants completed a survey involving self-administration of the CDS. The researchers observed a strong correlation between a poor score on the CDS scale and low intake of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and total long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (fish oils). The correlation between fish consumption and the CDS score was not statistically significant. They conclude that cognitive complaints are less frequent among the elderly who had a high intake of fish oil, even after adjustment for other markers of a healthy lifestyle and the presence of depression.
Kesse-Guyot, E, et al. Thirteen-year prospective study between fish consumption, long-chain n-3 fatty acids intakes and cognitive function. Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging, Vol. 15, Number 2, 2011, pp. 115-20

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