Alzheimer's Disease
and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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If there are terms in these articles you don't understand, you can get a definition from the Merriam Webster Medical Dictionary.   If you want information about a specific disease, you can access the Merck Manual.   You can also search Pub Med for more abstracts on this, or any other health topic.


Big Fish Story
There are three types of omega-3s: DHA and EPA, found in fish and marine algae (which is where the fish get them), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in plants, seeds, and nuts. All three have health benefits, but those attributed to DHA and EPA have sparked renewed interest in recent years. Studies show that this tag team may not only reduce a person's risk of heart disease and stroke but also possibly help prevent ailments as diverse as arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, autoimmune disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder--and those are just the A's.

Brain Atrophy in Cognitively Impaired Elderly: The Importance
of Long-chain ω-3 Fatty Acids and B Vitamin Status in a
Randomized Controlled Trial

Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 (Jul);   102 (1):   215–221

This study provides greater clarity to earlier studies that found that B vitamins and/or Omega-3 fatty acids were found to slow brain loss in areas of the brain associated with Alzheimer's disease.   It also helps explain why some trials that only focused on the B vitamins had mixed results.   Apparently having high blood levels of BOTH the B vitamins AND Omega-3s provides better results in prevention of the deterioration of the brain tissue in Alzheimer's patients.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Enhance Phagocytosis of Alzheimer's Disease-Related
Amyloid-ß42 by Human Microglia and Decrease Inflammatory Markers

J Alzheimers Dis. 2013 (Mar 12) [Epub ahead of print]

DHA and EPA can be beneficial in AD by enhancing removal of Aß42, increasing neurotrophin production, decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokine production, and by inducing a shift in phenotype away from pro-inflammatory M1 activation.

Beneficial Effects of Docosahexaenoic Acid on Cognition
in Age-related Cognitive Decline

Alzheimers Dement. 2010 (Nov);   6 (6):   456–464

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) plays an important role in neural function. Decreases in plasma DHA are associated with cognitive decline in healthy elderly adults and in patients with Alzheimer's disease. Higher DHA intake is inversely correlated with relative risk of Alzheimer's disease. The potential benefits of DHA supplementation in age-related cognitive decline (ARCD) have not been fully examined.

Dietary Fats and the Risk of Incident Alzheimer Disease
Arch Neurol 2003 (Feb);   60 (2):   194–200

High intake of unsaturated, unhydrogenated fats may be protective against Alzheimer disease, whereas intake of saturated or trans-unsaturated (hydrogenated) fats may increase risk.

Consumption of Fish and n-3 Fatty Acids and Risk of Incident Alzheimer Disease
Arch Neurol 2003 (Jul);   60 (7):   940–946

Dietary intake of n-3 fatty acids and weekly consumption of fish may reduce the risk of incident Alzheimer disease.

Life in the Balance - The Critical Need for Omega-3 Supplementation
Natural Medicine Online July 2000 ~ FULL TEXT

Throughout human history mankind has ingested an approximate equal proportion (1/1 ratio) of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids. The Omegas 6 and 3 are two of forty-nine known essential nutrients. As essential nutrients they cannot be synthesized by the body, but must be ingested directly in foods or in the form of dietary supplements. The relationship of equivalence between the two Omegas is critical because they self-check each other in a delicate balance to regulate thousands of metabolic functions through prostaglandin pathways.

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Updated 5-04-2018

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