Neurodegenerative Diseases
and Esssential 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.

Jump to: Alzheimer's Disease Multiple Sclerosis Parkinson's Disease
Alzheimer's Disease

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.

Can Alzheimer Disease Be Prevented?
Medscape Medical News ~ June 24, 2013

"Do we have any control over our brain health as we age?", Dr. Gary Small asked the crowd, a packed room of psychiatrists attending his “Brain Health and Alzheimer's Prevention [1]” talk at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in San Francisco, California. Nearly everyone raised their hands. “If the answer is yes,” he followed, “then what can we do to forestall the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD)?” For the next hour, conference-goers found out or, perhaps, given their line of work, brushed up.

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.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Enhance Phagocytosis of Alzheimer's Disease-Related
Amyloid-ί42 by Human Microglia and Decrease Inflammatory Markers

J Alzheimers Dis. 2013 (May 21); 35 (4): 697–713

DHA and EPA can be beneficial in AD by enhancing removal of Aί42, increasing neurotrophin production, decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokine production, and by inducing a shift in phenotype away from pro-inflammatory M1 activation.

Nutrient Biomarker Patterns, Cognitive Function,
and MRI Measures of Brain Aging

Neurology. 2012 (Jan 24);   78 (4):   241–249

Research investigators at the Department of Neurology of the Oregon Health & Science University reveal that higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin E are associated with better mental functioning in the elderly.
You may want to review this New York Times review of this study.

Cognitive Function After Supplementation With B Vitamins and
Long-chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Ancillary Findings From
the SU.FOL.OM3 Randomized Trial

Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 (Jul);   94 (1):   278–286 ~ FULL TEXT

This study investigated the effects of supplementation on cognition in a high-risk population. In subjects with prior stroke, B vitamins plus omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a higher score on the temporal orientation cognition task vs those assigned to placebo. Effects may be group specific and may be useful in interventions aimed at preventing cognitive decline in high-risk individuals

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.

Multiple Sclerosis

Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
in Animal Models With Neuroinflammation

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2013 (Jan);   88 (1):   97–103

Neuroinflammation is present in the majority of acute and chronic neurological disorders. Excess or prolonged inflammation in the brain is thought to exacerbate neuronal damage and loss. Identifying modulators of neuroinflammation is an active area of study since it may lead to novel therapies. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) are anti-inflammatory in many non-neural tissues; their role in neuroinflammation is less studied. This review summarizes the relationship between n-3 PUFA and brain inflammation in animal models of brain injury and aging. Evidence by and large shows protective effects of n-3 PUFA in models of sickness behavior, stroke, aging, depression, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, and cytokine- and irradiation-induced cognitive impairments.

Dietary Interventions For Multiple Sclerosis
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 (Dec 12);   12:   CD004192

PUFAs seem to have no major effect on the main clinical outcome in MS (disease progression), but they may tend to reduce the frequency of relapses over two years. However, the data that are available are insufficient to assess a real benefit or harm from PUFA supplementation because of their uncertain quality.

Multiple Sclerosis, An Autoimmune Inflammatory Disease:
Prospects for its Integrative Management

Alternative Medicine Review 2001 (Dec);   6 (6):   540–566 ~ FULL TEXT

No pharmaceutical or other therapies exist that confer prolonged remission on MS, and obvious interrelationships between toxic, infectious, and dietary factors make a persuasive case for integrative management. The time-proven MS diet meticulously keeps saturated fats low, includes three fish meals per week, and eliminates allergenic foods. Dietary supplementation for MS minimally requires potent vitamin supplementation, along with the thiol antioxidants, the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, and adaptogenic phytonutrients. Gut malabsorption and dysbiosis can be corrected using digestive enzymes and probiotics.

Fatty Diet and Multiple Sclerosis
Rev Neurol 1997 (Dec);   25 (148):   2032–2035

At the present time, it is known that polyunsaturated essential fatty acids form a part of biological membranes. A relationship has been found between the dietary fat consumed and the plasma levels and cell membrane content.

Supplementation of Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids in Multiple Sclerosis
Ital J Neurol Sci 1992 (Jun);   13 (5):   401–407

For several years polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and in particular essential fatty acids (EFAs) have been proposed for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). There are contrasting data in literature regarding the effects of the n-6 and the n-3 PUFA series on different aspects of the disease, in particular on the frequency and severity of relapses and platelet function. This can be ascribed to the different criteria of patient selection in relation to the form and severity of disease at the beginning of the various studies.

Lipids and Neurological Diseases
Med Hypotheses 1991 (Mar);   34 (3):   272–274

Neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis (MS), Sjogren-Larsson syndrome, Reye's syndrome, and Refsum's syndrome (herediopathica atactica polyneuroformis), and many others afflict millions of persons yearly and have no successful treatment available. A common aspect of these diseases appears to be a lipid imbalance involving the essential fatty acids (EFA), linoleic and linolenic, and trace fatty acids which result from faulty lipid metabolism. It is proposed that treatments for these diseases should be sought through diet and metabolic enzymes rather than drugs.

Metabolic Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis
Wien Med Wochenschr 1985 (Jan 31);   135 (1-2):   20–22

According to the present opinion multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by a concurreance of various factors. This predisposing factor seem to be related to a disturbance of the lipid- and fatty acid metabolism, characterized by decreased concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and essential fatty acids (EFA) in the plasma, the blood cells, the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and white matter of the brain in patients with MS.

Polyunsaturated (Essential) Fatty Acids and Their Importance in Pathogenesis, Diagnosis and Therapy of Multiple Sclerosis
Fortschr Neurol Psychiatr 1982 (Jun);   50 (6):   173–189

The concept of nutritionally or metabolically induced generalized defects in all membranes, especially in the myelin sheath, as a predisposing factor to an increased susceptibility for the development of MS, provoked a gamut of pertinent studies frequently producing controversial results. Hence, these conceptions concerning the pathogenetic involvement of essential fatty acids in MS have been put to rest - even more so after the role of prostaglandins in immunoregulation had become more apparent, whose biological precursors are essential fatty acids.


Parkinson's Disease

Nutraceuticals and Their Preventive or
Potential Therapeutic Value in Parkinson's Disease

Nutrition Reviews 2012 (Jul);   70 (7):   373–386

Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common aging-related disorder in the world, after Alzheimer's disease. It is characterized by the progressive loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta and other parts of the brain, leading to motor impairment, cognitive impairment, and dementia. Current treatment methods, such as L-dopa therapy, are focused only on relieving symptoms and delaying progression of the disease. To date, there is no known cure for PD, making prevention of PD as important as ever. More than a decade of research has revealed a number of major risk factors, including oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Moreover, numerous nutraceuticals have been found to target and attenuate these risk factors, thereby preventing or delaying the progression of PD. These nutraceuticals include vitamins C, D, E, coenzyme Q10, creatine, unsaturated fatty acids, sulfur-containing compounds, polyphenols, stilbenes, and phytoestrogens.



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