Posted by Sherry C. on Sunday, January 26th, 2014
There is a lot of discussion today about how (and which) Omega-3s can have positive effects on the brain and promote cognitive health. Specifically, these have been touted as a way to slow the onset of memory loss, and reduce risk for dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. Does the truth live up to the hype? If so, what type of fish oil is best, and are supplements enough to help with Alzheimer’s?
From Confusion to Clarity
The #1 take home point with Omega’s 3s (also referred to as a “Omega 3 fatty acids”) is that not all of the different types are created equal in terms of potential for protecting brain health. As discussed in detail in The Alzheimer’s Diet book, there are several types of Omega-3s, with DHA having the most evidence for brain protection, followed by EPA. Another new study was recently published that again supports this. Another common form of Omega 3 is called ALA, but the problem with ALA is that only a very small percentage actually gets later converted in the body to the brain-boosting forms (DHA and EPA). Complicating things, a recent study showed an association between DHA and prostate cancer in men, yet the American Nutrition Association (as well as many experts) state that the overall benefits likely outweigh risk. Before considering any changes to ones diet or before considering starting a supplement, people should always discuss first and seek approval by their treating physician. For a specialized opinion, scheduling a consultation with the Alzheimer’s Prevention & Treatment Program at New York Presbyterian / Weill Cornell Medical Center in NYC is also an option.
Another important point that leads to a lot of confusion is that a lot of people use the terms “Fish Oil” and “Omega-3s” interchangeably. Fish oil comes from fish and can be supplemented in the diet in capsule form, but each capsule has different amounts of DHA, EPA, ALA etc. Many people also don’t realize that Omega 3 fatty acids are plentiful in certain types of fish, and the fish actually get these brain-healthy fatty acids from eating algae. There are even very specific types of Omega 3 supplements that are DIRECTLY from algae, rich in DHA, and have been studied specifically in patients with the earliest stages of AD. These studies showed slowing of cognitive decline and improvements in memory. To learn more about this topic, as well as which types of fish may be most beneficial, and to read an overview of all the evidence and other specific dietary choices for Alzheimer’s prevention and treatment, read The Alzheimer’s Diet book.
Research is being done regarding the effect of fish oil when it comes to the Alzheimer’s disease prevention and treatment. Read below for more details.