Omega-3 fatty acids found to improve memory, possibly prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.
Researchers at Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin found supplementation with natural omega-3 fatty acids improved memory compared to a placebo.
Although normal aging includes mild memory decline and other changes in brain functions, Alzheimer’s disease speeds up the process. The disease causes physical changes in the brain that are thought to impair nerve function. There is no cure, but treatment strategies may help.
Many Alzheimer’s disease research projects are focused on prevention, including nutritional supplements.
The human body makes most of its fatty acids. However, omega-3 fatty acids like vitamin C must be part of the diet on a regular basis.
In addition to being an integral part of cell walls throughout the body, omega-3 fatty acids are used to make hormones. They are known to protect against heart disease, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and may protect against other diseases.
“A number of different dietary components, including omega-3 fatty acids, are currently thought to have a direct effect on nerve cell function,” lead author Nadine Külzow, PhD, said in a press release. “This is why we decided to study the effects on memory function of a daily dose of 2,200 milligrams taken for a duration of six months.”
Dr. Külzow is a researcher at Charité’s Department of Neurology.
Dr. Külzow and colleagues studied 44 men and women aged 50 to 75. One group took 2,200 milligrams of fatty acid supplements a day. The second group took a placebo, or fake pill.
After 26 months, the researchers assessed memory, learning and other mental functions. Study participants who took omega-3 fatty acids did better on a location memory test than those who took the placebo. However, there was no difference between the groups on a verbal learning test.
“Ideally, any measures used should be aimed at long-term prevention. This means that measures must be suitable for use in healthy older adults, and should be easy to integrate into day-to-day life,” Dr. Külzow said in the press release.
The study was published online in the February Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Information on funding and conflict of interest was not available.
- Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, “Omega-3 fatty acids shown to exert a positive effect on the aging brain”
- Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, “Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Memory Functions in Healthy Older Adults”
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution”
- image courtesy of Attila Barabás | Dreamstime