Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help Combat Alzheimer's
A new study provides evidence that eating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids may be associated with lower blood levels of a protein (beta amyloid) related to Alzheimer’s disease and memory problems. The research is published in the May 2, 2012, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Aβ (beta amyloid) is the main component of amyloid plaques, deposits found in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In the study supported by the National Institute on Aging, researchers looked at 10 nutrients in the diet of 1,219 people older than 65 over an average of 1.2 years before they were tested for the beta amyloid protein. The nutrients they looked at were saturated fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, mono-unsaturated fatty acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin B12, folate and vitamin D.
They found that the more omega-3 fatty acids a person consumed, the lower their blood beta-amyloid levels. Consuming one gram of omega-3 per day (or approximately half a fillet of salmon per week) is associated with 20 to 30 percent lower blood plasma beta-amyloid levels. Other nutrients were not linked to Alzheimer’s.
Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia – a serious loss of global cognitive ability beyond what would be expected by normal aging. In its early stages the most common symptom is difficulty in remembering recent events. As the disease develops symptoms include confusion, long term memory loss and language problems, aggression/irritability and mood swings. It is most commonly diagnosed in people over 65, although the less common early-onset Alzheimer’s can occur much earlier.
Omega-3 (or n-3) fatty acids are essential fatty acids – i.e. while they are critical for normal body functioning, they are not made in the body and we need to get them from our diet. There are different types of n-3 fatty acids – EPA, DHA and ALA. EPA and DHA — are primarily found in fish and algae – and are recognized to have greater health benefits than ALA found in wallnuts, flaxseed oild and olive oil. n-3 fatty acids improve heart health, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and dementia. Fish high in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids (in order) include sardines, mackerel, salmon,and tuna.