Omega-3 could aid Alzheimer's prevention: Study

By Emma Jane Cash

- Last updated on GMT

Omega-3 could aid Alzheimer's prevention: Study

Related tags: Omega-3 fatty acids, Omega-3 fatty acid

People with high omega-3 intakes have an increased blood flow in the brain, according to research suggesting a link between omega-3 and Alzheimer’s disease.

"What we observed was that higher EPA + DHA status as expressed by the Omega-3 Index is independently correlated with higher perfusion in brain regions important for cognitive function, including the parahippocampal gyrus and precuneus," ​said the study authors of the new study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Omega-3s have been suggested to protect the areas of the brain affected most by ageing - with previous research linking omega-3 fatty acids to anti-amyloid, anti-tau and anti-inflammatory actions in the brains of animal. As a result, research aimed at dietary approaches for the prevention of cognitive decline have become more popular.

The Omega-3 Index measures the percentage of EPA + DHA in red blood cells, with 8% being desirable and less than 4% being a danger zone. Previous studies have also suggested that high doses of omega-3 DHA are more likely to boost​ the Omega-3 Index than EPA.

Led by Dr Daniel Amen of the Amen Clinic, the new research suggests a positive relationships between omega-3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) + DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) status, brain perfusion and cognition.

Statistically significant relationships were found between omega-3 EPA +DHA levels in the blood and cerebral perfusion in the right parahippocampal gyrus (a region thought to play an important role in memory encoding and retrieval), the right precuneus (involved with episodic memory, visuospatial processing, and aspects of consciousness) and the vermis subregion (a region associated with bodily posture and locomotion).

Brain study

The research looked at 166 randomly selected participants, drawn from clinics, and studied their brain function using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), which measures blood perfusion in the brain. 

Using the Omega-3 Index and SPECT imaging on 128 regions of the brain, researchers collected data on the correlation between omega-3 fatty acid blood levels and blood flow in the brain.

For 'resting-state' scans, participants were asked to sit in a dimly lit room with ambient noise, with their eyes open. Participants were then scanned for 30 minutes. For 'on-task' scans, participants completed Continuous Performance Tests (CPTs) whislt the scans were being made.

No participants were taking omega-3 EPA + DHA supplements, nor were they on specialised omega-3 rich diets. 

“Although we have considerable evidence that omega-3 levels are associated with better cardiovascular health, the role of the ‘fish oil’ fatty acids in mental health and brain physiology is just beginning to be explored,"​ said study co-author William Harris, from the University of South Dakota School of Medicine. "This study opens the door to the possibility that relatively simple dietary changes could favorably impact cognitive function."

The authors also say the study "raises the posibility that higher omega-3 EPA + DHA fatty acid level can improve underlying brain physiology that may in turn translate to better cognitive reserve"​.

Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Published online: doi: 10.3233/JAD-170281
“Quantitive Erythrocyte Omega-3 EPA Plus DHA Levels are Related to Higher Regional Cerebral Blood Flow on Brain SPECT”
Authors: Daniel G. Amen, et al

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

10 INGREDIENTS FOR BLOOD SUGAR MANAGEMENT SUPPORT

10 INGREDIENTS FOR BLOOD SUGAR MANAGEMENT SUPPORT

SABINSA | 15-Apr-2019 | Technical / White Paper

The Blood Sugar Management / Glucose Metabolic Support is a condition-specific category that’s one of the most difficult to label, or make claims for,...

Oustmart brain-ageing in healthy older adults

Oustmart brain-ageing in healthy older adults

DIANA, FOOD DIVISION | 02-Apr-2019 | Technical / White Paper

What happens when you combine the brain health benefits of blueberries with those of grapes?
Both Canadian wild blueberries and French grapes are...

KERANAT™, the hair loss solution

KERANAT™, the hair loss solution

Robertet Health & Beauty | 25-Mar-2019 | Technical / White Paper

KERANAT's development is based on an innovative mechanism of action. KERANAT™ acts directly on the dermal papilla, the biological engine of hair,...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more

Products

View more

Webinars