Cognitive areas of Alzheimer's disease patients atrophy: image via Alzheimer's Association There's a reason why eating omega-3 fatty acids, found most commonly in certain fish, is recommended by nutritionists as well as doctors. Fish oil protects your heart. Fish oil is also good for chronic aches and pains, such as those associated with arthritis and repetitive stress injuries. But a new study, conducted by the Rhode Island Hospital Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center, indicates that fish oil may keep your brain oiled.
The Center analyzed data from the NIH-funded Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study that followed 819 older individuals for 3 years, taking brain images and administering memory tests regularly. The subjects included adults with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's disease.
Center researchers compared the cognitive functioning and brain atrophy levels of 117 subjects who reported regular use of fish oil supplements with those who did not take the supplements. Researcher Lori Daiello, head of the Memory Disorders Center's study, reported fish oil users had better cognitive functioning than non-users, but that the association was statistically significant only in the group with normal baseline cognitive functioning, and only among individuals who did not have a specific genetic risk (APOE4) for Alzheimer's disease.
But among the whole study population, brain images of fish oil users showed less shrinkage in the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus, the main cognitive areas, and smaller brain ventricular volumes than than the non-users in the study.
"These observations should motivate further study of the
possible effects of long-term fish oil supplementation on important markers of
cognitive decline and the potential influence of genetics on these
outcomes," Daiello noted.
Though there are no generally agreed upon dosage levels for fish oil specifically for cognitive support, the American Heart Association recommends between 300 and 500 mg of fish oil daily, consisting of both docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), for the general population. For those with coronary disease, the recommended dosage is between 1,000 and 3,000 mg daily.
But too much fish oil - above 3,000 mg per day - can be dangerous, even life-threatening, so make sure you are under medical supervision at the higher doses. And make sure you purchase supplements with the "USP" symbol.
sources: MedicalXpress, Livestrong, EMedTV