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Alzheimer Disease currently affects more than 4.5 million Americans, is expected to hit 16 million by 20501 and costs $100 billion each year to treat 2.
A new study 3 has found that DHA, a fat found in fish oil, and also one of the primary fats in the brain, may help patients with age-related cognitive decline, a stage that precedes Alzheimer Disease 4. The study looked at 485 men and women between the ages of 61 and 79 who were diagnosed with Age-Related Cognitive Decline. The study gave the participants either 900mg of DHA or a placebo per day for 6 months. During this time, they completed mental tasks called Paired Associate Learning, which has been shown to separate patients with Age-Related Cognitive Decline from patients with Alzheimer Disease 5.
By the end of 6 months, the researchers found that those in the DHA group “showed significantly fewer errors” on the Paired Associate Learning test compared to the placebo group. The researchers also noted “a significant decrease in the heart rate” of 3.2 beats per minute while the blood pressure and body weight remained unchanged between the groups as did hs-CRP, an inflammatory protein implicated in chronic diseases like Alzheimer Disease 6.
Greg’s Comments:DHA is an important fat found mainly in seafood and to a lesser extent eggs, turkey and the brains of animals. Fish Oil contains one of the highest natural sources of DHA. DHA is found in high concentration in the grey matter of your brain. Your grey matter includes regions of your brain which are involved in your memory, muscle control, sensory perception (e.g. seeing and hearing), emotions and speech. DHA is also instrumental in the function of your brain cell membranes which are vital for the proper transmission of high quality signals in your brain. By making your brain cell membranes more fluid, DHA improves the communication and thus improves memory and concentration not only in the elderly but also in children or adults with learning difficulties.
1. Hebert, LE; Scherr, PA; Bienias, JL; Bennett, DA; Evans, DA. “Alzheimer Disease in the U.S. Population: Prevalence Estimates Using the 2000 Census.” Archives of Neurology August 2003; 60 (8): 1119 – 1122
2. Ernst, RL; Hay, JW. “The U.S. Economic and Social Costs of Alzheimer’s Disease Revisited.” American Journal of Public Health 1994; 84(8): 1261 – 1264
3. Yurko-Mauro K. Results of the MIDAS trial: Effects of docosahexaenoic acid on physiological and safety parameters in age-related cognitive decline. Alzheimer’s and Dementia 2009; 5(4) Sup 1: P84
4. ARCS Guidelines www.apa.org/practice/dementia.html <http://www.apa.org/practice/dementia.html>
5. De Jager P3-120: Episodic memory test constructs affect discrimination between healthy elderly and cases with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s and Dementia 2008; 4(4) Suppl 1: T554-T555
6. Yamamoto H. High prevalence of Chlamydia pneumoniae antibodies and increased high-sensitive C-reactive protein in patients with vascular dementia. J Am Geriatr Soc 2005;53(4):583-9