Fish Oil Reduces Brain Shrinkage in Alzheimer’s Patients

Tuesday, August 30, 2011
By: Byron J. Richards,
Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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A new study shows that taking fish oil not only supports better cognitive functioning, but also is now demonstrated to actually enable better physical structure of brain regions associated with better memory and cognition.

Researchers at Rhode Island Hospital’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center followed 819 older adults for three years with periodic memory testing and brain MRIs. The participants were divided into three groups, those with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s Disease. 117 of the particpants were taking fish oil at the start of the study and continued to do so during the study.

Use of fish oil supplements was associated with better cognitive functioning during the study. There was a clear association between fish oil supplements and brain volume. Lead author, Lori Daiello, reports, “In the imaging analyses for the entire study population, we found a significant positive association between fish oil supplement use and average brain volumes in two critical areas utilized in memory and thinking (cerebral cortex and hippocampus)…In other words, fish oil use was associated with less brain shrinkage in patients taking these supplements during the ADNI study compared to those who didn’t report using them.”

This does not mean that fish oil or its most active component, DHA, is a cure for Alzheimer’s. It does mean that regular use of the supplement by individuals concerned about cognitive function is one step a person can take to help preserve the health of their brain.

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