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Omega 3 Lessens Alzheimer's Risk

Omega 3 Lessens Alzheimer's Risk

(ePharmaNews) - In recent years there has been an increasing public interest in taking omega 3 - fatty acids which are high in fish and nuts- due to their benefits in preventing heart attacks and strokes, and now a new study has shown that they can also protect against one of the most frightening mental illness of the elderly.

In this study, published yesterday in the May 2, 2012, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, researchers suggest that eating foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, chicken,  and nuts, may lower blood levels of a protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease and memory problems.
This protein is called beta-amyloid and its deposits in the brain are responsible for Alzheimer's, these deposits can only be detected through biopsy or autopsy.

“While it’s not easy to measure the level of beta-amyloid deposits in the brain in this type of study, it is relatively easy to measure the levels of beta-amyloid in the blood, which, to a certain degree, relates to the level in the brain,” said study author Nikolaos Scarmeas, MD, MS, with Columbia University Medical Center in New York and a member of the American Academy of Neurology.

For the study, 1,219 people older than age 65, free of dementia, provided information about their diet for an average of 1.2 years before their blood was tested for the beta-amyloid. Researchers looked specifically at 10 nutrients, including 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.

The study found that the more omega-3 fatty acids a person took in, the lower their plasma beta-amyloid levels. Consuming one gram of omega-3 per day (equal to half a fillet of salmon per week) more than the average omega-3 consumed by people in the study is associated with 20 to 30 percent lower plasma beta-amyloid levels.

Other nutrients were not associated with plasma beta-amyloid levels. The results stayed the same after adjusting for age, education, gender, ethnicity, amount of calories consumed and whether a participant had the APOE gene, a marker for Alzheimer’s disease.

“Determining through further research whether omega-3 fatty acids or other nutrients relate to spinal fluid or brain beta-amyloid levels or levels of other Alzheimer’s disease related proteins can strengthen our confidence on beneficial effects of parts of our diet in preventing dementia,” said Scarmeas.

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Prepared by: Laila Nour

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