Monday, February 25, 2008

Are Fish Oils An Option In The Prevention Of Alzheimer's Disease?

By Maggie Murray

In the time that it takes you to read this article, three people will have developed Alzheimer's Disease. Experts estimate that every 72 seconds, another person develops this deadly condition. Those same experts also estimate that if a treatment is not found, within the next decade or two the result will be millions of aging baby boomers in the United States alone becoming afflicted with the disease.

There is some good news, however. For many years now, fish oil has been known to people researching Alzheimer's Disease as a way of preventing or, at the very least, delaying its onset. Now there appears to be scientific evidence to support this claim. Recent studies show that EPA and DHA (the omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil) can offer some protection against the onset of both Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia.

The effect that fish oils containing omega 3 fatty acids have on the cardiovascular system has been well documented in recent years. Their effect on the brain is less well documented at this time, although recent studies provide evidence that there are less cases of Alzheimer's in societies where people either eat enough fish or take enough fish oil supplements.

The primary omega 3 fatty acid that researchers believe is responsible for the delay in Alzheimer's onset is DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) which is found mainly in cold water fish such as sardines, salmon and herring. What the most recent research has found is the more DHA you have in your system, the less likely you are to develop the disease. The DHA appears, according to researchers, to act as an anti-oxidant for the brain, protecting it from the plaque which is central to the disease. More specifically, it was found that the presence of DHA increased the production of LR11 protein. This protein is what acts to clear out the enzymes that make Alzheimer's-causing plaques.

The other main finding of this research is that people with Alzheimer's have lower levels of DHA, and therefore LR11, in their brains that people without the disease. This knowledge, when combined with the knowledge that fish eating societies have less incidents of dementia overall, makes a good case for either increasing the amount of fish in one's diet, or in supplementing with fish oil capsules.

Where Alzheimer's is concerned, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. There is no cure for this debilitating disease once it develops, and the first thing that goes is short-term memory and the ability to think clearly. The best thing that you can do for yourself is to delay its onset for as long as possible.

Ultimately more research needs to be done on the links between DHA and the prevention of Alzheimers, For now, however, it appears that supplementing your diet with fish oils is a good first step in protecting yourself against Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. As always, make sure you do consult with your medical practitioner before trying this or any other type of supplementation.

To learn more about the benefits of fish oil, visit Maggie's site at

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