Fish Oil and Alzheimer’s Disease
While I was doing research for a patient, I came across an article that noted a link between higher omega-3 intake to lower levels of a biomarker called β-amyloid that may be indicative of Alzheimer’s disease. This study took 1200 people who were 65 years of age or older who did not have dementia, and analyzed their food intake and serum β-amyloid levels. The study found a correlation between higher omega-3 fatty acids intake with a lower levels of β-amyloid. In contrast, they did not find such a correlation with any other nutrient that they analyzed. Interesting, the study subjects only obtained their omega-3 fatty acids via salad dressing, fish, poultry, margarine and nuts!
What are the Benefits of Fish Oil?
Fish oils (or omega-3 fatty acids) are the “good” essential fatty acids (EFAs). Their importance is reflected in many different areas and functions of the body, because they:
- Regulate steroid production and hormone synthesis
- Regulate the pressure in the eye, joints and blood vessels
- Regulate the body’s response to pain, inflammation and swelling
- Mediate the immune response
- Regulate bodily secretions and their viscosity
- Dilate or constrict of blood vessels
- Regulate collateral circulation
- Direct endocrine hormones to their target cells
- Regulate smooth muscle and autonomic reflexes
- Are the primary constituents of cellular membranes
- Regulate the rate at which cells divide (mitosis)
- Regulate the flow of substances into and out of the cells
- Are required for the transport of oxygen from the red blood cells to the bodily tissues
- Are required in kidney function and fluid balance
- Are important in keeping saturated fats mobile in the blood stream
- Prevent blood cells from clumping together − the cause of atherosclerotic plaques and blood clots that are precursors of stroke
- Mediate the release of cellular pro-inflammatory substances that may trigger allergic conditions
- Regulate nerve transmission
- Stimulate steroid production
- Are the primary energy source for the heart muscle
Essential fatty acids may also be protective and therapeutic against cancer, autoimmune diseases, many skin conditions, heart disease, and other health conditions.
The Take-Away Message
All of this points in the direction of at least incorporating omega-3 fatty acids into your daily diet by eating lots of seafood (such as anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon and sardines), chia seeds, flaxseeds, soybeans and walnuts.
** Please note that this is NOT medical advice and that you should talk to your healthcare provider before taking this supplement
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- Gu Y, Schupf N, Cosentino SA, Luchsinger JA & Scarmeas N. Nutrient intake and plasma β-amyloid. Neurology. Online: May 2 2012 (DOI: 10.121/WNL.0b013e318258f7c2).
- Murray MT. 1996. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements: The Essential Guide for IMproving Your Health Naturally. Three Rivers Press: New York, NY.
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