DHA may prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease

March 24, 2005

In this animal study researchers show that DHA, one of the two main fats in fish oil capsules, helps prevent the type of damage seen in Alzheimer's disease. Researchers at UCLA fed mice 3 different diets, either regular chow, chow with some DHA added, or chow with a good amount of DHA added. At the end of 22.5 months their brains were checked for Alzheimer's type plaque. In the mice with a high DHA diet the amount of beta-amyloid protein was 70% lower than the mice on the other two diets. The amount of brain plaque was reduced by 40.3%. Beta-amyloid is a protein that deposits in the brain of Alzheimer's patients creating the characteristic brain plaque. The study is published in the March 30th, 2005 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph.

There is no doubt that high amounts of DHA cultivate brain health. Various published studies show that DHA, a major fatty acid of the brain, helps restore health to the entire terrain of the brain. Studies show that DHA benefits individuals with anxiety, depression, bipolar depression, drug resistant depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and possibly a number of neurological conditions, and maybe even borderline personality disorder. In this study, high levels of DHA kept aging brains healthy, and these animals had the lowest amount of senility causing, tissue knotting plaque.

DHA may reverse learning impairment in Alzheimer's disease

Japanese researchers split rats into four groups: the regular rat control group, a second group on DHA, a third group with beta-amyloid protein infused into their brain, and a fourth group with the beta-amyloid infusion and also on a large serving of DHA. Beta-amyloid is the protein that causes Alzheimer's plaque build up. Over the twelve week study it was found that the DHA supplementation significantly reduced memory errors in rats infused with beta-amyloid. The DHA seemed to help prevent the impairment in learning ability. DHA supplementation also reduced free radical damage and inflammation in critical brain regions affected in Alzheimer's disease. The study appears in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the journal of The American Society for Nutritional Sciences.