Naturopathic

A growing number of herbal and alternative remedies have become available as a means of preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease.

The benefits of fish oil

The benefits of fish oil

by DR. ALISON O'BRIEN-MORAN, ND
Contributor

Our grandparents were right all along.

Taking the dreaded dose of fish oil daily really does help…and far more than even they realized!

Many people are familiar with the benefits of fish oil.   Generations ago, parents originally gave cod liver oil to children to help prevent rickets, or softening of the bones.  Over time, people began to discover fish oil could help bolster the immune system and the list of benefits has grown ever since.  Nowadays, more and more people use fish oil for a wide variety of benefits, including helping with blood pressure, cholesterol levels, depression, eye health, hair, skin and nails, and blood sugar imbalances. The most recent area of investigation for fish oil has now moved to its potential to impact Alzheimer’s disease.

Various studies over the last few years have looked at whether or not fish oil can help improve both symptoms and physical evidence of risk factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.  The results for some of the earlier studies have been inconclusive, due to mixed findings of whether or not benefit could be proven. One study (Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, June 2014*1) set out to get to the bottom of the controversy and see if in fact, evidence supported the use of fish oil for therapeutic benefit.  Among the findings of this study, it was reported that a specific derivative of DHA, “reduced beta-amyloid levels in cellular models” and “reduced beta-amyloid induced tau protein”.

Fish oil can help preserve brain volume and better outcomes on assessment tests for Alzheimer’s disease.

Another study (Alzheimer’s & Dementia, Feb 2015*2), looked at the “Association of fish oil supplement use with preservation of brain volume and cognitive function”.  This retrospective study compared MRI images and neuropsychological testing every 6 months of three different groups of older adults; one group of cognitively normal adults, one group with mild cognitive impairments and one group with Alzheimer’s disease.  The findings were impressive for making the case to start now with fish oil.   “FOS (fish oil supplementation) use during follow-up was associated with significantly lower mean cognitive subscale of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale and higher Mini-Mental State Examination scores among those with normal cognition”. They also found that fish oil supplementation was “associated with less atrophy in one or more brain regions of interest”. The study did note that these findings were associated with those who did not have the APOE gene variant (a specific genetic risk factor). Certainly, it appears that prophylactically using fish oil can help preserve brain volume and better outcomes on assessment tests for Alzheimer’s disease.


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About the author

Dr. Alison O'Brien-Moran, ND

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