Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients important in lowering blood pressure, reducing triglycerides, slowing the development of plaque in the arteries, reducing the chance of abnormal heart rhythm and the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which contain docosahexaenoic acid or DHA and eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA, are found in foods such as flaxseed, walnuts, soy products, and canola and soybean oils. But the types of omega-3s found in fish oil have greater health benefits than the omega-3s found in some plant sources.

Some research has examined the potential benefits of DHA for those with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies in mice specially bred to have features of the disease found that DHA reduces beta-amyloid plaques, abnormal protein deposits in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s, although a clinical trial of DHA showed no impact on people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

Last year, research studies published in Lancet Neurology showed that taking fish oil supplements had no effect on cognitive decline in older adults. In the past, it was suggested that taking these supplements would help in the protection of brain health, when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. The findings concluded that a fish oil supplement alone with multiple lifestyle interventions, such as good nutrition, physical activity and cognitive training, was no more effective in slowing cognitive decline than a placebo.

A person should consider taking a fish oil supplement if they do not eat at least 1-2 portions of oily fish per week. The dosage varies depending on age and health. The World Health Organization recommends a daily intake of .2 to .5 grams of combined DHA and EPA. Check the labels because many supplements can contain up to 1,000 mg of fish oil, yet only 300 mg of EPA and DHA. Choose a supplement that contains at least 500 mg of EPA and DPA per 1,000 mg of fish oil.

Fish oil supplements are prone to oxidation, which can make the supplement go rancid. Choose a fish oil that contains an antioxidant, such as vitamin E, and store it away from light, ideally, in the refrigerator.


Questions about Alzheimer's disease or a related disorder can be sent to Dana Territo, the Memory Whisperer, director of services at Alzheimer's Services of the Capital Area at advice@alzbr.org or visit the organization at 3772 North Blvd., Baton Rouge.