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Fish Oil May Slow Brain Shrinkage and Cognitive Decline

People who are not genetically predisposed to Alzheimer’s disease may be able to conserve brain volume. A recent study suggests that taking fish oil supplements may prompt structural changes in the brain that conserve brain volume and improve cognition.

Participants in the study included 819 people who took part in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative. Of those participants, 229 were cognitively normal, 397 had mild cognitive impairment, and 193 had Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, 117 of the participants reported regular fish oil supplement use.

The researchers conducted neuropsychological tests and brain MRIs every six months. They also compared cognitive functioning and brain atrophy for patients who reported taking fish oil supplements and those not taking fish oil supplements.

They found that taking a fish oil supplement was associated with better cognitive functioning during the duration of the study. That result was only seen for those participants with normal baseline cognitive function and for people who tested negative for AP0E4, the gene associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, the participants who were APOE4 negative and took fish oil supplements had less brain atrophy than those who did not take fish oil.

Researchers from Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on June 18, 2014, in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Fish oil has also been linked to numerous other health benefits, including combating diabetes, lowering cholesterol, improving vision,reducing the risk of dementia and relieving depression.

If you’re looking to increase your fish oil intake, try adding darker fish, such as salmon or tuna, to your diet. If you don’t like the taste of fish or are just finding it hard to work it into your meal plans, consider taking a high quality supplement. Make sure your supplement is tested for purity and potency.

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