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More Evidence to Support Omega-3 Brain Benefits

A new study from researchers in Taiwan adds to an already large body of evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can be an important weapon against neuro-degenerative diseases and cognitive decline.

This latest study links omega-3s EPA and DHA with an improvement in severity of Alzheimer's and mild cognitive decline symptoms. The findings are set to be published in the August 2008 issue of Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry.

In the double blind study, researchers from Taipei City Hospital recruited 46 people - 23 with mild or moderate Alzheimer's and 23 with mild cognitive decline. The average age of the study group was 75. Participants were randomly assigned either 1.8g of omega-3s (1080mg EPA and 720mg DHA) or a placebo.

After 24 weeks the participants were evaluated using the Clinicians Interview-Based Impression of Change Scale (CIBIC-plus) and the Alzheimer's Disease Assesment Scale (ADAS-cog).

Participants with Alzheimer's and those with mild cognitive decline both showed improvements on the CIBIC-plus when compared to the placebo groups. The CIBIC-plus measures the severity and progression of illness using questions and observations from four categories: (i) General (ii) Mental and Cognitive State (iii) Behavior (iv) Daily Activities.

Initially, researchers saw no significant difference in the groups when looking at the ADAS-cog, which evaluates the primary characteristics of Alzheimer's disease. However, when researchers looked at the Alzheimer's group and mild cognitive decline groups separately they noted an improvement in ADAS-cog amongst the group with mild cognitive decline.

These findings are the latest in a long list of studies showing omega-3 brain and cognition benefits. Earlier this year researchers found that omega-3 DHA may help protect brain cells from damage. In November 2007 researchers from Canada found that DHA may also provide protection against Alzheimer's. And in April 2007 the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that omega-3 rich foods could help prevent age related cognitive decline.

Source: Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry
August 2008, Volume 32, Issue 6, Pages 1538-1544
"The effects of omega-3 fatty acids monotherapy in Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment: A preliminary randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study"
Authors: C-C. Chiu, K.-P. Su, T.-C. Cheng, H.-C. Liu, C.-J. Chang, M.E. Dewey, R. Stewart, S.-Y. Huang
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