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Omega-3 DHA Shown To Benefit Minds of Seniors Not Suffering From Alzheimer's

Two new studies claim that daily supplements of the omega-3 essential fatty acid DHA may improve memory and heart health among healthy older adults, but not among those already suffering from Alzheimer's.


The studies, funded by Martek Bioservices, were presented at The Alzheimer's Association's 2009 International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease (ICAD 2009).  The Conference took place in Vienna the week of July 11-16th.


The Alzheimer's study included 402 participants with an average age of 76 and "probable" Alzheimer's diagnosis, based on a mental state exam score.  The participants also had dietary DHA intakes of no greater than 200 mg per day at the beginning of the study.


The participants were given a supplement containing 2 grams of DHA (equivalent to 2 daily servings of oily fish) or a placebo every day for 18 months.


Although blood levels of DHA did increase among the participants, the researchers observed no significant cognitive benefit among the studied population.


The second study, called The Memory Improvement with DHA Study (MIDAS), included 485 healthy older people with an average age of 70.  None of the participants were diagnosed with Alzheimer's at the beginning of the study but all of them had a "mild memory complaint."


The participants were given a 900 mg dose of DHA (equivalent to 1 daily serving of oily fish) or a placebo for 6 months.


By the end of the study, the plasma DHA levels of the participants given the supplement doubled and they also saw a significant decrease in heart rate.


More importantly, those who were given the supplement had almost double the reduction in errors on a test that measures learning and memory performance than those who received the placebo.


According to the researchers, the benefits gained by those who took the supplement are equivalent to having the learning and memory skills of someone three years younger.


These findings are an important step in determining the specific cognitive benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3 essential fatty acids have already been shown to provide a large range of other health benefits, particularly with regard to cardiovascular health.


A significant amount of scientific evidence is beginning to amass regarding the cognitive benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, which are found naturally in oily fish and can also be taken as a supplement.


Salmon, mackerel, lake trout and albacore tuna all have very high omega-3 essential fatty acid levels.  If you opt for a supplement, be sure that it is a quality supplement high in DHA and EPA and certified for purity.

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