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Taking fish oil each day found to keep Alzheimer's at bay

Buying salmon.
Buying salmon.
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

New research led by Lori Daiello, a research scientist at the Alzheimer’s disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital has found evidence that daily doses of fish oil supplements may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

“After studying the effects on 819 older people with varying degrees of cognitive capability ranging from normal function, to mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease, we found that fish oil use was associated with better performance on standard tests of memory and thinking abilities (as measured by the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale and the Mini Mental State Exam) over time, compared to those who didn’t take supplements,” she stated. “They also experienced less brain shrinkage in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus."

The Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale was First published in 1984, The Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale is currently used to access deterioration in brain function through via 11 different tests including: Word Recall in which patients are given 3 chances to recall as many words as they can from a given list of ten; Naming shown objects and identifying fingers by name (i.e. thumb, index finger, etc.); Following simple commands such as making a fist or cutting a deck of cards; Drawing Abilities, involves showing participants 4 different shapes and having them draw each of them; Thinking process, in which the examiner asks the patient to pretend he/she has written a letter to them self, fold it, place it in the envelop, seal the envelop, address it and demonstrate where to place the stamp; Orientation, in which the person being tested us asked to state their first and last name, date, time of day, address, social security number and so forth; Word recognition in which participants are asked to read and then try to remember a list of twelve words, as well as to state whether or not they have seen each of the words earlier or not; Remembering test directions; Spoken language, in which the person is assessed on their ability to use language to make them self understood, as well as their ability to understand words and language during the test.

To date, the combination of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA) found in fish such as trout, salmon, mackerel, swordfish, and yellow fin tuna (to name a few) has been found to have a number of health benefits including maintaining heart health, as well as increasing fertility, and promoting weight loss and clear skin, as well as helping to reduce the effects of diabetes, ulcers, and depression. While Daiello’s study report does not address a recommendation for the amount of fish oil to be taken, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that people should consume a daily EPA and DHA dose of 0.3 to 0.5 grams. She does, however, recommend eating fish (or other DHA rich foods) over taking pills, mostly because of inconsistencies and mislabeling of many over-the-counter dietary supplements.