Healthy Living Today

Discussion of healthy habits, alternative therapies, foods, herbs and lifestyle that will help us live a happy, healthy life!

Eat Your Fish – Keep Your Memory

Posted by healthylivingtoday on January 28, 2008


Alzheimer’s researchers have long touted fish oil, by pill or diet, as an accessible and inexpensive “weapon” that may delay or prevent getting this debilitating disease. Now, UCLA scientists say they have confirmed that fish oil is indeed a deterrent against Alzheimer’s–and they have identified the reasons why.
As reported in the Journal of Neuroscience, Greg Cole, professor of medicine and neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and associate director of UCLA’s Alzheimer Disease Research Center, and his colleagues report that the Omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which is found in fish oil increases the production of LR11.

LR11 is a protein that is found at reduced levels in Alzheimer’s patients and is known to destroy the protein that forms the “plaques” associated with the disease.

The plaques are deposits of a protein called beta amyloid that is thought to be toxic to neurons in the brain, leading to Alzheimer’s. Since having high levels of LR11 prevents the toxic plaques from being made, low levels in patients are believed to be a factor in causing the disease.

Alzheimer’s is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease that causes memory loss, dementia, personality change and ultimately death. The national Alzheimer’s Association estimates that 5.1 million Americans are currently afflicted with the disease and predicts that the number may increase to between 11 million and 16 million people by the year 2050.

Fish oil and its key ingredient, Omega-3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish like salmon), have been a mainstay of alternative health practitioners for years and have been endorsed by the American Heart Association to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Fatty acids like DHA are considered “essential” fatty acids because the body cannot make them from other sources and must obtain them through diet.

Years of research have shown that DHA is the most abundant essential fatty acid in the brain, Cole said, and that it is critical to fetal and infant brain development.

Studies have also linked low levels of DHA in the brain to cognitive impairment and have shown that lower levels may increase oxidative stress in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

Still to be determined, he said, “is what the optimal dose should be. It could be that a smaller amount might be helpful, especially in a place like the south of France, where people are already on a Mediterranean diet.”

Here in the United States, though, where fish consumption is not very high, the dose may need to be higher.

Funding for the research was provided by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The research was initiated with support from the National Institute on Aging.

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