Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) are a group of conditions that cause mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. These conditions affect one’s ability to function socially, personally, and professionally. It’s important to recognize that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before symptoms start just like many other conditions. There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of ADRD by as much as 50%.

DHA is essential for overall health and optimal central nervous system dysfunction. It is highly concentrated in the brain within metabolically active neuronal regions including synaptic membranes, synaptic vesicles, and mitochondria and makes up 15% of the total fatty acids in the cerebral cortex.

Higher DHA concentrations have been associated with improved cognition and reduced MCI and ADRD risk. Previous dosing of DHA in healthy individuals for cognitive improvement has been just over 1 gram of DHA daily with success.

According to a new review published last week in BMC Medicine, researchers investigated the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive function in middle-aged and older adults without dementia.

This meta-analysis included 24 studies consisting of 9,660 participants. Follow up was between 3 to 36 months. The research team found a beneficial effect on executive function demonstrating an upward trend within 12 months of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. This effect was seen with a daily intake greater than 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

This cognitive benefit is believed to be mediated by their influence on synaptic plasticity and neurogenesis in brain regions susceptible to oxidative stress.

Other brain supportive nutrients to consider are GPC, CDP-choline, gingko biloba, and phosphatidylserine, curcumin, folate and B12. GPC and CDP-choline are water soluble forms of choline that can cross the blood brain barrier and support brain health. These help produce more acetylcholine, neurotransmitters, as well as phosphatidylcholine in the cell membranes.

Previous research has also demonstrated that B vitamins had no effect on cognitive decline in cognitive impairment when omega-3 levels are low. However, when omega-3 levels are in an upper normal range, B vitamins slow cognitive decline and brain atrophy. These findings suggest that a combination of fish oil supplements and B vitamins may help to improve cognition and the importance of synergy as dysfunction and symptoms are often due to multifactorial causes.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Seung Wan Suh, Eunji Lim, et al. The influence of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on cognitive function in individuals without dementia: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis. BMC Med. 2024 Mar 12;22(1):109.

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