Omega 3 Fatty Acids found in fish oil may slow or prevent Alzheimer’s disease according to a recent study at the University of California (UCLA) at Los Angeles.
The study, which was published in the December 26 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience found that one of the omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) stimulates the production of a protein called LR11. This protein prevents the build up of the protein beta amyloid, which is toxic to brain cells and is found in the brains of Alzheimer’s sufferers.
The researchers conducted their experiments by directly adding DHA to laboratory grown neurons of both rats in humans. It was found that even at low doses, the omega-3 fatty acid increased the levels of LR11 in the neurons.
Fatty acids such as DHA cannot be manufactured directly in the body and must be obtained through the diet. Fish oil is considered to be the most potent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
The team, led by Greg M. Cole, associate director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at UCLA, concluded that “Because reduced LR11 is known to increase beta amyloid production and may be a significant genetic cause of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, our results indicate that DHA increases in LR11 levels may play an important role in preventing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease,”
Other studies have linked DHA to improved cognitive function, suggesting that low levels may increase oxidative stress in the brain. DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain and is thought to be crucial to brain development during infancy and childhood.
Rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids include oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies, flaxseed oil, walnuts, pecan nuts, and olive oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are also found in smaller amounts in eggs, whole grain breads, leafy green vegetables, kiwifruit, and milk and meat from grass-fed beef and lamb.
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