Skip to comments.Does Fish Oil Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease?
Posted on 06/23/2012 2:44:51 PM PDT by Kaslin
Immortality is but a diet away
When I was young I was told that eating fish made you clever, in the same way that eating carrots made you see in the dark. Luckily I always liked fish, though whether it had the desired effect upon my intellect it is not for me to say.
At any rate, the connection between eating fish and brain function has long been part of common folklore, and it is probably for this reason that large numbers of people approaching old age take fish oil capsules in the hope of warding off Alzheimers disease. This, no doubt, is an example of the belief or superstition that, if only we got our diet right, we should never fall ill. Immortality is but a diet away.
A meta-analysis of trials of fish oil capsules or margarine in the prevention of cognitive decline has just been published in, or on, the Cochrane Library, a website devoted to examining the evidence for (or of course against) the use of drugs and medical procedures in the prevention and treatment of illnesses. The quality of the analyses published in, or on, the Cochrane Library is generally accepted as the best possible.
The authors aggregated the results of three trials that met their methodological criteria. The trials had to be double-blind and placebo-controlled, and involved 3,536 participants who were cognitively unimpaired and over the age of 60. Subjects took fish oil capsules or margarine (or placebo) for 6, 20 or 40 months.
There was no evidence that fish oils prevented cognitive decline as measured by the Mini-Mental State Examination, the measuring instrument usually used in such trials, and other simple tests. The only significant side-effect of taking fish oil was mild gastrointestinal disturbance; overall levels of side-effects were as great among those taking placebo as those taking fish-oil.
There are severe limitations in what can be concluded for the meta-analysis, however. Because the cognitive decline in both treatment and control groups was so small, the trials did not have sufficient power to detect any possible benefit, much less to draw definite conclusions about the ability of fish oils to prevent Alzheimers disease. Moreover the fish oil was taken by subjects for at most 40 months; perhaps if it were taken for longer, and the follow-up were also for longer, a difference would manifest itself. Since the trials excluded people with dementia that was already manifest, it was impossible to conclude from the results whether or not fish oil is of benefit in established dementia.
The authors did not conclude that people should not take fish oil supplements, because they said that such fish oils might have benefits other than in the prevention of cognitive decline. And since longer trials might be necessary to establish definitively the uselessness (or otherwise) of fish oils in the prevention of cognitive decline, those who put their faith in them are not yet forced by the evidence to abandon it or risk joining the ranks of the irrational.
For the moment, nutritionists recommend the consumption of fish twice a week, including of oily fish salmon, herrings, mackerel or sardines at least once a week. I confess I find such recommendations suspect: how do the nutritionists know that three times a week would not be better, or once a week as good as twice?
The decision as to what to eat cannot be taken on the basis of placebo-controlled double blind trials, first because such trials usually establish very little (and that little is often contradicted by subsequent trials), and second because there are purposes to eating other than the preservation or improvement of health. Meals are not medical procedures, and the dinner table is not, or not yet, an operating table.
No, but he keeps rust from spreading.
If fish oil contains heavy metals such as mercury I would imagine it would do more harm than good when it comes to Alzheimer's.
Interesting. Thanks for posting. I always enjoy Dalrymple’s articles.
I believe quality fish oil is purified.(distilled) I think they also use species that contain less from the beginning.
Think about it...how many fish do you know with Alzheimer’s?
I don’t know about Alzheimer’s, but I do know that since I began taking my fish oil supplements (along with a daily multivitamin), my ability to concentrate for longer periods of time has improved significantly.
That might be a placebo affect, but even if it is, I don’t really care. I feel better, I work better, and sleep better. That’s good enough for me.
I’ve taken 3 grams of fish oil daily for many years. I just can’t remember why though...
BTW, get enteric coated fish oil caps. That way you don’t burp it up. It has an... interesting flavor.
Krill oil baby!
Ive taken 3 grams of fish oil daily for many years. I just cant remember why though..
Have been taking cod-liveroil for more than seventy years,
don’t know how much it help my cognity level, but I have been the go to guy for information and argument arbiter for a long time, lots of people avoid having arguments with me, LOL
I don’t know but the thought of eating fish oil is repulsive to me
I eat the greasiest, oiliest fishies I can find. I even throw a little vaseline on ‘em if they’re not slippery enough.
Fish oil is very good for the control of inflammation and with what we are learning about inflammation and heart disease, fish oil certainly can’t hurt.
Be careful with “Fish Oils.” There are some studies indicating that in large amounts it can reduce the bodies platelet formation. (Over 1600 Mg is a large amount.)
I take Nature Made 1200 mg softgels, 180 EPA, 120 DHA with my nice greasy eggs and bacon breakfast.
Answer: “No” in double blind studies.
I had to stop taking fish oil as I was bleeding internally. Fish oil was not the cause. I was not taking a capsule but the oil itself it was 1600 mg. It is good stuff but one must be careful with it. Its benefits are mainly cardiovascular; i.e. it increases the diameter of the arteries among other things.
I take fish oil because it *might* help, just as it *might* help someone whose family has a history of heart disease. The kind of family, like some of my relatives, in which the males keel over dead before age 50.
Both of my grandmothers had dementia, as did my dad, and knowing how bad my short-term memory is already, I continue to take the fish oil, D, and niacin. Not because I *know* it will help, but because it *might* help.
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