If you know someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you’re not alone. There are around 5.8 million people living with Alzheimer’s in the United States, according to the CDC.
While doctors are still trying to fully understand Alzheimer’s and figure out potential treatments for the disease, research has shown that getting an adequate amount of omega-3 DHA can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s by a staggering 49%.
DHA—or docosahexaenoic acid—is an omega-3 fat that is known to potentially prevent health issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, some types of cancer, and depression, per Healthline.
It might also be beneficial when it comes to preventing Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study recently published in nutrients, which involved researchers taking a look at the possible connection between red blood cell docosahexaenoic acid (RBC DHA) and Alzheimer’s. While considering the health of participants who were a median age of under 65 years old and who did not have dementia, the researchers found that those with higher levels of RBC DHA were 49% less likely to face a risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
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“Most interestingly, 15 years ago similar findings were reported by Schaefer et al. in the parents of the individuals who were the focus of this present investigation (ie, the Original Framingham Heart Study cohort),” noted the senior author of the recent study , William S. Harris, PhD, President of Fatty Acid Research Institute, according to EurekAlert!. Dr. Harris explained that the first study found that those with higher DHA levels were 47% less likely to end up dealing with dementia, adding, “Similar findings a generation apart in a similar genetic pool provide considerable confirmation of this DHA-dementia relationship.”
When it comes to how omega-3 DHA helps reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, Jeff Gladd, MD, chief medical officer at Fullscript, and integrative medicine physician, tells Eat This, Not That!, “Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their role in lowering inflammation. DHA is believed to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by mitigating neuroinflammation, as well as reducing the formation and accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques in the brain, two factors known to play a key role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.”
“The results of this study are very promising and confirm what researchers have found in epidemiological and animal studies to date,” says Gladd.
Gladd added that those with Alzheimer’s in their family can mitigate their risk by eating more DHA-rich foods such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel.
“It’s also a strong argument for supplementing with high-quality fish oil daily, as DHA is one of the core omega-3 fatty acids found in these products,” he says.
For those who want to add an omega-3 supplement to their regular routine, Gladd notes that “choosing a high-quality fish oil supplement is essential,” and says he recommends his patients opt for “a high-quality, third party-tested product that also provides a substantially higher dose than most mainstream brands.”
If you stay away from fish products, Dr. Gladd says that “vegans and vegetarians may benefit from a plant-based algal oil supplement containing DHA,” pointing out that “research has shown that plant-based algal oil supplements can increase DHA concentrations in individuals who don’t consume fish or seafood. “
To find out more about how to benefit from omega-3, be sure to read The #1 Best Omega-3 Supplement to Take, Says Dietitian.
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more