December 26, 2007
Evidence For Omega 3 Fatty Acid Against Alzheimer's Disease

More evidence that fish oils really are good for you.

Many Alzheimer's researchers have long touted fish oil, by pill or diet, as an accessible and inexpensive "weapon" that may delay or prevent this debilitating disease. Now, UCLA scientists have confirmed that fish oil is indeed a deterrent against Alzheimer's, and they have identified the reasons why.

Reporting in the current issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, now online, 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) found in fish oil increases the production of LR11, a protein that is found at reduced levels in Alzheimer's patients and which 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.

I ate a large piece of Salmon on Christmas Day and now I feel even better about it.

DHA also boosted LR11 in human cells grown in culture.

"We found that even low doses of DHA increased the levels of LR11 in rat neurons, while dietary DHA increased LR11 in brains of rats or older mice that had been genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's disease," said Cole, who is also associate director of the Geriatric Research Center at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

To show that the benefits of DHA were not limited to nonhuman animal cells, the researchers also confirmed a direct impact of DHA on human neuronal cells in culture as well. Thus, high levels of DHA leading to abundant LR11 seem to protect against Alzheimer's, Cole said, while low LR11 levels lead to formation of the amyloid plaques.

Since the oceans don't have enough fish in them we really need land crops genetically engineered to have high levels of omega 3 fatty acids.

Not convinced yet? See my previous posts Omega 3 Fatty Acids In Fish Delay Alzheimer's In Mice, Fish In Diet Slows Rate Of Cognitive Decline, Omega 3 Fatty Acids Might Slow Alzheimers Disease, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids Protect Against Parkinsons Disease? for more on brain aging benefits of omega 3 fatty acids.

We need to slow the aging of our brains for the day when brain rejuvenation therapies become available. The more neurons we have left at that point the more that can be repaired and restored.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2007 December 26 09:38 PM  Aging Diet Brain Studies

David Govett said at December 27, 2007 12:21 AM:

Omega 3 supplement is effective in reducing systemic inflammation associated with psoriasis, atherosclerosis, etc. Look for a quality company, though.

TTT said at December 27, 2007 4:02 PM:

Can't Omega-3 also be gotten from Flaxseeds and Olive Oil?

Bob Badour said at December 27, 2007 6:01 PM:


Yes and no. More than one type of Omega-3 exists. Flaxseeds and olive oil tend to have only one of them. Salmon either has both or has the type more closely associated with various benefits.

Randall Parker said at December 27, 2007 7:23 PM:

TTT, Bob,

The biggies in fish are DHA and EPA. The alpha linolenic acid in flax is a precursor to EPA and then DHA. I've read that the conversion efficiencies are low. But the web page where that info came from does not provide a citation of any research papers. So I continue to wonder about it.

Flax probably has other benefits. But EPA and DHA consumed directly seem more certain to deliver the benefits associated with fish consumption.

reanimator said at December 27, 2007 7:26 PM:

I don't think neither Flaxseed nor Olive Oil are substitutes for real EPA and DHA. EPA can become DHA and the latter ALA, I believe, but not vice versa. Flax has some ALA and omega 6 and Olive oil is mostly omega 9, a great thing in itself but not a substitute for EPA and DHA.

BTW fish, or Krill or Algae, which have both- can be isolated for good effect. Taking EPA is better for most psychological/neurological conditions, while taking DHA is seemingly better for inflammation.

reanimator said at December 27, 2007 7:32 PM:


I think an argument can be made that taking Flax, esp oil form, is contrary to health. If you want some good ALA sources, then NA stabilized ALA is probably the best sort. Omega 6, which our western diet is absolutely saturated with, need not be bolstered IMO. If one does decide to go there, and there is some argument to be made, then sesame ligands and GLA (e.g., Borage) seem to be good choices specifically.

glock said at December 31, 2007 11:21 AM:

Is there any greater benefit to my changing my current ritual ingestion of
flax meal,flaxseed oil,and DHA (Neuromins algae derived not fish) supplements
with an occasional Salmon meal thrown in 2-3 times a month( I'm not
"crazy about" Salmon) in favor of eating more salmon / omega 3 rich fish ?

Randall Parker said at December 31, 2007 7:28 PM:


DHA isn't EPA. You might get additional benefits from EPA. Neuromins DHA is good stuff. But EPA a few times a month is probably a good idea.

I'm not crazy about salmon either. I eat it with other stuff that drowns its flavor.


I grind flax fresh when I eat it. I never use capsules. The seeds are easy to grind. I've read that the flax oil goes bad fairly quickly.

Nick said at December 31, 2007 11:15 PM:

We use Barlean's flax seed oil - it's very fresh. Flax seed oil does go bad quickly, and turns eventually into linseed oil.

Barlean's has done wonders for our us, and our dogs - controlled long-standing inflammatory skin conditions.

glock said at January 2, 2008 9:59 AM:

Thanks RP.
I kinda thought I should be taking EPA as well but I'm still fuzzy
on what metabolizes into what and how and what is best assimilated through what pathway.
OH, and I'm cheap. So I need a pretty clear definitive advantage for paying for things that
my body may be able to make with the proper raw materials.

I did see one abstract (Williams, C. M. and G. Burdge (2006)."Long-chain n-3 PUFA: plant v. marine sources." Proc Nutr Soc 65(1): 42-50.)

that said :

"An important question is whether dietary intake of the precursor n-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid (alphaLNA), can provide sufficient amounts of tissue EPA and DHA by conversion through the n-3 PUFA elongation-desaturation pathway. alphaLNA is present in marked amounts in plant sources, including green leafy vegetables and commonly-consumed oils such as rape-seed and soyabean oils, so that increased intake of this fatty acid would be easier to achieve than via increased fish consumption. However, alphaLNA-feeding studies and stable-isotope studies using alphaLNA, which have addressed the question of bioconversion of alphaLNA to EPA and DHA, have concluded that in adult men conversion to EPA is limited (approximately 8%) and conversion to DHA is extremely low (less than 0.1%).
In women fractional conversion to DHA appears to be greater (9%), which may partly be a result of a lower rate of utilisation of alphaLNA for beta-oxidation in women. However, up-regulation of the conversion of EPA to DHA has also been suggested, as a result of the actions of oestrogen on Delta6-desaturase, and may be of particular importance in maintaining adequate provision of DHA in pregnancy. The effect of oestrogen on DHA concentration in pregnant and lactating women awaits confirmation."

8% doesn't sound too efficient

is there a benefit to grinding the seeds over buying it as I do in meal form (Bob's Redmill Ground Flaxseed meal)

I 2nd that emotion on Barleans. 32 oz. lasts me about a month - no spoilage issues in fridge, I've had maybe one bad
Barleans in many years of buying.

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