November 10, 2010
DHA Delays Early Brain Decline
Use omega 3 fatty acid DHA for your brain if you are getting up in the years.
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 8, 2010 — A study published in the November edition of Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association suggests that taking docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) may improve memory and learning in older adults with mild cognitive impairments. This is promising news for many aging Americans who are searching for options to maintain memory and support overall cognitive health.
The "Memory Improvement with Docosahexaenoic Acid Study" (MIDAS) was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the effects of DHA—the principle omega-3 fatty acid in the brain—on improving cognitive functions in healthy older adults with age-related cognitive decline. The study found that DHA taken for six months improved memory and learning in healthy, older adults with mild memory complaints.
It is far more sensible to improve your diet and therefore improve brain nutrition as early in life as possible than to try to intervene against Alzheimer's after brain aging as gotten so far advanced that it becomes a clinically recognizable disease.
While another recent study found that DNA does not work against already diagnosed Alzheimer's these researchers think DNA will help at an earlier stage of brain aging.
These findings underscore the importance of early DHA intervention. While the MIDAS study focused on a population of healthy adults with age-associated memory impairment, a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), conducted in a population that had previously been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, did not indicate DHA provided a statistically significant benefit to cognitive function. The lead author of the JAMA study also highlighted that their results may have been different had DHA been administered before the participants' disease progressed.
>>While another recent study found that DNA does not work against already diagnosed Alzheimer's these researchers think DHA will help at an earlier stage of brain aging.
This might be because by the time Alzheimer's disease has been diagnosed, the damage to brain cells is already quite extensive. In fact, new research shows that the brain inflammation that leads to Alzheimer starts many years before (possibly decades before) the actual symptoms of dementia are detected. However, the new PET scans or spinal taps that detect the accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain already provide an earlyl warning.
DHA has some anti-inflammatory effects for the brain, and this can delay, or perhaps prevent, the accumulation of amyloid plaque that destroys brain cells.
But it is worth noting that there are many experimental drugs that are being designed to prevent the accumulation of amyloid plaque in the brain. It is almost certain that if brain inflammation is stopped, Alzheimer's disease can be prevented.
Here are some incredible videos from the UCLA research on Alzheimer's patients who were given the powerful anti-inflammatory drug etanercept:
After this drug is injected into the spine (near the neck, going to the brain) of the patients, within five minutes the symptoms of the patients improve and many of them become astoundingly coherent. Please view all these videos and you will see that these are like scenes from a science fiction movie.
Unfortunately, the drug etarnecept has dangerous side-effects. In particular, if you have been exposed to the tuberculosis bacteria in your childhood, then this drug is likely to revive the dormant bacteria, leading to real tuberculosis. It turns out that many of the anti-inflammatory drugs also have the side-effect of suppressing the immune system in various ways.
So we can be certain that etanercept will not become available as an over the counter drug to prevent Alzheimer's disease, but this research is a major step in the right direction, because it confirms other research that Alzheimer's disease (and many other forms of dementia) is just the destruction of the brain cells by an inflammation. There are many private companies and universities experimenting with anti-inflammatory drugs to prevent Alzheimer's disease.
But for those who already have Alzheimer's disease, at least the progression can be stopped with the future drugs that cancel the inflammation. And it will even be possible to repair the damage to the existing brain cells, there is some hope for nerve growth factor related research on brain damaged patients.
Once the destruction of the brain cells is stopped, the brain heals itself even without regenerating the neurons, simply by creating alternative associations to bypass the damaged regions.
But I have read that you need a higher dose of DHA for it to help fight the inflammation of the brain. There are special brands of fish oil that have a higher percentage of DHA than other EPA. In particular, the algae based DHA is finally available at CVS pharmacy. It is recommended that for memory 900 mg (3 tablets of 300 mg) should be taken for best results. Apparently there is some academic research supporting the claim that DHA is good for memory (and also for brain health, since this memory improvement is not simply by stimulating the brain.)
"While another recent study found that DNA does not work against already diagnosed Alzheimer's ..."
DHA not "DNA"
Etanercept (Enbrel) may also inhibit Alzheimer's development even when not injected in the spine. See -
Arthritis Drugs Linked to Lower Odds of Alzheimer's - TNF Blockers Associated With 55% Reduced Risk of Dementia
"The researchers only looked at the use of three TNF blockers: Enbrel, Humira, and Remicade. Other TNF blockers are Cimzia and Simponi. When they further analyzed the risk according to the three TNF blockers studied, the researchers found that Enbrel was associated with a nearly 70% reduced risk of Alzheimer's, Chou says. The study does not prove cause and effect."
Interesting that suppressing the immune response may protect against Alzheimer's while increasing susceptibility to bacterial/viral diseases and cancer. Also intriguing is that Alzheimer's patients appear to reduced incidence of several cancers. Perhaps Alzheimer's is a pleiotropic effect appearing in the (post-reproductive) elderly of a strong immune system that in their youth increased their chances of surviving long enough to have children?
Although Alzheimer's disease appears to be an inflammation of the brain, the future drugs will probably have a lot of surgical precision so that not all the immune system will be suppressed. Also, perhaps the cause of the inflammation itself is the excess amyloid plaque, which can be cleaned up one day.
Unfortunately not all salmon is safe if eaten frequently: the cheap farmed salmon is often full of pollutants such as PCBs, even though it does not have mercury. Salmon must be from clean seas.
But as mentioned above, finally the price of algae based DHA is becoming reasonably affordable. Apparently academic studies indicate that 900 mg of DHA is helpful for memory, and even lower doses for heart.
Also please note there are articles that claim that the so-called molecularly distilled fish oil, although free of heavy metals, may have acquired other toxic characteristics during the process of molecular distillation.