Brain Food: Cod Liver Oil may help prevent early onset Alzheimer's

08 December 2006

Brain Food: Cod Liver Oil may help prevent early onset Alzheimer’s

Expert calls for adults to take daily Omega-3 supplementation
in the battle to prevent early onset Alzheimer’s disease

HEALTHY adults should take a daily Omega 3 supplement as a frontline step in preventing early onset Alzheimer’s disease, a leading expert claimed today.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, a practising GP and Chair of the International Cod Liver Omega-3 Foundation issued her call to action following new  Swedish research published in the Archives of Neurology that suggests Omega-3 fatty acid food supplements such as Cod Liver Oil may slow mental decline in some patients with Alzheimer's disease. 

Dr Jarvis said: “There is now a growing body of published scientific evidence to support the role Omega-3s in brain health.  I see first hand the devastating toll that Alzheimer’s disease has on patients and their families.  Omega3s are safe, and already have a huge body of evidence to support their efficacy in protecting the heart. Added to this a possible preventive effect on Alzheimer’s progression and  the message is simple - prevention is better than cure and that means we should be encouraging adults to insure their health by taking an inexpensive, reliable Omega3 supplement.’

The research on the role of Omega-3 in brain health and preventing early onset Alzheimer’s comes in the wake of a controversial decision announced by the NHS drugs watchdog (The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) to reject patients’ access to certain prescription drugs on the grounds that they “do not make enough of a difference for us to recommend their use for treating all stages of Alzheimer's disease”  .


It is believed the decision will directly impact 750,000  people in the UK who have dementia. In the UK, the direct costs of Alzheimer's disease are estimated to be between £7.06 billion and £14.93 billion, which is substantially greater than stroke (£3.2 billion), heart disease (£4.05 billion) and cancer (£1.6 billion excluding informal care costs) .

Sarah Jarvis’s call to action is supported by new research carried out by Professor Günter Siegel from the Charité in Berlin which suggests natural supplements may help combat the early stages of Alzheimer’s.  An in vitro study  showed that omega-3 fish oil and ginkgo biloba may delay mental deterioration by inhibiting degenerative processes in the brain. An omega-3 fish oil and ginkgo biloba combination succeeded in cutting the formation of early deposits, or ‘nanoplaques’, in the brain by more than 10% and their size was reduced by almost 15% compared with controls.

Professor Siegel said:  “One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of amyloid-containing plaques in the brain.  We know that fish oils are heart protective and that amyloid plaques are very similar in composition to atherosclerotic plaques found in the arteries of people with heart disease.”                                                                                                                         

He adds:  “These findings bring hope to the millions of men and women approaching late middle age who cite Alzheimer’s disease as one of the biggest health worries and who may already be experiencing the mild memory loss and declining brainpower associated with ageing.”  He concludes:  “The results are quite clear but do need to be confirmed in a clinical trial.”

Professor Siegel is now recruiting patients whose cholesterol profile puts them at higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

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