Fish Oil and Alzheimer’s – Is This the Cure?

 

 

What is the link between fish oil and Alzheimer’s? Alzheimer’s is a life changing diseases that affects every aspect of a person’s health and as of now, has no known cure. Some medications may relieve symptoms, though, there is still no scientific evidence of the effects; Fish oil contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids that some believe can prevent and even cure Alzheimer’s Disease.

What is Alzheimer’s?

Most anyone you ask has surely heard of Alzheimer’s disease, but most mistakenly believe that is a natural part of growing old. That is a false assumption. Alzheimer’s Disease is in fact a type of Dementia, that develops slowly over time and often worsens as time goes on. Alzheimer’s is a Neurodegenerative Disease. It is most typically noticed long after it has begun to develop, but rather worsens to a point that it becomes noticeable to those around you. Some of the early signs of Alzheimer’s Disease can seem minimal, but are sure to progress as time goes on; such as forgetfulness and the inability to remember to most recent of events. As the disease progresses, the symptoms often worsen to things such as: disorientation, loss of language, inability to properly care for ones-self and behavioral issues. As persons Alzheimer’s Disease worsens, their body slowly loses function, ultimately leading to death.

It is generally believed that genetics are to blame for one developing Alzheimer’s Disease, but there is no sure scientific answer, nor is their currently a cure. Some medications may be used to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s or minimize the effects, but they will only prolong the end result. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the symptoms of Alzheimer’s will inevitably continue to worsen over time. The average person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, will live four to eight years after the time of diagnosis; but may live for up to another 20 years depending on the severity and effects of the disease. Alzheimer’s comes in stages, though the severity and the time frame may differ from person to person.

  • Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease is considered the beginning stage when symptoms are not yet noticeable, but slow changes in the brain are taking place.
  • Mild Alzheimer’s Disease is the early stage of Alzheimer’s. In the early stages most people with Alzheimer’s continue to function independently in their daily lives. A person may begin to feel as though they are having lapses in memory and family may begin to notice signs and symptoms.
  • Moderate Alzheimer’s Disease is the middle stage. This is most often the longest stage and may last for years. In this stage a person may become more and more dependent on the help of others to complete everyday task.
  • Severe Alzheimer’s Disease is considered the late stage. By this point a person will most likely require constant daily care to complete the basic needs such as personal care. A person may begin to loose awareness of the most recent events as well as their surroundings. A person will also start to experience changes in their physical abilities such as walking, sitting, and eventually even their ability to swallow and consume solid foods. At this stage people become more vulnerable to illness and have increased difficulty communicating.

What is fish oil?

Fish oil, is as it sounds, an oil extracted from the tissues of oily fish. The extracted fish oils contain a high concentration of Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. The fish used in the extraction of fish oils do not naturally produce the fatty acids, rather, they accumulate them through consumption of other fish with fatty acid stores. The Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil are thought to be beneficial in the treatment of many diseases and conditions, none of which have been scientifically proven. Many people still continue to consume fish oil supplements daily in hope that fish oil will help prolong one life and decrease the risk of many health conditions. Fish oil is among the most popular supplements on the market, with approximately $800 million in annual sales. Many physicians recommend taking fish oil supplement’s daily, though there is still no compelling evidence to support and of the thought benefits of fish oil consumption.

Is fish oil the cure for Alzheimer’s?

Many would love to believe that fish oil is a long sought after cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, but thus far there is no scientific evidence to support this theory. Studies have in fact shown that patients who began to supplement their diets with fish oil prior to the on-set of Alzheimer’s, have shown a decreased risk in developing the disease. Studies have also shown, those who continuously eat a healthy diet rich in fish, especially those containing high levels of fatty acids, are also less likely to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.

Studies suggest that the fish oil aids in preventing inflammation, which many believe may be the underlying cause of Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers have conducted a vast number of studies and the out-come is mostly conflicting data that still leaves us with no answers. Scientist believe that for fish oil to have any effect on the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, it would need to have been taken far earlier on in one’s life.

According to a review published by, The Cochran Collaboration, they based their findings on a study of 4080 patients over a 40-month period. The research concluded that the trials show no supporting evidence of the benefits of fish oil and cognitive health in older individuals. The review included studies of healthy participants over the age of 60 who were fully cognitively healthy at the beginning of the study. Participants were randomly selected to receive either extra omega-3 in their diet or the placebo, olive oil.  The main points of interest within the study were newly diagnosed cases of dementia during the study time period; along with any decline in cognitive health and side effects. The overall outcome of the review is that further, longer and more detailed research is still needed to confirm any real benefits on cognitive health by taking fish oil supplement’s daily.

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