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Posted on Sep 11, 2014, 6 a.m.

Dietary supplementation of fish oil may improve memory function and reduce the incidence of cognitive decline.

On average, one person is diagnosed every minute with Alzheimer's disease, a condition for which no cure presently exists and thus for which intensive efforts to prevent or slow cognitive decline with age is focused. Lori Daiello, from the Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital (Rhode Island, USA), and colleagues completed a retrospective study of older adults (229 cognitively normal individuals, 397 patients with mild cognitive impairment, and 193 patients with Alzheimer's disease), enrolled in the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, who were assessed with neuropsychological tests and brain magnetic resonance imaging every 6 months. Researchers tracked global cognitive status, and cerebral cortex gray matter and hippocampus and ventricular volumes.  The study found that fish oil supplement use during the study was associated with significantly lower rates of cognitive decline as measured by two standardized assessment scales, but this benefit was observed only for the group of participants without dementia at the time of enrollment. Importantly, the study authors report that: “[fish oil supplements] use during the study was also associated with less atrophy in one or more brain regions of interest.”

Daiello LA, Gongvatana A, Dunsiger S, Cohen RA, Ott BR; Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.  “Association of fish oil supplement use with preservation of brain volume and cognitive function.”  Alzheimers Dement. 2014 Jun 18. pii: S1552-5260(14)00079-X.

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