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Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2010 Mar;13(2):150-5. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e328335c40b.

Are omega-3 fatty acids options for prevention and treatment of cognitive decline and dementia?

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Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism, Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



To report recent data on the potential role of omega-3 fatty acids (n-3 FA) found in oily fish, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), to prevent and treat cognitive decline and Alzheimer's disease.


Observational studies still provide conflicting results, in which the majority indicate beneficial effects on cognition, both when assessed as a continuous variable or as incident dementia, mainly Alzheimer's disease. Experimental studies have demonstrated potentially ameliorating effects of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and DHA on amyloid fragment formation, signal transduction including upregulation of the apolipoprotein receptor SorLA, as well as on angiogenesis. The role of EPA and DHA metabolites on Alzheimer's disease pathology is under investigation. Recently, three randomized intervention studies, with duration up to 6 months have been reported. In contrast to a small study from Taiwan, no positive overall effects were reported from the Swedish OmegAD Study or from a Dutch study, although post hoc analyses indicate that selected individuals with mild forms of Alzheimer's disease or cognitive decline may respond to treatment.


No firm conclusions can be drawn. Based on epidemiological data, fish including oily fish could be advised as part of a balanced diet for public health purpose, although the evidence for better cognition is only fairly consistent. It is unlikely that n-3 FA will emerge as a treatment option in general for improving cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer's disease. n-3 FA, especially DHA, may turn out as an adjuvant therapy in selected cases. Further long-term intervention studies on individuals with mild cognitive reductions are awaited.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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