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NMU 38 – Omega-3 fats and antioxidant supplements prompt breakdown of beta-amyloid plaque, via monocytes, in brains of patients with mild cognitive impairment

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 38 (January 16, 2017)

with Dr. James Meschino


Research Topic: Omega-3 fats and antioxidant supplements prompt breakdown of beta-amyloid plaque, via monocytes, in brains of patients with mild cognitive impairment

Source: FASEB journal July 2015.

Today’s research paper appeared in the journal Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology in July of 2015. It was a groundbreaking human study showing the effects of certain supplements on preventing key aspects in Alzheimer’s disease development. Because there is at present no known cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, prevention is considered a first-line defense against this mind-robbing disorder. One of the hallmark features of Alzheimer’s disease is the presence of beta-amyloid plaque build-up in the brain. Beta-amyloid plaque is not only a feature of the disease, but it is thought to generate free radicals that speed up the progression of the disease by destroying brain cells.

There has been some previous evidence to show that certain omega-3 fats, especially DHA from fish and fish oil, can decrease the production of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain.  As well, population studies have shown that those who consume the most omega-3 fats over their lifetime (in the range of about 500 mg per day), have a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease as they age. In addition, several studies have shown that Vitamin E supplementation (2,000 IU) per day, has slowed the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, either by itself, or when used in conjunction with standard Alzheimer’s medications.

The FASEB journal study by Milan Fiala, from the University of California/Los Angeles, and colleagues investigated the effects of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants in 12 patients with minor cognitive impairment, 2 patients with pre-mild cognitive impairment, and 7 patients with Alzheimer disease, over a 4 to 17-month period. Their study showed that supplementation with omega-3 fats and antioxidants prompted certain body immune cells to ingest and destroy the beta-amyloid plaque in the brain at an increased rate. Certain white blood cells, known as monocytes, upon omega-3 and antioxidant stimulation, began digesting and breaking up the plaque in the brains of these patients. The net result was reduced amounts of beta-amyloid plaque in these high-risk patients. The patients who already had Alzheimer’s disease showed a much-reduced effect. The efficacy was much greater for those with mild clinical impairment and pre-mild clinical impairment – in other words, those with early memory loss problems, who do did not yet have full-blown Alzheimer’s disease showed the best results.

The study authors concluded: “Our study is the first to show significant immune and biochemical effects of [omega]-3 fatty acids with antioxidants in patients with [minor cognitive impairment].” The takeaway message from this seems to suggest that omega-3 fats, together with certain antioxidants, may help to prevent the build-up of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. This is an outcome we should all strive to achieve as a means to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and may be especially helpful for those in the early stages of memory loss or mild cognitive impairment.

This study builds on some of the previous studies we have seen that suggest similar benefits of omega-3 fats and certain antioxidants in Alzheimer’s disease prevention. In this study the participants ingested a smart drink containing:

1000 mg DHA, 1000 mg EPA, as well as antioxidants from pomegranate, chokeberry and resveratrol, and 400 IU of Vitamin D.

In the text below I have provided the reference for this groundbreaking human study


Omega-3 supplementation increases amyloid-beta phagocytosis and resolving d1 in patients with minor cognitive impairment

July 25, 2015 The FASEB journal vol 29 no.7:2681-2689.


Dr. James Meschino

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