Tuesday, December 3, 2013. The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published the outcome of a recent trial conducted by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland which revealed that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid slowed functional and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease patients.
Lynne Shinto and colleagues randomized thirty-nine men and women with Alzheimer's disease to receive a daily regimen consisting of three grams fish oil concentrate (providing 975 milligrams EPA and 675 milligrams DHA), fish oil plus 600 milligrams R-alpha lipoic acid, or a placebo for one year. Blood tests and evaluations of cognitive and functional performance were administered before and after the treatment period.
In comparison with the placebo group, participants who received omega-3 fatty acids plus alpha lipoic acid demonstrated a lesser decline in the Mini-Mental State Examination, which is an evaluation of global cognitive function, and in the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) evaluation of functional ability. Those who received omega-3 fatty acids alone also showed less functional decline as indicated by IADL performance.
As possible mechanisms for omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid, the authors remark that DHA has been shown in animal studies to help protect nerve cells, and that lipoic acid delayed cognitive decline in two studies involving Alzheimer's disease patients. The nutrients may also help reduce inflammation.
"Combining omega-3 with lipoic acid slowed both cognitive and functional decline in mild to moderately impaired Alzheimer's disease participants over 12 months, and the combination appears to be safe at the doses evaluated," the authors conclude. "A larger pilot trial is underway to further assess the benefit and potential mechanism of action of this novel combination for Alzheimer's disease."