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In this study, researchers explored the effects of two supplements on disease progression in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease—a disease characterized by a progressive decline in both mental and physical abilities.
Specifically, 39 people were randomly assigned to one of three interventions:
Researchers studied the effects of these interventions by measuring oxidative stress (a way to assess the risk that cells may become damaged), and assessing mental abilities and activities of daily living.
The results found:
The study authors conclude that “combining omega-3 fatty acids with alpha lipoic acid slowed both cognitive and functional decline,” adding that the “combination appears to be safe” at the doses used in this study. They caution, however, that large research trials are needed to confirm these results and to understand more about the role of these supplements in Alzheimer’s disease.
Prior studies suggest that regularly eating fish may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Fish and fish oil are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to health benefits such as reduced inflammation. Alpha lipoic acid, which is found in meat, liver, and in lesser amounts in fruits and vegetables, may also help reduce inflammation and prevent cell damage.
While this study shows promising results, the research on the effects of nutritional supplements in this area is just beginning. Some studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids benefit memory and thinking, and still other studies with omega-3 fatty acids have not shown benefit. More research is needed on this important topic and on other natural means to help prevent or slow Alzheimer’s disease.
Though some symptoms can present in similar ways, Alzheimer’s disease is a different condition than age-related cognitive decline or other dementias. Talk with a doctor about various conventional and complementary therapies and care facilities that are available to help people function better. Before taking any supplement, talk with a doctor to discuss the risks and benefits.
(J Alzheimers Dis 2014;38:111–20)