Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says
May 2nd, 2012
04:29 PM ET

Omega-3 may curb memory loss, study says

People who eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may significantly lower their risk of developing memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease, a new study has found.

Researchers recruited 1,219 people over age 65, and followed their dietary habits for more than a year.  Then they tested the subjects' blood for a protein called beta-amyloid, a protein is associated with memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, plaques and tangles which are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients are actually clumps of this substance.

“We know that the amyloid mechanisms are out of control in a person with Alzeimer’s disease,” said the study's lead author, Dr. Nikolaos Scarmeas, associate professor of clinical neurology at New York's Columbia University Medical Center.

“We wanted to see if different nutrients influenced those levels.”

Interestingly, the people in the study who consumed omega-3 had significantly lower levels of amyloid in their blood.

The effects are continuous researchers say.  The levels decreased by 20-to 30% for each gram of omega-3 fatty acid added to their diet.  One gram is equivalent to a handful of walnuts, or half a piece of salmon.

“The more you eat, the lower the amyloid level will be,” said Scarmeas.

The study – published in the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology – also evaluated beta-carotene, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin E, omega-6, saturated fatty acids, and non-unsaturated fatty acids in the participants diets.

Omega-3 was the only nutrient that showed an association with lower amyloid levels.

A 2010 study found that people who ate food high in omega-3 acids had a nearly 40% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s compared to people who didn’t.  However, the reason why couldn’t be determined.  Researchers believe this new study may help explain the connection.

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are often the crux of a Mediterranean diet. Choose fatty fish like mackerel, trout, herring, tuna or salmon.  Non-fish options include kale, tofu, soybeans, walnuts and flaxseed.

Although it is best to get nutrients from natural resources, omega-3 supplements can also be effective.  Consult with your doctor before adding fish oil supplements to your diet because they may interact with other medications.

soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. ArtInChicago

    I read an article about Omega 3 and memory loss, but I don't remember much about it.

    May 2, 2012 at 20:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Langkard

    My mother has been taking Omega-3 fish oil supplements for almost 10 years. She now has moderate Alzheimer's and is experiencing increasing memory loss and related problems. The above article is bunk. Even on a regimen which now includes the Alzheimer's drug Namenda, she is slowly getting worse. Namenda slows down the progression, at least. The fish oil did nothing and she's been taking it daily since before we even realized she had Alzheimers.

    May 2, 2012 at 21:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jim

      Your mom versus 1,219 people.... hmmm.....

      May 2, 2012 at 21:33 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      You do not seem to have any understanding of science. Where in this article does it say that it eliminates the risk of Alzheimer's?

      May 2, 2012 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
    • gatornuts

      your mom needs some good old fashioned loving. I don't mean to be crude but the walnuts won't help like good old fashioned masturbation can help. P.S. I hope your mom gets better.

      May 2, 2012 at 21:41 | Report abuse |
    • G

      Langkards, I sympathize with your situation. I tried to reply directly to this comment but ended up making new comments. Please see my comments below starting at May 2, 2012 at 22:52. Regards.

      May 2, 2012 at 22:55 | Report abuse |
    • cleopatra

      You don't know how she would have been if she hadn't regularly taken Omega 3 – perhaps Alzheimers would have come sooner, quicker, stronger. You can never fully prevent Alzheimers.

      May 3, 2012 at 06:15 | Report abuse |
    • Hugo

      I'm sorry that your mother is ailing. However, you bear some responsiblity, as a citizen, to have a better understanding of science. I believe that if more people, such as yourself, actually understood science, then we'd have less people suffering from diseases like Alzheimers.

      My reasoning is that if more people understood, then there'd be more scientists and more funding that would be properly spent to more effectively deal with problems like Alzheimers, sooner.

      It's likely too late for your mother but you could head back to college and learn. Please.

      May 3, 2012 at 08:51 | Report abuse |
    • jj

      Sorry about your mother...but a study doesn't mean it's a cure...or that it's going to be effective for everyone. As someone who has had elderly people in my family suffer from dimentia/Alheimers...I look for any edge I might be able to get. This seems to maybe be a logical one.

      May 3, 2012 at 09:06 | Report abuse |
    • glu

      Whatever helps I'll do.

      May 3, 2012 at 09:23 | Report abuse |
    • ADJ

      Sorry to hear about your mother.

      But you don't seem to understand the article. It says that it can help, not that it's a magical substance that will prevent memory loss 100% of the time. "Reduced risk" does not mean these people magically become immune to Alzheimer’s, it means they have a lower risk!

      May 3, 2012 at 12:31 | Report abuse |
  3. gatornuts

    Frequent masturbation works great as well. You just feel tired but you remember everything. I believe there is a clear link between dementia and lack of sexual stimulation. Really. Coffee works good as well and so do those energy drinks. Anyways nuts are nice but they are not the only things good for the brain.

    May 2, 2012 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • karina

      since it seems to occupy your mind non-stop, do us all a favor and go and play with yourself. That will keep you off the computer.

      May 4, 2012 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
    • shawn

      Weirdo, creepy dude to say the least. Yikes..hide the kids.

      May 5, 2012 at 04:18 | Report abuse |
  4. ngc1300

    A sample of one is not terribly convincing. Also, how do you know the Namenda is actually slowing her decline? I'm not saying you shouldn't do what you think best, but to say that the study is bunk is a little over the top.

    May 2, 2012 at 21:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. TheGLOV

    Hey jim, go easy would ya? The disease is bad enough but nobody ever claimed that Omega-3 was a cure all.

    May 2, 2012 at 21:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. G


    May 2, 2012 at 22:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. G

    Part 1: Langkards, I sympathize with your situation. However, more needs to be known before making such a blanket statement regarding O3. The quality of O3 is very important, fish oil is not necessarily the most bioavailable. Krill Oil and Marine Phytoplankton have a higher bioavailability the MP should be taken with coconut oil (an MCT with low numbers of O6)? It should be taken with the first meal and not a lot of O6 because O3 and O6 compete for receptors and if you take lots of O6 at the same time, O6 will usually win.

    May 2, 2012 at 22:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sarah

    I may be the exception to the rule. I eat lots of salmon and I . . . er, and I, now what was I writing about?

    May 2, 2012 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Shecky Greene

    Plant based omega-3 is better than that derived from animal based sources. It can also help with, ADHD and a whole host of alergens.

    May 2, 2012 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. G

    Part 2: Langkards, the ratio of O6:O3 should be as close to 1:1 as possible. Did your Mom have a diet high in O6? Did your mom eat lots of Omega 6 oils (most vegetable oils). Also, beta-blockers have been reported to accelerate AD due to receptor issues. I would also encourage you to google any combination of the following terms: Beta-blocker beta-amyloid, Namenda, progression, acceleration, .

    May 2, 2012 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. denroy

    This is a fascinating article and the point I would like to make is..... errrm

    May 2, 2012 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. G


    May 2, 2012 at 23:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. G

    Part 3: Langkards, you will find research information & feedback info from those whose loved ones are suffering &about the affects of the meds.

    May 2, 2012 at 23:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. D

    Ii take supplements 24/7

    May 3, 2012 at 00:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Curius

    I lot of humorous comments pointed to masturbation has good to prevent alzheimers. Joking asside I know that a womens body starts to deteriate after menapause. What's to say there isnt a link between sex and dementia and related disorders? I couldnt find any articles on this so if you find one please post. Although i did find a lot about alzheimer men masturbating in public. Could they being trying to tell us something? (I should have been having more sex?lol)

    May 3, 2012 at 00:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. eroteme

    A new study! These 'studies' always make me happy. Not aware that this great study was in process, and without professional medical guidance, I have been eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids for some time. Unfortunately I do not remember if this improved my memory.

    May 3, 2012 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. B.Hoffing

    My father lived to almost 97 yrs (shy about 3 mnths), and his mind was just as clear as italways was. He had a heart attack. My mother lived to almost 05 yrs (shy about 3 mnths) and her mind was also clear and normal. She had cancer. I believe it is and always has been in your genetic makeup. Good luck with the chemicals.

    May 3, 2012 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • The_Mick

      B.Hoffing: it's not "always in your genetic makeup." An example: both my parents were the youngest of very large families, so I have a lot of genetically closely-related aunts, uncles, first cousins, as well as parents and grandparents who've aged before me (I'm 61). With only ONE exception in each each, the non-smokers lived at least to their late 80's and the smokers died before age 80. That's an example of how environmental factors can throw off your "genetic makeup." Additionally, we now know that your genetic makeup includes "oncogenes" that can be turned on and off by environmental factors and make you have a tendency toward or away from having certain diseases and conditions like obesity.

      May 3, 2012 at 10:58 | Report abuse |
    • Ali

      Thanks for posting this!! It was super hefulpl and I think I'm going to buy the Big Boss Juicer. I'm new to juicing and don't want to spend a lot and I saw this one on amazon. This video really helped me make my decision! I'll let you know how the juicing goes =)

      August 1, 2012 at 18:22 | Report abuse |
  18. B.Hoffing

    Sorry, my mother lived to almost 95 yrs.

    May 3, 2012 at 01:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. mmi16

    So far I have outlived both my parents – I still have 33 more years to go to outlive my Grandfather.

    May 3, 2012 at 01:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mohamed

      Well, If you're 18 I think you should be fine.. Just don't over due it. Maybe take one pill every other day to be safe till you ccntaot your doctor. Good luck, I'm sure you'll be fine!Have a great weekend! =)

      May 26, 2012 at 20:28 | Report abuse |
  20. Raj

    A "handful of walnuts" lowers the amyloid level 20-30 percent! Wow, but is this a handful per day, week or month? Why don't they ever mention that in these type of articles? When you talk about diet, you must mention it, otherwise it's incomplete.

    May 3, 2012 at 01:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Alyssa

      Per day, I would imagine.

      May 3, 2012 at 11:12 | Report abuse |
  21. GbreadMan

    The shorter the fatty acid, the better. That's why fiber is so valuable; the bacteria that fiber promotes create shorter chain fatty acids.

    May 3, 2012 at 01:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Michelle Sheridan

    Found this interesting. Benny would like it too.

    May 3, 2012 at 03:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Curious George

    I can't comment on the science behind this article since we don't have it – and I'm not a scientist, but it does make sense to me. A year ago I started taking Omega-3 for (of all things!) dry eyes caused by hardening of the tear ducts. Low and behold my blood pressure started coming down – from 165/95 to 120/60!! It seems it not only softens tear ducts but softens hardened arteries too. And I believe hardening of the arteries is also associated with ... memory loss.

    May 3, 2012 at 03:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Abdelrhman

      I absolutely LOVE this prduoct! It was a little hard to install in my car, but that's because of the shape of the seats. My owners manual for my car suggested the center for forward facing and it fit perfectly. My daughter absolutely loves this seat. The reason I got it was because she is constantly falling asleep, and the last car seat I had did not support her head well. She can now sleep comfortably without her head falling forward. I would definitely recommend this prduoct! I bought it at babies r us for $150. Well worth the money

      August 2, 2012 at 04:45 | Report abuse |
  24. Zaggar

    If it's farmed fish, you can pretty much forget about the omega-3s.

    If they feed them grains, they'll be packed full of inflammatory omega-6s.

    May 3, 2012 at 07:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Daws

      Wouldn't it perhaps change though in the process of digestion and incorporation into the fish? Honestly asking. After all vegetarians aren't vegetable mush, it becomes meat and such, couldn't something similar happen with fish and the omegas?

      May 3, 2012 at 07:32 | Report abuse |
  25. Daws

    "levels decreased by 20-to 30% for each gram of omega-3 fatty acid added to their diet."

    This doesn't seem like it's been framed quite right, that would have to mean just 3-5 grams added would totally eliminate the beta-amyloid. You'd think instead there would be diminishing returns on this?

    May 3, 2012 at 07:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • klur

      It's a numbers game. If you have a 10% chance of developing Alzheimers and eating 1 g of Omega 3 decreases this chance by 30% then you would now have 7% chance of developing Alzheimer's. If you eat another 1 g then you decrease your chances 30% more, then you have a 4.9 % chance- 1 g more and your chances are 3.43%, and so on.

      May 3, 2012 at 09:25 | Report abuse |
    • Boo

      Klur: Wrong, They do not mention risk at all. All they are talking about is decreasing amyloid levels in the blood. Not the actual risk of developing Alzheimer's. They did not look into that at all. The numbers are about decreasing the amount of amyloid. You do have how the numbers work though.

      May 3, 2012 at 09:40 | Report abuse |
  26. Meyer C. Dhoates


    May 3, 2012 at 08:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. us101

    Omega 3 from fish is great for remembering that the mercury will kill ya !!!

    May 3, 2012 at 09:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Boo

    Interesting study, but I'm not sure I buy it. First off, the article is wrong in stating that Amyloid beta makes up the tangles and plaques. It only makes up the plaques. The tangles are from phosphorylated tau. But back to the science. Lower levels of Amyloid beta is not correlated with lower risk for alzheimer's disease. In other words, this study as of now is a waste. What they should have done in this study is follow these patients out long-term and look to see if there is any significant change in developing Alzheimer's. That would be more useful than saying there is a decrease in amyloid load.

    May 3, 2012 at 09:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. jdun

    Glad to know I do something right. Of course, science will probably find that in the long run it won't matter. A good diet, exercise and good genes are the best predictors of longevity. But, I do take fish oil, aspirin and a few walnuts every day anyway. 64 and going good, so far.

    May 3, 2012 at 09:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Contra Archy

    This article isn't very helpful with finding the actual study. The link they supply doesn't take you directly to it. The study was published in the Neurology, published by the American Academy of Neurology. Here is a link to the abstract:


    The full report costs $30 !!!! News organizations should insitst on a link to a full, free, online copy of any study they are asked to publisize. Otherwise, its just a PR stunt.

    May 3, 2012 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Boo

      No one goes to CNN and asks them to right a report about their paper. This is by CNN's own doing and has nothing to do with the scientists behind the study. So it's not a PR move.

      May 3, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse |
  31. Gethetruth

    One of the problems with fish oil Omega 3s is that they have very high levels of rancidity (oxidized) which means fish oil can cause inflammatory disorders. Fish oil production technology is outdated, captured fish are rotting before rendering, rendering process is high heat cooking which destroys the oils and causes oxidation, and must be microdistilled to remove heavy metals and dioxins, PCBs etc. Eating fish also does not help, because fish fillets are muscles tissues and that is not where the oil is stored. Oil is stored in the skin, belly and head and entrails all of which are thrown away. Frying fish again causes loses of what little is there in the meat. Most farmed fish have no Omega 3s DHA and EPA, because they are fed with grain they have ALA Omega3 which is inflammatory, same as bacon ! Eating fresh wild fish as marinated in vineger or lime juicei

    May 3, 2012 at 10:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. elderoptionstx

    Reblogged this on Elder Options of Texas.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. The_Mick

    This is VERY preliminary research and not worth reporting at this point. There are plenty of other good reasons, though, to increase your omega-3 fatty acids intake: your body can't synthesize them and they are needed for building cell membranes, especially in the eye and brain as well as hormones that regulate blood vessel contraction and inflammation. They reduce the chance of having heart disease. But all of the good and bad effects of beta amyloid and their mechanisms are not known, so there's a long way to go to determine if suppressing it below a certain concentration actually has any memory benefit.

    May 3, 2012 at 10:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. bs

    Using your memory may curb memory loss too!

    May 3, 2012 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. Shanik

    My mother have this problem

    May 3, 2012 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. larry5

    Fish oil might have been a miracle food if the big food producers could lock it up with a patient. Because they can't then fish oil is just ordinary stuff that might be dangerous to take.

    May 4, 2012 at 20:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Edwin Bartolome

    Omega-3 fatty acids are more known for helping lower bloods pressure levels in the body and improving the amount of good cholesterol but it is interesting to note that it may also help the memory.

    Source: http://www.healthfoodbenefits.com/superfoods-benefits/fish-oil-benefits/omega-3-benefits.html

    May 5, 2012 at 01:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Jerry

    Choline & Omega-3; Nutrition is hard to understand, when reading news articles, i see the effort to keep it simple when promoting the awareness to the public. However, without eating Choline with Omega-3, the Liver will not be able to digest the Omega-3. The affect is greatly reduced.

    May 5, 2012 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Lorne Marr

    Interesting study. It's been known for decades that mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest now even scientists proved that. Balanced diet usually consists of choline or other B-complex group vitamins so I wouldn't fear that my body would be unable to absorb the Omega-3. Great article.

    May 6, 2012 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carina

      Yes, you can run water thru the VRT330 without clninaeg it. Would I do it? No. The problem if you did that: oxidizing pulp would still sit in there all day and get into your newly made juice, you may get more backup since the pulp will harden blocking the outlet ejection port on the vert, bacteria may multiply during the day and the juicer will get set in stains from the carotenoids in what you are juicing from sitting in there all day. I reccomend clninaeg the juicer right after each use

      August 1, 2012 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  40. Bing

    Hopefully more research can be performed into the benefits of Omega-3. With alzheimers afflicting many, a medical solution is needed.

    May 6, 2012 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Mike

    That's funny. I forgot to take mine this morning...

    May 7, 2012 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 22, 2012 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Nicole

    My mother takes fish oil every morning. She has no idea how it works, or what it exactly does, but she says she "feels better' when she takes it and always sees its benefits highlighted on the news. It does seem like there are always new indications that fish oil seems promising in. 40% decreased risk is incredible and it is great that recent research is looking into exactly why this occurred. Currently, Natural Standard (www.Naturalstandard.com) gives fish oil an evidence grade of a C for cognition, meaning that there is either lack of evidence or conflicting evidence for the indication. Maybe with this new emerging research we will see a chance in the evidence grade! Note: These postings are my own and do not necessarily represent Natural Standard’s positions, strategies or opinions.

    September 5, 2012 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Elmo Warick

    Omeg-3 oils are great for a lot of diseases. It can help alleviate depression as well as prevent heart diseases. i always take them in the form of EPA and DHA. .."`

    Kindest regards

    October 2, 2012 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. wickedsupplement

    I have listened about Omega-3 oils but do not know how these oils are effected on our body.

    December 7, 2013 at 02:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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