Omega-3s May Help Slow Cognitive Decline in Older Adults


A new multidomain trial suggests DHA omega-3 supplementation combined with a healthy lifestyle may help maintain cognitive function in adults aged 70 and over.

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A new study suggests omega-3 supplementation may help maintain cognitive health in older adults, especially for people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Researchers at the University of Toulouse (France) discovered that adults aged 70 and over who received omega-3 supplementation in addition to a multidomain intervention experienced a significant improvement in brain metabolism.

Results of the study were presented at the 8th International Conference on Clinical Trials for Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD; Barcelona, Spain) and welcomed by omega-3 fatty acids supplier DSM (Parsippany, NJ) as another sign that omega-3 supplementation supports brain function.

“Despite medical advancements, Alzheimer’s disease death rates increased by nearly 68% between 2003 and 2008. This underlines the importance of understanding the disease further,” Says Manfred Eggersdorfer, PhD, senior vice president, nutrition science and advocacy, DSM. “The results of the study could be used to help revise and establish more accurate clinical guidelines regarding micronutrient supplementation, including omega-3 fatty acids to help support cognitive health in older adults.”


Study Details

The omega-3 findings came from the Multidomain Alzheimer’s Preventive Trial (MAPT), which explored the cognitive effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation, a multi-domain intervention, or a combination of both interventions on adults aged 70 years and older with subjective memory complaints. The multi-domain intervention included nutritional counseling, exercise, and cognitive and social stimulation. The 1700 older adults enrolled in the study reported memory complaints, slow walking speed, and being limited in at least one “instrumental activity of daily living,” according to DSM.

Study participants were randomized to consume either a placebo, 800 mg/day of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 supplementation, a placebo with the multidomain intervention, or omega-3 supplementation with the multidomain intervention. The experimental period of the trial lasted three years.

At 6, 12, 24, and 36 months after the start of the trial, participants were evaluated for markers of cognitive function with a composite battery that included episodic memory, orientation, executive function, and verbal fluency. Researchers also considered several baseline variables on outcomes through pre-specified statistical analyses, which included cognitive scores, blood levels of DHA, and the presence of genetic marker ApoE4, which is linked with an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Participants who received the multi-domain intervention with omega-3 supplementation demonstrated “statistically significant improvements in brain metabolism compared to controls,” according to DSM. Researchers also noted that the results were especially pronounced in participants with the ApoE4 genetic marker and participants with evidence of amyloid deposition in the brain. A secondary analysis also found that participants with low DHA at baseline experienced significant benefits from the multidomain intervention with DHA supplementation.


Read more:

DSM on Omega-3 Downturn: We Have High Confidence in Future Omega-3 Market

Ultra-High Concentrates Are the Next Omega-3, SupplySide West Report


Michael Crane
Associate Editor
Nutritional Outlook Magazine

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