Omega-3, a promising nutrient against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

The results have been obtained after analysing the blood levels of the fatty acid in 260.000 people from the UK Biobank database and comparing them with the risk of suffering from these diseases.

The study has shown that omega-3 from foods such as fish and wallnuts can have beneficial effects. Picture by Farhad Ibrahimzade for Unsplash.

Hospital del Mar Research Institute has co-led a study linking high blood levels of omega-3 with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. To carry it out, the blood levels of this fatty acid were analysed in 260,000 people from the UK Biobank database.

“We have been able to study whether having high levels of omega-3 at the age of 50 can help prevent the onset of dementia many years later”
Aleix Sala-Vila, Hospital del Mar Research Institute

The study, the largest observational analysis in this field in the world, also took into account age, sex, schooling level and genetic characteristics associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Younger study groups have also been included than in previous trials.

The results show that higher omega-3 levels in both sexes are associated with lower risk for all age groups. However, Aleix Sala-Vila, a researcher at the Hospital del Mar Research Institute, indicates that “the strongest associations are found in men, in people over 60 years of age, and for dementias other than Alzheimer’s“.

Although these findings do not establish direct causality between blood omega-3 levels and risk of dementia, they reveal details on which to base future studies with volunteers and fatty acid supplementation. They also indicate that not only is omega-3 from oily fish beneficial, but that other foods that are rich in omega-3, such as walnuts, may also be beneficial.

Walking for research

Precisely last October, the Fundació Amics de l’Hospital del Mar and the Pascual Maragall Foundation organised the ninth edition of the “Marina Walktrail”, a Nordic solidarity walk that raises funds for the joint unit of the Hospital del Mar Research Institute and Barcelonaβeta Research that researches Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

More than 700 people took part in the last edition of the “Marina Walktrail”. Credit: H. Mar Research Institute.

In its ninth edition, the walk along the Serralada de Marina, brought together more than 700 people – beating the participation record – and raised more than 15,000€. A donation that will serve to advance research into these diseases that impair cognitive performance.

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