Paris, France—Taking fish oil supplements may change the physical structure of the brain, according to research presented at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease, located here.

A group from the Rhode Island Hospital Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center followed 819 older individuals experiencing normal cognition, mild cognitive decline or Alzheimer’s disease for three years. Of these, 117 participants were taking fish oil supplements. All individuals’ cognition and brain atrophy were tracked. Overall, fish oil users with normal cognition (and no genetic predisposition for Alzheimer’s) had better brain function than those who didn’t take the supplement. Of interest, those taking fish oil (and not Alzheimer’s genetic risk) also had more brain volume in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, which are the areas used for memory and thinking. There was also less brain shrinkage among this group during the study period compared with non-supplement takers.

Lead researcher Lori Daiello stated, “These observations should motivate further study of the possible effects of long-term fish oil supplementation on important markers of cognitive decline and the potential influence of genetics on these outcomes.”


Published in WholeFoods Magazine, October 2011 (online 8/19/11)