Thursday, November 4, 2010

Supplements for Alzheimer's Disease

Bummer- another study that shows a specific supplement does NOT, in fact, delay or halt progression of Alzheimer's Disease. This study is titled Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation and Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer Disease, better known as DHA. We believe that DHA, a fatty acid used in the brain, has beneficial effects when taken as a supplement in humans. The question was whether or not taking this supplement would help to delay the progressive memory loss and other dysfunctions in Alzheimer's.

The completed study involved around 300 people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. They randomly received either a placebo or 2g of DHA daily for eighteen months (it was randomized and double-blinded- our gold standard in research.) Cognitive tests were given at the onset and a year and a half later. Unfortunately, the people in the trial who received the DHA supplements were no better off on cognitive tests nor on brain atrophy at the end of the study.

We have been through this same process with Vitamin E, estrogen, and a number of other over the counter supplements. I remain optimistic that there may be a dietary or behavioral modification that does make a difference, as well as new medications that will not only stop the progression but some day reverse the dreaded decline of dementia with Alzheimer's.

BOTTOM LINE: Let's continue to support Alzheimer research, as we now have yet another supplement (DHA) proven to NOT be successful.

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