Research capsule

Study claim: DHA halted further memory decline in mild Alzheimer's patients.

Published: Freund-Levi Y, et al. Omega-3 fatty acid treatment in 174 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease: OmegAD study: a randomized, double-blind trial. Arch Neurol 2006 Oct;63(10):1402-8.

Abstract: Epidemiologic and animal studies have suggested omega-3 fatty acids, for example docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), may prevent Alzheimer's disease (AD). Researchers sought to determine the effects of dietary omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on cognitive functions in patients with mild to moderate AD.

This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial included 204 patients with AD (age 74 +/- nine years) whose conditions were stable while receiving acetylcholine esterase inhibitor treatment and who had a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score of 15 points or more. Patients were randomised to 1.7g DHA and 0.6g EPA or placebo for six months, after which all received omega-3s for six months more. The primary outcome was cognition measured with the MMSE and the cognitive portion of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale. The secondary outcome was global function as assessed with the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, safety and tolerability of omega-3 fatty-acid supplementation, and blood-pressure determinations.

A total of 174 patients fulfilled the trial. At baseline, mean values for the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, MMSE and cognitive portion of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale in the two randomised groups were similar. At six months, the decline in cognitive functions as assessed by the latter two scales did not differ between the groups. However, in a subgroup (n = 32) with very mild cognitive dysfunction (MMSE >27 points), a significant reduction in MMSE decline rate was observed in the omega-3 fatty acid-treated group compared with the placebo group. A similar arrest in decline rate was observed between six and 12 months in this placebo subgroup when receiving omega-3 fatty-acid supplementation. The omega-3 fatty-acid treatment was safe and well tolerated.

Potential applications: EPAX DHA, available for supplements, guards the ageing brain cells from degradation by neurotoxic mechanisms.

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Study claim: CLA supplementation among overweight adults significantly reduced body fat over six months and prevented weight gain during the holidays.

Published: Watras AC, et al. The role of conjugated linoleic acid in reducing body fat and preventing holiday weight gain. Int J Obes 2006 Aug 22.

Abstract: Research has indicated that small, yet irreversible, weight gains during the holiday season contribute to increases in weight during adulthood. Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a naturally occurring dietary fatty acid, has been found to reduce weight gain and decrease fat mass in animals. Although research in humans has shown inconsistent results, most studies have been of insufficient duration or have utilised body composition methods that are less accurate than the currently accepted criterion.

This randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 40 healthy, overweight subjects (ages 18-44; body mass index 25-30) used 3.2g/day CLA for six months. Body composition by the four-compartment model, resting metabolic rate (RMR) by indirect calorimetry, self-reported physical activity and dietary intake, and blood chemistries were determined at baseline and after six months. Body weight was measured monthly during the pre-holiday season (August-October), holiday season (November-December), and post-holiday season (January-March). Adverse events were assessed monthly.

Compared to CLA, the placebo group showed a greater rate of weight gain during the holiday season. Within the placebo group, holiday weight change was significantly greater compared to the pre-holiday period. Six-month change in body composition was improved with CLA compared to placebo, and body fat was significantly reduced within the CLA group (-1.0+/-2.2 kg). CLA had no effect on RMR, physical activity or dietary intake. The rate of reported negative emotions decreased significantly with CLA. Compared to placebo, CLA did not affect insulin resistance, blood lipids, and markers of liver function or markers of inflammation, with the exception of a significant decrease in a biomarker of endothelial dysfunction.

Potential applications: Tonalin is available as a supplements ingredient.

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