Several media outlets published articles last week suggesting that Omega-3 fish oil supplements fail to show positive results for Alzheimer's patients. This reporting by media outlets came after the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published the study "Docosahexaenoic Acid Supplementation and Cognitive Decline in Alzheimer Disease: A Randomized Trial", where researchers reported that "Supplementation with DHA compared with placebo did not slow the rate of cognitive and functional decline in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease."
Fish oil was not used in the study and, in fact, the study clearly states that the research was performed using algal oil (which contains only DHA, whereas fish oil contains both EPA and DHA). The findings of the study are being inaccurately reported in the media, with ambiguous, misleading headlines and incorrect content.
"It is disappointing to see inaccurate misrepresentation of the facts by the media. As an example, many media outlets are leading with pictures of fish oil capsules, and using inaccurate and attention-grabbing headlines such as "Fish oil ingredient doesn't slow Alzheimer's" when it is very clear that the product used in the study was algal oil." stated Robert Orr, Chairman of Ocean Nutrition Canada.
It has long been postulated that both Omega-3 EPA and DHA are required to influence cognitive performance. This new study suggests that DHA alone does not appear to be the solution. It should be noted that, to date, most research studies on Alzheimer's and Omega-3 fatty acids with favorable outcomes have involved fish oil or fish consumption. A well designed study should have included fish oil products with both high EPA levels and balanced EPA and DHA content. Although DHA is a major component of the brain, it should not be automatically concluded that other fatty acids have no potential role in cognitive performance.