Inaccurate Reporting on Recent Omega-3 DHA Alzheimer’s Study Reveals Misrepresentation by Media
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
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.
It should also be noted that the new study was conducted in patients
with pre-existing Alzheimer’s; therefore improvements would be
difficult or impossible to measure. Unfortunately there is no cure for
Alzheimer’s. There is, however, a large body of research investigating
fatty fish consumption and supplementation with fish oil, which
supports possible benefits of EPA and DHA in maintaining a healthy
cognitive state. Most research to date suggests that intervention is
most effective at the earliest stages of cognitive decline or even
before impairment is observed.
Of course the real loser in all this is the consumer, who now must
attempt to compare this inaccurate, selectively reported information
with the previous positive research papers published on Omega-3 EPA and
DHA from fish oil.
What we do know is that Omega-3 EPA and DHA is perhaps the biggest
dietary deficiency in the western diet. So much so that the EU Health
Authorities recently established a Dietary Reference Value (DRV) of
250mg per day of EPA and DHA. They have also recently issued positive
assessments on several health claims for EPA and DHA. In addition, it
is also expected that updated Dietary Guidelines for Americans
scheduled to be issued in December will include recommendations for the
daily intake of fatty fish equivalent to 250mg EPA plus DHA per day.
There is a health care crisis in
continued future findings from credible studies looking at the
potential benefits of combined Omega-3 EPA and DHA in improving health
and well being.
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About Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited (ONC):
Ocean Nutrition Canada (ONC) is a privately held company, whose major
shareholder is Clearwater Fine Foods Incorporated.
significant holdings include a controlling interest in Clearwater
Seafood’s Limited Partnership, the world’s largest integrated shellfish
harvester and processor.
ONC is the world’s largest supplier of Omega-3 EPA and DHA ingredients
from fish oil, marketed into the dietary supplement and food
manufacturing markets. To date MEG-3(R) ingredients have been included
in almost 90 billion servings of food and supplement products
worldwide. For more information about ONC visit www.ocean-nutrition.com, and for information on the health benefits of MEG-3(R) ingredients
please visit www.meg-3.com.
Omega-3 is a family of essential fatty acids (EFA), including EPA
(eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA
(alpha-linolenic acid). Oily fish (such as sardines, anchovies,
mackerel, and salmon) are the major known natural sources of Omega-3
EPA and DHA. ALA is found in plants, such as flax and chia. It is
important to note that EPA and DHA are the primary contributors of the
many health benefits associated with Omega-3. While the body can
convert ALA into EPA and DHA, it does so very inefficiently (typically
less than one percent), making it difficult to derive Omega-3-related
health benefits from plant sourced ALA. Furthermore, although Omega-3
EPA and DHA is important to overall good health, the human body is not
able to produce sufficient quantities on its own, so regular
consumption of these essential nutrients is required and achieved by
either by eating oily fish or foods fortified with Omega-3 EPA and DHA,
or by taking fish oil supplements. Learn more about the health benefits
of Omega-3 EPA and DHA at www.meg-3.com.
SOURCE OCEAN NUTRITION CANADA LTD.