Research continues daily to try to isolate some of the factors that lead to loss of memory, especially as people grow older. One recent study focused on docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and looked at the relationship between DHA deficiency, Alzheimer’s, and a general age-related decline in cognitive function. While no results showed that DHA has the potential to treat Alzheimer’s, the study did find that higher levels of DHA were connected to better mental abilities, including memory and verbal skills.
The study participants were all around 50 years old, and while generally healthy individuals, they had each complained of symptoms of age-related memory loss. After about eight months of taking DHA supplements, the participants showed a measurable increase in their ability to learn and remember, and there were no negative side effects detected from their use of the supplements.
While the researchers used extracts of DHA produced by algae, there’s an easy way for you to get healthy doses in your daily diet, by eating fish. Salmon is an excellent source of DHA, and so are tuna, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel – you might already be using these as ways to get a good dose of omega-3 fatty acids, which is what DHA is. However, if you can afford it, caviar is the best source of DHA, with over twice the amount as salmon! Over-the-counter fish oil capsules are another alternative, but natural sources are better. Vegetarians should look for capsules containing DHA made from seaweed.
(Note: Before starting to use any supplements, check with your doctor to make sure there will be no harmful interactions with medication you are currently taking.)
Reference: Ryan, A. S., Stedman, M., Nelson, E. B., Rom, D., McCarthy, D., Yurko-Mauro, K., Salem, N., and Stedman, M. Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, Vol. 6 (November 2010)