Algal DHA Omega-3 Improved Memory and Learning in Healthy Adults 55 and Older
Posted May 03 2010 11:26am
By Bob DeMarco Alzheimer's Reading Room
The following study and information is being published in the online edition of -- Alzheimer's and Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association.
The Memory Improvement with Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Study (MIDAS) published online this week showed that algal DHA improved memory function in healthy aging adults, providing a benefit roughly equivalent to having the learning and memory skills of someone three years younger.
MIDAS is the first large, randomized and placebo-controlled study demonstrating the benefits of algal DHA in maintaining and improving brain health in older adults. The goal of MIDAS was to evaluate the effects of algal DHA on cognitive outcomes in healthy elderly people with a mild memory complaint. The study was funded by Martek Biosciences.
MIDAS found that healthy people with memory complaints who took 900 mg algal DHA capsules for six months had almost double the reduction in errors on a test that measures learning and memory performance versus those who took a placebo, a benefit roughly equivalent to having the learning and memory skills of someone three years younger. The DHA was well-tolerated and subjects taking the DHA also experienced a lower heart rate, providing a significant cardiovascular benefit.
The study population included 485 people 55 and older at 19 U.S. sites who were considered to have age-related cognitive decline. Age-related cognitive decline is defined as decline in cognitive functioning consequent to the aging process that is within normal limits given a person's age. For example, individuals may report problems remembering names or appointments or may experience difficulty solving complex problems.
MIDAS study participants consumed an oral dose of 900 mg per day of algal DHA or a placebo (corn/soy) over the course of six months. The primary endpoint was a cognitive test of memory and learning called the CANTAB Paired Associate Learning (PAL). CANTAB PAL is an assessment of visual memory and new learning, and is a useful tool for assessing patients with age-related memory loss.
"The fear of memory loss and losing brain capacity looms large in the minds of boomers," said renowned neurologist and memory expert, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., author of "The Memory Cure." "But as MIDAS demonstrates in a clinical setting, there are some simple things you can do to maintain and even improve your brain health as you age - like taking 900 mg of algal DHA every day."
DHA is a structural omega-3 fatty acid in the brain that has been shown in epidemiological, preclinical, and now in clinical research to support brain health. Yet, despite DHA's importance, most people eating a Western diet consume low amounts of DHA.
The source of DHA used in MIDAS was a vegetarian and sustainable algal DHA produced by Martek Biosciences, and marketed to consumers under the brand name of life'sDHA(TM). Algal DHA supplements that will enable consumers to easily achieve daily algal DHA intake comparable to the amount used in this study can be found at major drugstores and retailers under the Algal-900(TM) product name and carrying the life'sDHA logo.
"Up to one third of the more than 75 million baby boomers in the U.S. will experience a gradual decline in cognitive function as they age," said Dr. Edward B. Nelson, medical director for Martek and co-author of the study. "MIDAS is significant because it shows for the first time that taking 900 mg of algal DHA daily may have a very meaningful and important impact on cognitive function in the aging population."
"We have known for a long time based on the strong body of epidemiological research that DHA may play an important role in cognitive function, particularly in the aging population," said. Dr. Karin Yurko-Mauro, associate director of clinical research for Martek and project lead of MIDAS. "With MIDAS, we now have clinical evidence to indicate that 900 mg of algal DHA improves memory and learning in aging adults."
DHA omega-3 is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid that serves as a primary building block for the brain and the eyes and supports brain, eye and cardiovascular health throughout life. There is a large and growing body of scientific evidence demonstrating that people of all ages benefit from an adequate supply of DHA omega-3 in their diets. Scientific reviews have highlighted the importance of DHA omega-3 in proper brain and eye development and function, as well as its importance in cardiovascular health. Leading experts around the world have noted that DHA is an important nutrient for health throughout the life cycle. Yet despite its importance, Americans have among the lowest dietary intakes of DHA omega-3 in the world.
Fish are often incorrectly thought to be the only source of DHA omega-3. However, life'sDHA offers a trusted, vegetarian form of algal DHA that contains no oceanic pollutants or toxins. Fish are sources of DHA because of the DHA-rich microalgae in their food chain; life'sDHA is derived directly from microalgae, a renewable, sustainable source of DHA that does not deplete ocean resources, and is produced entirely in the U.S. in an FDA-inspected facility. Today, life'sDHA is found in numerous foods, beverages and supplements for people of all ages. It is also the only source of DHA used in U.S. infant formula and is included in more than 99 percent of all formulas on the U.S. market, as well as in more than 350 brands of infant formula, nutritional supplements and functional foods sold in over 75 countries worldwide. A dietary supplement designed to deliver 900 mg of DHA daily is available at major drugstore chains and retailers under the Algal 900 DHA name and carrying the life'sDHA logo.
Martek Biosciences Corporation (MATK) is a leader in the innovation, development, production and sales of high-value products from microbial sources that promote health and wellness through nutrition. The company is the world's leading provider of algal DHA omega-3 with its flagship product, life'sDHA, a sustainable and vegetarian source of algal DHA omega-3 important for brain, heart and eye health throughout life, for use in foods, beverages, infant formula, and supplements.
Sections of this release contain forward-looking statements. These statements are based upon numerous assumptions which Martek cannot control and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ. These statements should be understood in light of the risk factors set forth in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including, but not limited to, the company's Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2009 and other filed reports on Form 10-K, Form 10-K/A, Form 10-Q and Form 8-K.
Public Relations, Martek
Source: MarketWatch and PR Newswire
Editor note: This article is for informational purposes only. I have never used the product and I am not affiliated in any way with Martek. The study was funded by Martek Biosciences.
Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,400 articles with more than 9,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.