Omega-3 PUFAs: Do They Really Work for the Treatment of Dementia?
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 PUFAs) from fish and plants have been posited as treatment for dementia
Burckhardt et. al. (Cochrane Review, 2017) sought to test this hypothesis by assessing the efficacy and safety of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) supplementation for the treatment of people with dementia
Searched in multiple databases and contacted manufacturers of omega-3 supplements, scanning reference lists of landmark papers and included articles
Selection criteria included studies involving Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies, Parkinson’s disease dementia or frontotemporal dementia
There were 3 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), totaling 632 participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease followed over 6, 12, 18 months
The researchers did not find studies on other types of dementia
Primary outcome measures were:
Changes in global and specific cognitive function
Dementia severity and adverse effects
Authors also received unpublished data from the trial authors and collected adverse effects information from published articles
Meta-analyses were conducted for available outcome measures at 6 months
The study referenced a number of assessment scales which include but are not limited to the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale, Mini-Mental State Examination, and clinical Dementia Rating- Sum Boxes
The researchers found at 6 months
No evidence of benefit from omega-3 PUFAs on cognitive function
No effect of treatment on severity of dementia or quality of life
No difference in mental health
No difference in adverse events
1 small study showed a benefit for omega-3 PUFAs in instrumental activities of daily living after 12 months of treatment
No evidence for the efficacy of omega-3 PUFA supplements in the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease
Adverse effects of omega-3 PUFA are low, but a final statement on tolerability cannot be made
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