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DSM welcomes new study reporting omega-3 supplementation helps support cognitive health in older adults

Kaiseraugst, CH, 11 Nov 2015 12:00 CET

DSM welcomes the results of a new trial which show that omega-3 supplementation may help slow cognitive decline in older adults, especially those who have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The results of the study were presented at the 8th International Conference on Clinical Trials for Alzheimer’s Disease (CTAD) in Barcelona, Spain last week. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of age-associated dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all dementia cases1. The results of this study will assist the medical community in better assessing the benefits of nutritional solutions such as omega-3s in supporting brain health.  

The Multidomain Alzheimer's Preventive Trial (MAPT), led by Principal Investigator Professor Bruno Vellas, M.D., Geriatritian, chair Gérontopôle, University of Toulouse, was designed to assess the efficacy of supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid, multi-domain intervention or a combination of the two interventions on the change of cognitive functions in subjects 70 years and older with subjective memory complaints for a period of 3 years. MAPT is a comprehensive program that consists of nutritional counseling, exercise, and cognitive and social stimulation, along with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. A group of nearly 1,700 older adults with memory complaints, slow walking speed, and limitation of at least one instrumental activity of daily living were enrolled in the study. Participants were randomized to one of four groups: placebo, omega-3 supplementation (800 mg DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) per day), placebo plus multidomain intervention, and omega-3 plus multidomain intervention.

Six months after starting the program, and then again at 12, 24, and 36 months, the participants were tested using a composite battery that evaluated cognitive domains. These included episodic memory, orientation, executive function, and verbal fluency. Pre-specified statistical analyses assessed the effect of several baseline variables on outcome, including cognitive scores, blood levels of DHA, and the presence of genetic marker ApoE4 linked with increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. A secondary analysis showed that participants with low baseline DHA also showed significant benefits from the multidomain intervention plus DHA supplementation.

The clinical outcome clearly shows that omega-3 plus a healthy lifestyle (good nutrition, exercise, cognitive and social stimulation) can help maintain cognitive function as we age.  Participants receiving the multi-domain intervention plus DHA also resulted in statistically significant improvements in brain metabolism compared to controls. The results were more pronounced in people with the genetic marker ApoE4, and in those with evidence of amyloid deposition in the brain. By measuring red blood cell concentrations of DHA, people who could potentially benefit from omega-3 supplementation might be identified. This research adds support to previous studies showing that omega-3 supplementation supports brain function.

Despite medical advancements, Alzheimer’s disease death rates increased by nearly 68%, between 2003 and 20082. This underlines the importance of understanding the disease further. The results of the study could be used to help revise and establish more accurate clinical guidelines regarding micronutrient supplementation including omega-3 fatty acids to help  support cognitive health in older adults,” comments Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice President, Nutrition Science & Advocacy, DSM, and Professor for Healthy Ageing at Groningen University.

Learn more about new research on nutritional solutions in combating Alzheimer’s disease in DSM’s nutrition webinar channel.

Vitamins in Motion

Vitamins play an essential role for health, wellness and disease prevention throughout the lifecycle. They are key to solving our global nutritional challenges. DSM, a global leader in health and nutrition science, is leading an initiative – Vitamins in Motion - to highlight the important role of vitamins. The campaign advocates for increased access, through innovative solutions, to the essential vitamins all people need to be healthy and well-nourished. To learn more, visit

1) Thies, W. 2013 Alzheimer's disease facts and figures Alzheimer’s Dement. 2013 Mar; 9(2):208-45. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2013.02.003