What is the connection between Alzheimer's disease and DHA?
Not too long ago, elderly people who slowly lost their memories and mental functions were simply described as becoming senile. If you forget things easily, you might joke you are "getting senile". But getting senile dementia, such as Alzheimer's disease, is not funny. It is a frightening process, which robs an individual a lifetime of memories and dignity. Senility is no longer considered an inevitable part of aging, but rather as a disease which may be preventable and treatable. While much work remains to fully understand the disease, we have uncovered that it is a complicated condition involving many biochemical factors, such as free radicals and how they destroy the DHA in brain cells.
In the effort to understand Alzheimer's, researchers have uncovered some interesting connections with DHA. For instance, Dr. A. Prasad at the University of Kentucky found that Alzheimer's patients had significantly less DHA and other fatty acids in their blood cells. Moreover, Dr. L. Robers at Vanderbilt University discovered that patients with Alzheimer's have very high levels of a chemical known as F4-neuropostanes. These chemicals are actually by-products of DHA oxidation. That is, when DHA is attacked and damaged by free radical oxidation, F4-neuropostanes are left over. These chemicals then may adversely effect brain cell function because their presence changes the normal chemical environment of the brain. So, Alzheimer's patients have not only less DHA, which is vital for proper brain function, but also elevated levels of poisonous, oxidative products, which cause more damage. Adequate antioxidant defenses to protect the DHA seems just as important as the DHA itself.
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