Effects of N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Dementia

J Clin Med Res. 2017 Jan;9(1):1-9. doi: 10.14740/jocmr2815w. Epub 2016 Nov 24.


N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) including α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) have anti-inflammatory effects and neuronal protective functions and may benefit prevention of dementia; however, the epidemiological evidence is very limited. Therefore, the literature about the association between n-3 PUFA and dementia was searched, by using Pubmed. In the analyses of observational studies, n-3 PUFA has been reported to be beneficially associated with dementia in 17 studies; however, the beneficial association between n-3 PUFA and dementia was denied by three studies. In the analyses of intervention studies, n-3 PUFA supplementation was beneficially associated with dementia in eight studies; however, five studies reported the negligible effect of n-3 PUFA for dementia. N-3 PUFA may improve Alzheimer's disease by increasing clearance of amyloid-β peptide, neurotrophic and neuroprotective factors, and by anti-inflammatory effects. In conclusion, patients with mild memory and/or cognitive impairment can be treated by a long-term and higher intake of n-3 PUFA.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Docosahexaenoic acid; Eicosapentaenoic acid; N-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Review