Background: A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that enrichment of certain nutritional compounds in the brain may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Objective: To investigate the impact of supplemental xanthophyll carotenoids plus omega-3 fatty acids on disease progression in patients with AD.
Methods: Three trial experiments were performed. In Trials 1 and 2 (performed on patients with AD over an 18-month period), 12 patients (AD status at baseline: 4 mild and 8 moderate) were supplemented with a xanthophyll carotenoid only formulation (Formulation 1; lutein:meso-zeaxanthin:zeaxanthin 10:10:2 mg/day) and 13 patients (AD status at baseline: 2 mild, 10 moderate, and 1 severe) were supplemented with a xanthophyll carotenoid and fish oil combination (Formulation 2; lutein:meso-zeaxanthin:zeaxanthin 10:10:2 mg/day plus 1 g/day of fish oil containing 430 mg docohexaenoic acid [DHA] and 90 mg eicopentaenoic acid [EPA]), respectively. In Trial 3, 15 subjects free of AD (the control group) were supplemented for 6 months with Formulation 1. Blood xanthophyll carotenoid response was measured in all trials by HPLC. Omega-3 fatty acids were profiled by direct infusion mass spectrometry.
Results: Xanthophyll carotenoid concentration increases were significantly greater for Formulation 2 compared to Formulation 1 (p < 0.05), and progression of AD was less for this group (p = 0.003), with carers reporting functional benefits in memory, sight, and mood.
Conclusion: This preliminary report suggests positive outcomes for patients with AD who consumed a combination of xanthophyll carotenoids plus fish oil, but further study is required to confirm this important observation.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; DHA; dementia; fatty acids; lutein; meso-zeaxanthin; nutrition; omega-3; prevention; xanthophyll carotenoids.