Stable Memory Test Scores for Alzheimer’s Patients with Omega-3 Intake

7 September 2021

Yvonne Freund-Levi

Örebro/Stockholm, Sweden  A unique study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease examines the effect of omega-3 fatty acids with memory tests and testing of spinal fluid. “This study is unique. It is the first ever to collect data on these new biomarkers in people with Alzheimer’s disease treated with Omega 3 fatty acids (FFAs),” says Yvonne Freund-Levi (pictured), who has collaborated with researchers at Karolinska Institute, Sahlgrenska University Hospital and Uppsala University.

She does point out that it is a small study  it includes 33 patients, 18 of which were given omega-3 supplements morning and evening and 15 made up the control group. Spinal fluid samples were collected, and patients performed a memory test – both at the start of the study and after six months.

“We can see that the memory function of the patients in the group that had taken omega-3 is stable, whereas the patients in the control group have deteriorated. That’s what the memory tests show,” says Yvonne Freund-Levi.

“But we can’t see any differences between the groups when we look at the various biomarkers in the spinal fluid samples.”

What the researchers can see however, is that there are differences within the group given omega-3. There was an increase of two of the markers that are linked to damaged nerve cells. There is, however, no clinical link to the memory tests.

“Even if this data isn’t enough for us to change our recommendations to patients at this time, it is an interesting material for researchers to build on.”

This study is based on a larger study with over 200 patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease, initiated by Yvonne Freund-Levi and her research team 15 years ago. In that study, the researchers examined, among other things, whether omega-3 transfers from the supplements to the brain – and concluded that that was indeed the case.

“We are cautious about giving recommendations, but we know that starting early is by far the best thing  it is difficult to influence the disease at a later stage. The best piece of advice we have to offer at the moment is to be physically active and to include omega-3 in your diet – in the form of oily fish or as supplements. We can see a difference in the results of the memory tests. Patients who were taking omega-3 supplements at an early stage of the disease scored better,” says Yvonne Freund-Levi, researcher in neuroscience at Örebro University.

A major step forward is that researchers in the future will be able to examine the biomarkers in blood samples rather than having to perform spinal tap procedures on the patients.

“We have already tested this approach at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. Without a doubt, it is so much better for the patients.”


Full stude: Effects of Peroral Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Cerebrospinal Fluid Biomarkers in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial – The OmegAD Study” by Avin Tofiq, Henrik Zetterberg, Kaj Blennow, Hans Basun, Tommy Cederholm, Maria Eriksdotter, Gerd Faxén-Irving, Erik Hjorth, Fredrik Jernerén, Marianne Schultzberg, Lars-Olof Wahlund, Jan Palmblad, and Yvonne Freund-Levi (DOI: 10.3233/JAD-210007), published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease in advance of the publication of Volume 83, Issue 3 by IOS Press. The article is available online at:

To request the full text of the study or additional information contact Diana Murray, IOS Press (+1 718-640-5678 or Journalists wishing to interview the study’s authors should contact Dr. Yvonne Freund-Levi (

About the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment, and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease, and clinical trial outcomes. JAD has a Journal Impact Factor of 4.472 according to Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate, 2021). The journal is published by IOS Press.

About IOS Press
IOS Press is headquartered in Amsterdam with satellite offices in the USA, Germany, India and China and serves the information needs of scientific and medical communities worldwide. IOS Press now publishes more than 90 international peer-reviewed journals and about 70 book titles each year on subjects ranging from computer science, artificial intelligence, and engineering to medicine, neuroscience, and cancer research.