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Parkinson's Disease Health Center

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids vs. Parkinson's?

Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Help Prevent Parkinson's Disease, Tests in Mice Show
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 30, 2007 -- The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids may include trimming the chance of developing Parkinson's disease.

A new Canadian study shows that mice that eat chow laced with omega-3 fatty acids may have better brain defenses against Parkinson's disease.

Not familiar with omega-3 fatty acids? Your body -- including your brain -- needs them to be healthy.

The omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) are found in fish, including salmon and mackerel.

Another omega-3 fatty acid called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is found in leafy green vegetables, nuts, flaxseed, and vegetable oils such as canola and soy oil.

The body can't make omega-3 fatty acids. But you can get them from foods or supplements.

Omega-3 fatty acids are being studied for their effects on heart health, Alzheimer's disease, depression, and other conditions. Now, you can add Parkinson's disease to that list.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Parkinson's Disease

In the new Canadian study, some mice got chow laced with DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids. Other mice got ordinary chow, which totally lacked DHA.

The mice followed those diets for 10 months. Then they got a dose of a chemical that kills the same brain cells that die in Parkinson's disease.

The mice on the DHA diet lost fewer of those cells than the mice that ate ordinary chow.

"Our results suggest that this DHA deficiency is a risk factor for developing Parkinson's disease, and that we would benefit from evaluating omega-3's potential for preventing this disease in humans," says Frederic Calon, PhD, in a news release.

Calon, who works in Quebec at the Universite Laval, notes that the typical North American diet skimps on omega-3 fatty acids.

Calon and colleagues report their findings online in The FASEB Journal, published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.

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