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