A study published in the November issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association found that algal DHA supplementation may improve memory and learning in older adults with mild cognitive impairments. Called the Memory Improvement with Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Study (MIDAS) and funded by Martek Biosciences, this research represented the first large, randomized and placebo-controlled study demonstrating the benefits of algal DHA in maintaining and improving brain health in older adults. The goal of MIDAS was to evaluate the effects of algal DHA on healthy adults with age-associated memory impairment.

Another study using Martek’s algal DHA and published in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that treatment with DHA did not show statistically significant benefit in cognitive function over placebo in a population that already had an Alzheimer's disease diagnosis and that was also receiving concomitant prescription therapy. However, the study authors noted that intervention with DHA might have been effective if initiated earlier in the course of the disease in patients who do not have overt dementia.

According to Duffy MacKay, ND, vice president of scientific & regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the study findings underscore the importance of early DHA intervention. “This study reinforces the principle that consumers will reap the most benefit from their DHA supplements—and many supplements—when they are taken over time and before a health concern is imminent,” continued Dr. MacKay.  “When included as a part of a proactive health regimen that includes a well-balanced diet, regular physical activity and routine visits with a healthcare professional, dietary supplements offer an important tool to help support many systems in the body, including memory and cognitive function.”

Read the MIDAS study abstract.