A new study conducted by the American Academy of Neurology suggests adding a moderate amount of omega-3 rich fish into a patient’s diet could significantly decrease their risk for developing multiple sclerosis (MS). Although this is only preliminary research, doctors believe it highlights the neuroprotective role omega-3 fatty acids play in the body.
In total, 1,153 patients took part in this study. Half of these study participants had some stage of MS. The median age of patients involved in this study was 36.
Researchers asked all the study participants how much fish they ate every week. They also asked whether they took a daily fish oil supplement.
Participants who ate one fish meal approximately once a week and took a daily fish oil supplement were 45 percent less likely to have MS. Only 180 people with MS said they ate a lot of fish every month. By contrast, 250 healthy patients said they ate at least one fish dish per week.
In addition to the survey, investigators took a look at 13 different gene variations in an area of the genetic code that deals with fatty acid regulation. They found that two variations could be linked with a lower risk of MS even if the participant didn’t eat a ton of fish. This just means certain people have an inborn advantage against developing MS.
The results from this study seem to suggest a correlation between omega-3 fatty acids and MS, but doctors say they still need more evidence. Researchers are especially curious to test how omega-3 fatty acids help with reducing inflammation and improving nerve connections in MS patients.
Annette Langer-Gould, who works as an affiliated neurology investigator in the Kaiser Permanente Southern California, was the lead author on this study. Dr. Langer-Gould will present more details on this study at the 70th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
Patients with MS have a malfunction in their central nervous system that causes a wide range of symptoms such as balance problems, vision issues, and extreme fatigue. About 400,000 people in the USA have MS. While there’s no cure for MS, there are many ways doctors can help patients manage symptoms.
In addition to helping with diseases like MS, omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve heart health, reduce depression symptoms, and help with eye health. Some of the best fish sources of omega-3 include sardines, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, and anchovies. Some non-fish sources of omega-3 include walnuts, chia seeds, and eggs.
The 70th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology will take place in the Los Angeles Convention Center from April 21st to the 27th.