Researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada tell us that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids “is associated with the decreased risk and incidence of several morbidities afflicting the elderly, including cognitive decline, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and macular degeneration.”

With that information, one would think maintaining omega-3 intake would be a priority. But is it?

First, the details.

  • Dietary intake and blood levels of fatty acids were determined in 15 seniors in retirement or assisted living centers.
  • Food records were collected.

And, the results.

  • Correlations between daily omega-3 fatty acid intake and blood levels were not significant, but became significant after removing 2 participants who appeared to consume fish irregularly.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid intake and omega-3 blood levels of Canadian long-term care residents were lower than levels estimated to prevent several morbidities associated with aging.

The bottom line?
It’s a small study.

However, in a related issue, I’ve been impressed by the challenge facing dietitians who care for the elderly in long-term care facilities.

Depression takes away a senior’s interest in food. Loss of taste sensation due to zinc deficiency, taking drugs for blood pressure control and anxiety, and even severe kidney failure all conspire to make it difficult to maintain nutrition.

Maybe these results and future studies will help dietitians add staff and develop tools to speed their ability to assess and meet the dietary needs of our older citizens.

3/2/09 20:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.