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Omega 3 Supplements May Not Improve Cognitive Health

Jun 13th, 2012

omega 3Omega 3 fish oil is  touted to prevent or at least slow down the decline of memory or thinking skills. However researchers gathered new evidence suggesting that “taking supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids is not going to benefit cognitive health later in life,” said Alan Dangour, a nutrition researcher from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who is involved in the study.

Various studies have suggested that Omega 3 fatty acids is beneficial to brain function. It can improve problem-solving skills, memory, learning ability and attention.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), London, UK, headed by Emma Sydenham conducted the research involving 3,536 people over the age of 60. They compared the effects of omega-3 fatty acids versus sunflower oil, olive oil and regular margarine over a period of six – forty months.  The results showed that the participants who took omega 3 capsules did not score better in terms of mental state, verbal fluency and memory.

“The results of the available studies show no benefit for cognitive function with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation among cognitively healthy older people,”  said Sydenham.

“However, these were relatively short-term studies, so we saw very little deterioration in cognitive function in either the intervention groups or the control groups. It may take much longer to see any effect of these supplements” says Alan Dangour, a nutritionist at LSHTM and co-author of the report, “We would still support the recommendation to eat two portions a week, including one portion of oily fish.”

Salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies and sardines are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

The researchers believe further studies need to be made to find out the long-term effects of Omega 3 on cognitive health.

“Keeping cognitively active in later life and keeping physically active in later life are extremely important for the maintenance of cognitive function,” Dangour said.

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