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Results from a recent study have shown that fish oils can improve cognitive function in older adults.1

German Scientists studied 65 healthy adults aged between 51 and 75 and split them into two groups. The first group received a supplement containing fish oil and the other group took a placebo which did not contain fish oils. The supplements were taken for 6 months, after this time a 26% improvement in cognitive function was seen in the group taking the fish oil supplements whereas there were no significant changes noted in the group taking the placebo.

The fish oil supplement contained the omega-3 long chain fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These supplements were seen to have positive effects on brain structure which are thought to have led to the improved cognitive functions seen.

The study ‘Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Brain Function and Structure in Older Adults’ was published in the Cerebral Cortex journal in November 2014. The researchers concluded that supplementation with these omega-3s could be a novel way to maintain cognitive functions in the ageing brain.

The Institute for Food Brain and Behaviour believes that the results from this study are new and exciting and they highlight the importance of good nutrition on brain function. There have been many studies looking into the relationship between omega-3 supplementation and brain function and this study shows positive steps towards nutritional interventions being used to help aging individuals improve their cognitive levels. It is also important to see how the brain itself is actually affected by supplementation and this study begins to explain how the brain changes in order to cause these beneficial effects.

The IFBB believes that this research shows that omega-3 supplementation can be beneficial for healthy individuals and can help to improve brain structure and function. Nutritional interventions could be a novel way to improve the ageing brain.

Reference:

  1. Witte, A, V., L. Kerti, et al. (2014), “Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Brain Function and Structure in Older Adults”, Cerebral Cortex, 24, 3059-3068.

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