Omega-3 supplements could improve memory functions in older people

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Scientists from Charité-Universitätsmedizin found that omega-3 supplementation could benefit memory functions in healthy older people.

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink (atrophy) and brain cells to die.

It is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that affect a person’s ability to function independently.

The process of Alzheimer’s disease begins years before disease onset. Therefore, searching for prevention strategies is very important.

The omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA), eicosapentaenoic (EPA), and docosahexaenoic (DHA) acids, are well accepted as being essential components of a healthy, balanced diet.

Previous research has found that omega-3 LC-PUFA nutritional supplementation may offer beneficial effects on brain structure and function.

However, experimental evidence in older people without dementia is inconsistent. This may be due to the low sensitivity of tests for detecting subtle improvements in cognition in healthy people.

In the current study, researchers examined the effect of omega-3 supplementation on learning and memory formation.

They tested 44 (20 female) healthy people aged 50-75 years. These people took either LC-n3-FA (2,200 mg/day) or a placebo for 26 weeks.

Before and after the intervention, the team tested the participants’ memory performance.

The researchers found that people who took omega-3 supplements showed better memory performance than people who took a placebo.

The study provides further evidence that omega-3 supplements provide positive effects on memory functions in healthy older people.

One limitation of the study is that the intervention period is short. Future work needs to see if long-term omega-3 supplementation provides similar benefits to memory function.

The research is published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and was conducted by Nadine Külzow et al.

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