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Diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. A growing number of studies have also demonstrated the benefits of omega-3 supplementation in adults with dementia. Authors of a recent report investigated the effects of omega-3 supplementation in adults without cognitive decline.
Both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the two main forms of omega-3 fatty acids, suppress inflammation, regulate neurogenesis, decrease oxidative stress, and protect the aging brain. Previous research has demonstrated the ability to preserve white and gray matter volume in the brain.
Older adults (average age, 63 years) with stable coronary artery disease who were taking statin medication participated in this trial. Researchers assigned half of the participants to consume 1.9 grams of EPA and 1.5 grams of DHA per day for 30 months while the other half took no supplement. Participants completed a battery of five neuropsychological tests at baseline, 12 months, and 30 months.
Participants in the EPA + DHA group performed statistically significantly better in multiple cognitive domains including verbal fluency, language, memory, psychomotor speed and attention, and visual-motor coordination, compared to the group that took no supplement. This benefit was seen after 12 months of supplementation and remained significant after 30 months.
The authors noted that the high dose and length of supplementation were strengths of their study. They concluded that omega-3s should be recommended for cognitively healthy adults to prevent or delay cognitive decline.
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