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Study questions effect of omega-3s on cognitive function

Thursday September 26, 2013
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Contrary to findings from earlier studies, omega-3 fatty acids may not affect cognitive function, according to new research.

The research, published Sept. 25 on the website of the journal Neurology, involved 2,157 women ages 65 to 80 who were enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative clinical trials of hormone therapy. The women were given annual tests of thinking and memory skills for an average of six years. Blood tests were taken to measure participants’ serum levels of omega-3 before the study.

The researchers found no difference between the women with high and low serum levels of omega-3s at the time of the first memory tests. There also was no difference between the two groups in their rate of cognitive decline.

Study author Eric Ammann, MS, of the University of Iowa in Iowa City, noted there has been ample interest in omega-3s as a way to prevent or delay cognitive decline, “but unfortunately our study did not find a protective effect in older women.

“In addition, most randomized trials of omega-3 supplements have not found an effect,” Ammann said, according to a news release.

But people should not reduce omega-3 in their diets because of these study results, Ammann added: “Researchers continue to study the relationship between omega-3s and the health of the heart, blood vessels and brain. We know that fish and nuts can be healthy alternatives to red meat and full-fat dairy products, which are high in saturated fats.”

Neurology is the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Study abstract: www.neurology.org/content/early/2013/09/25/WNL.0b013e3182a9584c.abstract.


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