About the Study
A study published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined the effect of omega-3 supplements on brain health. 3,741 study participants were an average of 72 years of age and supplemented with 1,000 mg of EPA/DHA over a five year period. Participants took a test at the beginning of the study period to establish their level of cognitive function, and additional tests were conducted every two years during the 5-year study.
What did the study find?
The study concluded that omega-3 supplements do not benefit cognitive function. However, the authors acknowledged that the duration of supplementation (5 years) may have been insufficient to observe an effect on cognitive decline, which may occur over decades. The authors also noted that some of the participants were already at risk of health conditions which can cause cognitive decline, and that supplementation may have started too late in the aging process to have a measurable effect on cognition.
What does this mean to me?
This study gave participants 650 mg of EPA, and just 350 mg of DHA. Given the high levels of DHA in the brain, it stands to reason that more DHA, versus EPA, may have demonstrated a benefit. Consider that a previously published study demonstrated that 24 weeks of supplementation with 900 mg/day of DHA improved learning and memory function in age-related cognitive decline.
The fact that study participants saw no benefit from a low dose of DHA beginning at an average of age 72 underscores the importance of consuming recommended levels of EPA and DHA throughout life, not just as we age. Omega-3s should be consumed regularly, and are recommended for the maintenance of optimal health including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, reducing inflammation and supporting cognitive function.
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