Omega-3s may not keep aging brains sharp
According to new research published in the journal Neurology, scientists found no differences in the cognitive skills of older women who had high blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids compared with those whose levels were lower. The findings suggest that omega-3s may not be the brain booster they were once thought to be.
The team of researchers from the University of Iowa measured the blood levels of omega-3s in 2,157 women ages 65 and older. The women completed a series of cognitive tests over five years, aimed at measuring their working memory, verbal skills and spatial ability. The team found no differences over the course of the study in the cognitive function or decline of older women with high versus low levels of the fatty acid.
Why do past studies suggest otherwise? Study co-author Eric Ammann believes better brain function and higher omega-3 intake might not have a cause and effect relationship. “People who eat lots of fish or nuts, or who take omega-3 supplements, tend to be more affluent and health-conscious than those who don't,” he said. “They are also less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, and have a lower body mass index.” All of these factors, in turn, contribute to better cognitive function and better overall health.