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One more study shows “brain supplements” don’t work to enhance brain health and function

Omega 3 supplementsWhy Can’t Fish Oil Supplements Keep Our Brains Sharp? (NPR):

“…why is it that a new study of older women published in the journal Neurology finds that omega-3s may not benefit thinking skills or help fend off cognitive decline?…As study author Eric Ammann, of the University of Iowa, points out in an email, “most randomized trials of omega-3 supplements have not found an effect on cognitive function.”

“When you eat fish, there are other nutrients such as vitamin E or vitamin D” that you’re getting at the same time, says researcher Rosebud Roberts of the Mayo Clinic. In other words, it’s the whole food, as a package, that may be beneficial. And this seems to be the general picture emerging in human health: getting nutrients and healthful fats from the foods we eat as part of a healthful diet, rather than from supplements, may be the way to go.”

Study: Omega-3 fatty acids and domain-specific cognitive aging (Neurology). From the Abstract:

  • Objective: To test the hypothesis that higher levels of red blood cell (RBC) docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) have a protective association with domain-specific cognitive function in women aged 65 years and older.
  • Results: After adjustment for demographic, clinical, and behavioral characteristics, no significant cross-sectional cognitive differences were found between women in the high and low DHA + EPA tertiles at the time of the first annual cognitive battery. In addition, no significant differences were found between the high and low DHA + EPA tertiles in the rate of cognitive change over time.
  • Conclusions: We did not find an association between RBC DHA + EPA levels and age-associated cognitive decline in a cohort of older, dementia-free women.

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2 Responses

  1. Price Weston says:

    Study behind an expensive paywall. Observational only. Does not establish causation. No study arm given fish oil supplements. Blood level divided between low levels and lower levels and called high (not true) and low. Usefullness of study – less than zero. May lead readers to eat less or no fish or to unnecessarily cease taking fish oil. There are many reasons why animal derived omega fatty acids are esential including DHA and EPA. This is one of those studies that say that since 5 mg/day of vitamin C does not prevent scurvy, that Vitamin C is useless generally for anything. Why do researchers get aeay with this hocus pocus? I would fire them yesterday.

  2. Stephen Cain says:

    While I do agree with sharpbrains that supplements (including fish oil, the most accredited one regarding brain health) will have a relatively minmial impact on someone’s brain health, this study does actually support that claim.

    If you look at the study, there was no difference between the control group and the fish oil supplement group because neither of them showed any significant cognitive decline in the short span of just 2 years. If the study was for a longer duration such that there was significant cognitive decline amongst participants with not predilection towards the control or experiemental group, that would support the claim that oil does not prevent cognitive decline.

    This study was taken completely out of context.

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