Omega-3 would be ineffective in slowing the decline of cognitive abilities. The claim comes from a study published in the journal Jama (Journal of the American Medical Association), in apparent contrast to other papers published in the past.

The research was conducted by a team of scientists from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda (United States) on approximately 4 thousand subjects of an average age of almost 73 years, and mainly women. Patients receiving treatment for macular degeneration, an eye disease, were followed for five years. In this period, a group of patients took regular supplementation with omega 3, others a placebo. At the beginning of the search, and then every two years patients underwent tests to measure their cognitive performance, attention, memory and speed of processing information.


The omega 3 fatty acids are essential

Scores of the three tests were not dissimilar between the two groups of patients, including those who had taken omega 3 and those that have not. At the end of this period, the researchers concluded, that omega 3 does not prevent cognitive decline nor preserve the efficiency of the performance of the brain.

The omega 3 essential fatty acids are concentrated in fish oil extracted from the tissues of oily fish such as trout and salmon. Various studies in the past have extolled the benefits of this research at the University of California (United States) published in 2012 in the journal of Neurology. The study concluded that a diet lacking in omega-3 was able to accelerate the aging of the brain and impair cognitive abilities such as memory. Those who had low levels of these acids in the blood had a lower brain volume equal to about two years of aging in the brain structure, the researchers stressed.



What does this research on omega-3 and cognitive decline indicate?

“The diet supplements are not by themselves sufficient for prevention,” says professor Alberto Albanese, head of Neurology at Humanitas hospital. “There is also solid evidence that regular physical activity with a healthy and balanced diet can contribute to the prevention of dementia. Omega 3 can help in combination with a diet and an appropriate lifestyle.”

What kind of diet is recommended? “A healthy diet is the Mediterranean diet, rich in oil, unsaturated fatty acids and plant foods, instead of a diet rich in saturated fatty acids, particularly abundant in animal fats. If followed for years it can help to counteract the decline in cognitive abilities.” – concludes Professor Albanese.