June 15, 2012

Study: Fish Oil Pills Don’t Stop Cognitive Decline

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Think giving your grandparents omega-3 fish oil supplements will help in preventing cognitive decline? Researchers say, no!

According to a new Cochrane systematic review, older people who take omega-3 fish oil supplements are not reducing their chances of losing cognitive function. Based on the available data from studies lasting up to 3.5 years, the researchers concluded that the supplements offered no benefits for cognitive health over placebo capsules or margarines.

"From these studies, there doesn´t appear to be any benefit for cognitive health for older people of taking omega-3 supplements," Alan Dangour, a nutritionist at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) was quoted saying.

Omega-3 fatty acids are fats responsible for many important jobs within the body. We get these fats through our daily diets. The three major omega-3 fats are: alpha linolenic acid (ALA) from sources such as nuts and seeds and eicosapentoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) from sources including oily fish such as salmon and mackerel.

A brigade, led by Emma Sydenham at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine gathered together evidence from three high quality trials comparing the effects of omega-3 fatty acids taken in capsules or in margarine spread. A total of 3,536 people over the age of 60 took part in the trials, which lasted between 6 and 40 months. None of the participants had any signs of poor cognitive health or dementia at the start of the trials.

Researchers found no benefit of taking the omega-3 capsules or spread over placebo capsules or spread. Participants given omega-3 did not score better in standard mental state examinations or in memory and verbal fluency test than those given placebo.

"However, these were relatively short-studies, so we saw very little deterioration in cognitive function in either the intervention groups or the control groups. It may take much longer to see any effect of these supplements," Dangour added.

Source: Cochrane Library, June 2012