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Omega-3s Boost MemoryOmega-3s Boost Memory

October 31, 2012

2 Min Read
Omega-3s Boost Memory

PITTSBURGHHigher levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, were related to improved cognitive performance in a study from the University of Pittsburgh (PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e46832. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046832).

Researches examined healthy young adults before and after they took 2 g/d of Lovaza, a prescription omega-3 drug from GlaxoSmithKline that contains 750 mg of DHA and 930 mg of DHA.

After six months of supplementation, the subjects improved their scores on a working memory task test.  Subjects improved their scores from 65-percent correct to 80-percent correct after supplementation  (P=0.04).  Blood tests showed a significant increase in both DHA and EPA post-supplementation.

The researchers also tested the 18- to 25-year-old subjects for dopamine neurotransmission, looking for dopamine storage and release, which affects cognitive functions such as working memory. They hypothesized that the striatal vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 (VMAT2), a dopamine neurotransmitter, was the mechanism of action for improved brain health. Previous studies in rodents indicated diets deficient in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) lower dopamine neurotransmission as measured by striatal  VMAT2 density and amphetamine-induced dopamine release.

Researchers believed dietary supplementation with fish oil might increase VMAT2 availability, and thus, boost brain health. However PET scans of the subjects showed striatal VMAT2  did not increase with supplementation; therefore, it was not shown to be the mechanism of action by which omega-3s improve cognitive performance.

Whatever the reason, omega-3s also recently showed to factor in infant brain health. Pregnant women who are deficient in vitamin D were more likely to give birth to children with slower brain development, and decreased mental and motor skills, according to a September 2012 study.

Omega-3s also help heart health. Check out the INSIDER Image Gallery: 10 Omega-3 Heart Benefits for more information.

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