Fish Oil May Encourage Brain Health

Fish oil supplements boosts brain power

August 20, 2011 / Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

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(dailyRx News) Fish oil has become a popular health supplement in recent years. It may be with good reason. Fish oil supplements appear to offer benefits for brain health and aging.

The supplements have positive benefits for cognitive functioning, and differences in brain structure are apparent in those who use fish oil supplements versus those who do not.

"Take fish oil supplements for added brain power."

Lori Daiello, study leader and a research scientist at the Rhode Island Hospital Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center, said that fish oil supplements were associated with better cognitive function. That association was only significant in those with normal cognitive function who had tested negative for genetic risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers obtained study data from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a large multi-center study that followed older adults with normal cognition, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer's Disease for over three years with periodic memory testing and brain MRIs.

The study included 819 participants. Of those, 117 reported regularly using fish oil supplements prior to the study and during follow up. Cognitive function and brain atrophy was monitored throughout  the study. Investigators found a clear association between fish oil supplements and brain volume.

The association is limited to those without Alzheimer's disease. A study last year showed that while fish oil is not harmful to Alzheimer's patients, it will not slow the progression of the disease or prevent it.

Daiello said that the significant positive association with fish oil showed an increase of brain volume in two critical areas used in memory and thinking, indicating that such supplements are linked to less brain shrinkage.

She also urged additional research investigating whether there might be any long-term side effects in taking fish oil supplements, and on the potential influence of genetics on outcomes.

The results were reported at the recent International Conference on Alzheimer's Disease in Paris, France. Research findings presented at academic meetings are considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.