US scientists fail to find omega-3 brain link

A large-scale study by the University of Iowa has found no link between omega-3 essential fatty acids and improved cognitive skills.

The randomized trials involved 2,157 women aged 65 to 80 who were given annual thinking and memory tests for an average of six years.

Blood tests were taken to measure the amount of omega-3s in the participants’ blood before the study began and researchers found no difference between the women with high and low levels of the EFAs at the time of the first memory tests. There was also no difference in how fast the women’s cognitive skills declined over time.

Study author, Eric Ammann, said: “There has been a lot of interest in omega-3s as a way to prevent or delay cognitive decline, but unfortunately our study did not find a protective effect in older women. In addition, most randomized trials of omega-3 supplements have not found an effect.”

In response to the findings, Lynn Lord, chair of the HFMA, commented: “One key consideration with this study is that it ignores pre-existing, robust evidence demonstrating a positive impact of omega-3 fatty acids in a range of areas – including cognitive function.”

Earlier this year, omega-3 supplements received major recognition for their benefits by having the claim ‘contributes to maintenance of normal brain function’ approved by EU law and supported by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

“In addition, another large-scale study published in the journal Neurology showed that those who consumed the most omega-3 had the highest scores in tests for memory, speed, complicated information processing and overall cognition.”