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Omega-3 fatty acids may heighten working memory

November 5, 2012

Healthy young adults can improve their working memory by increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids, suggests a new US study.

In the study, 11 healthy males or females between 18 and 25 years old, of all ethnic and racial origins, parti-cipated in a working memory task. The test and an analysis of the participants’ red blood cell membrane fatty acid composition was carried out before and after six months of supplementation with 750 mg/day docosahexaenonic acid (DHA) and 930 mg/day eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (1). The study results showed that concentrations of DHA and EPA in red blood cell membranes increased significantly following supplemen-tation. In addition, the participants’ verbal working memory had improved after the supplementation period.

The researches commented that the correlation between working memory performance and DHA levels was consistent with reports in which higher DHA levels have been linked to improved cognitive performance. While previous studies were carried out on the elderly or people with medical conditions, the new findings show that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids seems to help the brain achieve its full potential in young adult life. Animal studies indicate that brain mechanisms affected by omega-3 fatty acids may not be influ-enced in the same way in adolescents and young adults as they are in older adults.

References

  1. Narendran R. et al. Improved Working Memory but No Effect on Striatal Vesicular Monoamine Transporter Type 2 after Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation. PLoS ONE. 2012; 7(10).