A recent study suggests that fish oil supplements may have little effect in trying to improve brain function in the elderly. This may contradict previous studies that indicate possible effects of fish oil supplements and its association with cognitive function especially in the elderly.
Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which many researchers believe may help improve cognitive function in old people. But researchers from the OPAL study say that the said supplement did little to improve cognitive function among the participants of the study. The researchers analyzed 867 participants with ages ranging from 70 to 80 years old. All of the participants were in good cognitive or mental health during the start of the two-year study. The participants were randomly assigned to either receive fish oil capsules or a placebo.
The said study also involved examining the cognitive ability of the participants from the beginning and the end of the study through a series of written tests to determine memory and concentration. After two years, the researchers found that those taking fish oil supplements did show a significantly higher level of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood as compared to the placebo group. But the researchers also found out that there were no significant differences or changes in cognitive functions between both groups.
According to Alan Dangour, senior lecturer at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the lead author of the study, "From the data we have collected in the OPAL study, there is no evidence of an important benefit for memory or concentration of increased omega-3 fatty acid consumption over a two-year period among older people with good cognitive health."
"However, it is important to keep in mind that poor cognitive function can take many years to develop and although this is the longest trial of its kind ever conducted, it may be that it was not long enough for any true beneficial effects to be detected among this healthy cohort of older people," Mr. Dangour further added. The said study will be published in the June issue of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.