A recent study published in the Public Library of Sciences journal sought to determine the effect of Omega-3s on memory function. Healthy young subjects were supplemented with 2 grams of Omega-3 EPA + DHA daily (930 mg EPA + 750 DHA) for six months.
Over six months levels of the Omega-3s in red blood cell membranes (the best measure of tissue levels—where the omega-3s work) were increased in association with improvement in working memory. The researchers also tried to determine whether Omega-3 intake affected dopamine storage in the striatum of the brain, as measured by PET scans (positron-emission transmission scans). They did not find an effect, however, suggesting that dopamine storage in the striatum is not the mechanism by which Omega-3s affect working memory.
The interesting take away from this study is that young healthy people—who already have relatively good memory—were able to improve their working memory by taking Omega-3s. The researchers noted, “Before seeing this data, I would have said it was impossible to move young healthy individuals above their cognitive best. We found that members of this population can enhance their working memory performance even further, despite their already being at the top of their cognitive game.”
“So many of the previous studies have been done with the elderly or people with medical conditions, leaving this unique population of young adults unaddressed,” stated Matthew Muldoon, an investigator of the study, “Can we help the brain achieve its full potential by adapting our healthy behaviors in our young adult life? We found that we absolutely can.”
More studies will be needed to determine just how these beneficial fats work in the brain to improve memory. In the meantime, keep taking your Omega-3!
When omega-3 fish oil comes to mind, heart health is usually the first benefit attributed to it. Brain health and joint health are a close second and third. Did you know that omega-3s may also be helpful for your muscles?
According to a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular fish oil consumption, in conjunction with strength training, improved muscle force and function in elderly women. The study involved 45 women about 64-years-old, all assigned to a strength training program. Fifteen women received a standard fish oil supplement containing 400 milligrams EPA and 300 milligrams DHA during the 90 days of strength training, and 15 women received the fish oil for 60 days before strength training as well as throughout the strength training. Fifteen of the women strength trained but did not take fish oil supplements.
All women experienced improvements in muscle force and function, but the women taking omega-3 fish oil saw even greater effects than the women not taking it. The results of this study may be particularly important for aging women. Not only does strength training help build bone, but muscular strength is also important for stability as we age. The researchers stated, “The use of fish oil supplementation in addition to strength training potentiates the neuromuscular system, enhancing the muscle strength and the functional capacity in elderly women. Thus, fish oil may be an attractive supplement for the elderly to maximize their neuromuscular responses to strength training, which is important to life quality.”
If you are not taking fish oil already for its array of health benefits, consider it. Improved muscle function is one small benefit in addition to many others you may gain from this amazing nutrient.