Along with many other health benefits, B vitamins have been shown to support brain health as we age, and one study finds that getting enough Omega-3 in the diet may actually help us reap the full benefits of our daily B vitamins when it comes to brain function and memory.
Drawing its data from the Homocysteine and B Vitamins in Cognitive Impairment (or VITACOG) trial, which found that B vitamins helped reduce age-related decline in healthy brain function, this study looked at whether Omega-3 fatty acid levels in the body had any effect on those benefits. Indeed, it seems they do.
The VITACOG participants received either a placebo or a daily combination of B6, B12, and folic acid. When researchers went back to look at the blood levels of Omega-3 EPA and DHA for each participant before and after the trial, they discovered that those who received the vitamin combination but had low levels of Omega-3 experienced little or no benefit. However, those with high levels of the EPA and DHA who also received the vitamins saw an average 40% reduction in brain tissue deterioration.
Results of the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, lead researchers to theorize that a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids may help people get the most out of their daily B vitamins—in particular the benefits of a healthy brain. Omega-3 EPA and DHA are typically derived from oily fish such as salmon, trout, and herring. A daily fish oil supplement may be taken to add more Omega-3 to the daily diet.