Omega-3 may boost working memory in healthy young adults: Study

By Nathan Gray contact

- Last updated on GMT

Increasing intakes of omega-3 may improve the working memory of young adults who are at the peak of their cognitive abilities, according to new data.

The research – published in PLoS One​ – investigated the effects of omega-3 supplementation on the cognitive functions of healthy young adults who are at the top of their ‘cognitive game’.

In the first study of its kind, the US-based researchers supplemented 11 participants with high dose omega-3 for six months, finding that the supplementation improved working memory.

"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," ​explained project leader, Professor Bita Moghaddam from the University of Pittsburgh.

"Before seeing this data, I would have said it was impossible to move young healthy individuals above their cognitive best."

Study details

The research team – led by Rajesh Narendarn – supplemented 11 healthy young participants with 2 grams of omega-3 esters per day (Lovaza, GlaxoSmithKline) containing 750 mg docosahexaenonic acid (DHA) and 930 mg eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Before they began taking the supplements, all participants underwent positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, and their blood samples were analyzed. In addition they were asked to perform a working memory test in which they were shown a series of letters and numbers and had to keep track of what appeared one, two, and three times prior (known as a simple ‘n-back test’).

"What was particularly interesting about the pre-supplementation n-back test was that it correlated positively with plasma Omega-3,"​ said Moghaddam. "This means that the omega-3s they were getting from their diet already positively correlated with their working memory."

All participants were then monitored monthly through phone calls and outpatient procedures, said the authors.

After six months of taking the supplementation participants were then tested again – revealing a significant improvement in working memory.

"It is really interesting that diets enriched with Omega-3 fatty acid can enhance cognition in highly functional young individuals,"​ said Narendarn.

However, the lead researcher said it was ‘disappointing’ that the imaging studies were unable to clarify the mechanisms by which omega-3 might enhance working memory.

Brain boosting

Professor Matthew Muldoon, who also worked on the project, noted that a vast amount of the previous research on omega-3 and working memory has been performed in elderly people, or in people with medical conditions.

"But what about our highest-functioning periods?” he​ said. “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."

Source: PLoS ONE
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0046832
“Improved Working Memory but No Effect on Striatal Vesicular Monoamine Transporter Type 2 after Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Supplementation”
Authors: Rajesh Narendran, William G. Frankle, Neale S. Mason, Matthew F. Muldoon, Bita Moghaddam

Related news

Show more

Related products

show more

Gemini Pharmaceuticals Quality Partnership Program

Gemini Pharmaceuticals Quality Partnership Program

Gemini Pharmaceuticals | 09-Oct-2017 | Technical / White Paper

A Brand Owner/Own Label Distributor is 100% responsible for the quality of their products - not the Contract Manufacturing Organization. This is exactly...

Resveratrol – Revitalizing Cognitive Function

Resveratrol – Revitalizing Cognitive Function

Evolva | 29-Sep-2017 | Technical / White Paper

Cognitive decline is fast becoming the biggest concern of the 65+ population. A population which is set to reach 1.1 billion by 2030*.  · 80% of 60+ take...

Natural, slow-release caffeine by Lipofoods

Natural, slow-release caffeine by Lipofoods

Lipofoods, a Lubrizol Company | 25-Sep-2017 | Data Sheet

Lipofoods presents NEWCAFF™ microcapsules, a natural, slow-release caffeine with a clean non-bitter taste, ideal for sports and nutrition products targeting...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Products

View more

Webinars