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More Brainy Benefits from DHA Supplements

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid, has been linked to better memory function and a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease in healthy adults. But other research has found that DHA’s brain benefits may extend to adults with mild cognitive impairment as well. The double-blind study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and included 240 adults, age 65 and older, with mild cognitive impairment. Researchers randomly assigned the participants to receive either a DHA supplement (2 grams per day) or a corn oil placebo for 12 months. At the beginning, middle, and end of the trial, the participants underwent IQ testing, which included indicators of both long- and short-term memory, to assess their cognitive function. In addition, the researchers measured the volume of their hippocampus (the region of the brain associated with memory). Here’s what the researchers found:

  • After 12 months, participants taking the DHA supplement had significantly higher IQ scores, including sub-scores of long- and short-term memory, compared with those taking the placebo.
  • Participants taking the DHA supplement had significantly higher hippocampal volumes at the end of the study compared with those taking the placebo.

These results suggest that supplementing with DHA may help slow the progression of memory loss in those with mild cognitive impairment. While DHA or fish oil supplements may be a good idea for some people concerned about cognitive decline, eating fish regularly may be another way to reel in these brain benefits. Salmon, sardines, and albacore tuna are all good sources of DHA.

Source: Journal of Alzheimer's Disease

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