Posted on Mar 09, 2010, 6 a.m.
Healthy middle-aged men and women with higher blood levels of DHA (docosahexaenonic acid), a type of omega-3 fatty acid, perform better on tests of reasoning, memory, and vocabulary.
In that previous studies have suggested a role for greater dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids in lowering the risks of cognitive decline later in life, Matthew Muldoon, from the University of Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA), and colleagues pursued the mechanisms underlying this association. The researchers assessed data collected on 280 community-dwelling men and women, ages 35 to 54 years, who were free of major neuropsychiatric disorders and not taking fish oil supplements. The team monitored dietary biomarkers of specific types of omega-3 fatty acids, and found that alpha lipoic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenonic acid (DHA) correlated to five major aspects of cognitive performance. While neither ALA nor EPA were associated with improvements in tests of reasoning, memory, or vocabulary, higher DHA did correspond to better performance on those cognitive parameters. Writing that: “[O]nly [docosahexaenonic acid] is associated with major aspects of cognitive performance in nonpatient adults <55 y old,” the researchers suggest that: “DHA is related to brain health throughout the lifespan and may have implications for clinical trials of neuropsychiatric disorders.”
Matthew F. Muldoon, Christopher M. Ryan, Lei Sheu, Jeffrey K. Yao, Sarah M. Conklin, Stephen B. Manuck. “Serum Phospholipid Docosahexaenonic Acid Is Associated with Cognitive Functioning during Middle Adulthood.” J. Nutrition, Feb. 24, 2010; doi:10.3945/jn.109.119578.