Lube for lost memory

DHA-Rich fish oil may improve memory in early cognitive impairment, according to a new Malaysian study.

In the past, scientists found evidence suggesting that fish oil supplementation may halt the initial progression of Alzheimer's disease. However, it remained unclear whether fish oil could affect the cognitive function in older people who already have mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Until now.

Malaysian researchers recently completed a study that suggests that the substance can indeed help. The study appears in the journal Psychopharmacology and was referenced in the PUFA Newsletter.

Lai Kuan Lee and colleagues at the Universiti Kebangsaan, Malaysia conducted a year-long, randomized, double-blind, placebo-control study using fish oil supplementation with concentrated docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and adults age 60 or older. Researchers measured changes in memory, psychomotor speed, executive function and attention, and visual-constructive skills using cognitive tests.

After one year, participants who consumed 1.4 grams per day of DHA-rich fish oil had significantly improved memory scores compared with the placebo group, according to the article. The fish oil group showed significant improvement in short-term and working memory, immediate verbal memory and delayed recall capability. The 12-month change in memory was significantly better in the fish oil group. Fish oil consumption was well tolerated, and the side effects were minimal.

“This study suggested the potential role of fish oil to improve memory function in MCI subjects,” said the study's authors. “Studies with larger sample sizes, longer intervention periods, different fish oil dosages and genetic determinations should be investigated before definite recommendations can be made.”

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