Daily supplements of omega-3s may improve measures of cognitive function, including memory and perceptual speed, says a new study from China. 86 mild cognitive impairment (MCI) individuals aged 60 years or older were randomly assigned to receive either omega-3s (480 mg DHA and 720 mg EPA per day, n = 44) or placebo (olive oil, n = 42) capsules. The changes of cognitive functions were assessed using Basic Cognitive Aptitude Tests (BCAT). Supplementation was associated with improved total BCAT scores, perceptual speed, space imagery efficiency, and working memory (p < 0.01), and significantly improved perceptual speed (p = 0.001), space imagery efficiency (p = 0.013), working memory (p = 0.018), and total BCAT scores (p = 0.000) in males.
The researchers noted that omega-3s constitute more than 30% of the membrane phospholipid composition, regulating membrane structure, fluidity, and signal-transduction. Additionally, they modulate gene expression that facilitate BDNF-mediated synaptic plasticitym influence B-vitamin or homocysteine pathways, and activate energy-generating mechanisms involved in glucose and lipid metabolosim. Moreover, omega-3s may protect cognitive function by modulating the immune response to amyloid-beta. The authors conclude that omega-3 supplementation can improve cognitive function in people with MCI.