When it comes to aging, one of the things people worry about most is losing their mental edge. And with good reason — quick, clear thinking is often a natural casualty of getting older. But according to a study published last month in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking an omega-3 supplement may help. 
Researchers from the University of Naples Federico II and the University of Eastern Finland measured blood omega-3 levels of 768 study participants aged 53 to 73 years old. The subjects then took a series of mental tests. Those with higher levels of omega-3s in their systems scored significantly better on two of the tests, the Trail Making Test and the Verbal Fluency Test.*
The Trail Making Test is like the connect-the-dots puzzles you did as a kid, except you have to alternate between numbers and letters (going from 1 to A to 2 to B, etc.). It measures your ability to shift quickly from one concept to another. The Verbal Fluency Test, on the other hand, is more like a parlor game, asking you to name as many words as you can that fit into a certain category, such as “animals” or “starts with the letter S.” It gauges your processing speed, mental flexibility, and verbal fluency.
In this study, folks who had the highest levels of omega-3s were faster on the Trail Making Test and could produce more words per minute in the Verbal Fluency test than those with the lowest levels.* The researchers concluded these adults had better frontal lobe “executive” functioning.*
Scientists have multiple explanations for why omega-3s appear to improve cognition.* Omega-3s, especially DHA, increase brain levels of phospholipids (which are structural elements of cell membranes), may help neurons survive longer, and could even help new neurons and synapses grow.*
* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease.
 D'Ascoli TA, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. online publication April 13, 2016; doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.59