Chances are you want to stay sharp well into your golden years. Whether it’s not being able to remember where you put your glasses or needing to rack your brain for a simple word that should come easily, if you’re getting older, memory is probably on your mind. New research indicates Omega-3s may be just what you’re looking for.
This is your brain on oxygen
Brains need oxygen. After just one minute without the stuff, brain cells begin dying. And after five minutes, death is on the horizon.[i] Anything you can do to increase your brain’s supply of oxygen will likely enhance its function.
The best-known way to get your brain more oxygen is through regular exercise. Physical exertion increases blood flow to the brain, and when your brain gets more blood, it also gets more oxygen. Now there’s new evidence that Omega-3 fatty acids also boost cerebral blood flow, making them another tool for supporting memory and cognition.*[ii],[iii]
What does the science say?
A 2018 study, published in the journal Nutrients, followed 38 volunteers who ranged in age from 40 to 85. Half the group took an Omega-3 supplement with 1,600 mg DHA and 400 mg EPA every day, while half took a corn oil placebo.
After about five months, researchers took a look inside the participants’ brains to see how much blood was flowing to their noggins. They measured cerebral blood flow while folks were resting and while they were engaged in cognitive tasks. Sure enough, Omega-3s enhanced blood flow to the brain, although interestingly, only in women.*
A piece of the puzzle
Surprisingly, the researchers didn’t find the improvement in memory that would be expected with an increase in cerebral blood flow. They think this could be due to the supplementation period being too short for a cognitive benefit to emerge. (These things take time, after all!) Another explanation could be that the dosage was too small. (Would a higher dosage of EPA change the outcome?)
But that doesn’t diminish the study’s value. Overall, it echoes the results of an earlier, observational study that found folks with higher blood levels of DHA and EPA had better blood flow to the brain.[iv] While there’s no silver bullet for memory, emerging research suggests Omega-3s might be a piece of the puzzle.