The Cognitive Benefits of Omega 3
The cognitive benefits of taking omega-3 supplements have long been documented. As well as affecting cognitive ability and attention, it is also proposed to positively influence mood, as a recent study has shown in elderly women with depression. The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health and Ageing, found significant improvements in quality of life metrics and depression scores (measured using the Geriatric Depression Scale) when subjects took daily supplements containing 2.5 grams of omega-3 essential fatty acid. These quality of life metrics were defined in terms of feelings of well-being and contentment in various aspects of life.
This is an important discovery for the elderly population in which depression can be difficult to treat as physical health quality of life generally declines. The use of omega-3 has even been suggested to be a potential new treatment for depression. The Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3s commented that these significant findings hold real possibilities in a clinical setting, due to the effectiveness of the omega-3 treatment in elderly women in the absence of any conventional antidepressants.
The experiment was a double-blind, randomized and placebo controlled trial, using two groups of depressed elderly women from a retirement home. The women either took an omega-3 supplement or a placebo for a period of two months. The decrease in symptoms of depression in the fish oil supplement group also corresponded with increased omega-3 found in red blood cells. In addition no side effects were encountered, further reinforcing the indication that omega-3 therapy is a safe treatment to undertake.
Many studies have been conducted in mood and omega-3 supplementation, such as fish oil supplements, but a causal link between omega-3 and depression cannot be established. Omega-3 has been reported to halve the symptoms of depression in one study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. In another longitudinal study in Norway it has been found that a lifelong diet rich in omega-3 may have a protective effect, reducing the risk of depression.