Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Nutrition Journal and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Effects of supplementation with n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on cognitive performance and cardiometabolic risk markers in healthy 51 to 72 years old subjects: a randomized controlled cross-over study

Anne Nilsson1*, Karl Radeborg2, Ilkka Salo2 and Inger Björck1

Author affiliations

1 Division of Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry, Department of Food Technology, Engineering and Nutrition, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

2 Department of Psychology, Lund University, Lund, Sweden

For all author emails, please log on.

Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2012, 11:99  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-99

Published: 22 November 2012

Abstract

Background

Higher plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) have been associated with a lower risk of age related cognitive decline, and to beneficially affect cardiometabolic risk factors. A relation exists between metabolic disorders such as diabetes type 2 and cognitive decline. Results regarding the potential effects of n-3 PUFA on risk factors in healthy subjects are divergent, and studies regarding the possible relation between cardiometabolic parameters and cognitive performance are scarce. The objective was to evaluate the effects of five weeks intake of long chain n-3 PUFA on cognitive performance in healthy individuals, and to exploit the possible relation between outcomes in cognitive tests to cardiometabolic risk parameters.

Methods

Fish oil n-3 PUFA (3g daily) were consumed during 5weeks separated by a 5 week washout period in a cross-over placebo controlled study, including 40 healthy middle aged to elderly subjects. Cognitive performance was determined by tests measuring working memory (WM) and selective attention.

Results

Supplementation with n-3 PUFA resulted in better performance in the WM-test compared with placebo (p < 0.05). In contrast to placebo, n-3 PUFA lowered plasma triacylglycerides (P < 0.05) and systolic blood pressure (p < 0.0001). Systolic blood pressure (p < 0.05), f-glucose (p = 0.05), and s-TNF-α (p = 0.05), were inversely related to the performance in cognitive tests.

Conclusions

Intake of n-3 PUFA improved cognitive performance in healthy subjects after five weeks compared with placebo. In addition, inverse relations were obtained between cardiometabolic risk factors and cognitive performance, indicating a potential of dietary prevention strategies to delay onset of metabolic disorders and associated cognitive decline.

Keywords:
Omega-3 PUFA; DHA; EPA; Fish oil; Dietary prevention; Cognitive performance; Working memory; Metabolic disorders; Ageing