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New Research: Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Make Your Family Smarter

What kind of study was this?

This was a randomized controlled trial, which means that all participants in the study were randomly sorted into a group (or groups) that received a treatment or a group (or groups) that did not. The group or groups that did not receive the treatment are called “control” groups.

Researchers compare outcome measures between the groups to determine whether the treatment has an effect. This specific paper is a “secondary analysis” of a research study which means that in this paper they’re looking at health outcomes that were not their primary focus in the original study.

What did researchers want to know?

In this secondary analysis, they wanted to know whether giving a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids over a long period helped to prevent cognitive decline in older healthy adults.

In the original study, their primary outcome of interest was related to heart disease. But they also measured participants' scores on cognitive tests so that they could do this secondary analysis.

What did the researchers actually do?

They randomly assigned 285 healthy older adults either to a group that received around two teaspoons of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA or a group that didn’t receive anything. Then they gave all participants a bunch of different cognitive tests measuring many aspects of cognitive functioning at the beginning of study, 12 months later, and then 18 months after that (30 months from the beginning). Then they compared the scores over time and between the omega-3 group and the control group.

What did the researchers find?

They found that participants who were in the omega-3 group scored better than they did at the beginning on verbal fluency, language, and memory after 12 months, whereas the scores in the control group generally stayed the same.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Although this study was in older adults, this study supports many others that show omega-3 supplementation is great for brain health. Because fatty fish can be expensive, contain environmental contaminants, and may not be widely available everywhere, supplementing with a high-quality omega-3 fish oil is a great idea. This study gave adults two teaspoons a day, which is in the safe range for kids as well. Studies like this and this suggest that even higher doses are well-tolerated for kids.  

Original article: Malik, A. et al., ω-3 Ethyl ester results in better cognitive function at 12 and 30 months than control in cognitively healthy subjects with coronary artery disease: a secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021.

*A note from TFT dietitian, Lexi Hall:

We don’t recommend greater than 2 grams for anyone with platelet or other blood thinning issues. 2 teaspoons would be 10 grams and could be problematic for someone with low platelets, especially of low weight. As always, consult with a doctor or dietitian for an individualized dose.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Nourish Masterclass, recipes, and sign up for our Nourish live events!

New Research: Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Make Your Family Smarter

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New Research: Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Make Your Family Smarter

Two teaspoons a day of omega-3 fatty acids for one year improved the cognitive functioning in older healthy adults.

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What kind of study was this?

This was a randomized controlled trial, which means that all participants in the study were randomly sorted into a group (or groups) that received a treatment or a group (or groups) that did not. The group or groups that did not receive the treatment are called “control” groups.

Researchers compare outcome measures between the groups to determine whether the treatment has an effect. This specific paper is a “secondary analysis” of a research study which means that in this paper they’re looking at health outcomes that were not their primary focus in the original study.

What did researchers want to know?

In this secondary analysis, they wanted to know whether giving a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids over a long period helped to prevent cognitive decline in older healthy adults.

In the original study, their primary outcome of interest was related to heart disease. But they also measured participants' scores on cognitive tests so that they could do this secondary analysis.

What did the researchers actually do?

They randomly assigned 285 healthy older adults either to a group that received around two teaspoons of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA or a group that didn’t receive anything. Then they gave all participants a bunch of different cognitive tests measuring many aspects of cognitive functioning at the beginning of study, 12 months later, and then 18 months after that (30 months from the beginning). Then they compared the scores over time and between the omega-3 group and the control group.

What did the researchers find?

They found that participants who were in the omega-3 group scored better than they did at the beginning on verbal fluency, language, and memory after 12 months, whereas the scores in the control group generally stayed the same.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Although this study was in older adults, this study supports many others that show omega-3 supplementation is great for brain health. Because fatty fish can be expensive, contain environmental contaminants, and may not be widely available everywhere, supplementing with a high-quality omega-3 fish oil is a great idea. This study gave adults two teaspoons a day, which is in the safe range for kids as well. Studies like this and this suggest that even higher doses are well-tolerated for kids.  

Original article: Malik, A. et al., ω-3 Ethyl ester results in better cognitive function at 12 and 30 months than control in cognitively healthy subjects with coronary artery disease: a secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021.

*A note from TFT dietitian, Lexi Hall:

We don’t recommend greater than 2 grams for anyone with platelet or other blood thinning issues. 2 teaspoons would be 10 grams and could be problematic for someone with low platelets, especially of low weight. As always, consult with a doctor or dietitian for an individualized dose.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Nourish Masterclass, recipes, and sign up for our Nourish live events!

What kind of study was this?

This was a randomized controlled trial, which means that all participants in the study were randomly sorted into a group (or groups) that received a treatment or a group (or groups) that did not. The group or groups that did not receive the treatment are called “control” groups.

Researchers compare outcome measures between the groups to determine whether the treatment has an effect. This specific paper is a “secondary analysis” of a research study which means that in this paper they’re looking at health outcomes that were not their primary focus in the original study.

What did researchers want to know?

In this secondary analysis, they wanted to know whether giving a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids over a long period helped to prevent cognitive decline in older healthy adults.

In the original study, their primary outcome of interest was related to heart disease. But they also measured participants' scores on cognitive tests so that they could do this secondary analysis.

What did the researchers actually do?

They randomly assigned 285 healthy older adults either to a group that received around two teaspoons of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA or a group that didn’t receive anything. Then they gave all participants a bunch of different cognitive tests measuring many aspects of cognitive functioning at the beginning of study, 12 months later, and then 18 months after that (30 months from the beginning). Then they compared the scores over time and between the omega-3 group and the control group.

What did the researchers find?

They found that participants who were in the omega-3 group scored better than they did at the beginning on verbal fluency, language, and memory after 12 months, whereas the scores in the control group generally stayed the same.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Although this study was in older adults, this study supports many others that show omega-3 supplementation is great for brain health. Because fatty fish can be expensive, contain environmental contaminants, and may not be widely available everywhere, supplementing with a high-quality omega-3 fish oil is a great idea. This study gave adults two teaspoons a day, which is in the safe range for kids as well. Studies like this and this suggest that even higher doses are well-tolerated for kids.  

Original article: Malik, A. et al., ω-3 Ethyl ester results in better cognitive function at 12 and 30 months than control in cognitively healthy subjects with coronary artery disease: a secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021.

*A note from TFT dietitian, Lexi Hall:

We don’t recommend greater than 2 grams for anyone with platelet or other blood thinning issues. 2 teaspoons would be 10 grams and could be problematic for someone with low platelets, especially of low weight. As always, consult with a doctor or dietitian for an individualized dose.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Nourish Masterclass, recipes, and sign up for our Nourish live events!

What kind of study was this?

This was a randomized controlled trial, which means that all participants in the study were randomly sorted into a group (or groups) that received a treatment or a group (or groups) that did not. The group or groups that did not receive the treatment are called “control” groups.

Researchers compare outcome measures between the groups to determine whether the treatment has an effect. This specific paper is a “secondary analysis” of a research study which means that in this paper they’re looking at health outcomes that were not their primary focus in the original study.

What did researchers want to know?

In this secondary analysis, they wanted to know whether giving a high dose of omega-3 fatty acids over a long period helped to prevent cognitive decline in older healthy adults.

In the original study, their primary outcome of interest was related to heart disease. But they also measured participants' scores on cognitive tests so that they could do this secondary analysis.

What did the researchers actually do?

They randomly assigned 285 healthy older adults either to a group that received around two teaspoons of omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA or a group that didn’t receive anything. Then they gave all participants a bunch of different cognitive tests measuring many aspects of cognitive functioning at the beginning of study, 12 months later, and then 18 months after that (30 months from the beginning). Then they compared the scores over time and between the omega-3 group and the control group.

What did the researchers find?

They found that participants who were in the omega-3 group scored better than they did at the beginning on verbal fluency, language, and memory after 12 months, whereas the scores in the control group generally stayed the same.

What does this mean for parents and kids?

Although this study was in older adults, this study supports many others that show omega-3 supplementation is great for brain health. Because fatty fish can be expensive, contain environmental contaminants, and may not be widely available everywhere, supplementing with a high-quality omega-3 fish oil is a great idea. This study gave adults two teaspoons a day, which is in the safe range for kids as well. Studies like this and this suggest that even higher doses are well-tolerated for kids.  

Original article: Malik, A. et al., ω-3 Ethyl ester results in better cognitive function at 12 and 30 months than control in cognitively healthy subjects with coronary artery disease: a secondary analysis of a randomized clinical trial, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021.

*A note from TFT dietitian, Lexi Hall:

We don’t recommend greater than 2 grams for anyone with platelet or other blood thinning issues. 2 teaspoons would be 10 grams and could be problematic for someone with low platelets, especially of low weight. As always, consult with a doctor or dietitian for an individualized dose.

If you liked this article, be sure to check out our Nourish Masterclass, recipes, and sign up for our Nourish live events!

Enjoying this? Subscribe to The Family Thrive for more healthy recipes, video classes, and more.

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