“The participants were put through an intensive series of cognitive tests such as memory tests using a list of words, an attention test to repeat lists of numbers forward and backward, and a test of organization and planning involving copying complex figures,” said Dr. Scott. To determine the participants’ intake of PUFAs they were given a questionnaire. The results were determined after comparing baseline test numbers with a 2 year follow up.
The researchers found that the intake of omega-3 PUFAs in the study sample of 895 participants was low. The 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommended an intake of 8 or more ounces of seafood per week (less for young children) to ensure an adequate intake of the very long chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). This translates to about 1,750 mg of EPA and DHA per week, which averages to 250 mg per day. Dr. Scott’s group reported that only 27% of the participants in their study met or exceeded that recommendation. The major source of EPA and DHA in their diets appeared to be from canned tuna. Based on the scientists’ findings, being in the lowest four quintiles of EPA and DHA intake was predictive of cognitive decline over 2 years.
What is the takeaway from this research? There is growing evidence that very long chain omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for maintaining cognitive health, and many Americans do not have an adequate intake of these nutrients. “While more research is needed to determine whether intake of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and trout can help prevent against cognitive decline, our preliminary data support previous research showing that intake of these types of fish have health benefits,” Dr. Scott said.
Dr. Scott was scheduled to present the findings during the Experimental Biology 2014 meeting on April 27.
Experimental Biology is an annual meeting comprised of more than 14,000 scientists and exhibitors from six sponsoring societies and multiple guest societies. With a mission to share the newest scientific concepts and research findings shaping current and future clinical advances, the meeting offers an opportunity for exchange among scientists from throughout the U.S. and the world who represent dozens of scientific areas, from laboratory to translational to clinical research.