Lesser Cognitive Complaints with Aging after Age 64 with Higher Intakes of DHA/EPA Omega-3

July 4, 2011


Thirteen-Year Prospective Study Between Fish Consumption , Long-Chain N-3 Fatty Acids Intakes and Cognitive Function
Kesse-Guyot, E. et al., J. Nutr. ,Health and Aging ,15: 115-120 , 2011
INSERM , Human Nutrition Research Ctr.of Ile de France, Paris, France


This prospective population-based study from Paris, France involved 3,294 adults (both genders, average age 64 years). Initially, the subjects had dietary assessments to determine their intakes of fish/seafood as well as the corresponding long-chain omega-3 fatty acids . The subjects were followed for an average of 7.5 years (up to 13 years later). The assessment of cognitive functioning included the MMSE (French version) and a 5-word test for immediate and delayed verbal memory and recall. Further, they completed a self-reported questionnaire for memory complaints using McNair’s Cognitive Difficulties Scale.

Those in the top 25 % of the population with respect to dietary intakes of the total long-chain omega-3 fatty acids exhibited a 28-32 % less frequent complaints regarding cognitive difficulties as compared to those with the lower (bottom 25 %) omega-3 intakes. The former group also showed a poor score on the MMSE evaluation less frequently but this did not reach statistical significance. Those in the top 25 % for DHA and EPA intakes exhibited a 19-25 % less frequency in self-reported cognitive difficulties while a 26-31 % lesser frequency was apparent amongst those with the higher intakes of EPA. The authors concluded that cognitive complaints are less frequent among the elderly with higher intakes of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids as assessed up to 13 years earlier.

Dr. Holub's Comments:

This population study from France is of considerable interest with implications for improved public health care for the aging population since cognitive complaints are often a early signal for cognitive decline. This study suggests than higher intakes of (DHA plus EPA) can potentially delay and/or retards such age-related cognitive decline. It is noted that the average intakes of DHA and EPA in this group of subjects was 280 mg and 150 mg, respectively, per day. Those in the top 25 % had considerably higher omega-3 intakes. Current average intakes amongst the elderly in North America (and many other global communities) are well below one-half of the average intakes in the population as studied in the present report.

Return to Cognitive Performance Research