Taking fish oil supplements may not lower your risk of developing dementia, according to a large new study.
Previous research has suggested that omega-3 fatty acids, particularly those in fish oil, can help keep brain cells healthy. It was thought that fish-oil supplements rich in the fatty acids might slow or prevent mental decline due to dementia.
Omega-3 can be found naturally in oily fish like mackerel
However, a review of three large studies failed to prove that fish oil supplements do prevent mental decline.
A total of 3,536 people over the age of 60 took part in the trials, which lasted between six and 40 months. None had any initial signs of mental decline or dementia.
A Cochrane Review Team found that that participants taking omega-3 scored no better in standard tests of memory and mental performance than those given a placebo. Co-author Dr Alan Dangour, a nutritionist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said:
"From these studies, there doesn't appear to be any benefit for cognitive health for older people of taking omega-3 supplements."
"So the evidence at the moment is very disappointing. But there's still an open question - if we conducted a longer study, what would that show?"
Writing in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Journal, researchers also stated that omega-3 was no more beneficial in capsule form than in margarine spread.
However, experts still advise that a healthy diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish like mackerel, salmon and sardines.
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
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