Latest News » Omega-3 fatty acids may boost memory

DHA collects in the brain's hippocampus.

DHA collects in the brain's hippocampus.

Although the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can reportedly have numerous physical benefits when consumed on a regular basis, they are perhaps best known for stimulating specific brain functions. The U.S. National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus website suggests that these chemicals have earned this reputation because they're frequently used to supplement the treatment of specific cognitive orders, including Alzheimer's disease.

Currently, scientists are still conducting research on the positive effects that fish oil supplements may have on individuals who have already contracted this degenerative condition. However, there is conclusive evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) specifically, can boost memory retention in general.

One team of researchers from the University of Alberta decided to investigate exactly why higher DHA levels would have an impact on this specific cognitive element, and have recently published their findings in the medical journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Professor Yves Sauve, a medical researcher at the university, served as the lead investigator in the enterprise. In an article published on the university website, Sauve summarized his team's observations.

"We discovered{…} that memory cells in the hippocampus [which is the part of the brain responsible involved in memory retention] could communicate better with each other and better relay messages when DHA levels in that region of the brain were higher" said Sauve. "This could explain why memory improves on a high-DHA diet."

The scientists involved discovered that lab animals that were given food that was rich in DHA had 30 percent higher levels of the nutrient collected in the portion of their brains devoted to memory. Another significant finding, Sauve noted, is that any excess DHA intake was automatically funneled to the brain.

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