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EPA-Rich Supplements Shown to Boost Brain Performance Better than DHA-Rich Supplements

There are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that come from fish: EPA and DHA. A recent study found that supplements rich in EPA may be more effective than supplements rich in DHA at improving cognitive performance without the brain having to work harder.

Participants in the study included 13 people with an average age of 24. They were given either an EPA-rich supplement or a DHA-rich supplement for 30 days, followed by a 30-day washout period before switching interventions.

The researchers measured brain activity using MRI scans and found that EPA was associated with improved performance in the area of the brain that controls rational cognitive functions such as decision making, reward anticipation, and impulse control. It was also associated with better activation in the part of the brain that controls corrective strategies and reductions in reaction times (precentrel gyrus).

The MRI scans also showed a reduction in neural activity during EPA supplementation, indicating that the brain was not working as hard, despite the increased performance.

The DHA supplement was also found to be associated with improvements in the precentrel gyrus but there was no improvement seen in cognitive function. Additionally, there was an increase in neural activity.

Researchers from Swinburne University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on January 28, 2014, in Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical & Experimental.

Omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, so it is especially important to ensure they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in DHA and EPA omega-3s.

If you don’t like fish or you’re worried about the high mercury levels found in some fish, consider taking a daily high quality supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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