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Higher Omega-3 Index Associated With Improved Attention, Processing Speed in Teens

The Omega-3 index records the percentage concentration of omega-3 in red blood cells, and provides a good indication of a person’s long-term intake of omega-3s. A recent study suggests that teenagers with a higher Omega-3 index have better information processing speeds when compared with those with a lower Omega-3 index.


Participants in the study included 266 Dutch teens between the ages of 13 and 15. The researchers took blood samples from all of the teens and also assessed cognitive performance via a range of tests.


The participants filled out a fish consumption questionnaire, and it showed that 13.9% of the teens did not consume any fish at all and that 77% of them consumed fish rarely. As a result, the average Omega-3 Index was 3.83%, which was much lower than the recommended 8%-11%.


After examining the data, the researchers found that a higher Omega-3 Index was associated with higher scores on the Letter Digit Substitution Test. Specifically, every 1% increase in the Omega-3 Index was associated with a 1.23 digit increase. They also noted that the students with a higher Omega-3 Index had “fewer errors of omission” on the D2 test of attention, which means that they paid better attention than students with a lower Omega-3 Index.


Researchers from the Open University of the Netherlands, Omegametrix (Germany), Aker BioMarine (Norway), and Maastricht University (The Netherlands) conducted the study. It was published on January 2, 2016, in Nutrients.


Omega-3s have been linked to a number of health benefits, including better moods, improved joint mobility, helping with age related macular degeneration, and aiding your immune system.


Because omega-3 fatty-acids are not found naturally in the human body, it is especially important to make sure that they are a part of your daily diet. Oily, dark fish such as tuna and salmon are high in omega-3s. For vegans like the ones in this study or for folks who just don’t like fish, consider taking a daily high quality non-fish supplement that has been tested for purity and potency.

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