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Omega-3 Fatty-acids May Improve Brain Function in Depressed Older Adults

A new study has found that higher blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are linked with better mental function in mature adults recovering from depression. The study was conducted by researchers with the Taipei Medical University and King's College London.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition online ahead of print on January 4, 2011.

The focus of this study was mature adults with a history of major depression. The researchers wanted to examine whether all three types of omega-3 fatty-acids—EPA, DHA, and ALA—provided cognitive health benefits, particularly in regards to immediate recall.

Participants in the study included 132 adults with an average age of 68. In order to measure omega-3 blood levels, the researchers collected blood samples during a fast. Cognitive function was measured with a series of tests and a structured questionnaire.

While high omega-3 levels were not associated with higher cognitive scores, certain cognitive tests—especially immediate recall—were positively correlated with total omega-3 and ALA levels in red blood cell membranes. However this was only seen in participants who had previously suffered from serious depression.

In addition to brain health, omega-3s have been linked to an impressive number of health benefits, including improved heart health, alleviating arthritis pain, 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 DHA and EPA omega-3s, while ALA omega-3 fatty-acids are plant derived and can be found in flaxseed oil, vegetable oil, and walnuts.

If you think you're not getting enough omega-3 fatty-acids through diet alone, consider adding a high quality supplement to your routine. Make sure your supplement has been tested for purity and potency in order to avoid harmful mercury levels and to get the most out of your daily intake.

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