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Many individuals take fish oil and omega-3 capsules in an effort to improve their overall health, since the natural nutritional supplements have been shown to promote cardiovascular wellness.
A team of scientists at the Rhode Island Hospital's Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders Center have conducted a study which suggests that they may also gain cognitive benefits from taking the nutrients, since fish oil was recently shown to preserve brain function.
The study involved more than 800 volunteers over a three-year period. Some of the participants had normal cognitive abilities, others exhibited a mild decline and the remainder had Alzheimer's disease or significant impairment.
The researchers said that those who were taking fish oil supplements had, on average, better brain function than individuals who did not. However, they noted that the supplements appeared to be most beneficial to participants with normal cognitive abilities at the beginning of the trial.
Moreover, the scientists said that supplement use was associated with a larger brain volume, compared to volunteers who were not consuming fish oil.
"These observations should motivate further study of the possible effects of long-term fish oil supplementation on important markers of cognitive decline and the potential influence of genetics on these outcomes," said lead author Lori Daiello.