Omega-3s and B Vitamins: The Cognition Combo

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The combination of B vitamins and the omega-3 DHA improves cognition, according to a study from the University of Oslo in Norway. A previous study in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) had found that B vitamin supplementation lowered homocysteine levels and slowed the rate of cognitive decline. The researchers used data from this study to see if baseline omega-3 status interacted with B vitamin treatment in 266 patients with MCI. Results showed that patients who had been treated with B vitamins and also had good omega-3 status at the start of the study showed the best cognition, while 60% of those treated with B vitamins who had low omega-3 status showed no benefits from B vitamin supplementation. Higher blood levels of the omega-3 DHA significantly enhanced the cognitive effects of B vitamins, while levels of the omega-3 EPA were less effective. The researchers conclude that, “…when omega-3 fatty acid concentrations are low, B vitamin treatment has no effect on cognitive decline in patients with MCI, but when omega-3 levels are in the upper normal range, B vitamins interact to slow cognitive decline.”

Oulhaj A, Herneren F, Refsum H, et al: Omega-3 fatty acid status enhances the prevention of cognitive decline by B vitamins in mild cognitive impairment. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2016; January 6th.

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