Low consumption of the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenonic acids, is linked to delayed brain development and, in late life, increased risk for Alzheimer's disease. The current review focuses on cognitive functioning during midlife and summarizes available scientific evidence relevant to the hypothesis that adequate dietary consumption of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids is necessary for optimal cognitive performance.

Taken together, the findings suggest that raising the currently low consumption among healthy adults may improve some aspects of cognitive performance. Nonetheless, evidence from randomized clinical trials is comparatively sparse and leaves unclear: (a) whether such effects are clinically significant, (b) whether effects of eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA differ, (c) which dimensions of cognitive function are affected, (d) the dose-response relationships, or (e) the time course of the response.

Clarification of these issues through both laboratory and clinical investigations is a priority given the broad implications for public health, as well as for military personnel and other positions of high performance demand and responsibility.

PMID: 25373092

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