Because of their structural, anti-inflammatory and antithrombic properties, long-chain n-3 fatty acids may be key factors in the aging process. We sought to elucidate the association between intake of long-chain n-3 fatty acids and/or fish and cognitive function evaluated 13 years after dietary assessment.

Prospective population-based study.

3,294 adults from the SU.VI.MAX study (Supplementation with Antioxidant Vitamins and Minerals study). MEASUREMENTS/STATISTICAL ANALYSIS: Subjects underwent a standardized clinical examination which included cognitive tests and self-reported cognitive difficulties scale (2007-2009). Poor scores were defined using percentiles as cut-off. Dietary data were assessed through repeated 24-h dietary records. Odd ratio (OR), comparing the fourth (Q4) to the first quartile (Q1), of having a poor score were calculated using adjusted logistic regression.

Self-reported cognitive difficulties were less frequent among subjects with higher intakes of total n-3 long chain fatty acids (OR = 0.72, CI 95%=0.56-0.92) and eicosapentaenoic acid (OR Q4 versus Q1 = 0.74, CI 95%=0.58-0.95), even after adjustment for depressive symptoms. A borderline significant association was also found with high fish consumption (OR Q4 versus Q1 = 0.80, CI 95%=0.63-1.01).

Cognitive complaints, which may be an early indicator of cognitive decline, are less frequent among the elderly who have a high long-chain n-3 acids intake, as assessed 13 years earlier.