Food and Behaviour Research

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Omega-3 supplementation and loneliness-related memory problems: secondary analyses of a randomized controlled trial

Jaremka LM, Derry HM et al (2014) Psychosom Med. 2014 Oct  76(8) 650–658. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000104 

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Abstract:

OBJECTIVE:

Loneliness enhances risk for episodic memory declines over time. Omega-3 supplementation can improve cognitive function for people experiencing mild cognitive difficulties. Accordingly, we explored whether omega-3 supplementation would attenuate loneliness-related episodic memory problems.

METHODS:

Participants (n = 138) from a parent randomized controlled trial were randomized to the placebo, 1.25 grams/d of omega-3, or 2.50 grams/d of omega-3 conditions for a 4-month period. They completed a baseline loneliness questionnaire and a battery of cognitive tests both at baseline and at the end of the randomized controlled trial.

RESULTS:

After adjustment for baseline verbal episodic memory scores, lonelier people within the placebo condition had poorer verbal episodic memory postsupplementation, as measured by immediate (b = -0.28, t (117) = -2.62, p = .010) and long-delay (b = -0.06, t (116) = -2.07, p = .040) free recall, than their less lonely counterparts. This effect was not observed in the 1.25- and 2.50-grams/d supplementation groups (all p values > .10). The plasma omega-6:omega-3 ratio data mirrored these results. There were no loneliness-related effects of omega-3 supplementation on short-delay recall or the other cognitive tests (all p values > .32).

CONCLUSION:

These results suggest that omega-3 supplementation attenuates loneliness-related verbal episodic memory declines over time and support the use of exploring novel interventions for treating episodic memory problems among lonely people.