Alex A, Abbott KA, McEvoy M, Schofield PW, Garg ML (2019) Nutr Rev. 2019 Dec. pii: nuz073. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuz073. [Epub ahead of print]
Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCn-3PUFAs) are widely considered as nootropic agents that may be beneficial in reversing cognitive impairment.
The present systematic review of randomized controlled trials was conducted to determine the changes in cognitive function after intervention with LCn-3PUFA supplementation in non-demented adults, including those with mild cognitive impairment.
Five databases (MEDLINE, CINAHL, Scopus, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Library) were searched systematically along with reference lists of selected articles.
Studies were eligible for inclusion if they measured the effect of LCn-3PUFA supplementation on cognition in non-demented adults.
A total of 787 records were screened, of which 25 studies were eligible for inclusion. Treatment effects were summarized as global cognitive function for primary outcome and measured using the Mini-Mental State Examination and individual cognitive domains for secondary outcome. The pooled effect sizes were estimated using Hedge's g and random-effects modeling.
Results from randomized controlled trials indicate that LCn-3PUFAs have no effect on global cognitive function (Hedge's g = 0.02; 95% confidence interval, -0.12 to 0.154), and among the specific cognitive domains, only memory function showed a mild benefit (Hedge's g = 0.31; P = 0.003; z = 2.945).
The existing literature suggests that LCn-3PUFA supplementation could provide a mild benefit in improving memory function in non-demented older adults.