Hold That Pause
Hold That Pause

Omega-3s Do Not Slow Down Cognitive Decline in Post-Menopausal Women

An older woman playing a brain-stimulating game. Medical News Today is citing a new study by the University of Iowa, recently published in the journal Neurology, which looked at the effects of omega-3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) on the cognitive decline in women ages 65 to 80.

The study was conducted to determine if the rumored health benefits of both DHA and EPA in preventing cognitive decline (i.e. Alzheimer’s and dementia) were accurate. The study group, 2,157 women, who had also been enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative clinical trials of hormone therapy, were required to complete annual thinking and memory tests over a period of 6 years on average, and to submit blood samples to measure the amount of omega-3s present in their blood.

The study revealed that “There was no difference in results between women who had high levels of omega-3 in their blood at the time the first memory tests were completed, and women who had low levels of omega-3 in their blood.”

The results also showed there was no difference in how fast thinking skills declined over time between the groups of women. Eric Ammann, author of the study, also said: “We found that omega-3 levels were not associated with cognitive change over the course of the study, or with cognitive function at baseline.”

Ammann also stated that more randomized trials will be done in the future, which will provide more definitive information, and that women should not alter their diets or consumption of omega-3s based on the outcome of the study.

My Take

I always feel I have a responsibility to inform my readers of these studies. Primarily because I believe the more information available to us, the better. I am also keenly aware, however, that because we have such easy access to information such as these medical studies, which also invariable contradict each other, we have a glut of information which we primarily shut out.

It’s a survival mechanism. 

Because this study looked at post-menopausal women (though that was not clearly stated, it is a demographic I extrapolated by their ages, and the fact they were participants in the Women’s Health Initiative study) I felt it was something of value.  

So as I always say, ladies, take from it what you will. Personally, here’s my takeaway:

Omega-3s have a scientifically proven benefit to our health, and a diet which includes not only sources of omega-3s, but also a wide variety and moderate intake of all known healthy food groups (complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, and proteins), should be a part of everyone’s diet.

As far as preventing cognitive decline in post-menopausal women, there is also plenty of solid research which shows that reading, crossword puzzles, and other activities which engage our brain, are good medicine when it comes to keeping our mind and cognitive function sharp. 

If anyone has any doubts about the validity of that, I would refer you to my 85 year old mother who, though she never set foot in an institution of higher learning, has read and worked crossword puzzles her entire life. She is one of the most brilliant people I know, and has the mental capacity and sharpness of anyone half her age. 

So take that for what it’s worth, ladies!

Magnolia Miller is a certified healthcare consumer advocate in women's health and a women's freelance health writer and blogger at The Perimenopause Blog.

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About the Author

Magnolia is dedicated to empowering women to take responsibility for their own health.