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This Supplement Habit Can Boost Your Brain Health After 60, New Study Says

Researchers found that taking these specific supplements improved cognitive function in older age.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan

If you don't already take omega-3 or fish oil supplements, then it might be time to add them to your regular routine. That's because two types of omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil might give your brain a healthy boost as you get older—especially for those who deal with heart disease, according to new research.

A study that was led by Dr. Abdulaziz Malik, a cardiology fellow at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, took a look at data collected from 291 adults, primarily men, who were an average age of 63 years old. The researchers found that providing the participants with omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA improved the cognitive function of those who had been diagnosed with coronary artery disease (which can prevent full blood flow due to an accumulation of plaque).

"This research is in line with a large body of evidence suggesting omega-3 fatty acids have a beneficial effect on brain health," Paula Doebrich, RDN, MPH, the owner of a private nutrition practice, tells Eat This, Not That!

Related: 26 Best Omega-3 Foods to Fight Inflammation and Support Heart Health

"Because omega-3s are so beneficial for brain function, they are now thought to also be effective in managing mood disorders and potentially be helpful in patients with mild psychiatric disorders," adds Doebrich. What's more, "omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory," which is ideal due to the fact that "inflammation can be the root cause of many diseases, including autoimmune diseases, degenerative brain disease, allergies, diabetes, heart disease, and more."

fatty fish
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While that might make you eager to consume the beneficial 3.36 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day, Amy Goodrich MS, RD, and owner of Leading Edge Nutrition LLC, noted that "current recommendations are to include fish in your diet twice per week." However, "most Americans don't get that much," which is why it's helpful to know that "you can also find omega-3 fatty acids in other foods such as flaxseed and flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, and beef." Beyond that, "supplementing can help," says Goodrich.

If you'd rather opt for supplements, Doebrich pointed out that the results of the study "also confirm that it's important to consult a health care provider and choose specific combinations of high-quality supplements instead of buying any over-the-counter fish oil."

For some advice on which are the best omega-3 supplements to take, be sure to read The #1 Best Omega-3 Supplement to Take, Says Dietitian. Then, don't forget to sign up for our newsletter for more of the latest health and food news!

Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more