It might be a tough pill to swallow, but it's well worth it. While you may avoid fish oil supplements, fearing the fishy aftertaste or the off-putting smell, the results of a new study might just have you reaching for your pill box.
They're often touted for their heart-health benefits, but now researchers are saying that they might be just as good for your mind. Rhode Island Hospital led a study of over 800 older adults to study the effects of fish oil on age-related cognitive decline in the brain. After performing MRI scans on the subjects at six month intervals, the researchers found that people without any cognitive decline, who supplemented with the pills, had a considerably lower rate of developing brain impairments and even atrophy. The same result, however, wasn't seen in participants who already had mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer's.
"Serial brain imaging conducted during this study showed that the participants with normal cognition who reported taking fish oil supplements demonstrated less brain shrinkage in key neurological areas," researcher Lori Daiello said in a statement.
While the results may seem promising, some experts point out that not all studies can prove causation. Other studies have similarly shown that fish oil doesn't seem to have much of an effect on people who already suffer from Alzheimer's. But some research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil can lower the beta-amyloid proteins that are linked to the disease, which, like the Rhode Island study says, could prove beneficial in lowering the risk of people without it.