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Omega-3 fatty acid DHA improves memory and reaction times

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is one of the most important polyunsaturated fatty acids in the omega-3 class. Our body naturally produces small amounts of DHA and this conversion to DHA depends on the nutrients from the food we eat for this vital fatty acid. One of the best sources is oily saltwater fish. DHA is one of the essential fats incorporated in the brain cell membranes, where it increases the permeability of the membrane and boosts the excitation conduction and transfer of signals. Deficiencies, which it is thought are widespread among the population, will have irrevocable repercussions on mental functioning, which was also demonstrated by new research at the Massey University in New Zealand. 

Scientists investigated whether a DHA supplement boosts brain function in healthy young adults with a low DHA status. One hundred and seventy-six people aged from 18 to 45 years were monitored in a randomised placebo-controlled double-blind study, which lasted for six months. Half of the participants consumed 1.16 grams of DHA each day and the other half were given a placebo. Cognitive performance was measured at various times throughout the study, which included episodic memory and working memory, attention, reaction time and processing speed. The episodic memory is the memory in which events are stored for a protracted period of time, and is part of the long-term memory.

The key is to increase our consumption of this vital fatty acid by eating oily fish, up to 3 times a week (avoid tuna if pregnant). Choose smaller fish to avoid the contamination of mercury. Good choices are salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and trout.