Fish Oil Memory Study Was a Scam

A recent study headlined in our medically-illiterate media proclaimed that fish oil was ineffective for improving memory. The study was published in the prestigious JAMA[1]. You will be surprised to find that the data used for the study was not actually from one focusing on memory. Rather it was data taken from research on people with the eye disease macular degeneration.

In the study people were given omega-3 fatty acids, lutein and zeaxanthin, or combinations of other vitamins and minerals to treat their age related macular degeneration. The JAMA study took data from this study to examine the effects on memory. This is known as secondary outcomes and is a methodology that is not reliable in terms of scientific studies.

The major problem with this study is that the dose of the memory boosting omega 3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) was much too low to provide a therapeutic effect. The dose used was 350 mg daily when a typical therapeutic dose would be 1000 mg.

Perhaps the authors were unaware that the dose used in the study was a third of what is normally given to treat memory problems. Then again, they may not have cared. I find as the research shows that omega 3 fatty acids such as DHA are very helpful in improving cognitive function and memory.

There are a number of supplements that we prescribe at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine to help improve memory. Some examples include citicoline, prevagen, and vinpoectine. This is of course in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise.

Other issues we look at include toxic metal accumulation such as lead and mercury, nutrient deficiencies such as omega fatty acids, B12, B1, and vitamin D, and hormone balance. Testing can help identify the root problems of memory problems.



[1] Chew EY, Clemons TE, Agrón E, et al. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids, lutein/zeaxanthin, or other nutrient supplementation on cognitive function: the AREDS2 randomized clinical trial. JAMA, 2015;314(8):791-801