Could Blueberries and Fish Oil Help Improve Memory Function?

UC Health News

Research in recent years suggests that certain foods can give our brain a boost—dark berries, like grapes and blueberries, and cold water fish like salmon, just to name a few. With studies showing cognitive benefit from a diet rich in these foods, researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) set out to investigate whether steady long-term supplementation of blueberries and fish oil, either alone or combined, would show improvements in older adults with complaints of mild neurological deficits, like forgetfulness. The answer they got, surprisingly, was yes and no. Separately, participants in the fish oil study group and in the blueberry consumption group both showed fewer cognitive symptoms with objective memory improvement for those in the blueberry group; however, those in the group taking both blueberry and fish oil supplements showed no objective or subjective cognitive enhancement. These results are published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging (April 2018).”We wondered whether combining fish oil and blueberry supplementation might produce enhanced benefit as opposed to either supplement alone. Our findings, showing an absence of benefit, were surprising, particularly in the context of our findings of benefit with the individual treatments. Perhaps it’s possible that long-term daily supplement of both on an otherwise restricted diet may have been ineffective through sustained rather than intermittent activation of shared antioxidant mechanisms,” says Robert Krikorian, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the UC College of Medicine and corresponding author on the study.However, the individual groups taking either blueberry or fish oil did report a reduction in cognitive difficulties in everyday life. “People receiving the fish oil supplement reported fewer of those (cognitive symptoms) at the end of the study vs. beginning of the study. The same was true for those taking blueberries. They reported a reduction relative to the placebo, and in addition, there was a finding of improved memory …

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