Researchers have found that, rather than take single doses of these three, combining them may be the key to halting memory, language and cognitive function decline.
In a three year study, forty-one participants aged 65+ were given daily capsules providing the following:
- 1,182 milligrams purified fish oils containing 290 milligrams of EPA and 203 milligrams of DHA
- 84 milligrams lycopene from tomato and
- 240 milligrams Ginkgo biloba
The control group consisted of 622 participants with no supplement intake or serious diseases. Tests of cognitive function, including attention, memory, language and reasoning skills, were administered at the beginning and end of the study.
Although memory scores improved in both groups, the increase was larger in those who received the supplements compared to the controls. Language ability and attention declined in those who did not receive the supplements, while remaining stable in supplemented participants. When test scores were evaluated as a whole, a significant improvement occurred only in supplemented subjects.
Mechanisms for EPA and DHA in maintaining cognitive function are well known, and include the fatty acids’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. However, although omega-3 fatty acids have an antioxidant effect, they are also subject to lipid peroxidation, therefore, combining them with compounds that have antioxidant properties such as lycopene could improve their benefits.
The authors said:
“When just one of these agents or nutrients is used by an elderly person, its effect on cognitive function is not enough to prevent aging decline, at least not with the usual dosage in human trial studies. (Ed’s note: usually because they use far to little of them and poor quality forms.)
“When these agents or nutrients are used in combination, they may cover the vulnerability of other agents and synergistically potentiate their respective antioxidant properties, which might then be effective for the improvement of cognitive function.”
In other words, something about the combination of anti-inflammatories and anti-oxidants works synergistically to bring about more benefit than the use of any of them singly. I find this bears out in practice where, often, you need to combine stuff to get the effect you want, so that’s always my answer when someone says ‘can I just take one thing?’. Most often, sadly not if you want it to work!
Source: Life Extension Foundation enews August 12