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Omega-3 combined with exercise on cognitive function in older adults – Omega-3 and exercise on cognition


Human Kinetics, Okanagan College, V2A 8E1, Penticton, British Columbia, Canada


Prevalence of dementia is increasing and is a world health organization public health priority.
Effective treatment(s) are required to prevent or slow the rate of decline. There is increasing support for exercise as a potential treatment to slow the rate of decline in normal aging, mild cognitive impairment, and in people with dementia. Randomized controlled trials examining Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation have shown inconclusive findings; however, these differences may simply be associated with dosage. Research using > 2 grams per day has consistently shown positive effects on cognition in both healthy older adults and those with mild cognitive impairment. Recent work in rats has shown that combining exercise and omega-3 fatty acids may provide greater effects than either intervention alone; future research in humans is needed to corroborate such findings.

Thirty six million individuals lived with dementia worldwide in 2010, with numbers projected to increase to 65.7 million in 2030 and to 115.4 million in 2050 (1). This has led to the World Health Organization (2) to declare dementia as a public health priority, not only citing the high global prevalence but the economic impact on families, communities, and health service providers. As such, effective treatment and prevention strategies are of major economic and medical concern (3, 4). Unfortunately, pharmaceuticals have had little success in preventing or treating age-related cognitive decline such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or even normal cognitive aging (4, 5).  Despite these negative findings, there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that exercise is beneficial at all stages of life (5) including in those diagnosed with AD (4). In addition, best practice guidelines recommend the exploration of behavioural and psychological interventions prior to initiating pharmacological interventions not only due to the limited benefit of pharmacological treatments in reducing cognitive decline but also thei ...

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