Fish oil may not protect against dementia
For some time people have taken fish oil supplements as a way of preserving their cognitive abilities but a new study suggests that they may be wasting their time.
It was thought that supplements rich in omega 3 helped to fend off the threat of dementia.
However, research conducted by the Cochrane Review team and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal found that they offer no greater protection than a placebo.
They discovered this by conducting tests on more than 3,500 people over a period of three years.
Dr Alan Dangour, a nutritionist from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "From these studies, there doesn't appear to be any benefit for cognitive health for older people of taking omega-3 supplements.
"So the evidence at the moment is very disappointing. But there's still an open question - if we conducted a longer study, what would that show?
"Fish is an important part of a healthy diet and we would still support the recommendation to eat two portions a week, including one portion of oily fish."
Some health experts, though, have poured scorn on the findings of this study, saying that tests were not conducted over a long enough period.
They believe that the benefits of fish oil supplements may take much longer than that to develop and further studies will need to be conducted in order to provide a more conclusive verdict.
They also pointed out that eating plenty of oily fish such as sardines, salmon and mackerel has other health benefits as it has been found to help lower the chances of someone suffering from heart disease.
Dr Marie Janson of Alzheimer's Research UK added: "We know that what is good for the heart can be good for the head so maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising and keeping our blood pressure in check are all ways that we could reduce our risk of cognitive decline and dementia later in life."