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Recent omega-3 (EPA & DHA) research
Omega-3s may improve child behavior
Good nutrition may help improve bad behavior. In this study, 196 typically developing 13 to 16-year-olds took a placebo or a vitamin-mineral-omega-3 supplement for 12 weeks. Doctors measured changes in levels of omega-3, omega-6, and in some vitamins and minerals. All participants were low in omega-3s at the start of the study, but levels improved significantly in those taking omega-3s. Overall, the basic quality of behavior in this student body was good, and school discipline records did not change significantly. But doctors asked teachers to rate changes in student behavior. According to teacher reports, over the 12 weeks, those taking omega-3s had improved behavior while behavior in the placebo group deteriorated. Doctors are calling for a larger study to confirm a link between nutrition and behavior.
Reference: British Journal of Nutrition; 2016, Vol. 115, No. 2, 361-73.



Fish oil may improve school performance
There is a study going on now that is testing omega-3 krill oil in adolescent students. In a related trial, doctors took blood samples from 266 of the participants in the krill oil study to measure omega-3 EPA/DHA levels and test cognitive performance. Overall, omega-3 levels were less than half the recommended range. Doctors had expected this because 14 percent consumed no fish, and 77 percent only rarely. Those with higher omega-3 levels performed better on two of the nine cognitive measures, including a number-symbol test, where students must quickly associate an unfamiliar symbol with the correct number; and an attention test, where the higher-omega-3 group had more accurate memory, indicating less impulsiveness. Doctors said fish oil supplements may be an inexpensive way to improve school performance.
Reference: Nutrients; 2016, Jan; 8(1):13.



Omega-3s may delay ovarian aging
Each woman is born with a number of eggs in the ovaries, which declines by about 75 percent by puberty. Keeping the remaining eggs from maturing too soon is key to a healthy reproductive life. Doctors wanted to see if omega-3s could help regulate follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), a compound that plays a role in maturing eggs. When FSH levels are too high for a woman’s life stage, it can mean low ovarian egg reserves. In this study, 15 obese and 12 healthy weight women, aged 28 to 34, took 4,000 mg of EPA/DHA per day. After one month, FSH levels had declined in the healthy-weight women with normal ovarian reserves. In obese women, omega-3s did not have an effect on FSH levels, but signs of inflammation had decreased. Doctors said omega-3s may delay ovarian aging and may be useful in women with low ovarian egg reserves.
Reference: Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism; 2016, Vol. 101, No. 1, 324-33.



Omega-3s maintain healthy triglyceride and cholesterol levels
New research suggests measuring omega-3 levels may help doctors detect early signs of, and prevent, heart disease in older adults. In this study, doctors measured lipids and EPA/DHA omega-3 levels in 276 adults, aged 65 to 95. Women had higher omega-3 levels than men, and doctors found a direct link: as omega-3 levels increased, triglyceride levels decreased, and women with the lowest omega-3 levels were more likely to have high triglycerides. Also, as omega-3s rose, HDL, the “good” cholesterol, increased as a percentage of total cholesterol. In both men and women, greater omega- 3 levels meant better HDL/total cholesterol ratios.
Reference: Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry; 2016, Vol. 27, 233-40.


Omega-3s ease computer vision syndrome
As people spend more time in front of computer screens, mobile phones, tablets and TVs, symptoms of dry eye are increasing so much that the condition has a name: computer vision syndrome. In this study, 478 people with dry eye symptoms who had been using computers more than three hours per day for at least a year took 180 mg of EPA plus 120 mg of DHA per day, or a placebo. This is the amount of omega-3s found in a regular-strength 1,000 mg fish oil softgel. After three months, 15 percent of those in the placebo group were symptom free compared to 70 percent of those who took omega-3s. Doctors used the universal standard test for dry eyes—called the tear break-up time test—and found tears took eight times longer to deteriorate for the omega-3 group compared to placebo. This is the first study to evaluate taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement to treat dry-eye computer vision syndrome.
Reference: Contact Lens & Anterior Eye; 2015. Vol. 38, No. 3, 206-10.