Young adults may improve their memory if they increase their consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, a new study indicates.
Omega-3 fatty acids are most commonly found in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Supplements are also available over the counter in pharmacies.
Studies into the effects of omega-3 on cognitive functioning have been ongoing for some time, however this is the first study of its kind to show that young adults can improve their working memory.
"Before seeing this data, we would have said it was impossible to move young healthy individuals above their cognitive best, but we found that members of this population can enhance their working memory performance even further, despite their already being at the top of their cognitive game," the US researchers said.
The study involved healthy men and women aged between 18 and 25, who took daily omega-3 supplements over a six-month period. Before taking the supplements, they underwent medical tests, such as blood tests, and a memory test. They were monitored throughout the six months and then at the end, underwent the same medical and memory tests.
The findings showed that the working memories of this young population had improved significantly.
"So many previous studies have been done with the elderly or people with medical conditions, leaving this unique population of young adults unaddressed. But what about our highest-functioning periods? Can we help the brain achieve its full potential by adapting our healthy behaviors in our young adult life? We found that we absolutely can," the team from the University of Pittsburgh said.
However the study was unable to determine how exactly omega-3 enhanced memory.
Details of these findings are published in the journal, PLOS One.