Omega-3 Fat May Boost Teens’ Attention
A type of omega-3 fatty acid called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) could help improve attention in healthy teenagers. That’s the conclusion of a recent study by researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health in Spain. Previous research has shown that omega-3 fats are essential for proper brain development and function. DHA is the most abundant omega-3 fat in the brain, especially the prefrontal area, which is associated with attention.
To learn more, the researchers assigned 332 adolescent students to take computerized tests that helped measure aptitude for various mental functions, including their capacity for attention and their impulsivity. The teens also answered questions about their diet and underwent blood tests to measure their levels of DHA and another omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (AHA). After analyzing the data, the investigators found that teenagers who had higher blood levels of DHA were more likely to have greater attention than their peers with lower levels. Although ALA wasn’t associated with attention, higher levels were linked to lower impulsivity.
“Our study indicates that dietary DHA most likely plays a role in attention-requiring tasks, but further studies are needed to confirm a cause-effect, as well as to understand the role of ALA,” say the researchers. The study was published in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.
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