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Mil Med. 2014 Apr;179(4):396-403. doi: 10.7205/MILMED-D-13-00395.

Effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on neurocognitive functioning and mood in deployed U.S. soldiers: a pilot study.

Author information

Comprehensive Soldier & Family Fitness/Performance, Headquarters Department of the Army, 251 18th Street South, Suite 210, Crystal Park 5, Arlington, VA 22202.
Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center (WRNNMC), 8901 Wisconsin Boulevard, Bethesda, MD 20889.
Natural Science Division, Pepperdine University, 24255 Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90263.
Consortium for Health and Military Performance, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814.
Sanford School of Medicine, University of South Dakota, 1400 W 22nd Street, Sioux Falls, SD 57105.


Omega-3 fatty acids (FAs) may have neuroprotective properties for psychological health and cognition. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of omega-3 FAs (eicosapentaenoic + docosahexaenoic; Harris-Schacky [HS]-Omega-3 Index) on neuropsychological functioning among U.S. Soldiers deployed to Iraq. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial included Soldiers between the ages of 18 and 55 years who were randomly assigned to either the active treatment group (n = 44) or placebo group (n = 34). Active treatment was 2.5 g per day of eicosapentaenoic + docosahexaenoic (Lovaza; GlaxoSmithKline, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina). The placebo was corn oil ethyl esters. HS-Omega-3 Index, a neurocognitive battery (Central Nervous System-Vital Signs, Morrisville, North Carolina), and psychological health scales were assessed at baseline and after 60 days of treatment. Although the results revealed that omega-3 FAs significantly increased the HS-Omega-3 Index (p = 0.001), there were no significant effects on indices psychological health and neurocognitive functioning by treatment group. Nevertheless, there was a significant inverse correlation between the changes in the HS-Omega-3 Index and daytime sleepiness (r = 0.30, p = 0.009). Short-term treatment with 2.5 g of omega-3 FAs did not alter measures of neurocognition or psychological health, but there was evidence of a relationship between omega-3 levels and daytime sleepiness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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