Dietary Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Versus Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation Effects on Cognition and Inflammation

Curr Nutr Rep. 2020 Sep;9(3):264-277. doi: 10.1007/s13668-020-00329-x.


Purpose of review: This review summarises previous literature and recent findings on omega-3 fatty acids in cognition and inflammation in humans, comparing the effects of dietary omega-3 with supplemental omega-3.

Recent findings: Whilst some omega-3 studies, both dietary and supplementation, show positive benefits of omega-3s in cognition, particularly memory function, and supplementation studies show reduction in markers of inflammation, including IL-6 and TNF-α, some studies also show no clear benefits on cognition and inflammation, particularly in healthy populations. Most consistency in beneficial cognition outcomes has been in populations with MCI. Many clinical trials have investigated omega-3 supplements and cognition outcomes in healthy populations across the lifespan; however, omega-3 dietary interventions are limited to studies in children and adolescents. Future studies should compare the effects of dietary omega-3 with omega-3 supplementation before further conclusions can be drawn.

Keywords: Cognition; Fish; Inflammation; Omega-3; Review; Supplementation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3