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

Michael N. Dretsch, Daniel Johnston, Ryan S. Bradley, Holden MacRae, Patricia A. Deuster, William Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-403
Number of pages8
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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