There have been a lot of hype around fish oil lately... in this guide we will explain what Omega 3 Fatty Acids are and how you can benefit form them.
Omega 3 fatty acids accumulate in the brain during fetal development. High amounts of DHA have been closely tied to intelligence and improved cognitive performance in childhood. Omega 3 is also associated with brain maturation and cognitive function especially in the area of attention. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency in childhood or infancy may contribute to ADHD, anxiety, aggression and a number of other mental conditions.
The importance of omega 3 fatty acids is now researched more than ever. However, not many people get enough omega 3 fatty acids in their diet. Fish oil supplements have been identified as one of the best ways to get rid of omega 3 deficiency and improve brain function.
An interesting thing to note here is that humans have the highest levels of omega 3 fatty acids in their brains. These long chain polyunsaturated fats are believed to play a crucial role in the formation and maintenance of neurons as well as other cells of the body.
Studies show that omega 3 deficiency can lead to increased mental health problems and even a higher risk of suicide.
There is research to backup that fish oils can be good for your brain health as well. People have been taking fish oil supplements to improve heart health and it is time, you start taking fish oil supplements to boost brain function and enhance your memory and thinking skills.
A study was conducted at Rhode Island Hospital’s center for Alzheimer’s disease and memory disorders. Researchers studied 819 subjects of whom 117 were taking fish oil supplements. Both men and women included in the study were part of an ongoing Alzheimer’s disease study at multiple medical centers.
At the start of the study period, all participants were given a memory test and their brains were scanned. This memory test was repeated periodically over the next three years. Researchers concluded that people who were healthy at the start of the study and were taking fish oil supplements had better memory and thinking skills than those who were not taking fish oils.
In addition, people who used fish oil supplements had ‘larger’ brains – the two brain structures responsible for memory and thinking, i.e. the cerebral cortex and the hippocampus were bigger in people who were taking fish oil supplements.
Experts suggest that larger brains and larger cerebral cortex and hippocampus in particular are signs of better brain health and cognitive function.
On the other hand, several studies show that wild ‘oily’ fish particularly salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerels that are high in omega 3 fatty acids can lower the risk of Alzheimer’s diseases as well as other forms of dementia.
Survey of seniors who eat a traditional Mediterranean diet rich in oily fish shows that omega-3 enriched diet has brain protective effects. Eating oily fish can also help ease other mental health disorders such as depression.
The technical explanation is this. Your brain is mostly fat i.e. it is composed of fatty acids. These small blocks of fatty acids come in different varieties but your brain has a clear favorite. More than 75% of your brain’s fatty acids are DHA molecules or docosahexaenoic acid.
DHA is one of the mostly commonly found omega 3 fatty acid in oily fish. Because your brain cannot make DHA on its own, you must supply it from your diet. Studies show that DHA acts like a protective jacket for your brain cells or neurons. Just as you do not leave your smartphones without protection, you definitely would not want your neurons to be damaged.
Omega 3 fatty acids are also believed to lower triglycerides and lower your risk of stroke and other heart conditions. Athletes use fish oil supplements to prevent joint inflammation that causes a lot of stress on the body especially during high-intensity sports such as running, weightlifting and gymnastics.
Omega 3 fatty acids protect neurons from injury and reduce inflammation. They also produce chemical messengers or neurotransmitters that tell your brain what to do. Some studies show that fish oil action on several areas of the brain is comparable to antidepressants. In addition, fish oil has been linked to enhanced memory function in animals as well as a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms.
When you are young, you do not really worry about protecting your brain cells. However, it is always better to be safe. Make sure you obtain enough omega 3 fatty acids particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) from your diet – two molecules that are known to control inflammation in the brain and body.
Just because you may be excited about eating oily fish, there is no need to go overboard. Ideally, you should eat oily fish two times a week and each serving should be about 3.5 ounce or ¾ cup of flaked fish.
Salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring and lake trout contain the highest amount of omega 3 fatty acids and therefore can help you the most.
If you cannot consume two servings or oily fish – well it’s perfectly fine if you don’t like the taste, you can still add omega 3 fatty acids into your diet with convenient high quality fish oil pills. These supplements can help you reap all the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids and you can improve your brain performance and function.
Of course, it’s not always possible to eat adequate quantities of oily fish. In addition, this is exactly where fish oil supplementation provides a great alternative. Before you buy a product, make sure you read the back of the bottle and look out for the total amount of DHA and EPA it contains per serving. Remember, the greater the percentage of EPA and DHA, the greater brain health benefits you will see.