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Fish for Thought: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Your Brain

While most of us know to grab a helmet before hitting the ski-slopes, or the importance of keeping the mind sharp by challenging the brain, our Western diet generally lacks the necessary omega-3 intake for optimal brain function. In fact, an estimated 70% of the population is deficient in this essential fatty acid.

The Research

Known primarily for its cardiovascular benefits, new research has brought to light the incredible benefits of omega-3s for your brain. Thanks to these ground-breaking studies, we now know that omega-3 lipids make up approximately 8% of the brain’s weight, and exert profound effects on your brain’s size, structure, and function. In particular, studies have shown remarkable improvements in participant cognition and memory, mental health, and Alzheimer’s prevention.

Proven cognitive benefits of omega-3 supplementation include:

  • ADHD
  • anxiety
  • aggression
  • bipolar disorder
  • cognition in the elderly
  • decreased risk of dementia
  • depression
  • memory
  • mood and well-being
  • reaction time
  • stress
  • stroke (preventative & therapeutic)

It is also worth noting that omega-3 fatty acids lower your risk of major chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

The ideal dosage ranges from 1,000-3,000 mg of EPA and 1,000-1,500 mg of DHA daily for optimal results.

A Word on Supplements

While omega-3s are present in some foods, fish offers the highest source by far. The vast majority of people simply do not consume enough of these fatty acids in their diet. Often, the best and perhaps easiest alternative is a good quality supplement. It is important to remember that not all supplements are created equal. Many fish oils are contaminated, oxidized, or made with poor-quality ingredients, and have the potential to cause health problems instead of solving them.

Our Recommendation

We highly recommend taking an all-natural fish oil that has been tested to be free of contaminants by a third-party lab. At our clinic, we supply our patients with the OmegaGenics EPA-DHA line, which is also gluten-free, sourced from cold-water fish, and stabilized with antioxidants.

Dr. Norman Hoffman is committed to finding natural alternatives for your health and well-being, addressing the root cause of your symptoms, rather than masking them. Call 1.403.346.2297 if you have any questions, or to book an appointment.

References

Connor, W. E. (2000). Importance of n− 3 fatty acids in health and disease. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 71(1), 171S-175S.

DGAC Meeting Summary, January 28-29, 2004. (n.d.). Retrieved June 15, 2016, from http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2005/minutes01_2829_2004.htm

Haag, M. (2003). Essential fatty acids and the brain. Canadian journal of psychiatry. Revue canadienne de psychiatrie, 48(3), 195-203

McNamara RK. Evaluation of docosahexaenoic acid deficiency as a preventable risk factor for recurrent affective disorders: current status, future directions, and dietary recommendations. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2009 Aug-Sep;81(2-3):223-31.

O’Brien JS, Sampson EL. Lipid composition of the normal human brain: gray matter, white matter, and myelin. J Lipid Res. 1965 Oct;6(4):537-44

Parker, G., Gibson, N. A., Brotchie, H., Heruc, G., Rees, A. M., Hadzi-Pavlovic, D., & Psychol, M. (2006). Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry.

Simopoulos, A. P. (2008). The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Experimental biology and medicine, 233(6), 674-688.

Solfrizzi V, Panza F, Torres F, et al. High monounsaturated fatty acids intake protects against age-related cognitive decline. Neurology 1999;52:1563-9.

 

 

 

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