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Is Fish Oil Good For Your Brain

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Major Benefits Of Epa And Dha For Your Health

Why Fish Oil Is Good For You and Helps Your Brain

It has been scientifically demonstrated that your brain needs the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA to function optimally. Though not technically classed as essential, these fatty acids are our bodies need them, and the only sure way to get enough of them is through foods or supplements. Lets take a closer look at these two most important omega-3 fatty acids.

Fish Oil Makes Antidepressants Work Better

Its a disappointing fact that nearly half of the people who try selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants find them of little help.

But you can greatly increase the chances theyll work by increasing your intake of fish.

People who eat fatty fish at least once a week are 3 times more likely to respond to antidepressants than non-fish eaters.

Its believed that SSRI-resistant patients have abnormal fatty acid metabolisms.

Even when fish oil cant take the place of antidepressant medication, its proven to be a useful adjunct to prescription medications.

The Fish That Swims Upstream Provides More Than Just A Tasty Meal

Salmon is one of nature’s best sources of DHA, an essential fatty acid important for brain health.
Andrew P. Han September 11, 2013

Salmon is topping the charts as one of the best foods to eat, but what makes this pink-fleshed marine animal a modern mealtime marvel?

Your brain is fat, really fat. Sixty percent of it is composed of fatty acids, the long snake-like building blocks of fat molecules required for proper brain structure and function. Fatty acids come in many varieties, yet the brain has a clear favorite and salmon is packed with it. More than two-thirds of the brains fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid , an omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in oily fish, although some vegetarian sources exist as well. Metabolically incapable of making DHA on our own, we must obtain it from our diet.

DHA is like a warm winter coat for your neurons, or brain cells, making up a majority of their cell membrane, the cells outer coating. And just like you wouldnt want to leave your house in the winter without putting on a coat, you wouldnt want to starve your brain cells of DHA. This essential fatty acid protects neurons from injury, reduces cerebral inflammation, helps produce neurotransmitters that tell cells what to do and is essential for quick information transfer down the axon, the neurons highway.

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Fish Oil Is A Potent Brain Power Booster

If you havent come across fish oil before, then Ill give you a brief overview of what it is, and how it can benefit your brain.

Fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon and tuna are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are versatile and powerful nutrients that are vital for a healthy functioning mind. One of the main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil is DHA. Research has shown that about 40% of the fatty acids in brain cell membranes are DHA.

In other words, fish oil is packed full of nutrients that your brain needs. When your brain is starved of these nutrients, you may be prone to fatigue, poor memory, mood swings or even depression. Conversely, when you deliver a regular supply of these nutrients to your brain, youre likely to boost your memory and overall mental performance.

Fish oil is a powerful supplement for your mind, and as youll see in a moment, this statement is supported by scientific research.

Brain Development In Children

Fish Oil Fights Bad Effects of Alcohol

Omega-3 fats are essential for both new mothers and their babies.

Postpartum depression affects 15% of all new moms.

When new mothers struggling with postpartum depression were given omega-3 supplements, they showed at least a 50% reduction in symptoms according to two standard depression scales.

Omega-3s are crucial for brain and nervous system development in infants and children.

Getting enough omega-3s during pregnancy has been associated with numerous benefits for the child, including reduced risk of cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder, and ADHD.

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Does Fish Oil Help With Memory

Yes, because the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish support good brain health, these nutrients also support the functions of the brain which, of course, includes thinking and memory.

We have pretty good evidence on fish intake and its role in brain health. From meta-analyses and large cohorts of healthy adults, a higher fish intake is associated with a lower rate of memory decline over time, as well as a lower risk of developing Alzheimers disease, says Dr. Agarwal.

In a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in May 2018 that looked at data from 23,688 people from five pooled cohorts, older adults who consumed four or more servings of fish per week experienced less memory loss over four to nine years of follow-up compared with people who typically consume less than one serving per week. That was the equivalent, researchers say, to having a brain that was four years younger. Another study published in JAMA in February 2016 found that moderate seafood consumption was associated with lower risk of having markers of Alzheimers disease than lower seafood consumption.

Fish, eaten at least one time per week, is an important component of the MIND diet, which has been shown to delay age-related cognitive decline, according to a September 2015 study in Alzheimers & Dementia.

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Side Effects And Other Safety Considerations

Omega-3s are generally safe and well tolerated. Stomach upset and “fishy taste” have been the most common complaints, but they are less frequent now thanks to manufacturing methods that reduce impurities. Past concerns about omega-3s increasing the risk of bleeding have been largely disproven, but caution is still advised in people taking blood thinners or who are about to undergo surgery. As mentioned, caution is needed in people with bipolar disorder to prevent cycling to mania. Because omega-3s are important to brain development, and pregnancy depletes omega-3 in expectant mothers, supplementation should theoretically benefit pregnant women and their children. Fish consumption in pregnancy is supported by the FDA, but because we do not have long-term data on safety or optimal dosing of omega-3s in pregnancy, expectant mothers should consider omega-3 supplements judiciously.

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How To Choose An Omega

If youre thinking that its hard to get the omega-3 fatty acids you need from food alone, youre right.

This is why an estimated 80% of the worlds population has a subpar intake of omega-3s.

Those who do get adequate omega-3 in their diets live in places where they eat a lot of cold-water fish, like Japan and Scandinavia, and populations that have not yet adopted an industrialized diet.

For most of us, supplementation is the answer.

Lets take a look at the most popular sources of omega-3 supplements fish oil, krill oil, flaxseed oil, and algal oil to see how they compare.

How Fish Oil Builds Healthy Brain Cells

3 Shocking Benefits of Fish Oil To The Brain

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are essential for good physical and mental health.

Its no exaggeration to say that the quality of your brain cells depends on the availability of omega-3s.

Omega-3s are an integral structural component of brain cell membranes and nerve cells.

When omega-3 fats arent available, your brain will use whatever fats are available, thereby creating inferior brain cells.

Healthy brain cells are your first line of defense against depression and other mood disorders.

But experts agree that few of us consume the amount of omega-3s we need.

NEED A MENTAL PERFORMANCE LIFT?

Does this sound like you?

Fuzzy thinking, foggy focus, forgetfulness?

Lack of energy and drive?

Struggle to learn and make decisions?

A quality brain supplement can make a big difference.

Dr. Pat | Be Brain Fit

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What Are The Benefits Of Fish Oil For Memory

Eating a diet rich in fish is good for your brain and preserving long-term cognitive function. Whether supplements can deliver the same benefit is much less clear.

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Whered you put those keys again? What did you come in this room for? And remember that thing you needed to, um, remember for work? If only taking something like a fish oil supplement could bust through all your brain snags.

While the research is mixed on fish oil supplements, its clearer that its good for your brain when it comes to consuming fish oil via food . Overall, research shows that fish intake helps with cognitive health and helps prevent a decline in cognitive abilities, says Puja Agarwal, PhD, a nutritional epidemiologist and assistant professor of internal medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. And the good news is that you may be able to reap these benefits with just one serving of fish per week, she says.

Heres why fish is thought to be so good for your brain. Fish oil contains certain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA , notes the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health . You can consume fish oil via eating fresh fish or seafood or by taking a supplement.

When it comes to your cognitive capacity, omega-3s play an important role in brain structure and function, and as such, these nutrients play an important role in defraying cognitive impairments.

Which Foods Nourish The Brain

Brain cells work differently to the other cells in our body. In our bodies, cells continuously die and are replaced, but the cells of our brain are irreplaceable and need a special kind of nourishing. The most important foods for our brain are glucose, vitamins and minerals and polyunsaturated long-chain fatty acids such as omega-3.

Omega-3 fatty acids are involved in many different fundamental brain processes, says Simon Dyall, head of nutrition at Bournemouth University. Talking to Time Magazine he says, both EPA and DHA influence gene expression, oxidative stress, cerebral blood flow, levels of neurotransmitters and other brain-related processes such as the production of new neurons.

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Fish Oil For Postpartum Depression

Women who develop postpartum depression tend to be deficient in omega-3s.

Moms-to-be can use fish oil as a natural alternative to prescription drugs during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding, to prevent postpartum depression.

An excellent side benefit is that the extra DHA, an essential component in breast milk, is also essential for the development of babies brains.

Decrease Cholesterol And Triglycerides

History Of Fish OIl

Triglycerides are part of your cholesterol profile. Higher levels are associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis and heart disease. Studies have found that there is an inverse relationship between omega-3 and triglyceride levels. This means that an increased intake of omega-3 led to a decrease in triglycerides and that higher doses of omega-3 led to a greater effect. This effect was stronger in people who already had raised triglycerides.

One of the ways of decreasing your risk of cardiovascular disease is by lowering your cholesterol. One study found that EPA and DHA decreased triglycerides by about 15% and reduced the risk of coronary artery death and coronary events, which are illnesses of arteries supplying the heart.

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Where To Find The Best Sources Of Omega

The healthiest choices for omega-3 fatty acids include fish that are rich in DHA and EPA, such as barramundi, salmon, trout and sardines with farmed barramundi having the highest ratio of omega-3 to total fat, at 25 percent.

While you can also get DHA and EPA from fish oil supplements , studies have shown that fatty acids from fish are more effectively absorbed into our system than when taken as a supplement.12 One reason for the better absorption may be due to the synergistic effect of various nutrients in fish, rather than just taking the omega-3s alone.

Vegetable oils, flaxseeds, walnuts and dark leafy vegetables are all sources of the ALA type of omega-3s, but our bodies can only turn small quantities of it into EPA and DHA, and therefore it doesnt provide as many omega-3s as fish does.

Recap: Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, sardines and barramundi, are the best and most efficient way to get your omega-3s. Plant sources of omega-3s include vegetable oils, flaxseed, walnuts, and dark leafy vegetables in the form of ALA, but our body isnt efficient at converting these ALA fats into the beneficial DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids.

Read more about omega-3s in our Ask Australis column here

About Taylor Stolt RDN, LD, CLT | Taylor Stolt is a Functional Medicine Dietitian who specializes in gut health, hormones, inflammatory conditions, and detoxification.

8. Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms

How To Read A Fish Oil Label

Its not always clear what to look for when buying fish oil.

Heres a typical fish oil supplement label.

First, youll see that there is 2200 mg of total fish oil and 2000 mg of total omega-3 fatty acids.

And, of that, 1400 mg is EPA and 480 mg is DHA.

FEELING UNFOCUSED?

Dr. Pat | Be Brain Fit

A National Institutes of Health workshop that included a panel of worldwide omega-3 experts determined that you should consume a daily minimum of 220 mg each of DHA and EPA.

According to the label, this supplement exceeds those amounts.

Note that fish oils antidepressant effects will not be immediate.

It can take anywhere from 4 to 12 weeks for the benefits to fully kick in.

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How To Get The Most Benefits From Fish Oil For Tbi

The benefits you can get from fish oil therapy for brain injury will depend on a few factors. One of these factors is your diet.

Thats because there is another type of fatty acid that is found in many of the processed foods that we consume in a western diet. This acid, called omega-6, is a pro-inflammatory, and cancels out most of the benefits of omega-3.

To get the most cognitive benefits from fish oil, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be 1:1. However, scientists estimate that most people in western, developed nations consume a ratio of about 16:1. This drastic imbalance means that most people do not receive many benefits from fish oil supplements.

The vast majority of omega-6 in our diet comes from processed seed and vegetable oils. These include soybean oil and sunflower oil. Therefore, youll want to avoid using those oils when cooking, or eating processed food that contains them.

When you lower your omega-6 consumption, the omega-3 you getfrom fish oil will have a much more noticeable effect.

How Does Fish Oil Affect Depression

Should You Supplement Omega-3 Fish Oil For Brain Performance?

More research is needed to figure out if and how fish oil affects symptoms of depression. People who have major depressive disorder tend to have more inflammation in their bodies than people who don’t have a major depressive disorder. One theory is that fish oil helps by reducing inflammation.

Another theory is that the omega-3 fatty acids can move through the cell membranes in your brain and interact with the molecules in your brain cells that affect your mood. The fatty acids DHA and EPA are the ones that seem to be most effective.

A small study of 22 people who were given either 3 grams of EPA or 1.4 grams of DHA daily for 12 weeks found that they had a significant improvement in their depressive symptoms. Both groups had increased levels of fatty acids in their blood. The EPA group reported a 64 percent reduction in their symptoms, and the DHA group reported a 71 percent reduction in their symptoms. Since this was such a small study, more research is needed in this area.

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How Much Fish Oil Should You Take

The dosage you take will make a difference in how many benefits you see from fish oil therapy for your brain injury.

In general, the more milligrams you take, the better the results. Still, there is a limit. The daily recommended dose is about 500 mg. However, when shopping for fish oil, keep in mind that most brands will mix in other ingredients.

This means that just because the label on a bottle says it has 1200 mg of fish oil inside doesnt mean it contains that many milligrams of omega-3, which is the most crucial part. Instead, read the label to see how many grams of DHA each capsule holds. This will tell you how much omega-3 you will receive in each dose.

Risks Side Effects And Drug Interactions

Omega-3s from supplements usually produce only mild side effects, if any at all, when taken at recommended doses. While they are generally tolerated well, fish oil side effects can include:

  • belching
  • rash
  • nosebleeds

Taking a high-quality supplement may reduce the likelihood of any unwanted side effects. Its also a good idea to take fish oil pills with meals to reduce side effects.

Before taking this product, you should speak with your doctor if you currently take any medication or have any ongoing health concerns. You should also speak to your doctor if you have a known fish or shellfish allergy.

If you have a bleeding disorder, bruise easily or take blood-thinning medications, you should use these supplements with extra caution, since large doses of omega-3 fatty acids can increase bleeding risk. This bleeding risk also applies to people with no history of bleeding disorders or current medication usage.

If you have type 2 diabetes, you should only use supplements under your doctors supervision. Individuals with type 2 diabetes can experience increases in fasting blood sugar levels while taking fish oil supplements.

Avoiding Low-Quality Supplements:

Also, not all fish oils are created equal. Most fish oils are highly processed and can oxidize easily because omega-3 fats are polyunsaturated, have a low heat threshold and can easily go rancid.

Is Fish Oil for Dogs and Pets Safe?

Related: Omega-3 for Dogs: What Are the Benefits of Omega-3 for Dogs?

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