“Where did I leave my keys?” “What was the name of that co-worker I used to know?” “What did I walk into this room for?” We’ve all experienced these scenarios. But most of us really don’t start to worry about our mental function until we begin to get older, when we hear of more and more people who are being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. We don’t want that to be us one day.
One way we can protect our brain is to include omega-3 fatty acids in our eating regimen. These good fats are beneficial for the health of our brain, as well as our whole body.
What are omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are dietary fats with an array of health benefits. They are incorporated in many parts of the body, including cell membranes, and play a role in anti-inflammatory processes and in the viscosity of cell membranes. Your body doesn’t produce omega-3s on its own, so they have to be obtained from your diet. Seafood sources such as fish and fish-oil supplements are the primary contributors of omega-3 fatty acids. (1)
The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.
EPA and DHA are essential for proper fetal development and healthy aging. DHA is a key component of all cell membranes and is found in abundance in the brain and retina. The low intake of dietary EPA and DHA is thought to be associated with increased inflammatory processes as well as poor fetal development, general cardiovascular health, and risk of the development of Alzheimer’s disease. (1)
Omega-3s and Your Brain
The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat. Fatty acids are among the most crucial molecules that determine your brain’s integrity and ability to perform. Clinical observation studies have related an imbalanced dietary intake of fatty acids to impaired brain performance and diseases. (2)
Several studies confirm the benefit of omega-3 supplementation during pregnancy. Of the two most important long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, DHA is the more important for proper cell membrane function and is vital for the development of the fetal brain and retina. During the third trimester, vast amounts of DHA accumulate in fetal tissue. The two most infiltrated fetal areas include the retina and brain, which may correlate with normal eyesight and brain function. A study found that children whose mothers had taken DHA supplementation during pregnancy had significantly better problem-solving skills at 9 months old than those whose mothers had not taken DHA supplementation during pregnancy. (1)
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Higher intake of omega-3s can help slow cognitive decline. Omega-3s have been linked to promising results in cognitive function in those with very mild Alzheimer’s disease. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease have been shown to be deficient in DHA, and supplementing them with EPA and DHA not only reverses this deficiency, but may also improve cognitive functioning in patients with very mild Alzheimer’s disease. (1)
Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids could have neuroprotective properties against dementia, which is becoming a major global public health issue. The existing data favor a role for omega-3 fatty acids in slowing cognitive decline in elderly individuals without dementia. (3)
Depression and Anxiety
Evidence has indicated an association between depression and low dietary intake of omega-3s. A meta-analysis showed significant antidepressant effects of omega-3s. (4)
Some children with ADHD have altered fatty acid metabolism. A research study found that subjects with ADHD had significantly lower concentrations of key fatty acids than did the control subjects. There was lower fatty acid concentration in children with ADHD. (5)
An Extraordinary Example of the Power of Omega-3s to Heal Your Brain
You may recall the tragic coal mine explosion many years ago back in 2006. Randall McCloy Jr. was the only surviving miner of the West Virginia Sago Mine explosion. He endured more than 40 hours trapped underground in a collapsed mine exposed to carbon monoxide before being rescued.
When rescued from the mine, he had brain failure, heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure. He was transferred to a brain trauma center. His doctor called upon Dr. Barry Sears, one of the leading authorities in high-dose fish oil in the United States, to help treat his brain damage.
Dr. Sears administered 30 grams per day of the fish oil concentrate that provided 18 grams of EPA and DHA via tube feeding. The oil was an integral daily part of Randall McCloy’s treatment for several months.
The EPA was needed to reduce the inflammation caused by the lack of oxygen within the organs, and the DHA was required to rebuild the brain, according to Dr. Sears. The damage to his heart, kidneys, and liver was reversed. This is an amazing testimonial to the healing and restorative power of omega-3s on the brain.
Foods that Contain Omega-3s
- Fish (mackerel, salmon, herring, albacore tuna)
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds)
- Plant oils (flaxseed oil, soybean oil, canola oil)
- Egg yolks
If you’re not a fan of seafood, then you can always take a high-quality fish oil supplement. Hotze Vitamin’s Omega Complete Fish Oil is a highly purified, concentrated fish oil supplement. It supports the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response. It is molecularly distilled for highest concentration and purity.
Flax Oil is also a rich source of essential fatty acids, as well as fiber. It is a great alternative for vegans or anyone who does not consume fish.
Omega-3s are crucial for proper brain development and optimal brain function. Whether you are an expecting mom or just wanting to keep your brain sharp, it is highly beneficial to add omega-3s to your eating regimen.
Are you ready to kick-start your path to health and wellness?
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life
2. Essential Fatty Acids and Human Brain
3. Fish Consumption, Long-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Risk of Cognitive Decline or Alzheimer Disease: A Complex Association
4. A Meta-Analytic Review of Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trials of Antidepressant Efficacy of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
5. Essential Fatty Acid Metabolism in Boys with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder