It has long been known that omega-3 fatty acids are good for the brain and mental performance. But did you know that getting enough omega-3s is just as important for your well-being and mood?
In this article, you’ll learn everything that’s important about the function and mode of action of this essential fatty acid and discover how you can best use it to support your mind.
List of Omega 3 Brain Benefits:
Your brain is primarily composed of fats. On average, fat makes up 60 to 70% of the total mass. This shows how important it is to provide the brain with the right fatty acids, which it needs on a daily basis.
Omega 3 is a significant part of the composition of the 100 billion neurons in the brain. Of all the structural fats that make up these neurons, 30% are made up of DHA. Therefore, omega-3 fatty acid is an essential element for the proper functioning of the brain.
Few nutrients have been as well studied as omega-3 fatty acids. These are so-called ‘essential’ polyunsaturated fatty acids, which you must supply to your body since they cannot produce them themselves.
1 – Benefits Linked To The Different Fatty Acids Contained In Omega-3.
Substances Contained In Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids contain several substances:
- ALA or Alpha-Linolenic Acid
- EPA or Eicosapentaenoic Acid
- DHA or Docosahexaenoic Acid.
The main sources of ALA are plants, while DHA and EPA are supplied to the body by fatty fish oils. It is important to know that our body is able to convert alpha-linolenic acid into DHA, but the conversion rate is too low to meet our daily needs.
This is why we need to absorb eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid by consuming fish oil. DHA and EPA have a major role in the body and contribute to healthy metabolism and cardiovascular system.
These fatty acids are also important to stimulate or maintain brain performance. Indeed, when omega-3 fatty acids are lacking and you are deficient, the speed of communication between brain cells is impacted. DHA and EPA would help to age better and to keep one’s mental capacities longer.
Among the main beneficial effects of omega 3, we must remember:
- An Antioxidant Effect.
- Increase in the level of good cholesterol (HDL).
- Normalization of blood circulation.
- Various Anti-Aging Effects.
What Should I Look Out For When Buying Omega-3 Capsules?
When choosing food supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, it is particularly important that the concentration of DHA and EPA is sufficiently high. A high concentration of omega-3 promotes metabolism and can also have positive effects on the heart, circulation, and brain performance (see above).
For this effect to develop in practice, very pure fish or seaweed oil in bottles or capsules must be taken.
It is particularly important that the omega-3 fatty acids obtained from fish oil are of good quality. Impurities and pollutants (e.g. heavy metals) cannot be excluded in the case of low-quality products.
When purchasing this type of dietary supplement, make sure that the product is of good quality and that it actually contains omega-3 fatty acids. Antarctic krill is a known source of high-quality omega-3, as it is generally from sustainable sources.
2 – Omega-3: Factors Of Mental Well-Being And Good Mood.
Omega-3 Contributes To The Production Of Serotonin.
One of the best proofs that omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial to the brain is that their consumption promotes a good mood and optimism. This is one of the things that fascinates researchers the most.
In a study by the Oakland Research Institute, researchers discovered that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for psychological well-being. They regulate the production of the happiness hormone, serotonin, in conjunction with vitamin D3.
Serotonin is a messenger substance that controls many brain functions. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to sufficient serotonin production. Many people today suffer from a deficiency of this hormone and tests often show very low levels of DHA.
The more omega-3s your brain has, the more serotonin it can produce. A study from the University of Catania in Italy examined the link between mental illnesses such as depression and ADHD and a lack of omega-3. An improvement in symptoms was found in subjects treated with omega-3 supplements.
In other words, omega-3 acids are necessary not only for good mood regulation, but also to prevent concentration disorders.
Omega-3 Against Depression.
Numerous scientific studies show that omega-3s are effective in patients suffering from depression. Researchers have demonstrated a clear correlation between high consumption of fish and a decrease in anxiety.
A randomized, double-blind study of patients diagnosed with depression showed that fish oil significantly supports the effect of the antidepressant citalopram after four weeks of regular ingestion.
But taking fish oil alone can also help fight depression without the use of antidepressants, as shown in another study, which involved patients considered resistant to conventional therapies. In other words, the study participants did not respond to treatment with psychotropic medications.
In the study, the subjects were given 3 grams of omega-3 per day (about 1.5 tablespoons of fish oil / 1.5 tablespoons of seaweed oil), which normalized their depression within four weeks.
3 – Omega-3 Improves Brain Performance.
Better Connection Of Neuronal Cells Thanks To Docosahexaenoic Acid.
Docosahexaenoic acid, which makes up omega-3s, contributes to a better connection of neurons. This was shown in a study that looked at two groups of monkeys. One group consumed a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, the other not at all.
Brain connectivity was significantly improved in the treatment group compared to the control group, according to the researchers, who believe that the results are extrapolated to humans. It appears that omega-3 intake plays a major role in brain development.
The study still needs to be continued. During its second phase, a new experimental setup will be implemented. It is planned to analyze a DHA deficiency more closely.
Scientists want to know whether negative changes in the brain are detectable in animals with a low intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which could help explain mental or neurological disorders in humans.
Omega-3 From Fish Oil Improves Cognitive Abilities.
A 6-month study showed that 2.2 g of omega-3 from fish oil capsules improved brain function. Subjects performed better on standardized tests of cognition and attention compared to the placebo group (sunflower oil instead of fish oil).
It is said that the origin of all life is in the oceans. Even today, our brains seem to be largely dependent on resources from the sea, such as DHA and EPA. It is mainly the wild fish of the cold seas, as well as their food source, such as krill and microalgae that can provide us with the precious omega-3 fatty acids.
Fish Oil Contributes To Brain Plasticity.
Thanks to fish oil, it seems that the brain can continue to develop throughout life. One study showed that the gray matter of the brain increased with the increased consumption of omega-3. In addition to gray matter, white matter and vascular volume also changed positively in the group that added fish oil to their normal diet.
Nevertheless, weekly fish consumption does not appear to be sufficient. In the above study, participants in both the control and omega-3 supplementation groups consumed fish regularly.
Nevertheless, the omega-3 level improved exclusively in the group supplemented with capsules or oil, whereas the control group showed a decreasing omega-3 level. This trend is likely due to the omega-6 sunflower oil used in the placebo they were given.
Omega-3 supplementation seems to make sense even when fish is eaten regularly. In fact, the intake of omega-3 through the diet seems insufficient. We know today the ecological problems linked to over-intensive fishing.
It is important to add that experts recommend not to abuse fish in the diet, because of the pollution of the flesh by heavy metals. These metals are harmful to the brain so the desired effect cannot be achieved by this method.
In contrast, fish oil capsules, which are rich in omega 3, are carefully filtered. The pollutants are thus eliminated and consume a healthy product.
It seems that it would be necessary to consume daily more than 2 grams of omega-3 for a beneficial effect on the brain to be observable, that is to say, 1 tablespoon or 4 capsules of very concentrated fish oil. To cover the same amount through fish consumption, one would have to eat at least one large portion of fatty fish per day.
4 – Are Fatty Acids Good Against Alzheimer’s Disease?
Alzheimer’s disease is a frightening disease, and many of us want to maintain our mental capacities as long as possible. While life expectancy is increasing, largely due to medical advances, the prospect of living with Alzheimer’s disease is tempering this success.
This is why fighting this pathology is a real challenge for society. Would omega-3 fatty acids be of great help here again? It would seem so, even if we cannot yet state this with certainty.
Researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) have demonstrated that DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) stimulates the production of an anti-Alzheimer protein.
The work was conducted by researcher Greg Cole. He observed that the consumption of fish oil, even in low doses, stimulates the production of the protective protein LR11, which is a major asset for people who produce little LR11, generally for genetic reasons.
5 – Complementary And Diversified Sources Of Omega-3.
The good news for all those who wish to take advantage of the benefits of omega 3 for the brain is that it is possible to supplement in different ways. We’ve seen that it’s difficult through diet, especially because you would have to consume large amounts of oily fish.
This is not possible nowadays, because of the scarcity of fish on the one hand, and on the other hand because the flesh is often polluted by heavy metals. Moreover, how can vegetarians and vegans get enough omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids?
Don’t hesitate to consult recipes to increase your omega-3 fatty acid levels.
Laboratories have studied the question in order to provide solutions adapted to everyone.
Omega-3 Oil Capsules.
The oily capsules generally come from fatty fish from the cold seas.
Dosages can vary, depending on your needs, and you can choose highly dosed capsules. They are also available with a krill oil base.
Finally, there are vegetable oil capsules for those who do not eat fish.
Omega-3 Rich Bottled Oil.
For those who prefer to consume omega-3 oil by the spoonful, you can opt for cod liver oil or wild fish oils from the cold seas. The specialist is the Norwegian Norsan.
You will have understood that omega-3 is a simple and effective way to take care of your brain, your mental performance and to stimulate a good mood. You can combine food intake and supplementation with oil capsules.
Today, there is no problem for vegetarians and vegans, since manufacturers offer algae oils rich in EPA and DHA.
Did you enjoy our list of omega-3 benefits? Do you consume them? Don’t hesitate to tell us about your experiences with this product!