Although studies have shown the benefits of omega-3 and fish oils on the brain, some are still skeptical. Do omega-3 and fish oils really beneficial for brain health? But, first…
Is Omega-3 and Fish Oil The Same?
You might have heard that some people are interchangeably using Omega-3 and Fish oils. Although the first impression they appear both the same and in fact, to some extent they are similar.
But here’s the thing, fish oil is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids. In other words, fish oil is obviously an oil while Omega-3 is a fatty acid. In terms of structure and components, they are different.
Who Should Be Taking Omega-3
When it comes to consumption, as early as the mom’s diet should include omega-3 fats. Here’s why?
In the U.S. alone, omega-3 supplements are very popular. As a matter of fact, approximately 19 million or roughly 18% of adult Americans are taking some kind of omega-3 supplements.
Omega-3 fatty acids are involved in many different fundamental brain processes.
Omega-3 For Brain Health
Although omega-3 fatty acid is mostly linked with heart health, it also offers significant benefits for brain health. DHA, in particular, is an essential building block for cell membranes of the brain.
It has a positive influence on cerebral blood flow, production of neurotransmitters, oxidative stress, gene expression, etc. However, while there are lots of evidence linking omega-3’s favorable effects to the brain, dietary intakes and supplements are somewhat inconclusive.
However, one study finds that omega-3 from fish oils are helpful in boosting the effectiveness of antidepressants. On the other hand, the findings are promising. In another study1, researcher Aaron Barbey says that high levels of omega-3 in the blood causes improvement in cognitive function.
Moreover, high omega-3 increases the volume of the brain in certain structures. Although these findings are strictly correlational, it is promising. In a different study2, researchers found that healthy older adults taking 500mg of DHA and 200 mg of EPA did not cause a significant change in cognitive function.
But other studies3 found that adults with depression taking medication experience a boost in their moods while taking omega-3 supplements. In another study4, researchers found that adults with age 55 and older were 60% less like to develop dementia when consuming lots of fish.
Furthermore, these adults were 70% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease with their diet include lots of fish. Hence, it may seem that omega-3 is best consumed with the foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids than supplementation.
Of course, we can’t deny that in some instances, omega-3 supplementation can be effective particularly those adults with depression taking medication.
Best Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acid
If you can eat it, do it. Although you can take omega-3 supplements, don’t rely on it alone. Hence, eat a wide variety of foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids.
You can still take supplements along with a healthy diet. Among the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil and krill oil. Eggs particularly the yolk contains omega-3, as well.
Moreover, certain plants are also good sources of omega-3 such as fruits and vegetables.
- Nuts and seeds like walnuts and pumpkin seeds.
- Flaxseeds and chia seeds
- Purslane4 5, which is considered a weed but rich in omega-3
For vegans, there is no need to worry about plant-based sources of omega-3. There are plenty of them.