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- 02 - Jan - 2018
- by Nidhi Bura
Get the scoop on what omega 3 fish oil is, how it can help fight depression and improve mental health, and how to take supplements in the most effective way.
Fish oil or Omega-3 fish oil is a supplement derived from fatty fishes such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and salmon. These fish oils contain two kinds of Omega-3 fatty acids which are: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is well known in the context of heart health and skincare.
The fish oils have a magical effect on brain health especially in the cases of mild depression, stress, and anxiety.
In this article, we are going to elaborate on how Omega-3 in fish oils helps to maintain the brain and mental health!!
Omega-3 fatty acids are basically unsaturated fats that are beneficial for brain and mental health, even not only for the brain health specifically but for the complete health of the body by acting as a nutritional supplement. Fish oils are contained with two kinds of Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid).
These two types of fatty acids described above are the original components of the cell membrane and these fatty acids contain beneficial inflammatory properties. They also act as a basic component as the building block of heart health and complete development of the body.
As far as the human diet is considered, EPA and DHA are only found in fatty fishes such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, and oil of these fishes i.e. fish oils. For the vegetarians, or those who are not taking fatty fishes inadequate amount falls short of EPA and DHA in their diets which is the major requirement of the body for heart and brain health.
EPA and DHA in the body as per consumption requirement can be prepared by another omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is found in many resources like chia seeds, walnuts, canola oil, flaxseeds, soybeans, and soybean oil. The ALA Omega-3 fatty acids can not be converted back to EPA and DHA. On this topic, A study says that " less than 10% of the amount of ALA you consume is converted to EPA or DHA".
So it is a good option to consume fatty fish in order to complete the daily nutritious requirement of the body. Those, who are vegetarians or not preferring to eat any meat or fish can take the Omega-3 fish oils in their daily diet plan.
It is already proved by many researchers that fish oils play a vital role in maintaining good brain health from childhood to adulthood. EPA and DHA are the aces when it comes to improving the intelligence level of a child and baby's brain when the expecting mother is taking it in some required proportion during pregnancy.
Those pregnant women taking Omega-3 fish oil or any other form of fish oil supplements are likely to have a baby with good IQ and intelligence and good brain functioning in early childhood. In addition to it, Omega-3 fatty acids also help the baby to maintain good brain health throughout the whole life.
These acids are found inadequate amount in brain cells and hence improves the brain functioning by facilitating effective communication between brain cells. The Omega-3 also helps same in the case of animals also. Without the inclusion of Omega-3 in their diet would make them deficient in memory and learning.
For old age persons, the diet without the inclusion of Omega-3 leads to faster brain aging and smaller brain size.
As we have already discussed that Omega-3 plays a vital role in the development of good brain health and functions. It is also proved by many types of research that Omega-3 is also helpful in the case of mild levels of mental health issues and partial memory loss such as Alzheimer's disease and other cognitive development issues.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common kind of dementia impacting the quality of brain functioning and affecting many people worldwide in a year. Nothing would be greater if the cure for this kind of dementia is found in any kind of food supplement.
Although, "A review of the research found no compelling evidence that omega-3 supplements like fish oil improve brain function in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
On the other hand, several studies have suggested that taking fish oil supplements may improve brain function in people with more mild types of brain conditions like mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or age-related cognitive decline." Some of the mental disorders are not much similar to Alzheimer's disease but cause a reduction in brain functioning and memory impairment.
According to research, "One study gave 485 older adults with age-related cognitive decline either 900 mg of DHA or a placebo every day. After 24 weeks, those taking DHA performed better on memory and learning tests.
Similarly, another study investigated the effects of taking 1.8 grams of omega-3s from fish oil supplements daily for 24 weeks. The researchers found improvements in brain function in people with MCI, but no benefits for those with Alzheimer’s disease."
This research although proves that people should start to consume fish oil supplements in their early life to reduce the mental health decline.
Depression is a stage when the person starts disliking the things he used to love once, feeling restless and sad all the time and many more symptoms arise with it. It can be treated effectively with medications and other therapeutic treatments. One of the medications in treating depression may include Omega-3 fish oil.
Depressed people if start taking fish oil in their daily diet can see a significant improvement in their mental health. The recent studies on fish oils conclude that people taking Omega-3 fish oil are seen with significant improvement in their depression as in equal comparison with antidepressant medications.
If both are taken together, then a magical effect is seen in the improvement of depression patients due to the higher dose of EPA contained in the fish oils.
"Researchers have suggested it may be related to their effects on serotonin and serotonin receptors in the brain. Others have proposed that omega-3s from fish oil could improve depressive symptoms through anti-inflammatory effects.
Additional evidence suggests that fish oil may improve other mental health conditions like borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder. However, more high-quality research is needed before the medical community can make definitive recommendations."
Although fish oils do not cause a significant improvement in the brain function of healthy individuals in case of Alzheimer's disease and mild brain dysfunctioning, it works like a magic. A study concludes that "Most of the higher-quality controlled studies agree that supplementing with omega-3s from fish oil does not appear to improve brain function in healthy individuals with no existing memory problems.
In a study of 159 young adults, taking supplements containing 1 gram of fish oil per day did not improve brain function, compared to a placebo. Similarly, multiple studies in older adults have shown that taking fish oil supplements did not improve measures of brain function in people with no memory problems."
We have included references from many studies and researches that taking Omega-3 fish oils can prove beneficial for your brain health and in case of mild depression or mild dysfunctioning of the brain.
Apart from brain health, there can be many more health benefits of Omega-3 fish oils for the overall health improvement of the body. The amount of Omega-3 fish oil can vary from person to person according to the nutritional requirement of the body. It can vary from 3000 mg per day to 5000 mg per day.
But if you are a starter and planning to include it in your diet, you should start with 1000 mg per day or maybe as little as 500 mg per day varying upon the brand to brand. People with depression may choose some fish oil supplements with a higher amount of EPA.
While planning to start taking Omega-3 fish oil, the person must consult with their physician first. Taking their advice would be a guidance for the amount to be taken and they can also recommend you the required dosage if you are already taking any other medications such as Blood pressure or Blood-thinning medications.