Oil from fatty fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and salmon is processed and sold as a nutritional supplement. Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are two omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. These acids have been linked to improved cardiovascular health and skin appearance. But fish oil also has remarkable effects on the brain, particularly in mild memory loss and melancholy cases. The results of fish oil’s omega-3 fatty acids on the brain and mental health are discussed in this article’s review of relevant scientific literature.
What Are Fish Oil Omega-3s?
Omega 3 fish oil is mostly EPA and DHA. Cell membranes need these two anti-inflammatory fatty acids. They also help growth and cardiovascular health. Only fatty fish and fish oil provide EPA and DHA to humans. Since few people eat the recommended amounts of fish, their diets likely lack EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA can be made from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, and soybean oil contain ALA. Humans convert only 10% of ALA into EPA or DHA. Fish oil can help non-fish eaters get omega-3 fatty acids’ health benefits.
Why Do Omega-3s Matter for the Mind?
At any age, the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are required for normal brain function. EPA and DHA are critical when a baby’s brain is still developing. Several studies have found that children whose mothers ate fish during pregnancy or took fish oil during their pregnancies performed better on measures of intellect and brain function when they were young.
Also, these fatty acids are crucial to keeping your brain working all your years correctly. They play a vital role in facilitating communication between brain cells and preserving the structural integrity of cell membranes. Animals fed an omega-3 fatty acid-deficient diet had worse learning and memory, which correlated with the lack of DHA in the brain.
Reduced DHA levels in the blood are connected with reduced brain size in older persons, suggesting premature brain aging. Adverse effects on brain function and development have been linked to insufficient omega-3 fatty acids, which can be avoided by eating a diet rich in these fats.
Light memory loss may benefit from fish oil.
Omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish oil is crucial for average brain growth and development. People with memory issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive impairments, may also benefit from fish oil, as this supplement has been shown to boost brain function. Millions of seniors have Alzheimer’s, the most prevalent form of dementia, negatively affecting their cognitive abilities and overall quality of life. It would be a monumental, game-changing finding to find a substance that might boost cognitive ability in this demographic.
Unfortunately, a literature review showed no substantial evidence that omega-3 supplements like fish oil enhance brain function in people with Alzheimer’s. However, fish oil supplements may help people with less severe brain issues, like moderate cognitive impairment (MCI) or age-related cognitive decline. While these conditions can cause memory loss and other forms of cognitive decline, they are often less severe than Alzheimer’s disease. 485 elderly adults with cognitive decline were given 900 mg of DHA daily.
After 24 weeks of DHA, cognitive function improved. Another study examined 24-week supplementation with 1.8 grams of fish oil-derived omega-3s. MCI patients improved significantly, whereas Alzheimer’s patients did not. Additional evidence from this study supports the idea that administering fish oil supplements at the first signs of cognitive decline is optimal. The brain’s potential benefit from fish oil could be diminished if taken too late.
Fish Oil May Improve Depression
The search for effective therapies for mental health conditions such as depression remains a public health priority, and there is likely to be an uptick in interest in non-pharmaceutical approaches to alleviating symptoms. According to a new meta-analysis, fish oil supplements have antidepressant-like benefits for persons with depression. However, those already taking antidepressants appeared to have the most significant reductions in their depressive symptoms.
In addition, higher levels of EPA in the fish oil supplement were associated with more noticeable effects. Exactly how EPA and omega-3s work to alleviate depression is yet unknown. Their actions on brain serotonin and serotonin receptors have been hypothesized to be the phenomenon’s root. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil may reduce depressive symptoms due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Fish oil may help treat depression and bipolar illness, according to research. However, more high-quality research is needed to provide medical recommendations.
In healthy people, using fish oil will not boost cognitive abilities.
Although the benefits of fish oil on Alzheimer’s disease and moderate reductions in brain function have been covered in this article, its effects on healthy individuals are yet unknown. According to observational studies, increasing one’s intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fish has been found to have a strong correlation with enhanced cognitive performance. These researchers looked at eating fish and not taking fish oil supplements. Another limitation of studies of this type is that they cannot establish a causal relationship.
Most well-controlled studies have found that supplementing with omega-3s from fish oil does not enhance brain function in healthy people who do not have memory deficits. Daily supplementation with 1 gram of fish oil did not improve cognitive performance in a trial of 159 young adults, compared to the placebo group. Likewise, fish oil supplements have not been demonstrated to enhance cognitive tests in healthy older adults.
When it comes to your brain, should you take fish oil?
Fish oil might be worth a try if you suffer from modest cognitive impairment or have been diagnosed with depression, according to the existing data. Fish oil supplements may be beneficial for your health in other ways, but they may significantly impact your brain and mental well-being if you fall into one of two categories. Improvements in cognition and mood have been related to the omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil, although the best dosage has yet to be established.
Different studies utilized different amounts in their analyses. Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil have been linked to numerous health benefits. Daily consumption of 1,000-2,000 mg is probably a decent beginning point that is still far below the suggested maximum. Supplements containing a greater concentration of EPA are the best option for people suffering from depression. When deciding on a fish oil supplement, it is critical to read the label thoroughly. Different brands of fish oil capsules may have more or less than 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per serving size.
Fish oil supplements are generally safe when taken at doses lower than those previously mentioned. However, you should see your doctor before commencing fish oil supplements. Due to possible effects on blood clotting, this is especially relevant if you take blood-thinning drugs or are scheduled for surgery soon after taking these supplements.
Brain development and function rely heavily on the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, abundant in fish oil. Many people report improvement in mood and cognitive performance after supplementing with omega-3s found in fish oil, so it’s worth a try for those who suffer from depression or moderate cognitive loss.
According to the available evidence, neither healthy persons nor those with Alzheimer’s have benefited from fish oil. The recommended daily allowance for omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil is 1,000-2,000 mg. You shouldn’t take more than 3,000 milligrams every day. While fish oil is often lauded for its positive effects on cardiovascular health, it also remarkably impacts the brain and mental health.