Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for healthy brain function and development. Molecularly distilled fish oil, particularly if it is rich in DHA, is the safest and best choice for supplementation. For strict vegans, the best alternative is marine algae. Flax seed supplements do not contain DHA.
For many years, flax seed has been recommended as a vegan alternative to fish oil, but research has now proven that flax seed supplements do not increase levels of DHA in the bloodstream. It is DHA that is most important to healthy brain function, because it is the most abundant fatty acid found in it. In addition, it makes up 50% of the membranes surrounding the neurons.
Neurons are sometimes referred to as nerve cells or simply brain cells. They are responsible for processing and transmitting information. They are the core components of the brain, the spinal cord and the peripheral nerves. When neurons become damaged or destroyed, they usually cannot be replaced. It has been estimated that there are 100 billion neurons in the brain, alone.
Diseases that negatively effect brain function are known as “neurologic diseases”, because it is the neurons that are “sick”. In an Alzheimer’s patient many of the neurons die. They become choked with plaques and cannot function. Researchers hope that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
Fish oil supplements are beneficial for people suffering from depression. It has been noted that DHA levels are very low in people that are depressed. In cases of severe depression, DHA is practically depleted.
Numerous research studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in people with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The drugs that are frequently prescribed for ADHD, depression and similar problems are accompanied by numerous unwanted side effects. They are addictive substances and people often develop a tolerance to them, requiring that they take larger and larger dosages. Fish oil is a safer alternative that is not accompanied by unwanted side effects.
Other supplements that support brain function include SAM-e and Bacopa. The antioxidant curcumin (found in turmeric) is currently being studied for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Any of these nutrients may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other neuro-degenerative diseases. In fact, any nutrient deficit will cause memory problems, moodiness, irritability and fatigue. For supplement recommendation see my website listed below.
In order to compare quality and insure that you get the greatest benefit, you should carefully read the label. Total omega-3 fatty acids should be listed, along with the amount of fish oil that is in the capsule. The DHA content should be listed, as well as the EPA content. You will notice that most brands contain lots of EPA, but very little DHA. That’s because fish like herring and sardines contain mostly EPA.
EPA is one of the important omega-3 fatty acids, but new research indicates that DHA provides most of the benefits. It may even reduce your risk of cancer. Healthy brain function is only one of the many benefits that accompany supplementation. For more in-depth information on the benefits of fish oil and other supplements, please visit my website listed below. Larry L. Taylor