Omega 3 Studies Archives

Omega 3 fats affect your brain function, your memory and learning ability in children

There is an ever increasing body of evidence linking the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA with improvements in human brain function, improvements in memory, learning abilities and disabilities as well as a range of psychiatric and other mental conditions.

What you eat, it seems from the research, affects not just your general health but your brain and mental health and learning ability as well.

Not only that but there is a growing body of evidence that one of the most important things that young children can do to improve their ability to learn, to concentrate and to remember is to increase their intake of the Omega 3 fatty acids.

And today we bring you two fascinating videos from the BBC in the UK about Omega 3 and brain function, and improving the learning abilities of children. Here’s the 2 videos, though make sure you keep reading below for a more thorough explanation.

(Find out more about Omega 3 supplements)

Your brain performs a massive range of functions. It runs your body, it thinks, it learns, it remembers, and it performs a massive range of other functions. However some people think, learn and remember better than others. Some people are smarter than others.

Some people have problems with memory loss, ADHD, have Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some people suffer from depression, some suffer from bipolar disorder, and much much more.

There really is “Brain Food”.

As science delves into the workings of the human brain there is a gradual realisation that what you eat has a very significant impact on most if not all of these brain functions, and much more. The old adage about “brain foods” is spot on.

The research is showing that some specific nutrients, or the lack thereof, may well have a huge impact on how well your brain works. Those nutrients are the Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

The human brain works differently to the brain of all other animals. Our brains have developed over thousands of years to the point where our mental abilities have enabled human beings to rule the planet. And science is now suspecting that the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and DHA in particular, has had a large role to play in that.

DHA, (docosahexaenoic acid) is found primarily in seafood and particularly in oily fish. Research on the bones of Neanderthals has found that, because their diet consisted primarily of red meat, that they had very little DHA intake. However research on the bones of early humans has shown that they had a significant intake of seafood in their diet, thereby getting an increased supply of DHA, and scientists hypothesise that this was the point where the brain power of human beings began to develop.

DHA helps your brain to communicate

Roughly 60 percent of your brain is made up of fat. The largest percentage of that fat is DHA. And in particular there is a layer of DHA in and between the cells which allow the brain’s communication.

Signals in the brain must pass from cell to cell. DHA is found between the membranes of the cells and is extremely important to the transmission of signals in the brain. Too little DHA can inhibit the transmission of brain signals.

Once science realized the importance of DHA in brain function the obvious conclusion was that people deficient in their intake of DHA may well have some signs of decreased brain function, and research is gradually demonstrating that.

And enough DHA in the diet is essential to optimum mental development in children

Omega 3 and childrenIt is now becoming clearer that an adequate supply of DHA in the diet is essential to proper brain development in children, and that an inadequate supply may well contribute to learning difficulties in children such as ADD and ADHD. If you’ve not watched our videos (above) then we urge you to do so, as they very effectively demonstrate this very point.

There is now compelling evidence that an inadequate supply of DHA in the diet may contribute to a whole range of mental conditions including memory loss or generally poor memory, declining mental function and cognitive ability as well as a range of mental conditions, particularly with ageing, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in general.

And there is also compelling evidence that increasing the intake of DHA may well also help improve symptoms of depression in general as well as postpartum depression in particular.

Pregnant women need plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids

For these reasons it is becoming clearer that one of the most important aspects of the diet of pregnant women should be an adequate supply of the Omega 3 fats. The Omega 3 fats pass from the mother to the baby in the breastmilk, and therefore help maintain levels of Omega 3 in the mother as well as the baby.

(And research is showing that as well as improving the mental development of the baby and infant, this will also help improve the visual development of children as DHA is an essential component of the retina in the eye.)

Does fish oil help memory and function?

There is a strong link between adequate supplies of Omega 3 and memory, Omega 3 and emotional disorders and Omega 3 and brain function.

And as the principal source of the Omega 3 fatty acids is fish, particularly oily fish, it would seem there is much truth in the old adage about fish being the best brain food. Science now understands a specific reason for this, namely that fish is the best source of DHA, and also EPA, (eicosapentaenoic acid), the secind most important of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Fish oil supplements, at least the good ones, provide an adequate supply of these essential brain nutrients.

Whilst eating seafood, according to current scientific thinking, may well have provided the link between the Neanderthals and the development of human beings, lack of seafood in the diet is now being attributed to a range of lifestyle diseases as well as mental conditions.

Eating fish made our brains work better, a lack of fish in our diet is now contributing to various forms of mental decline as well as other health problems.

The growth in sales of Omega 3 supplements has been nothing short of phenomenal, they are the fastest growing nutritional supplement in history. And it would seem that there are powerful reasons for this. Not only are there powerful health reasons generally, but it would seem that the most important organ that you have, namely your brain, feeds on Omega 3, and without enough won’t work so well.

The authors take Omega 3 supplements every day without fail. We consider them an essential component, if not the most important component, of good health. We suggest you consider doing the same.

And to read more about the study which inspired the 2 videos above, click here.

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Can Omega 3 supplementation help postpartum depression or depression during pregnancy?

We’ll find out soon.

For some time there has been research suggesting that increasing the intake of the Omega 3 fatty acids may have a role in helping treat depressive illnesses in women who are either pregnant, or after pregnancy.

Postpartum depression, and depression during pregnancy, are far more common than you may think. Although it is not entirely clear, because many women do not report suffering from some form of depressive condition, it is estimated that anywhere up to 20% to 25% of women can suffer from some form of postpartum depressive symptoms after giving birth.

There is now significant evidence that increasing the intake of the Omega 3 fatty acids may have a positive effect on depression generally, and there is also evidence that increasing the intake of Omega 3 can also be a partial treatment for postpartum depression.

Not only that but there are other powerful reasons why women who are pregnant should be taking some form of Omega-3 supplementation, including because this can help improve the neurological development of the fetus, as well as reduce the chances of postnatal depression, according to the US director of the mother and child foundation, David Kyle.

A new study is now being undertaken to examine this exact question, of whether or not an increase in the Omega 3 essential fatty acids can have any preventive effect on major depressive illnesses in pregnant women, or after birth.Pregnancy and depression

In June of 2011 an abstract of the study was published indicating the study’s parameters.

The background to the study notes potential problems in the use of antidepressants during pregnancy, and in particular the concern about negative neurobehavioural outcomes in infants which may have been exposed to those antidepressants.

It also notes that as there is evidence of the beneficial use of Omega 3 fatty acids in depressive syndrome for non-pregnant people, that this may also extend to pregnant women.

It is also noted that observational studies in the psychiatric literature have suggested that a deficiency of DHA may well lead to the development of depressive disorders both during pregnancy and thereafter.

The study will recruit 126 pregnant women, of less than 20 weeks, from Michigan. Each of these women will be followed during pregnancy and up to 6 weeks thereafter.

There shall be 3 groups of women. One group shall take fish oil supplements high in EPA, with some DHA. The 2nd group shall take fish oil supplements high in DHA with some EPA and the 3rd group shall take a placebo.

These women shall be scored according to the Beck Depression Inventory at 6 weeks after birth.

The intention of the study is to examine the effectiveness of both DHA and EPA at preventing the onset of depressive symptoms among pregnant women, if any.

Depressive illnesses both during pregnancy and thereafter can have major impacts on the women who suffer from them. Not only can they have major impacts on the woman but they can also have very serious impacts on the infant that results from the pregnancy as well.

Many studies on the effectiveness of Omega 3 essential fatty acids at preventing or ameliorating various health conditions are extremely long. Many last for years or even tens of years. That will not be the case with this study, the outcome should be forthcoming relatively soon.

Once were aware of the outcome we shall bring it to you.

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Is it possible to have side effects from Omega 3, or an overdose?

There is no doubt about the health benefits of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids. However there are many pharmaceuticals on the market which have many health benefits, but which also come with unwanted side-effects, some of which may, in some cases, affect your health negatively.

And in some cases the side effects of taking various drugs can be as bad, if not worse, than the original condition. Does this apply to taking Omega 3 supplements? Or in other words can you take too much Omega 3 to the point where your health is affected negatively? Or are there serious health side-effects from taking the recommended dose?

As we said, many drugs come with serious side-effects. However they also confer significant health benefits as well, and so it’s not just a matter of considering the negative health side-effects from taking the drug, it’s also a matter of balancing the good with the bad, in other words the positive health benefits with the negative.Omega 3 side effects

And a new study undertaken by the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety at the Request of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority has considered this very question. What are the positive and the negative health effects from taking Omega 3 foods supplements or from Omega 3 in fortified foods?

The study noted that there was a range of beneficial health effects from taking more Omega 3 essential fatty acids into the diet. It also notes that the principle health benefit of a greater intake of the Omega 3 fats is a reduction in “the risk of cardiovascular events and mortality”, in other words you’re less likely to have cardiovascular disease or to die from it.

Of course this is not the only health benefit from the essential fatty acids, however this is such a significant health benefit that on its own it would be very worthwhile.

So clearly the study has found a very significant benefit to taking Omega 3 supplements or increasing your intake of the essential fatty acids in other ways, for example by eating more fish.

So what are the negative health consequences? In other words what are the side-effects?

The study noted that a number of minor negative health effects have been identified with increased intake of EPA and DHA. However these potential side effects are minimal, and only occur at very high doses. The study observed that “The evidence presented in this evaluation show that it is possible to obtain positive health effects in the Norwegian population from intake of EPA and DHA, including from food supplements, without any appreciable risk of negative or adverse health effects.”

It would seem therefore that when you consider the positive health benefits, and in particular a reduction in the risk of death from heart attack or cardiovascular event, when compared with a negative health consequences, which are minimal, there are powerful reasons for making sure you have enough Omega 3 essential fatty acids in your diet.

The study also examined the effects of taking ALA as well as EPA and DHA. As we have indicated previously ALA is the form of Omega 3 found in plants whereas EPA and DHA is the form of Omega 3 found in fish.

Most Omega 3 fortified foods are fortified with ALA, not EPA and DHA. And here is what the Norwegian study said about ALA. “This evaluation has shown that given a Western diet, the positive health effects are linked to EPA and DHA and not ALA”.

This might cause you to reconsider whether or not you are getting significant health benefits from Omega 3 fortified foods, fortified with ALA. To find out more read our article about Omega 3 fortified foods.

Read the Norwegian study here.

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Up to 96000 of us die each year from Omega 3 deficiency. Are you taking your Omega 3 capsules?

That sounds a little melodramatic doesn’t it? That Omega 3 deficiency could be killing you? Melodramatic or not the results of a recent study has concluded that Omega 3 deficiency was responsible for between 72000 and 96000 preventable deaths in the US every year.

This study was not just intended to study the negative effects of Omega 3 deficiency but was in fact intended to study the general mortality effects of a range of identifiable dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors in the US.

It was intended to study these factors so that the data could be used for health policy and priorities setting.

The 12 dietary, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors that were studied included high blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure, obesity, high dietary trans fatty acids and salt,  dietary polyunsaturated fatty acid levels, Omega 3 fatty acids, fruits and vegetable intake and  low physical activity, use of alcohol and smoking.

Not surprisingly the results concluded that the 2 biggest preventable lifestyle factors causing the highest number of preventable deaths in the US were smoking and high blood pressure. It was estimated that in 2005 smoking and high blood pressure were responsible for almost 800,000 preventable deaths in the US, accounting for around one in every 5 or 6 deaths of adults in America. Next came obesity and physical inactivity accounting for around one in 10 deaths.

The first thing that surprised us about this study is that Omega 3 deficiency was studied at all. There is ample evidence that low levels of the Omega 3 fats can contribute to various poor health outcomes including heart attack and stroke, however we had still not considered the possibility that deficiency of omega 3 in the population of the US could possibly contribute to so many deaths.
Omega 3 Deficiency

Estimates are that over 90 percent of adults in the US have too little intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids and their diet and are therefore Omega 3 deficient. It seems clear from the study that this now contributes significantly to the risk of death from a range of health conditions such as heart attack or stroke.

And it’s not just an increase in the likelihood of health problems that are directly related to low levels of DHA and EPA. For example studies now show that low levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids in the body can contribute to becoming overweight and that increasing your intake of both DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), the 2 most important Omega 3 essential fatty acids, can help you lose weight as part of an overall weight loss program.

And of course obesity itself contributes to a range of lifestyle diseases which themselves can result in disability or death. Therefore inadequate levels of essential fatty also contributes to these diseases indirectly by contributing to the sufferer carrying excess weight.

If you browse our categories at the right you will see a wide range of health conditions which have all been found to benefit from higher levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids in the diet. The evidence is now so overwhelming that Omega 3 supplements are now the first nutritional supplements recommended by the American Heart Association.

With 90 percent or more of American adults being deficient in Omega 3 this has major implications for individuals and also for our health system.

Melodramatic or not the studies are now clearly showing the benefits of an increased intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids found in fish oil and it is now quite clear that virtually all of this should be supplementing our diet with daily Omega 3 capsules, or eating more fish, or both.

The best Omega 3 capsules are way better than the worst and we have written articles helping you compare Omega 3 supplements, both for value and for quality. We hope you enjoy those articles.

There’s so many reasons to add fish oil capsules to your daily diet.

They might just prevent your death.

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