More DHA may help improve mental function  and reduce alcoholism

Is there any link between Omega 3, brain cells and alcohol? How in the world could those 3 seemingly disparate things have any connection?

Well surprising as it may sound they do have a connection, according to recent studies.

The first connection is between Omega 3 and brain cells. It is now well understood that a large proportion of your brain is made up of fat and a large proportion of that fat is DHA, one of the most important of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

And research has shown that increasing your intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids may have a beneficial effect on a range of mental functions including cognitive ability and memory as well is psychiatric problems such as depression and others.

However new research is now showing a link between Omega 3, alcohol and your brain.

A new study at the Indiana University School of medicine as suggested that as well as having a positive effect on your mood, increasing your intake of the Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil may also have an effect on alcohol cravings.

In this study researchers were able to show that increasing the intake of Omega 3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, changed the behaviour of mice.

These were mice already suffered from bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition. The mice were given a diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids, specifically DHA, to see what effect this may have on their mental state including on the bipolar disorder as well as depression, and to see what molecular changes may occur in the brain of the mice that may account for any changes observed.Omega 3 and alcoholism

And the result of the study was a correlation between molecular changes in the brain of the mice and an improvement in their mental condition.

The conclusion was that “The mice that were given DHA normalized their behavior, ….were not depressed and when subjected to stress, they do not become manic”.

But what does any of this have to do with alcohol? Just this.

The bipolar mice had a particular liking for alcohol. However an unexpected outcome from the research was that the mice that were given the DHA and which had previously had a liking for alcohol demonstrated a reduced desire for alcohol.

In other words a suggested conclusion of the study, one not initially expected, was that increasing the intake of DHA in the diet, as well as having a certain effect on the psychiatric condition of the mice, also resulted in them drinking less.

Of course it’s very difficult to extrapolate from a study on mice either that increasing your intake of DHA will help reduce bipolar disorder or depression, though there are now other studies confirming this outcome.

And it is very difficult also to extrapolate from a study on mice that increasing your intake of DHA may also help reduce alcoholism. There is currently little other evidence to that effect.

And as was observed in the study more work needs to be done.

It may be that alcoholism has a specific mental basis, and just as increasing the intake of DHA may well help reduce the risk of other mental disorders such as bipolar and depression, increasing the intake of DHA can have a similar effect with the mental condition leading to alcoholism.

This of course is speculation and further studies will be required to determine whether this is the case. However it is certainly an extremely interesting outcome from the study and warrants further research.

And there is one other link between alcohol and the Omega 3 fats. Studies have also shown that increasing the intake of alcohol to a moderate level may well also be associated with higher levels of the Omega3 fats in plasma and red blood cells. A study in 3 countries, England, Belgium and Italy has found that moderate alcohol consumption may well boost the amount of Omega 3 fats in our system, or least any count of them.

Remember however that alcohol is dangerous, particularly if you consume it in higher amounts, and this is not a recipe for drinking more. However “moderate” consumption may offer some benefits.

It’s not entirely clear why this is the case.

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