Benefits of Omega-3s on brain health
Everything that makes you begins in your brain. While many brain functions do come down to genetics, the good news is that Omega-3s benefits for brain health may be widespread.
Having a healthy brain enables you to think and make decisions, access your memory, feel emotions, move, balance and coordinate those movements, breathe, regulate your body temperature, and so much more.
So how can Omega-3 fatty acids support all of those functions?
This blog will explain everything you need to know about Omega-3s benefits for brain health, including:
- What are Omega-3s?
- Types of Omega-3s and where to find them
- Key Omega-3 benefits for brain health
- Dietary and supplement sources of Omega-3s
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s aren’t one nutrient. It’s a group of three different fatty acids that support your health in distinct ways. These three fatty acids are:
1. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is commonly found in plant-based foods and may support heart health. Your body can convert it into EPA and DHA Omega-3s, but this process cannot produce a significant amount of either nutrient.
2. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which supports some bodily functions, but your body can also turn EPA into DHA. EPA is usually found in seafood and is especially supportive of heart health.
3. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is a structural component in retina and brain development, making it beneficial for brain health. DHA is found in fish and some meat, eggs, and dairy.
As essential as this nutrient is, your body is unable to produce it. Ingesting Omega-3s via diet or supplements is the only way to get its many health benefits.
How Omega-3s support brain health
Much of brain development begins in the womb. Neurons begin to form and synapses begin to fire as early as five weeks into pregnancy. By week 34, a fetus can process external sounds and even distinguish between different ones.
These processes are vital to the baby’s cognitive function, and the evidence suggests that Omega-3s may support them. Several studies have shown that mothers with high levels of DHA—achieved through marine supplements—delivered substantially more DHAs to their fetuses compared to mothers who didn’t receive the supplement.
Omega-3s may facilitate important brain functions
Learning, memory, and mood are key cognitive processes that all take place in the brain. Attentional and executive control are what allow your brain to process, prioritize, and remember information—key parts of both learning and memory. Being able to process information about new things and retrieve information about things we’ve already encountered is a large part of successfully navigating our environment.
Omega-3 nutrients may have a part to play in all of these functions. 176 healthy adults ages 18 to 45 were given either 1.16 grams of Omega-3 DHA per day or a placebo to study DHA’s impact on memory. After six months, they completed a test to measure their cognitive performance in areas including episodic and working memory, attention, reaction time (RT) of episodic and working memory, and attention and processing speed.
Those who received the DHA supplement had improved reaction time of episodic and working memory compared to those who received the placebo, suggesting that Omega-3s may improve memory. It’s important to note, though, that these results were observed in healthy adults whose diets were previously low in DHA.
Sources of Omega-3s
There are two main sources of Omega-3s: your diet and supplements. While your diet is the best way to ingest more of this essential nutrient, supplements can be a great way to validate how much Omega-3s you’re getting and to support getting a range of Omegas, including ALA, EPA, and DHA.
If you’d like to source Omega-3s through your diet, here’s where you can get it:
- Seafood: Marine foods like fish and shellfish are rich in EPA and DHA fatty acids.
- Nuts, seeds, and nut oils: These are easy-to-find plant-based sources rich in ALAs, though it’s important to note that they usually don’t provide enough Omega-3s. .
- Fortified foods: Nutrients are often added to foods during production. Be sure to read the labels to see what Omega-3s were added and how much, as fortified foods don’t always contain a high level of these fatty acids.
You can also get your vital Omega-3s through the following three dietary supplements:
1. Fish oil: This is a popular source of Omega-3s. While it’s a fairly common supplement, it can cause gastrointestinal upset in some individuals.
2. Krill oil: This supplement is just as high in Omega-3s as fish oil. But the Omega-3s in krill oil are in the form of phospholipids—the most natural form—so it's easier to digest. Krill oil also contains essential choline and astaxanthin and is a more sustainable option.
3. Algae oil: Vegans, vegetarians, and people with seafood allergies can take algae oil, a plant-based form of Omega-3s.
Give Your Brain a Boost
Omega-3s may benefit our brains in more ways than one. The aforementioned studies—and so many more—offer l evidence that Omega-3s may support our ability to learn, process, and remember information as our brains develop and as they begin to age.
Kori Krill Oil can help support brain health. Choose from our classic Omega-3 with 250 mg of EPA and DHA fatty acids, or opt for our Mind & Body Omega-3, which expertly pairs Omega-3s with plant antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin for even more brain support.