Fish Oil and it’s Miraculous Benefits to Brain Health and Mood

 

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fish oil

Overview

Fish oil is an omega-3 fatty acid commonly supplemented for its numerous health benefits, and is one of the most well-researched supplements in the world. Omega-3 fatty acid is an essential dietary nutrient critical to brain development and function23www.tandfoanline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09540260600583031, and is quite deficient in western diets.

Fish oil has various roles in the body, and is typically used for its ability to improve brain and joint health. Additionally, it’s often used for optimizing brain function with age. Overall, fish oil is one of the best natural nootropics out there and its popularity is well deserved.

Fish oil has very strong evidence that it is as extremely effective at reducing symptoms1www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/219030252www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/219396143www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/204395494www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/127277075www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/183705716www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/127485107www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/216732088www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/118700169www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1236587810www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1626901911www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1288818612www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1681425713www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2653779614www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1638806915www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19116322. It’s also been shown to reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder1www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2190302512www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1681425714www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1638806943www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1023229444www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15465995, a reduction in anxiety and stress45www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2178414546www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1626901950www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19116322, and improves general mood51www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1610167052www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16269019. Additionally, it shows a lot of promise for reducing symptoms of ADHD in children16www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1943646817www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1466996518www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1181749919www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2049170920www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2579002221www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2196177422www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17435458.

As far as prophylatic and general health benefits go, fish oil has anti-inflammatory properties24www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2072752225www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1806558526www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2178414527www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1044396428www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2211479229www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1450581330www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1939493945www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21784145, reduces blood pressure31www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2231379332www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1948710533www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22345681, and raises HDL-C (the good cholesterol)34www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1782568735www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1867830036www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2211387037ajcn.nutrition.org/content/85/5/1267.long. It also reduces the activity of natural cell killers38www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1123792939www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10443964, and provides photoprotection from sunlight40www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1277103741www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2336400542www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8040603.

Fish oil also has some profound effects on cognition and brain health. It improves blood flow and oxygenation in the brain47www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22018509, and can help prevent cognitive decline in the elderly48www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2043496149www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26305649. The effects you get from fish oil primarily come down to the specific ratio of EHA:DHA.
 

EPA vs DHA

Fish oil contains two different omega 3 fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which confer different benefits. The two are often conflated and there is some confusion about which role each plays in the body.

The two primary benefits of fish oil are:

a) producing antidepressant activity
b) enhancing cognition/preventing cognitive decline

It would appear that while EPA plays a role in both a) and b), the benefits of DHA are almost strictly cognitive. DHA was long thought to be responsible for the antidepressant effects, however recent evidence indicates that EPA is almost entirely responsible. It’s been shown that doses with higher EPA (relative to the EPA:DHA ratio), were even more effective than pure DHA. In fact, DHA has actually failed to show antidepressive effects on its own53www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1895510254www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1274851055www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12727707.

However, DHA appears to be incredibly powerful for improving brain health and cognition56www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2117860757jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/02/24/jn.109.119578.abstract58www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10430487. High DHA levels in the brain have even been correlated with a reduced the risk of dementia59www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1710182260www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1627582961www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1474506762www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16216930, and has even been shown to alleviate the rate of cognitive decline seen in Alzheimer’s disease65www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15735092

As stated earlier, EPA does to play some role cognition; it’s been shown to preserves brain mass by reducing the rate of atrophy63www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2285586964www.neurology.org/content/78/9/658.abstract66www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1206562167www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1700267068www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1200952569www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12399581.

 
 

Where to Buy Fish Oil

fish oil

Buy Fish Oil Softgels at Nootropics Depot [Vendor Info]
  • 325mg of EPA and 325mg of DHA per softgel.

 

fish oil

Buy 70% DHA Fish Oil Softgels at Nootropics Depot [Vendor Info]
  • 525mg DHA per softgel

 

Fish Oil Dosage Information

For general health purposes, 1-2g daily of fish oil appears effective, and up to 6g may be taken safely. It does not need to be taken with meals, but doing so may prevent “fishy burps”.

There are many different sources of EPA and DHA with different ratios. Alternatively, one may take krill oil or algae oil depending on your preferences. Almost all fish and krill oil contain more EPA than DHA, while algae oil contains much higher levels of DHA than EPA. Krill oil and algae oil are viable alternatives to fish oil and may have similar efficacy, with some debate over which is most effective. However due to the availability and research on fish oil, it is generally preferable.

Fish oil can become rancid which can cause oxidization and other problems in the body, and there are a few things to pay attention to prevent this risk. When taking fish oil, it is important to look for one that contains a preservative (typically vitamin E) and is in a container that will not subject the fish oil to heat or light. It is also a good idea to only buy a few months supply at a time and keep the container in a fridge or freezer to ensure freshness. A good way to tell if your fish oil supply is rancid is to bite open the pill (liquid forms are not recommended) and see if there is a strong fishy odor – high quality non-rancid fish oil will not have a noticeable fishy smell, if at all.

 

References

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62. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16216930
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69. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12399581

 

 

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