Possibly the biggest health benefit of fish oil is the positive effects on brain health, mental health and cognitive function. Many studies have been carried out to look into the links between the intake of fish oils and cognitive performance and the evidence is quickly mounting up to prove that the health of our brains definitely benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish oils. By boosting working memory performance, maintaining mental health and protecting the brain from cognitive problems, it seems that fish oil alone has the power to keep our brains in excellent condition.
Fish is often described as “brain food” and it is the combination of omega-3 fatty acids with vitamin D that provide benefits to brain health and preserving cognitive function. These top two supplements for preserving brain health are the most researched brain boosters with growing evidence for their effectiveness with enhancing and preserving mental functions. It is consistently suggested that those who have a regular consumption of fish oils or take fish oil supplements, are less likely to show signs of cognitive decline. For many people over the age of 40 their age corresponds with reduced mental functioning such as memory loss; however keeping up levels of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil can protect the brain from cognitive problems such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Not only does fish oil benefit those who are older, but studies also suggest that omega-3 levels are linked to cognition and behaviour in school children. Research suggests that fatty acids and DHA in particular, is directly linked to brain function and behaviour in children with a below average reading ability. Adequate levels of DHA are imperative for normal brain and nervous system development, suggesting that children with low levels of this fatty acid may be under-performing. Increased intake of fish oil may also have the ability to improve the working memory levels of young, healthy adults.
There is growing evidence to suggest some links between fish oil and mental health. The importance of these fatty acids only seems to become apparent when they are lacking, where people who don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids face an increased risk of developing conditions such as depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia and mood disorders. The key to omega-3’s effect on the brain is thought to lie in the synapses (the tiny gaps where nerve impulses pass from one neuron to another). In order for the impulses to reach the receiving neuron, they must pass through a membrane that surrounds the neuron. This membrane is made up almost completely of fats including fatty-acids and researchers believe that omega-3’s help to enhance the strength of signals passed among the brain cells and increases blood flow in the brain. It is also suggested that omega-3 could also improve the availability of dopamine in other parts of the brain in order to increase good moods and alleviate mood disorders.