This summer, we’re focusing on replenishing. Need a good place to start? Welcome to the Replenish! Series, a collection of articles written to spotlight certain supplements and the role they play in maintaining the health of your body. Let’s dive in!
This week: boosting brain health with DHA Omega-3
What are Omega-3s?
Omega-3s are fatty acids that help with mental health, vision, stress, and fatigue. They are very important for the development of neural pathways in your brain. Omega-3s can also have an anti inflammatory effect, meaning they also protect the health of your brain cells after they form. We can’t make enough of these fatty acids in our bodies, so we have to get them from foods like fish, nuts and seeds, plant oils, or supplements. Human diets used to be rich in omega-3, but the amount of fish that Americans consume has been declining for over a century, so many of us are deficient. This has big consequences for our brain structure and health.
What is DHA?
DHA is a type of omega-3 most commonly found in oily fish like salmon or mackerel. It helps to build cell membranes in the body and brain.
Why do I need DHA Omega-3?
To live a healthy life, you need a healthy brain. To have a healthy brain, you have to make sure you get enough Omega-3. Studies show that brain cells with higher levels of omega-3 are better at communicating with other cells.
As you get older, your brain loses its plasticity, or the ability to form new pathways in response to your environment. Omega-3s play an important role in the development of these pathways. Research indicates that a diet rich in omega-3 can actually help protect against the loss of brain plasticity. This means it also has an effect on your ability to think, remember, and recall information.
In addition, mental health issues like major and postpartum depression are often associated with inflammation in the brain. High levels of DHA can intervene in the development of inflammation. Studies indicate that supplementing with omega-3 might help relieve the symptoms of these debilitating conditions.
Because of its role in preserving brain plasticity, omega-3 also contributes to memory function. Studies indicate that omega-3 supplementation can improve memory in older adults. It has also been the focus of promising research on treatment for Alzheimer’s and dementia. People who carry the APOE4 gene variant, meaning they are at risk for Alzheimer’s might benefit even more from omega-3 supplementation. Research indicates that a diet rich in omega-3 could help prevent cognitive decline. Supplementation with omega-3 has also been shown to reduce brain inflammation in people in the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Your Baby’s Brain
If you are pregnant, these nutrients are especially important. Omega-3s are the building blocks of brain development for a baby. Because we can’t make them in our body, you need to be extra sure that you’re getting enough. Given that eating large amounts of fish while pregnant sometimes raises concerns about exposure to mercury, we recommend talking to your doctor about starting a supplement regime.
ACOG, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all prenatals contain DHA/EPA (typically seen as “fish oil”), which is why we include it in our prenatal kits. At Binto, we have a DHA/EPA from algae oil, meaning it’s vegan. To learn more about our prenatal supplements, click here.
As always, if you have any questions, comments, or just want to chat, you can reach out to one of our health professionals via our chat portal, or you can click here to schedule a telehealth consult. We are here to help!