Last post we talked about how taking omega-3 fatty acids (OM3FA) have been linked to improved memory function in young adults. That conclusion does make sense, as earlier studies have shown beneficial effects of OM3FA in brain performance, and decreasing the risk of dementia.
If you are going to take any supplements at all, probably one of the first ones you should consider would be OM3FA, as, unlike most other supplements, the overwhelming evidence points to positive health effects from taking OM3FA, with few negative effects. Unless you eat oily fish at least twice per week, you would likely benefit from OM3FA supplements.
Here are two other good reasons to consider taking OM3FA:
The disease macular degeneration is the number one cause of vision loss in adults over the age of 50, and there have been many studies about the role of OM3FA in decreasing the risk. A majority of the studies have shown a benefit in taking OM3FA either to prevent the disease, or slow its progress if one has already developed macular degeneration.
People who eat fish several times a week have about a 50% reduced risk of developing the disease, and while it’s always better to get your nutrients from natural sources, OM3FA are an acceptable substitute if you don’t eat enough fish. Also eating lots of fresh green and colored vegetables and fruits (containing lutein), and not smoking, are important in keeping your eyes healthy.
You might be surprised to know that your brain is mostly water, and second, fat! But not like the fat that you are trying to get rid of before Carnaval…your brain fat is composed of polyunsaturated fatty acids, and OM3FA is one component of these. OM3FA is an important component of cell membranes, and OM3FAs help promote good communication between the nerve cells. OM3FA also decrease inflammation in our brain tissue, which might be important in helping prevent dementia.
But besides memory, there has been a huge surge of interest in using OM3FA to help improve mood, diminish the risk of depression, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, major psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, and even boost the functioning of anti-depressant medication. Of course, like most medical research, it is all controversial, but the preponderance of evidence is that OM3FA could be helpful, and the risk is low.
How to Buy and Take OM3FA
If you eat OM3FA rich fish several times a week, such as salmon, sardines, or anchovies, you probably don’t need to take OM3FA supplements. You need to make sure however that you are getting your fish from fresh sources, and not contaminated with mercury, pesticides, or other heavy metals as found in some imported farmed fish.
Note also that many nuts are a good source of OM3FA.
If you buy supplements, you might see several types: some are derived from flaxseed, but the best all-around source is from fish. Look to see if there is wording on the label that the fish source is free of contaminates and farmed fish.
The American Heart Association recommends taking an approximately 1gram capsule per day, containing a mix of EPA and DHA. Some doctors might recommend more than that, but ask your doctor if you want to take a higher dose, or if you have any issues with blood clotting. The most common side effect is upset stomach or sometimes flatulence, and if you notice these problems, take the fish oil with a meal, keep the pills in the refrigerator (they can spoil), or buy an enteric-coated pill. Good luck!
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