Omega 3 EPA information

Omega 3 Fish Oil and the Brain

Fights Depression: Skimping on fish may depress you. Norman Salem Jr., a researcher at the National Institutes of Health, notes that populations consuming large amounts of fish have low rates of major depression. A lack of fish oil is linked to depression in alcoholics, people with multiple sclerosis and women with postpartum depression. Further, he says, some dieters who reduce overall fat, including fish fat, tend to get depressed.

A recent Australian study of 21 depressed patients confirmed that the most severely depressed had imbalances of fatty acids in their blood and cell membranes. Evidence suggests EPA-type fish oil helps regulate serotonin, a neurotransmitter known for its "feel-good" qualities. Depressed people often have low levels of serotonin.

Reduces Aggression: You are less likely to express stress-induced aggression if your brain is under the influence of fish oil, according to Japanese researchers. In a new double-blind test of 41 adult students, those taking 1.5 to 1.8 daily grams of EPA fish oil for three months did not become more socially aggressive at a time of severe mental stress: final exams. In contrast, students taking a dummy look-alike capsule showed significant jumps in social aggression, as measured by psychological tests. This effect on stress may help explain how fish oil prevents heart disease. Stress hormones triggered by hostility and anger can constrict arteries and accelerate the formation of blockages, research shows; fish oil may suppress the release of those hormones.

Blunts Brain Damage? Fish oil may eventually be proved to lessen alcohol-induced brain damage, Salem says. He explains that excessive alcohol depletes brain levels of omega-3 -- DHA in particular -- which leads to neurological damage and impaired vision. He put experimental animals on high-alcohol, low omega-3 diets for six months to three years. They suffered severe losses of DHA in brain cells and detrimental changes in brain functioning. Some scientists speculate that fish oil also may have a protective role in degenerative brain diseases leading to memory loss and dementia. The brains of deceased Alzheimer's sufferers, for example, show low levels of omega-3 fats. It is now widely thought that the best way of replacing the DHA is to ingest high EPA oil.

Smart tips: Restrict omega-6 oils (corn oil, regular safflower and sunflower seed oils, and most margarines), which tend to negate the benefits of omega-3. Recommended: canola and olive oils.

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