Better known for heart and skin benefits, more comprehensive studies* are showing that Omega-3 fatty acids can boost your brain power. Omega-3 is found in fish oils and consist of the long-chain fatty acids, EPA and DHA. The brain is made up of 60% fat, and these fatty acids are among the vital building blocks vital needed for your brain’s structure and processing functions. Unfortunately, our body does not produce omega-3, so we must rely on food or supplements to meet our needs.
The benefits of omega-3 for brain power include:
1. Healthy brain function
Pregnant woman with higher levels of omega-3 positively impact the development of their unborn child’s brain and neural connections. DHA and EPA are critical in both the development and maintenance of brain cells and their function. Low omega-3 levels have been associated with faster brain aging.
A study of primary school children, given an omega-3 enriched diet for six months showed superior verbal learning, spelling & reading abilities. Improvements in ADHD symptoms and memory have also been attributed to higher omega-3 levels. Interestingly, even though both boys and girls benefit from higher omega-3 consumption, the benefit for girls appears to be twofold.
2. Improved Memory
Studies show that omega-3 helps prevent decline in brain function. As we get older, the brain deteriorates, resulting in an overall cognitive decline, including memory loss. Now, scientists have shown that omega-3 can slow this process, preserving your memory and brain function for longer.
For adults, daily doses of at least 480mg of DHA have been shown to improve memory and cognitive function.
Seniors also benefit from omega-3 oils, as higher levels of DHA are associated with lower incidence of dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, and cognitive impairment.
3. Better Emotional Health
Mood-related studies have shown omega-3 to be beneficial as a natural solution for helping to reduce depression and anxiety, that may be due to nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. Individuals consuming a high seafood diet are less likely to suffer from mood-related disorders. Additionally, increasing intake of omega-3 can decrease post-natal depression.
The most common sources of omega-3 oils are fatty fish, such as mackerel (5,134mg per 100g) and salmon (2,260mg per 100g). Vegetarians, or those who do not eat fish, can boost their omega-3 levels with chia seeds (2 tablespoons contain around 4,915mg), and walnuts (7 walnuts contain around 2,542mg). Plant food sources do not contain DHA and EPA. Instead, they contain ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), which your body can use to make DHA and EPA. Conversion rates, at around 10%, however, are not great, hence the case for omega-3 supplementation.
When buying your fish oil, it’s important to look at the DHA and EPA content. Many omega-3 supplements contain high doses of fish oil, but may have low concentrations of DHA and EPA. To ensure that you get your money’s worth, so be sure to check DHA and EPA values on the ingredient list.
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