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Omega-3 fatty acids

Brain health dramatically improved by intake of omega-3 fatty acids and fish oils

Monday, January 02, 2006 by: Alexis Black
Tags: omega-3 fatty acids, mental health, brain health

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It's no secret that long-term diet and nutrition choices have an effect on the way we look and feel; but new studies show that nutrition can also affect the way we think. As it turns out, there really is such a thing as “food for thought.”

It may seem strange that what we put in our stomachs can have such a powerful effect on what goes on in our minds, but research is increasingly showing that emotional, mental and psychiatric disorders like depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia may more likely be the result of dietary deficiencies than genetic predispositions. The same is true of people who struggle with memory loss, have trouble learning new tasks, have Alzheimer’s disease or simply suffer from a lot of blue moods. The dietary deficiency that tends to frequently show up in these patients is a lack of omega-3 oils -- abundant fatty acids found in cold-water fish like salmon, herring and cod.

Omega-3s and brain health

The omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an important ingredient for optimal brain function. Earl Mindell, RPh PhD, writes in Earl Mindell's Supplement Bible, “There's a reason why fish is known as brain food. It is a rich source of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fatty acid that is found in high concentration in the gray matter of the brain. DHA is instrumental in the function of brain cell membranes, which are important for the transmission of brain signals.” By making cell membranes more fluid, omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, improve communication between the brain cells, according to Mind Boosters author Dr. Ray Sahelia. As a result, lack of omega-3 in the body can cause a communication breakdown in the brain, which is probably the last place you'd want such a breakdown to happen.

Omega-3 fatty acids are so important to the development and proper maintenance of the brain that “some scientists even postulate that it was the ingestion of omega-3 EFAs that allowed the brain to evolve to the next stage in human development,” according to Superfoods Rx authors Steven G. Pratt and Kathy Matthews. While omega-3s were abundant in our diets before the 20th century, they are now seriously lacking. The Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing write in The Folk Remedy Encyclopedia, “Just like a machine, your brain needs oil -- in the form of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids -- to run smoothly. Unfortunately, the average diet doesn't usually contain the right balance of these fatty acids. If you eat a typical modern diet, you probably get plenty of omega-6 through corn, soybean, and other oils in processed food. But omega-3 oils, which are just as important, are often missing.”

Pregnant women need omega-3s

It may not be surprising that most red-meat-loving Americans do not get a lot a fish in their diets, and therefore are not getting enough brain-boosting omega-3. Unfortunately, since DHA is crucial in fetal brain development, that lack of omega-3 could be putting us at a mental disadvantage before we are even born.

“During pregnancy, omega-3 fatty acids are conveyed from the mother's blood to the developing fetus by way of the placenta,” writes Phyllis A. Balch in Prescription For Dietary Wellness. “They are vital for the development of the brain and retina membranes of the fetus. Thus, the amount of DHA the baby receives depends on the mother's dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids.” Depending on Mom’s diet, then, a child’s brain could be starved for omega-3 before it has any say in the matter, and research shows this could actually have a significant impact on intelligence and vision.

“Several recent studies, conducted in both animals and humans, have shown that babies who receive adequate amounts of this vital fat have better functioning brains and higher IQs,” writes Dr. Russell L. Blaylock in Health And Nutrition Secrets. “Those with low amounts of DHA demonstrate learning difficulties and visual problems.” Therefore, moms who want to brag about their kids’ intelligence could stand to add more fish to their diets.

Omega-3 fatty acids continue to be essential to infant brain development after birth, and research shows babies who are breast fed receive higher levels of the important fatty acid than those fed formula, since baby formula in the United States is not required to contain any omega-3 at all. Breast milk appears, in this case, to have major payoffs, according to Phyllis A. Balch, CNC and Dr. James F. Balch in Prescription For Nutritional Healing, who write, “Breastfed infants have been found to be more intelligent than formula-fed infants and to achieve higher academic levels in adult life.”

Omega-3s can aid mental and emotional disorders

The brain’s need for omega-3 fatty acids does not go away post-infancy. Omega-3 deficiencies in adults have been linked to various mental and emotional disorders. In fact, “some doctors even think the epidemic amounts of mental illness in modern societies can be traced back to the omega imbalance in the food supply,” according to Eat and Heal, by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing.

Low levels of DHA have been linked to memory loss, depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, autism and general learning difficulties or bad moods. “If you don't feed brain cell membranes enough of the right type of fat, the messages can be short-circuited and garbled. That may mean a disturbance in mood, concentration, memory, attention, and behavior,” writes Miracle Cures author Jean Carper. Depression in particular has been frequently linked to low levels of DHA, since omega-3 fatty acids help regulate mood by increasing levels of serotonin, the hormone that relieves depression.

Omega-3 may be just as important to the elderly population as it is to newborns, since diminishing omega-3 levels may be a contributing factor to stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. According to Eat and Heal, one of the possible causes of Alzheimer’s disease is beta-amyloid plaque, or clumps of protein, that accumulate in the victim's brain, and “experts believe beta-amyloid might be connected with inflammation of the brain's blood vessels.”

Since omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation, they could also be an important key in the fight against this frightening degenerative disease, as has been suggested by research in Japan. “Japanese studies have shown that supplemental DHA sharpens memory in patients with dementia and depression and improves behavior and speech in those with Alzheimer's disease,” writes Dr. Julian Whitaker in The Memory Solution.

Omega-3 fatty acids aid in routine memory function in people without Alzheimer’s, as well. “One study found that DHA supplementation significantly decreased the number of reference memory errors and working memory errors in aged male rats and in young rats,” writes Gary Null in Power Aging.

For people who don’t like fish, omega-3 fatty acids are also available in some plant foods, like flaxseed and walnuts, but they are not as potent in these forms. Fish remains the best source of omega-3s, and diets lacking in the essential fatty acids may need supplements. “For optimal brain function, I recommend that you consume fish at least two or three times a week. If your diet does not include enough of the omega-3 fatty acids or enough fish, you could consider taking supplements of fish oils or flaxseed oil,” writes Dr. Sahelia.

So, if you are fish deficient, it’s time to wise up. After all, if eating more fish oil can help keep your brain sharp and help you hold on to those precious memories as you grow older, it seems like a smart choice to make.

The experts speak on omega-3 oils and brain health:

The belief that "fish is brain food" has been held around the world for well over two thousand years. Fish supplies omega-3 oils, and among them is docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), essential for brain and eye tissue development (specifically the retina) in infants; it remains fundamental to those tissues throughout life. Current research focuses on these oils—often woefully short, if not deficient, in modern diets—as one cause of attention deficit disorder. Once more, modern research is validating folk wisdom—fish really is brain food. Now, new findings are suggesting that the oils found in fish also help prevent cancer.
20 Natural Ways to Reduce The Risk Of Prostate Cancer by James Scala PHD, page 60

Many nutrients, such as the B vitamins, are critical to proper brain function. Fatty acid deprivation works against optimal brain power. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain fatty acid found in fish, egg yolks, and marine algae, and is the predominant omega-3 fatty acid in brain tissue. As the brain is dependent on dietary fatty acids, reductions in DHA content of the diet may contribute to degenerative changes in the nervous system. The delicate balance of electrolytes also controls the electrical activity within the brain. For this reason, many of the tests previously mentioned relating to nutrition, toxic load, and stress have relevance when attempting to better understand sub-optimal brain function.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 1096

DHA remains the most important brain fat throughout life. Low levels of DHA are associated with an increased risk of memory loss. Dr. Michael A. Schmidt reports in Smart Fats that, according to data collected in the long-term Framingham Heart Study, adults with low levels of DHA have a greater likelihood of developing dementia in their later years. Other studies have indicated these adults are twice as likely to develop dementia as those with high levels of DHA. And a 1997 study demonstrated that low DHA blood levels are an important risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.
The memory Solution by Dr Julian Whitaker, page 120

The implications of omega-3 deficiency on the brain are profound and span the entire human life cycle. Beginning in pregnancy, premature birth and its potential neurologic complications may result from omega-3 deficiency. Babies who are bottle-fed or born from omega-3-deficient mothers will lack the omega-3 fatty acids necessary for optimal cognitive and visual development. Children deprived of omega-3s may have less ability to pay attention and control impulsive behavior and may be at higher risk for depression. Teenagers and adults with omega-3 deficiency may be more prone to hostility or violence. In aging, the loss of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain may result in a higher risk of stroke, memory problems, or dementia. Individuals of any age without adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and body may also be at higher risk for depression, bipolar disorder, and possibly other psychiatric disorders.
The Omega3 Connection by Andrew L Stoll MD, page 40

Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial because they provide fluidity to cell membranes and improve communication between brain cells. Omega-3s also reduce the clotting ability of platelets, thus potentially decreasing the incidence of heart attacks and strokes. Two very important omega-3 fatty acids are eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). They are found in seafood, especially mackerel, salmon, striped bass, rainbow trout, halibut, tuna, and sardines. In the body, DHA is found mostly in the brain, retina, and in sperm. DHA plays an important role in vision. B) Omega-6 fatty acids are made from linoleic acid, a fatty acid found in vegetable oils such as corn, safflower, cottonseed, and sunflower. Mayonnaise and salad oils normally contain a great amount of omega-6 fatty acids. Unlike omega-3s, which are concentrated in the brain, omega-6s are found in most tissues in the body. The double bond of an omega-6 fatty acid starts six carbons from the left. Most Americans generally have a much higher intake of the omega-6s than the omega-3s.
Mind Boosters by Dr Ray Sahelia MD, page 69

One of the most important of these fats is called docosohexiaonic acid or DHA. This fat plays an important role in the formation of the synaptic connections within the brain. These connections allow the various parts of the brain to communicate with each other and communicate with the body as well.
Health And Nutrition Secrets by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 34

Adequate levels of DHA are required for proper brain and eye development and function. DHA is important for signal transmission in the brain, eye, and nervous system.
Heart Disease by Burton Goldberg, page 46

Essential fatty acids are important in both stroke prevention and during the repair of brain tissue damaged by stroke. The brain is almost entirely composed of fatty acids. The Framingham study confirmed that the friendly fats have a beneficial effect on stroke prevention. Essential fatty acids include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) found in perilla and flaxseed oils and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) found in cold-water fish oil. Fish oils reduce inflammation due to their high content of DHA and EPA. Fish oil acts as platelet aggregation inhibitors as well as triglyceride lowering agents.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 533

DHA is not only very critical in brain development but also in maintenance of the brain later in life. Don't forget, the brain is constantly restructured throughout life, even into the extremes of age. Unfortunately, because of food-processing methods and industrial raising of animals as meat sources, most omega-3 fatty acids have been removed from our foods.
Health And Nutrition Secrets by Russell L Blaylock MD, page 315

Fish oil is probably the most important dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital nutrients. These fatty acids reduce inflammation, protect against the abnormal clotting associated with heart attacks, inhibit cancer, and protect brain function. There may be other benefits, too: a 1992 study published in the journal Lancet, for example, suggested that omega-3 fatty acids prolong pregnancy by a few days and improve birth weights.
Ask Dr Weil by Andrew Weil MD, page 92

The basic building blocks of our brain cells are essential fatty acids such as EPA and DHA from fish oil. These fatty acids are also used as fuel for brain metabolism and help control the chronic inflammatory processes involved in degenerative brain disorders.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 22

In the last month of pregnancy and first month of neonatal life, omega-3 fatty acids are rapidly incorporated into the brain of the baby. Be sure to include extra amounts of salmon, sardines, or flax into your diet during this period.
8 Weeks To Optimum Health by Andrew Weil MD, page 217

DHA is found in foods that many people have given up in the name of good health, such as organ meats and eggs. It is also abundant in fatty fish, like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and albacore tuna; however, most Americans do not eat significant quantities of fish. DHA is found in high concentration in the gray matter of the brain and the retina of the eye. It is also instrumental in the function of brain cell membranes, which are important for the transmission of brain signals.
Earl Mindell's Supplement Bible by Earl Mindell RPh PhD, page 44

A major building block of human brain tissue and the primary structural fatty acid in the gray matter of the brain and the retina, DHA is vital for brain and eye health. Studies indicate that DHA may have cardiovascular benefits as well as neurological benefits. Although the body can convert alpha-linolenic acid into DHA, the amount produced is minimal so you are better off getting DHA directly from food.
Fight Back With Food by Readers Digest, page 73

EPA and DHA are important fatty acids in maintaining proper memory and cognitive function. Therefore, I consider fish oils to be a crucial component of the mind-boosting program presented in this book. Taking a small amount of antioxidants, such as a few units of vitamin E, along with the fish-oil supplements seems prudent.
Mind Boosters by Dr Ray Sahelia MD, page 77

Studies strongly suggest that DHA, the fatty acid found in fish, is essential for normal mental function. These fatty acids may have many jobs in the body, including a possible role in the production of neurotransmitters. In fact, research has shown that primates fed a diet low in this particular fat actually became more violent and aggressive. The same may be true for humans.
Earl Mindells Secret Remedies by Earl Mindell RPh PhD, page 110

Eat plenty of cold-water fish such as tuna, trout, mackerel, and salmon, Dr. Khalsa suggests. They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, nutrients that help protect brain cells.
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb, page 21

Fish have easily digestible protein, many trace nutrients, high quality essential fatty acids, low cholesterol levels and low saturated fat levels. This makes them a nearly ideal source of dietary protein. Fish that contain high Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to our good health. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), the Omega 3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish, are found in all the cells of our body. They are especially abundant in brain cells, nerve synapses, retina, adrenal glands and sex glands. If we are healthy, we can make EPA and DHA oils from Omega 3 oils found in foods. But many of us have decreased ability to make this conversion, especially people who are aging or who have a chronic illness or degenerative condition. Eating fish gives us these necessary fatty acids directly. The fish richest in this oil are salmon, halibut, tuna, mackerel, trout, sardines, eel and herring. Low-fat fish or fish from tropical waters are still healthful to eat, but they do not have any significant levels of EPA/DHA oils.
Digestive Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski MS CCN, page 166

When it comes to providing protection for the brain and encouraging overall brain health, DHA may be the more important fatty acid. Studies found that DHA supplementation significantly decreased the number of reference memory errors and working memory errors in aged male rats as well as in young rats.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 22

Essential fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are important in neurological repair because the brain is composed almost entirely of fatty acids. They also have very strong anti-inflammatory properties.
Disease Prevention And Treatment by Life Extension Foundation, page 531

The EPA of oily fish or fish oil supplements assist development of the fetal brain. They prolong gestation and increase birth weight.
Bartrams Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Thomas Bartram, page 350

Omega-3 essential fatty acids: These beneficial fats maintain the fluidity of nerve cell membranes. They also are important for building cells; for preserving brain, nerve, and eye function; and for lowering the risk of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. We recommend taking 1,000 to 3,000 milligrams of omega-3s in supplement form every day. The
Rhodiola Revolution by Richard P Brown MD and Patricia L Gerbarg MD, page 215

Although for years scientists understood that fish oil could lighten the burden of heart disease, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, only recently have they focused on the impact of fish oil in the brain. New evidence shows that fish oil may also be therapeutic for mood and brain disturbances. Dr. Norman Salem at the National Institute of mental health says low levels of omega-3s, especially one fraction called DHA, which is rich in salmon, are linked to depression, aggressive behavior, brain damage from alcohol, attention deficit disorder, and possibly Alzheimer's disease. Too little DHA and other omega-3 fat in brain cell membranes, says Dr. Salem, may compromise proper brain functioning in various ways.
Miracle Cures by Jean Carper, page 180

The brain is 60 percent fat—and essential fatty acids are an integral component of this fat. Perhaps the most critical of these essential fatty acids is DHA, which is necessary for memory and learning. Since a certain amount of alpha linolenic acid from flaxseed is converted into DHA, this supplement can be a beneficial memory booster. Also, omega-3 fatty acids have an antiinflammatory effect, which appears to be important for brain health.
Natural Physicians Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler ND, page 188

The latest research from Japan demonstrates why DHA is also necessary to maintain optimum brain functioning in adults, and why it could turn out to be critical for the prevention and possible reversal of Alzheimer's disease!
Underground Cures by Health Sciences Institute, page 104

When the level of DHA drops, reducing axon flexibility, the arms become hardened and signals are transmitted more slowly. Researchers in Japan have recently observed that the absence of DHA is associated with many cognitive and mental-health conditions, such as depression, schizophrenia, and dementia of the Alzheimer's type.
Underground Cures by Health Sciences Institute, page 104

The basic building blocks of your brain cells are essential fatty acids such as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from fish oil. These fatty acids are also used as fuel for brain metabolism and they help control chronic inflammatory processes involved in degenerative brain disorders. When it comes to protecting brain health, DHA may be the more important fatty acid. One study found that DHA supplementation significantly decreased the number of reference memory errors and working memory errors in aged male rats and in young rats.
Power Aging by Gary Null, page 173

The omega-3 fatty acids are an integral part of the structure and function of the brain. The brain does not function well unless adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids circulate in the bloodstream and are incorporated into cell membranes. Omega-3 fatty acids also appear to influence the brain chemicals involved in antidepressant action. For example, French scientists have shown that rats deficient in omega-3 fatty acids had more receptors for the neurotransmitter serotonin and a corresponding decrease in dopamine in the frontal cortex. The direction of the changes in these neurotransmitter systems is consistent with some human models of major depression. Not surprisingly, other scientists have observed that increasing the dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids boosted the levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the frontal cortex of rats. In humans, increased dopamine in the frontal cortex increases drive and motivation, attributes lacking in the depressed person.
The Omega3 Connection by Andrew L Stoll MD, page 117

Research on infants shows that DHA is essential for normal brain development, thinking, and concentration in infants. While breast-fed infants are smarter than formula-fed infants, a study from the University of Dundee, United Kingdom, found that term infants fed DHA-fortified formulas for the first four months of life scored higher on problem-solving tests at ten months of age.
Food & Mood by Elizabeth Somer MA RD, page 200

Some experts insist that omega-3 fatty acid, the type found in fish, may be the magic intelligence-boosting ingredient in mother's milk. Omega-3s have been found critical in fetal and infant brain development. Thus, experts advise pregnant and lactating women to eat seafood to ensure that their children's developing brains are supplied with omega-3 oils.
Food Your Miracle Medicine by Jean Carper, page 285

The human body converts Omega-3 fats into DHA—a nutrient that is needed by all of us, and one that is especially critical for the brain development of fetuses and newborns. There are, however, indications that there can be a great deal of variation among people in how efficiently their bodies convert Omega-3 fats into DHA. For this reason, I strongly advise those pregnant and nursing women who choose not to eat fish to be certain to include ample amounts of flax seed oil in their diet, and as well to take supplementary DHA. Fatty fish are high in DHA, which is good, but they are often high in toxic metals and environmental contaminants that are particularly damaging to babies.
Food Revolution by John Robbins, page 93

DHA is essential for the growth and functional development of the fetal and infant brain and visual system. Human breast milk contains DHA but, unless supplemented with DHA, infant formulas in the U.S. do not contain any significant amounts. In Europe and Japan, by contrast, infant formulas are routinely supplemented with DHA.
PDR For Nutritional Supplements by Sheldon Saul Hendle and David Rorvik, page 140

DHA is vital for normal brain development for the fetus and infant and for the maintenance of normal brain function throughout life. DHA appears to be a major determinant of membrane fluidity in brain cells, and this could play a major role in the maintenance of normal cognition and mood.
PDR For Nutritional Supplements by Sheldon Saul Hendle and David Rorvik, page 148

Researchers have found that breast-fed babies have higher intelligence than bottle-fed babies, probably because of the omega-3 found in mother's milk. And it doesn't help just babies. A study showed that older men who ate fish regularly had better working brains than men who didn't eat fish.
Eat and Heal by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, page 164

While growing older is something we must all embrace, unless brain cells have withered and died, the diminishment of our mental abilities is not inevitable. The various causes of mental decline can be reversed and the progression of degenerative changes to the brain's neurons can be slowed. "Losing control of your mental faculties as you age isn't inevitable and can be reversed," says brain longevity expert Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D., author of brain Longevity. Even in the late stages, Alzheimer's disease can be halted or at least slowed down; catch it early enough and it can be reversed. And if you deal with the possibility of brain decline at mid-life, your chances of preventing it altogether are high.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 325

Added support to the claim of essentiality is the observation that large amounts of DHA have been found in the brain and eyes. In one experiment, female monkeys were fed diets low in DHA during pregnancy. Their offspring suffered from eye defects until their diet was supplemented by DHA.
Saturated Fat May Save Your Life by Bruce Fife ND, page 43

DHA plays a particularly crucial role in the brain development of infants and children. Together with other long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, DHA accumulates in the fetal brain late in pregnancy, and continues to accumulate during an infant's first few months of life. Human breast milk contains much more of these critical fats than cows’ milk or formula, so babies who are not breastfed have lower levels of these important nutrients. Researchers have determined that these important fatty acids affect intelligence in infancy and perhaps later in life.
The memory Solution by Dr Julian Whitaker, page 118

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the normal development of the unborn baby's brain, especially during the final three months of gestation when the size of its brain increases threefold. If the mother fails to get enough of these nutrients in her diet, the fetus will pirate what she has stored in her tissues—including her brain. Lab tests show that new mothers have half the normal blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Women who breast-feed their babies have even lower levels of DHA because they are continuing to supply the baby's need for omega-3 fatty acids. If a woman does not replenish her store of these essential elements following the birth of a child, she will have lower and lower levels with each additional child. Some people suggest this is why firstborn children score higher on intelligence tests. Until now, people have attributed the well-documented mental superiority of firstborn children to the fact they spend more one-on-one time with a parent. It is now being suggested that their greater cognitive abilities may also be due to a more generous supply of maternal DHA.
The Omega Diet by Artemis P Simopoulos MD and Jo Robinson, page 95

Evidence from the nursery suggests that they might. Human breast milk contains DHA, but infant formulas do not. (U.S. manufacturers of baby food are not yet required to add DHA to their products.) As a result, breast-fed babies have more DHA in their brains and retinas than bottle-fed babies. Breast-fed babies also have better visual acuity than bottle-fed babies, and, years later, score higher on standardized tests of reading, visual interpretation, sentence completion, nonverbal skills, and math. The superior performance of breast-fed babies could be due to any number of factors, however, including the fact that women who breast-feed their babies tend to be of a higher socioeconomic class. But careful studies show that DHA plays a key role in cognitive development.
The Omega Diet by Artemis P Simopoulos MD and Jo Robinson, page 89

Most of the clinical data on omega-3 fatty acids involves fish oil and its omega-3 components. Fish oil contains the two primary long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. DHA is generally incorporated into the cell membranes found throughout the body, but it is found in highest concentration in the retina, brain, and sperm. DHA is crucial for normal brain development and optimal cognitive and visual functioning in the fetus and newborn.
The Omega3 Connection by Andrew L Stoll MD, page 208

The studies have been somewhat mixed, but it appears that adult humans cannot convert enough ALA to EPA and then to DHA. Newborns appear to be better able to transform ALA to the longer-chain omega-3s, but these conversions may still be inadequate to fill the huge need of young children for omega-3 fatty acids. Thus, some nutritional scientists believe we must consume the fish and fish oil-derived long-chain omega-3 s directly for optimal brain health. Strict vegetarians likely have lower levels of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, than non-vegetarians, but may in the future be able to purchase both EPA and DHA supplements derived directly from algae.
The Omega3 Connection by Andrew L Stoll MD, page 46

DHA is critical for the proper development and function of the brain because your brain cells need it to transmit electrical impulses efficiently. It's not surprising, therefore, that a DHA deficiency can lead to memory, behavior, and learning problems.
Natural Physicians Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler ND, page 176

Most people may be deficient in DHA because of ALA to DHA conversion problems; DHA is found preformed in fresh sea vegetables, in cold water salmon, cod, sardines, mackerel, in fish oils. Its precursor is Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), composing 5 0-60% of Flaxseed oil, and 8-20% in unhydrogenated Soy, Walnut, Pumpkin, and Hemp seed oils. The brain sends messages to the body through the Central Nervous System, composed of positively-charged atom salts of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, and Sodium in the blood that keys either Motor Nerves' muscular activity, or Sensory Nerves' pain feedback, electrically via thousands of little cellular batteries.
Anti-Aging Manual by Joseph B Marion, page 732

One type of omega-3 fatty acid is called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is found throughout the fatty tissue in our brains, and it appears to play a role in how our brain functions. A growing body of research has confirmed that infants who are deficient in levels of this fatty acid have less than optimal neurological function, especially intelligence. Furthermore, a great number of neurological conditions, such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and schizophrenia, also have a high correlation with deficient levels of DHA in the bloodstream. Researchers have found that patients with bipolar depression often respond dramatically to very high dose supplementation with oils rich in DHA.
The Okinawa Program by Bradley J Willcox MD Craig Willcox PhD Makoto Suzuki MD, page 277

Studies show that essential fatty acids, the building blocks of the brain and nervous system, are lacking in many MS patients. Multiple sclerosis is most common in Western countries where people consume large amounts of meat, dairy products, and processed foods— all foods low in essential fatty acids—and is least common in countries where diets are high in unsaturated fats, including seed oils, olive oil, oily fish, fresh fruits, and vegetables—all foods high in essential fatty acids. A predominantly meat versus vegetarian diet seems to be a significant risk factor.
Alternative Medicine by Burton Goldberg, page 810

The types of fat in your diet may influence your memory, moods, response to stress, and learning ability. Your brain contains a high percentage of fat. This is "structural" fat, the kind that helps form your cell membranes and plays a vital role in how your brain cells function. Your brain is unusually rich in the omega-3 fatty acid DHA. Human breast milk contains DHA, but in the United States and some other countries, infant formulas do not. Breast-fed babies score higher on many types of standardized tests than bottle-fed babies. DHA has improved brain function in infants, adults, and the elderly.
The Omega Diet by Artemis P Simopoulos MD and Jo Robinson, page 99

The brain is 60 percent fat and requires essential fatty acids, especially DHA, to function properly. It has been shown that people deficient in DHA are much more likely to suffer from depression.
Natural Physicians Healing Therapies by Mark Stengler ND, page 180

The Omega fatty acids play a prominent role in a person's mental health. A number of mental disorders, including schizophrenia and manic-depression, may very well be manifestations of an Omega deficiency.
Omega 3 Oils by Donald Rudin MD and Clara Felix, page 209

Special fats found in fish oil, called the omega-3 fatty acids, help regulate mood by increasing serotonin levels, the nerve chemical that relieves depression. Low intake of fish oils lowers brain levels of serotonin in animals and increases aggressive and hostile behaviors. Similar effects have been noted in humans with lower fish oil consumption and serotonin levels, including increased rates of impulsive suicide attempts, according to researchers at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in Bethesda, Maryland.
Food & Mood by Elizabeth Somer MA RD, page 186

Some experts believe fish fights depression because neurotransmitters, the brain's Pony Express riders that carry messages from cell to cell, have an easier time wriggling through fat membranes made of fluid omega-3 than any other kind of fat. This means your brain's important messages get delivered.
Eat and Heal by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, page 146

Scientists don't know exactly how omega-3's protect against depression, but they do know that the fats are important to health of neurons, or brain cells. To get sufficient omega-3's to battle depression, Dr. Zuess recommends taking approximately 10 grams a day of DHA and EPA, which usually amounts to about 30 fish-oil capsules daily. Take them in divided doses with meals. This remedy is safe for long-term use.
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb, page 191

Fatigue and depression often go hand in hand. To help a blue mood, Dr. Schwartz suggests taking 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for normal brain function. Take the supplement every day at breakfast, she advises.
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb, page 252

Dr. Andrew Stoll, a Harvard psychiatrist, found that fish oil capsules helped people with bipolar disorder, or manic depression, who go through periods of extreme highs and lows. He says, "The striking difference in relapse rates and response appeared to be highly clinically significant." Stoll suggests the omega-3 fatty acid in fish oil may slow down neurons in your brain, much like the drug Lithium, which is used to treat manic depression.
Eat and Heal by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, page 146

Research conducted at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston indicated that omega-3s block abnormal brain cell signaling in patients who have bipolar disorder. Therefore, omega-3s can be a powerful adjunct in treating this illness.
Bottom Line Yearbook 2004 by Bottom Line Personnel, page 73

The point is that the origin of depression may be physical, such as deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids, folate, or B12, rather than mental. As another example, the bacteria in your gut can affect your brain chemistry; these bacteria release substances that can cause depression because they interfere with the brain's neurotransmitters (the chemicals in our brain that are involved with mood and thinking).
Ultraprevention by Mark Hyman MD and Mark Liponis MD, page 67

Fish oil even helped migraine sufferers have fewer and less severe headaches. And there is strong evidence that omega-3 fats can help with a host of mental illnesses including depression, mood disorders, and even schizophrenia. Some doctors even think the epidemic amounts of mental illness in modern societies can be traced back to the omega imbalance in the food supply.
Eat and Heal by the Editors of FC&A Medical Publishing, page 164

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are lacking in most people's diets in the United States, are abundantly present in the brain and are essential for normal brain function. Though little is currently known about how omega-3 fatty acids regulate mood, recent findings show a correlation between low levels of these compounds and depression.
Fight Back With Food by Readers Digest, page 73

Recent research at Harvard has shown that supplemental essential fatty acids can improve the symptoms of bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder. This is based on the fundamental understanding that the cells of the brain normally contain high levels of DHA, which is also commonly found in fish fat, and that adequate levels of this type of fat are critical for healthy communication between brain cells.
Ultraprevention by Mark Hyman MD and Mark Liponis MD, page 13

Schizophrenia is a devastating mental disorder that tends to strike early in adulthood. New antipsychotic drugs have helped many schizophrenics function minimally in society, but they have failed to relieve all of the troubling symptoms. Recently, three independent groups of researchers have found that schizophrenics have abnormally low levels of DHA. Prompted by these findings, a fourth group treated twenty schizophrenic patients with fish oil. The therapy was well tolerated and relieved both types of symptoms commonly seen in schizophrenics: "positive symptoms," such as delusions and hallucinations, and "negative symptoms," such as social withdrawal and lack of emotions. Some patients also got relief from abnormal involuntary movements called "tardive dyskinesia," which are a common side effect of prolonged drug treatment. The investigators concluded that omega-3 fatty acids present "novel and exciting therapeutic possibilities."
The Omega Diet by Artemis P Simopoulos MD and Jo Robinson, page 98

Depression is linked with low blood levels of DHA. Alcohol leaches DHA out of the brain. Between 16 and 50 percent of alcoholics suffer from depression, as do up to 70 percent of chronic, heavy drinkers. If a pregnant woman does not have enough omega-3 fatty acids in her diet, the fetus will rob the fatty acids from her tissues. If a woman has additional children and does not replace the missing EFAs, a woman will have lower levels of DHA with each subsequent child. A lack of DHA has been linked with postpartum depression.
The Omega Diet by Artemis P Simopoulos MD and Jo Robinson, page 99

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