From piling on wrinkle creams to dying those nagging grays, it seems Americans are obsessed with preserving youth, but what about age-proofing your brain? New science reveals a smarter way to keep the brain young; fish oil. According to a new study published in the journalNeurology, diets lacking in omega-3, the essential fat found in fish oil, could lead to memory loss and dementia and cause the brain to age faster.
Click on the following link to watch a video on the topic: http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/46548774/#46548774
In addition to supporting brain health and cognitive function, the main omega 3 fats found in fish, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), have also been shown to support a healthy mood, normal inflammatory response in the body, immune health, eye health and heart health.
Wondering how much to supplement? As Dr. Snyderman points out in the video above, current national guidelines suggest at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week or a minimum of 500 mg combined EPA/DHA per day. However, some people, like those with heart disease or other health issues, may need to take up to double that dose.
If you’re thinking it might be tough to fit fatty fish into your weekly meal plan, you’re not alone. Whether it’s personal taste, limited availability or the increasing concern about the high levels of mercury in fish, many people are much happier getting the benefits of omega 3 fats in one convenient softgel rather than head to the fish counter at the grocery store. Just be sure that you choose a high quality fish oil that offers high concentrations of EPA and DHA, and has been purified to remove contaminants and is third-party tested for freshness.
Many people are familiar with the term “omega-3.” And many people also know that good sources of omega-3 are fish and flaxseeds. But did you know that these two sources contain different types of omega-3? Flaxseed contains the omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and fish contains two different types of omega-3: docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
ALA actually converts into EPA, which then can convert into DHA (and vice versa). These conversions, however, occur on a very limited basis. ALA only converts to EPA at a rate of between 8 and 20 percent, and only converts to DHA (by way of EPA) at a rate of between 0.5 and 9 percent. Many people take omega-3 in the ALA form, like flaxseed oil, thinking that they are getting all the benefits of omega-3s, but they’re not getting the whole story. Certainly ALA is a beneficial omega-3. But most of the benefits of ALA are thought to be due to its eventual conversion into EPA and DHA—especially when it comes to heart health.
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlights this point. Data based on 3,277 healthy Danish adults found that a higher intake of ALA over 23 years was not associated with a reduction in risk of ischemic heart disease—the most common form of heart disease, and the most common cause of death in the U.S. But intake of other long-chain omega-3s—like EPA and DHA—was associated with a reduced risk.
The researchers found that intakes ranging from 0.45 to 11.2 grams per day were associated with a 38 percent reduced risk of ischemic heart disease for women. This is a large range, certainly, and higher doses of EPA and DHA should only be taken under the consult of a doctor. But the American Heart Association does recommend that people consume the equivalent of 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA (not ALA) if they are healthy and want to maintain heart health; 1 gram per day if they have coronary heart disease; and 2 to 4 grams per day if they have high triglycerides.
If you are taking an omega-3 supplement, take a look at the label and see how much EPA and DHA you are getting. This is what you should be looking for in a high-quality omega-3.