The effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the brain

Highly complex with around 100 billion nerve cells that all communicate with each other. Omega-3 fatty acids help to improve their performance. © stock.adobe.com, Matthieu (#403048185)

Studies show that as essential nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids can help improve cognitive function, reduce inflammation, and protect the brain from age-related damage. How can the valuable omega-3 be absorbed? How much of it is needed? These and other brain health questions are answered here.

Our brain: a marvel of billions of neurons

The human brain is made up of billions of neurons connected by trillions of synapses. Neurons transmit information throughout the nervous system. The synapses, which fill the tiny gaps between the neurons and transmit electrical signals, are indispensable for this. The highly complex network of billions of cells ensures that we can perceive the world and participate in life.

In order for the cells to be able to do all this, they depend on intact brain membrane cells. The nutrient omega-3 supports them and ensures the ability to communicate between the cells. Important here: Omega-3 is an essential but polyunsaturated fatty acid.

What is omega 3?

As described, omega-3 fatty acids are a type of unsaturated fat that is essential for human health. Unlike many other substances, however, the body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids itself, so they have to be ingested through food or dietary supplements.

Food
Generate omega-3 not only from animals, but also from plants: linseed, walnuts or avocado contain the valuable fatty acids. © stock.adobe.com, tbralnina (286927493)

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids

The valuable fats are contained, for example, in cold-water fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines as well as in linseed, chia seeds and walnuts. Numerous types of vegetables such as spinach, beans, avocado or Brussels sprouts also contain the important omega-3 fatty acids.

What is the daily requirement for omega-3 fatty acids in a person?

The exact daily requirement depends on age or previous illnesses and physical stress. According to experts, healthy adults should consume 200mg to 5g of omega-3 fatty acids daily. Small children have a lower omega-3 requirement. Your maximum intake should not exceed 0.1 grams per day. Children and adolescents should consume around 0.25g per day and breastfeeding/pregnant women around 0.45g.

The increased need for pregnant and breastfeeding women is primarily due to their responsibility towards their (unborn) offspring. With their bodies and mother's milk, they ensure a healthy development of the new life. With the increased omega-3 content, they naturally support the development of the baby's eyes and brain.

Does it always have to be animal omega-3?

Health at the expense of the seas and animals? Awareness of sustainability, healthy nutrition and support for one's own body is increasing. But this often results in a conflict of conscience: Omega-3 supply for my well-being at the expense of the sea creatures? Thanks to innovative plant-based alternatives, nobody has to make a decision.

Fish in particular are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but there is another way. More and more manufacturers are offering as an alternative vegan omega 3 to disposal. One of these companies, for example, is the producer Testa. Under the hashtag #Fishfree, the company is also committed to protecting sea creatures. Thanks to more than ten years of experience on the market, no fish have to lose their lives to obtain omega-3. Instead, there are herbal alternatives without the typical fishy smell in practical capsule form.

More and more people want a good omega-3 supply that fits their carefree lifestyle. This is possible with the plant-based omega-3 capsules. Due to the high quality of the capsules, 1 instead of 2 or even 3 capsules is often sufficient to cover the same requirement. This results in sustainability that is practiced several times over, because less daily capsule requirements also mean less packaging waste.

If omega-3 is missing: These symptoms indicate a deficiency

Studies show that the lack of omega-3 is widespread in Germany. The main reason for this is an unbalanced diet. That a lack of Omega-3 fatty acids is often identified by simple symptoms: tiredness, dry skin, mood swings, poor circulation.

Anyone who notices these symptoms themselves should first take a critical look at their diet. Are enough foods consumed to cover the omega-3 requirement? If not, supplementation can help. In drugstores, pharmacies or health food stores there are numerous ways to compensate for the deficiency with capsules or liquids.

Is too high an omega-3 dose harmful?

So far, there have been no reliable studies on how too much omega-3 affects the body in the long term. However, some research shows that prolonged overdose can negatively impact LDL cholesterol levels. This in turn can lead to a weakening of the immune system, especially in older people.

The omega-3 effect: This is why the fatty acids are indispensable for the body

In addition to improving brain health, omega-3 fatty acids are said to have a positive effect on the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease (due to ongoing research, this cannot be medically confirmed). Experts notedthat the fatty acids can promote cognitive functions.

For example, communication between cells is improved because the omega-3 fatty acids help keep cell membranes healthy. The better they are intact, the easier it is to communicate, which has a positive effect on cognitive abilities.

Another positive omega-3 effect is shown in the protection against brain damage. Inflammation can lead to (temporary) impairment of brain function. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 significantly reduce the risk - one reason why numerous experts recommend omega-3 intake.

Experts know: Athletes in particular often suffer from an omega-3 deficiency

Studies show that not only vegetarians or vegans are more prone to omega-3 deficiency, but also athletes. If you are physically active, you should consume at least 0.3 g per day, more is better. If athletes do not increase the dose as the load increases, a deficiency can develop.

This is often reflected in prolonged regeneration or increased muscle soreness. For example, one study showed that athletes who took omega-3 supplements performed better on muscle tests than athletes who didn't take the supplements. Another study found that omega-3 fatty acids can improve endurance during endurance sports. Cyclists who took omega-3 supplements were able to ride longer before becoming exhausted. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to reduce inflammation, which can be particularly helpful when recovering from injuries.

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