Omega-3s are really Important, not boring!



brains! (Photo credit: cloois)


People sometimes say to me that nutrition information is boring…  My response is that increased risk of heart attacks and strokes is more boring!  The scientific information supporting the importance of Omega-3s is somewhat complicated.  However, the improvements in health are simple.  First, increased intake of Omega-3s leads to better mental function, since the brain has over 25% Omega-3 (DHA) content.  Second, Omega-3s result in fewer heart attacks and strokes by thinning the blood and reducing inflammation (with fewer side effects than aspirin or cholesterol medication).  Other diseases associated with low Omega-3 intake include diabetes, anorexia nervosa, depression, Huntingtons’s disease, macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, neuronal degeneration, retinosis pigmentosa, and Reye’s syndrome.  While the risk of suffering from a particular disease may seem remote, who can argue with food choices that makes you smarter???

There are many other health elixirs that make health claims, including milk.  The truth is that most health claims are backed by companies that profit from the sale of their products.   In addition, food processors are mostly focused on reducing the Omega-3 content in food (except for some token exceptions) because the shelf life of food rich in Omega-3 is much shorter than food with Omega-6.

Are there simple ways to increase Omega-3 intake?   The easiest way is to eat lots more fresh greens in salads, and more fatty fish (salmon and tuna).  I also strongly recommend ground flax seed (1/2 cup per day)(mixed with granola if desired) along with lots of almond milk (antioxidants) and fresh or frozen blueberries (antioxidants) .  Although flaxseeds apparently contain cyanogens, their toxicity is not confirmed.  A conical burr grinder is best, and the Capresso Infinity 560 grinder works very well with flax seed.  Fish oil supplements are also an option.  I take Norwegian Gold “Critical Omega” capsules, but there are lots of alternate brands.  Look for distilled fish oils, and concentrated formulas.  The capsule I take has 840 mg of Omega-3 per capsule, and I take 6  per day.Finally, you can also try juicing greens (less fiber, but lots of antioxidants) and I have had good results using the Kempo Green Power juicer.  Of course, any time you change your diet, it is important to make changes gradually, to allow your system to adjust.   Antioxidants are important to help stabilize the Omega-3s in your body.

I have noticed subjectively an improvement in my brain function (more ideas being generated, and more energy) within about a month of starting the high Omega-3 dose fish oil.  This is not really surprising, since as noted above, the brain is about 25% fat (DHA).

There is lots of conflicting and confusing nutritional advice in the media.  However, everyone is different, and each person needs to find out what works best for them.   These suggestions are not intended to be a quick fix, and some patience will be required.   I am a believer in trial and error, and I suggest starting with fish oil supplements. If those make a noticeable difference, then try and see whether the other suggestions also lead to a noticeable improvement in mental function and overall health!


One response to “Omega-3s are really Important, not boring!

  1. Pingback: Mental Disorders 101

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