Your Brain On Fish

Adams River Salmon Run In Kamloops BC Canada 2010
Omega 3’s are found in the oil of cold-water fish such as Salmon and Pollock

If you keep up with contemporary information on health and wellness, you already know that Omega 3’s found in the oil of cold-water fish such as Salmon and Pollock, are essential to our health. Research into fish oil is taking us further into our understanding of its role in keeping us healthy and also giving us greater appreciation for the best sources of Omega’3’s.

For those of you who are uncertain what Omega-3’s are and why they’re important, a brief overview is this: Omega-3’s are essential fatty acids called Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They are essential building blocks of nerve cell membranes. Your brain has approximately 100 billion nerve cells, so Omega-3’s are pretty important when it comes to keeping a healthy brain! But why should you be concerned with the cell membrane, you say? Well, think of this, just as your skin is your body’s first defense against the outside environment, the cell’s membrane is its first defense.

Omega-3 Phospholipid and skin cell membrane lipid layer structure
Omega-3 Phospholipid and skin cell membrane lipid layer structure

Environmental toxins are bombarding our bodies and cells every day with dangerous free radicals that change the molecular structure of cell membranes; proteins and our very DNA!

factory in evening light with fumes coming out of pipes
factory in evening light with fumes coming out of pipes

Now I know most of you don’t really want a lesson in cellular biology, however, a rudimentary knowledge may serve you the next time you wonder whether to eat that Kentucky Fried Chicken or a nice piece of grilled Salmon.

Science is showing that the effects of aging on the brain can actually be REVERSED(!) when people who are Omega-3 deficient are adequately supplemented with reliable sources of EPA & DHA. Rat studies show reversal of age-related changes in brain cells such that their capacity to learn new information and store it are improved when they are supplemented with appropriate levels of Omega-3’s! You might say, “I’m no rat!”, but much of our breakthroughs in scientific research that becomes vitally relevant to humans, comes from studying rats.

Research by Amminger, et al, published in Biological Psychiatry. 2007 Feb 15 showed that aggression and self-injury in autistic children was significantly reduced using a supplement of 840mg EPA and 700mg DHA as compared to placebo. So, if you’ve been feeling irritable or noticing you have a short temper, you might want to consider including a good source of Omega-3’s to your diet.

Now, here’s what I REALLY get excited about (because, as you know, I’m a Psychiatrist☺). According to two studies, one published in Biological Psychiatry, March, 1998 and one in Psychiatry Reserves, March 1999, low Omega-3 levels are frequently found in people with depression, anxiety and who have attempted or completed suicide. The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry published a study in March, 2008 showing that people treated for depression with Prozac, compared to Omega-3’s had a 50% response verses a higher, 56% responded to supplementation with 1000mg of EPA. 81% of those who took a combination of both showed significant improvement in their depression.

There is also evidence that Omega-3’s can help to increase the gray matter of the brain, particularly in areas that are vital to memory, happiness and attention. So, it’s statistically proven that you could have a bigger, more functional brain with the right supplementation of Omega-3’s.


So, now that you know how to protect, improve the functioning of and increase the size of your brain, where do you find those valuable Omega-3’s? Well, if you want to just supplement your diet with fish, The American Heart Association recommends that you consume 4oz of cold-water fish such as Salmon, Mackerel, Herring, Lake Trout, Sardines, Albacore Tuna or Pollock three times/week. If you want to make absolutely certain you are getting enough, I recommend Omega 3’s from the following companies:

Life Extension at has a number of Omega-3 supplements and also those with Krill Oil which we will talk about in the next issue here on

Another good source is through Allysian Sciences at This resource contains Krill Oil and is a wonderful source of those vital Omega-3’s PLUS phospholipids (more to follow, so stay tuned!)

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