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Omega 3 Fatty Acids - Brain Benefits

posted 8 May 2015, 03:42 by Tim Elliston   [ updated 2 Aug 2018, 08:10 ]
By JoAnn Bayus

By now, most people have heard of the extensive health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Among other benefits, they help regulate cell function, reduce inflammation, and decrease the risk of numerous chronic diseases. But did you know that omega-3s are positively associated with brain function and cognitive performance?

According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “experts believe omega-3s improve the health of brain cell membranes, allowing greater communication between cells.” In addition to being good for overall brain health, omega-3 consumption has been associated with improved spelling and reading performance in children, decreases in problem behaviours, and improvement in symptoms of those with mood disorders.

Omega-3 deficiencies, on the other hand, have been linked to increased risk of various disorders including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, depression, and age related cognitive decline.

Omega-3s are essential fatty acids (EFA), meaning that your body cannot make them so you must get them from food. Good sources of omega-3s include salmon and other cold water, oily fish, walnuts, eggs, krill oil, kiwi fruit, flax seed, and chia seed.

Along with eating wild caught, uncontaminated seafood (salmon, tuna, etc.) several times a week, I get my omega-3s by adding organic, ground chia and flax seeds to my morning smoothie. If you would rather get your omega-3s from fish oil supplements, choose those that are guaranteed to be free of contaminants like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls. Vegetarian options are also available. Try to select sources that do not contain omega-6 or omega-9, as most people already get enough of those from food and over consumption can cause inflammation.


Gómez-Pinilla et al. Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2008; 9 (7): 568

Andrew Weil. Fish Oil Supplements: Getting Your Omega-3s. Natural Healing, January 15, 2008: 82 – 83

Omega 3 fatty acids – University of Maryland

Omega-3, Omega-6, Omega 9: The Basics – By Susan McQuillan

United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water. Fact Sheet - Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) Update: Impact on Fish Advisories.September 1999

JoAnn Bayus