Healthy brains need Omega-3 fatty acids research continues to tell us. Omega-3 fatty acids can not only alleviate our depression, improve our mental acuity, but also help us avoid sliding into dementia or developing Alzheimer Disease as we age.
An April 2007 editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition calls longer-term studies on the effectiveness of Omega-3 fatty acids in light of the fairly compelling evidence that fatty acid intake improves cognitive functioning.
As we rebuild from depression by increasing our intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, we also may be helping ourselves live longer in good cardiovascular health and with good cognitive function. Currently, the American Heart Association recommends that we eat two fish meals a day.
Indeed, the type of Omega-3 fatty acid that appears to be most beneficial in research is EPA and DHA, both found primarily in fish. There is some quantity in beef pastured on grass, but fish is far and away the best source. We could consume two fish meals a day but some of us probably need much more Omega-3 in our diet in the short term and some of us have to watch our fish intake. So there are at least two caveats that I would add:
- Pregnant women are advised to reduce their fish intake because of the possibility of mercury contamination need another strategy.
- People seeking out high doses of Omega-3 fatty acids to alleviate depression would have to eat about two fish meals everyday to consume the four grams a day Andrew Stoll recommends in The Omega Connection.
In both cases, a cod liver or fish oil supplement is probably in order. The oil processing cleans the oil of the possible mercury and of other contaminants such as PCBs and dioxins. Some brands with high levels of EPA and DHA per dose will allow people on higher-dose regimens to meet their requirements.
All brands of oils are different. The doses of essential fats differ. How they measure doses differs. The content of vitamin A and D differ. Consumers need to look closely at labels.