Fish oil is the world’s most popular dietary supplement due to its well-known benefits for heart health. However, one lesser known benefit of fish oil is its benefits to both cognitive function and mental health.
Fish oil contains two types of omega-3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA. These two omega-3 fatty acids are essential components to our cell walls and have powerful anti-inflammatory functions within the body.
Both EPA & DHA are extremely important for normal brain function and development and have been found to have a positive effect on the development of an infant’s brain. Several studies have suggested that pregnant women who supplement with fish oil tend to have children who score high on IQ tests in early childhood.
And these vital acids are also essential to maintain normal and healthy brain function as some studies have shown that those with a lower level of DHA in their blood have signs of premature brain aging.
Now that we have established that fish oil supplementation is critical in health brain function and development, there are also claims that the supplement can also help improve cognitive function.
As we age, our cognitive function will inevitably decline and things might become harder to remember or learn. Some research has suggested that fish oil supplementation in those with age-related cognitive function decline are able to improve symptoms and improve memory and learning.
That being said, those already suffering from Alzheimer’s, degenerative brain disorder, showed no improvement when taking fish oil. This suggests that it might be best to begin taking fish oil supplements earlier on in life, while cognitive function impairment is still mild.
Mental health and wellbeing are rarely discussed about due to its rather sensitive nature. However, the reality is that depression is thought to affect around 10% of the world’s total population.
There are antidepressants for those suffering with depression, however the demand for non-medical interventions has also increased over the years.
Fish oil has been found to be able to improve depressive symptoms in people with depression, with some research stating that the effects are comparable to antidepressant medications.
The EPA in fish oil supplements is suggested to be able to improve the production of serotonin and the repair the serotonin receptors in our brains – allowing us to feel happier.
However, the greatest improvements in depressive symptoms seem to be with those that are taking fish oil supplement while also taking antidepressants. So, if you’re already on anti-depressants, please don’t stop them. Instead, take fish oil as a dietary supplement for your mental and physical health.