A DHA-rich fish oil will help you boost your brain power and it is one of the most effective ways of taking care of the heart. Taking DHA-rich fish oil will also preserve brain function for the future by building the foundations of healthy cognition. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
is one of three omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, and it many people are confused about which of the omega-3s is best for them. This article will detail how you can benefit from ensuring you are getting enough of the right kind of fish oil, and why a DHA-rich supplement can be the right one to take.
For just about every population, omega-3 fish oil is the number one most important nutritional component. Whether it’s elite athletes in their prime, pregnant women, the elderly, young children, obese adolescents, developing fetuses—you name it, they need a daily dose of omega-3 fish oil. In general, all of these people would benefit from a healthy concentration of DHA in that fish oil. DHA is involved in all of the following physiological processes:
1) Brain development and IQ in the fetus and in young children
2) Maternal health during pregnancy
3) Healthy brain function in adults and prevention of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s
4) Optimal neurotransmitter function, mood maintenance, and depression prevention
5) Cardiovascular health and prevention of inflammation
6) Insulin management, energy use, and metabolism
7) A lean and healthy body composition
8) Support the function and absorption of most other nutrients in the body
DHA Fish Oil and Omega-3 Fats: The Basics
A few things are essential when it comes to taking DHA. First, you want to make sure that at the most basic level your omega-3 fat intake is balanced with your omega-6 fat intake. Second, for the health benefits mentioned above, you want to take more DHA, based on research studies that show that the greatest benefits come from taking a large concentration of DHA.
The omega-3 fats include DHA, EPA, and ALA and they are commonly consumed in the diet from fish, wild meats, and grass-fed beef. The one concern with getting omega-3 fats from the diet is that fish has been contaminated with mercury and other pollutants. I’ll go into this more below, but it’s necessary to mention it here, because you’ll do more harm than good if you get all your omega-3 fats from contaminated fish oils.
Balance Omega-3 Fish Oil with Omega-6 Oils
The essential thing is to balance your omega-3 and omega-6 fat intake and completely eliminate trans and hydrogenated fats. Omega-6 fats are found in abundance in vegetable oils (corn, sesame safflower, peanut, etc.) that are used in cooking and producing processed foods. They are found in abundance in the typical Western diet and have resulted in a skewed ratio between omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats.
Human beings evolved on a diet with an equal ratio between these two types of fats because of the high prevalence of wild meat in the diet and complete lack of processed foods. In the typical diet today, that ratio has been skewed to anywhere between 15:1 to as bad as 50:1 of omega-6 fats to omega-3s.The goal is to shift that ratio back to equal for optimal health. Omega-6s are not “bad fats;” they are just not as “good” for health as omega-3s.
At the most basic level, the reason omega-3 fats are best for the brain and for energy use (think fat burning) is that fats vary greatly in terms of their permeability. Omega-3s are the most liquid of the fats, meaning when omega-3s make up the cell lipid layers, it is easier for nutrients to feed the brain and other cells in the body. Omega-6s are next most permeable, followed by other forms of fats, of which trans fats are the worst—they are sludgy, impermeable fats that you don’t want anywhere near your brain cells.
Go Uber With DHA: Build the Baby Brain for Optimal IQ
Of great interest to prospective and current mothers is evidence that taking DHA during pregnancy and lactation (and then supplementing throughout childhood) results in a higher IQ in children. For example, researchers gave pregnant women fish oil in a ratio of roughly 2 to 1 of DHA to EPA. They gave another group of pregnant women an omega-6 supplement. Then they waited four years and tested their children’s IQs at four years of age. The children of the mothers who received the DHA-rich fish oil performed substantially better on mental processing and had higher IQs than the offspring of the omega-6 group. Naturally, they controlled for other complicating factors that affected the children’s brain development.
Boosting your DHA intake, or that of your child, provides potent nutrients for neuroreceptor signaling and effective enzyme activity in the brain. I recommend a healthy dose of fish oil that is DHA-rich to all of my clients, and many of them have reported huge differences in their children’s abilities between those born to them before I started working with them and the children they’ve had since I told them about the necessity for a DHA-rich fish oil. I’ve even heard stories from clients who have observed higher intelligence and motor skill levels in the children who were born after the clients upped their DHA—to the point that some parents frankly admit that the later-born children have an unfair advantage over their older siblings.
DHA-Rich Fish Oil Gives Kids The Edge In School
DHA-rich fish oil is a great addition to any child or adolescent’s diet because it will help regulate their brain for learning and retention, while providing a calming effect for hyperactive kids. DHA-rich fish oil is probably the supplement that has the most clinical support for treating hyperactivity and ADD in kids. For example in one study, young children with ADHD who took a DHA-rich fish oil along with supplemental magnesium and zinc had dramatic improvements on a brain skills test and demonstrated less hyperactivity than children who took an EPA-rich supplement.
For school-age children, especially those that have trouble focusing or display ADHD, best results come when parents make sure their kids are getting adequate levels of magnesium and zinc along with DHA because those two minerals are primary in brain function. Also, in my experience giving kids carnitine with 6 to 9 grams a day of omega-3 fish oil a day with at least 50 percent coming from DHA will do wonders for children’s ability to focus and learn. The DHA-rich fish oil improves blood flow to the brain, while the carnitine enables the brain cells to process the DHA.
Get Extra DHA: Boost the Aging Brain
DHA-rich fish oil is of paramount importance for keeping the brain young. DHA not only makes up the brain’s cell lipid layers, but also impacts the structure and electrical signaling systems in the brain and the health of the nervous system.
There is a mountain of evidence suggesting that adequate DHA intake may help prevent age-related cognitive decline and a host of neurological disorders. It may even improve memory. A new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that taking DHA and EPA fish oil in a 4 to 1 ratio can improve cognitive function, verbal fluency, and mood in a population of older individuals with mild cognitive impairment. Researchers conclude that DHA-rich fish oil is one of our best tools to protect the brain and fight cognitive decline. It can also prevent the ill effects that go with mental deterioration such as depression, impaired reasoning and memory, and a greater incidence of bodily pain.
DHA Protects The Heart
A large concentration of DHA in your fish oil is also important to protect the heart and prevent chronic inflammation. A large-scale study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that healthy men who had higher serum omega-3 levels had lower of chronic inflammation, which is a primary indicator of heart disease risk—and those who consumed more DHA-rich fish oil had the best cardiac health. This study calls attention to the concern of toxins in fish oil because scientists tested the level of mercury in the participants’ hair.
There is a concern that fish, especially the highly toxic tuna (the French call tuna “the garbage can of the sea”) contain dangerously high levels of mercury, which may lead to greater health risks. The best way to minimize exposure to toxins and heavy metals, such as mercury, is to take a high quality DHA-rich fish oil from a source such as calamari. Calamari is a small seafood that makes them less likely to be toxic—sardines are another good choice.
It’s also a good idea to make sure the company that provides your fish oil tests for other toxins such as PCBs, which are a chemical that was widely used in industrial cooling before it was banned in the U.S. due to health dangers including cancer and neurological disorders in fetuses. For example, in 2009, a lawsuit was filed against some of the largest supplement manufacturers (Rite Aid, GNC, CVS, NOW Health Group, Solgar, and Twinlab among others) because independent lab tests found PCB toxins in the fish oil sold by these companies.
In the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, the men with higher DHA fish oil intake did have higher levels of mercury in their hair, indicating that they were being exposed to large amounts of mercury in their diet. On the upside, the mercury didn’t increase cardiovascular inflammation, but it is concerning, especially for children and pregnant women. The damage from pollutants is greater for children and the developing fetus, but everyone should minimize exposure to toxins as much as possible.
Elevate Performance With DHA-Rich Fish Oil
If you are strength training to boost your performance in speed sports, DHA-rich fish oil is necessary because fast-twitch fibers have a higher demand for DHA. Sprinters and athletes in the relative strength sports such as gymnastics and wrestling will benefit from more DHA in their fish oil.
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