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Improving Your Brain Health with Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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Do you have an omega-3 fatty acid rich diet? You should! Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for health, including your brain health.

What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, also called polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, so you need to get them through your foods. The George Mateljan Foundation states that there are three important omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). When you ingest alpha-linolenic acid rich foods, your body converts them into DHA and EPA.

The University of Maryland Medical Center stated that “omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function.” Not having enough omega-3 fatty acids can cause some health problems. For example, symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include poor circulation, poor memory, fatigue, dry skin, mood swings and heart problems.

How Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Help the Brain

Part of omega-3 fatty acids' role in healthy body function is maintaining cell membranes. If a cell's membrane breaks down, it interrupts normal communication between cells. But omega-3 fatty acids can also help with certain brain disorders.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): patients with ADHD may have lower levels of certain omega-3 fatty acids, such as EPA and DHA, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Studies on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on symptoms have mixed results. Some found improvement with behavioral symptoms, while others found no effect when combined with stimulant medications.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.