Fish Oil: Healthy For Your Brain.

Fish oil is one of the most popular nutritional supplements. Americans spend $2.6 billion yearly on it. Your brain needs plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, the kind found in fish oil, to function at its best and to create healthy brain cells. Here’s how every brain can benefit from fish oil and why it’s especially helpful for anyone with depression or related mood disorders.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are essential for good physical and mental health. They are the “liquid gold” found in fish oil. It’s no exaggeration to say that the quality of your brain cells depends on the availability of omega-3s. Omega-3s are an integral structural component of brain cell membranes and nerve cells. When omega-3s aren’t available, your brain will use whatever inferior fats are available, creating inferior brain cells. And healthy brain cells are your first line of defense against depression and other mood disorders.

Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and this is important for your brain. The best dietary source of omega-3s is a group of foods that most of us don’t eat often — wild-caught, cold water oily fish like herring, salmon, mackerel, halibut, and sardines.

Fish oil is most often recommended to reduce risk of heart disease and to decrease the inflammation of arthritis. Fish oil supplementation has an impressive record for improving brain functions of all kinds — mood, memory, cognition, and mental well-being.

Women who develop postpartum depression tend to be deficient in omega-3s. Moms-to-be can take fish oil as a natural alternative to prescription drugs during pregnancy and while breastfeeding to prevent postpartum depression. And an excellent side benefit is that the extra DHA, an essential component in breast milk, will help the development of their baby’s brain.

Here is what to look for when buying fish oil: Look for one that will give you 2–4 grams of total EPA and DHA combined. Skip supplements that also contain omega-6s — you almost certainly already get plenty of these in your diet. Look on the label for a guarantee that it’s free of toxins and contaminants.

Dosages: 500 to 1000 mg of total omega-3s per day to maintain health and avoid deficiency with therapeutic doses up to 3 grams generally considered safe. Always read the label to make sure you are getting at least 220 mg each of DHA and EPA.

Note, that fish oil’s anti-depressant effects will not be immediate. It can take anywhere from 4 weeks to 12 weeks for them to kick in.