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Fish Oil & Brain Health

Sharpen Your Mind

Randall McCloy Jr. was the only survivor of the 2006 Sago mine collapse.

When the rescuers found him in the rubble, he had brain, heart, liver and kidney failure. He was barely clinging to life. After he was transported to West Virginia School of Medicine, one of the first things the hospital neurosurgeons did was tube-feed him very large doses of fish oil.

Mr. McCloy has since made a remarkable recovery.

“I certainly think it played a big role,” said Dr. Julian Bailes, Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. “How can he rebuild his brain, if he doesn’t have the substrate to do it?

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Scientific research on Omega-3 and brain health.

Omega-3 is the building block of the brain. So the brain has a voracious appetite for Omega-3 and other nutrients.

Have you ever skipped a meal and felt light-headed? Well, that’s your brain asking for glucose.

Your brain is like a muscle. To keep it toned, you need to do two things to it:

  1. Feed it
  2. Exercise it (think crossword puzzles and learning new languages)

The brain is only 2% of your total body weight, but it can use up to a third of the energy from what you eat. So it is the first to suffer when you eat junk food or eat trans-fats.

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Sixty percent of a healthy brain is Omega fats.

Omega-3 helps the transport of nutrients and “happy chemicals” (prostaglandins and neurotransmitters) like serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Omega-3 also laces or lines nerves. And since the brain is the center of the nervous system, it has a huge and constant need for Omega-3.

So what happens when you don’t have enough Omega-3?
The brain replaces or “makes do” with whatever type of fat is available. Usually, the brain (and the rest of the body for that matter) uses Omega-6 or trans-fat if that is what is available.

Some scientists use a lock-and-key analogy to explain how Omega-3 helps nerve cells in the brain. Imagine there is an Omega-3 lock and an Omega-3 key. They belong together. An Omega-3 lock cannot be opened with any other key. So if there is not enough Omega-3 available, many parts of the brain simply stops working like they should.

Bottom line: Not enough Omega-3 translates to a poorly working brain!

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