Omega-3 (EPA & DHA)
|By Jonathan Roseland||Connect|
As one of the four major categories of recognized nootropics, this family of fatty acids is essential to those seeking a Limitless mind and body
DHA(Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) are two primary building blocks of the brain and needed daily to maintain a balanced psyche.
These two fatty acids have a variety of neurological benefits, a 2005 study (European Journal of Clinical Investigation) showed omega-3 had cognitive performance boosting effects in healthy individuals. A very extensive study, conducted in the Netherlands by University Medical Center Utrecht lasted from 1995 to 2000 and involved over 1600 middle aged adults. It involved testing memory, cognitive flexibility, psychomotor speed and overall cognition. The result of this mammoth study was that diets high in EPA and DHA where inversely related to risk of generally impaired cognitive ability. These fatty acids are also essential to membrane fluidity in the brain which is a major factor of mood.
Those suffering from Schizophrenia have low omege-3 and omege-3 levels. EPA has been demonstrated to help those suffering from Alzheimer's and statistically significant improvement for those who are depressed, in fact a Chinese study of 100 suicide attempt patients showed that their EPA levels where significantly lower than the individuals in the none-suicidal control group. Supplementation of EPA has also been shown to be modestly effective helping those with ADHD(Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Pages, 2011).
Head Strong by Dave Asprey makes the case that optimizing your Mitochondria is the ultimate performance enhancing Biohack because your Mitochondria are the fundamental energy generation mechanism that underlie everything else. From the book:
EPA is a powerful anti-inflammatory, while DHA is the primary structural fatty acid in your brain, your retina, and your central nervous system and is essential for brain development. (p. 93)
I recommend krill oil over fish oil. Krill oil is more stable and is phosphorylated, meaning it’s easier for your brain to use. It also contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant shown to improve mitochondria. (p. 97)
The health benefits of omega-3 where actually first highlight by researchers in the 1970 who where studying the Greenland Inuits. This group of indigenous peoples had virtually no occurrences of heart diseases, they consumed massive amount of fish and corresponding fish oil fats. High levels of omega-3 reduces triglycerides, blood pressure, heart rate and atherosclerosis. Cardiovascular health is directly proportional to our brain health because our brain is so dependent on the cardiovascular system for delivering oxygen.
Omega-3 fatty acids come in these forms: fish oils, squid oil, algal oil and some plant oils, echium oil and flaxseed oil. The diet of the western world is notoriously biased towards Omega-6 and Omege-9 oils so those seeking to reach their greatest mental potential should either eat fish daily or have a daily regiment of fish oil supplements. It's even more important for vegans and vegetarians to supplement EPA and DHA, both are produced synthetically in a lab along with occurring in nature. Supplementing omega-3 couldn't be more cost effective with one month supplies of the highest quality fish oil supplements costing $15-$25.
The most common dietary source of DHA and EPA is from slimy, cold water fish. These fish don't actually synthesize the fatty acids, they obtain them from algae or plankton. Here is the approximate gram amounts of n-3 per standard serving 3oz (85gram) of the healthiest fish:
Herring, Sardine 1.3G - 2G Per Serving
Spanish Mackerel 1.1G - 1.7G Per Serving
Salmon 1.1G - 1.9G Per Serving
Tuna 0.21G – 1.1G Canned Tuna 0.17G – 0.24G Per Serving
Halibut 0.60G – 1.12G Per Serving
Swordfish 0.97G Per Serving
Greenshell/lipped mussels 0.95G Per Serving
Tilefish 0.9G Per Serving
What about metal poisoning from eating seafood? Many people may have heard that fish can contain high amounts of metals that may not be healthy. There is some truth to this, however in 2006 researchers from Harvard's School of Public Health did an extensive review of this, they reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the long term health benefits of eating fish frequently far outweigh the potential risks.