Fish Oil and Cognitive Support
Humans are currently getting essential fish oil nutrient Omega 3 from the tissues of oily fish such as sardines, salmon, and tuna.
However, the fish itself does not produce the famous fatty acids contained in the fish oil.
Rather, they accumulate them by consuming microalgae, the original holder of omega-3’s EPA and DHA (too bad we cannot synthesize it by ourselves!).
Thus, omega-3 fatty acids are thought to be important for maintaining normal cellular metabolism.
Predictably, the health effects of fish oil supplementation seem to be broad and diverse…
Cardiovascular health, hypertension, inflammation, developmental disorders, mental health and even cancer.
This all sounds fantastic, sadly however, there is poor evidence to prove the potential benefits aforementioned – the results of the clinical trials being generally inconclusive.
While the animal evidence available in regard to cognitive functioning is rather uniform (for example, it seems that fish oil significantly attenuates reactivity to mental stress in dogs, cats, and mice), the one directed to healthy humans is still controversial.
There are certainly studies that advocate for its efficacy.
From schoolchildren showing improvement in cognitive function after consuming a bread spread containing fish flour, to subjects with mild cognitive impairment who showed improvement in their memory function.
However, the latest studies challenge these results , arguing that potential target populations who would more likely benefit from omega-3 fatty acids would be just Alzheimer’s disease patients.
No real benefits for healthy adults without brain impairment issues.
As with any current brain supplement, ideally, further research has to be done until reaching consensus.
Strange considering how many stores stock and sell fish oil supplements.
Nevertheless, it should be said that consensus agrees fish oil supplementation does not pose a safety concern for adults.
And as any nootropics user will have probably realized, the fact that we, as a scientific community, do not understand how something works (yet) – does not mean that it doesn’t work at all.
• For a good review on “It works”, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24908517
• For a good review on “It does not”, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18678826
• For a good general review, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17012979