by: Dr. David Jockers
(NaturalNews) Numerous studies are linking the intake of omega-3 oils with improvements in cognitive function, visual acuity, and overall brain development. Our western culture has introduced processed vegetable oils and man-made fats that are inflaming and retard normal brain growth. Increasing high quality, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids in the diet is a critical staple to supporting healthy brain function.
ALA: 18 C & 3 DB: Found in green plants, flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin seeds & walnuts
DPA: 20 C & 4 DB: Found in mother's milk, algae, fish & krill oil & grass-fed meat products
EPA: 20 C & 5 DB: Found in mother's milk, algae, fish & krill oil & grass-fed meat products
DHA: 22 C & 6 DB: Found in mother's milk, algae, fish & krill oil & grass-fed meat products
The more double bonds within the structure the more fluid the fatty acid becomes. This is important because fatty acids are used to structure the membrane of every one of the 75 trillion cells within our body. A healthy cell membrane consists of very solid structures (saturated fats & cholesterol) and very fluid structures (polyunsaturated fats).
The fluid aspect of the cell is essential for the mobility and function of embedded protein receptors, diffusion of proteins and other molecules laterally across the membrane for signaling reactions, and proper separation of membranes during cell division. These fluid based fats are also very fragile and highly vulnerable to oxidative stress and heat.
The cell membranes within the brain, spinal cord, & nervous system are especially dependent upon fluid based membranes for proper signaling and neurotransmitter dynamics. EPA & DHA with 5 and 6 double bonds are very critical players in healthy nervous system function. The brain is made up of 60% fat and 10-15% of that is DHA.
Optimal brain structure depends upon a healthy array of saturated fat and cholesterol on the membrane to hold the fluid based fats tight at the corners. Then a load of EPA & DHA in-between the solid structures give it a great level of fluid mobility. A diet that is deficient in saturated fat, EPA, & DHA is very dangerous for the nervous system.
The body can and must convert ALA & DPA into the brain enhancing nutrients EPA & DHA if they are to be of any significant use in the body. This process depends upon the enzymatic systems within our liver. If we have any sort of liver toxicity, nutrient deficiencies, or chronic diseases or infections, our ability to effectively convert ALA into EPA & DHA will be significantly hampered. Because of the fragile aspect of essential fats, unhealthy individuals should always begin their healing process with a diet rich in phytonutrient anti-oxidants, zinc, magnesium, and B vitamins among other things. A whole-food multi-vitamin or supergreens powder is also highly advisable at this time. After 2 weeks of introducing heavy loads of anti-oxidants into the system it is then time to begin introducing EPA & DHA in the form of purified fish oils.
American culture takes in the majority of its fat in the form of processed vegetable oils and grain-fed meat products. These sources are very scarce in quality omega-3 fats and therefore many are deficient in the necessary EPA & DHA for optimal brain development. Begin supporting your nervous system appropriately with an anti-oxidant rich diet and purified EPA & DHA supplementation.