Essential fatty acids
DHA is an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, notably the best brain-booster around. It is found primarily in cold water fish. The societies who eat the most fish also enjoy the lowest levels of depression. And, depressed individuals can successfully be treated with omega-3. Your brain needs it. But your brain also needs omega-3 in abundance, and not smothered with *gasp* vegetable oils rich in omega-6 (ALA). DHA feeds your brain what it needs to support good moods. There are two conversions that happen in your body to transform walnuts and flaxseeds into DHA, and possibly only 7% of the ALA you eat is converted successfully to DHA. So, if you don’t eat fish, your brain may be starving for DHA. (Vegans try algae oil capsules.)
Why is it so important to supplement with DHA? Your brain is made of about 60% fat, yet your body cannot produce its own DHA. When there is little to no DHA in the diet, then the body is forced to adapt, and usually behavioral problems and learning problems result. According to Dr. Mercola of mercola.com, other problems that have been tied to omega-3 deficiency are: allergies, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, dyslexia, depression, eczema, heart disease, inflammatory diseases, memory problems, weight gain, violence35.
People in the West are eating on average a ratio of 15:1 omega-6 to omega-3. Research indicates a ratio of about 5:1 is more healthy and is more indicative of a diet that doesn’t normally promote heart disease, like the traditional Japanese diet. Most of the omega-6 foods consumed in Western societies include foods fried in corn oil or safflower oil, as well as other oils. When you hear nutritionists recommend to lay off the fried food, this is one of the reasons why, besides the obvious that it clogs your arteries and causes cardiovascular disease. Meats and poultry also contain omega-6 to a degree. Unfortunately, today’s Western diet promotes many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. A lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is the way to counter the progression of these diseases. We should limit fried food because when the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 gets out of balance, mood problems such as depression or anxiety appear, as well as many negative shifts in body systems, from the heart to the brain. 36, 37
Take a look at the following video published on Feb 6, 2013. Dietician Elizabeth Somer appears on the TODAY Show and discusses the importance of supplements. Elizabeth specifically talks about omega-3s and why DHA is so important.
35. Dr. Mercola “Omega 3 Oils: The Essential Nutrients” http://www.mercola.com/beef/omega3_oil.htm
36. A. Stoll, M.D. The Omega-3 Connection: The Groundbreaking Omega-3 Antidepression Diet and Brain Program. (Simon & Schuster, 2001, pg 40).
37. Simopoulos AP. “The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids.” Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12442909