Omega 3 Benefits for Brain Health
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Brain function begins to decline with age.
Fatty acids, like omega-3, may protect brain structures by supporting healthy brain aging.
Omega-3s can have undesirable side effects. A better choice? Fatty15 — a newly recognized as essential fatty acid that supports your brain health.*
Ever phone a friend and forget what you meant to tell them? What about the inability to quickly pull a word or name from memory, as you could in your youth? It can be frustrating and sometimes frightening to see how quickly our memories can escape us.
As we age, our bodies change, including our nervous systems and brains. While some cognitive decline is natural, other factors, like illnesses and unhealthy lifestyles, can contribute to higher levels of cognitive decline.
Today, we’ll consider how omega-3 can support brain health and whether or not it’s a good option for those who (admittedly) have trouble remembering to take a daily supplement.
What Is Omega-3?
Omega-3s are fatty acids in foods like fatty fish (mackerel, sardines) and plant sources like chia seeds and flaxseed. There are three different types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- Alpha-linolenic acid
- Eicosapentaenoic acid
- Docosahexaenoic acid
You probably know them better as ALA, EPA, and DHA. These are sometimes referred to as essential fatty acids, essential meaning our bodies need them to thrive but cannot readily make them independently.
Interestingly, only one omega-3 is essential, and that one is ALA. This is important because most omega-3 supplements contain EPA and DHA, the two fatty acids which are most closely associated with health benefits.
Of all the omega-3 supplements, those with higher levels of EPA without any DHA are most often associated with health benefits like protection against cardiovascular disease, although supplements containing DHA have been associated with better brain health.
What Are the Benefits of Omega-3 for Brain Health?
Higher circulating levels of omega-3s have been associated with healthy brain development in babies and fetuses, and have been linked with helping promote better concentration and memory function in adults.
While there are definitely some benefits of increasing your fish consumption, there are a few things to know before you dive deep into omega-3 fatty acids supplementation.
Pregnant women are usually advised to take a prenatal vitamin that includes a good, healthy dose of DHA. It’s recommended that during pregnancy, women take 200 mg of DHA daily to support their baby’s brain development.
After a baby is born, the mom may switch to a different DHA supplement or a formula that includes DHA.
Alzheimer’s Disease is the leading cause of dementia among adults, but there’s not enough evidence to support omega-3 as any treatment against this progressive illness. While omega-3 may help support healthy brain function, research has not concluded that it will prevent or lessen its effects.
For less severe cognitive decline, like memory issues or help remembering commonly known facts that seem to escape you, omega-3 may help. Higher circulating levels of omega-3 have been associated with improvements in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and age-related memory loss.
Omega-3 is used by your cells for building cell membranes and in the communication that brain cells have with each other.
A scientific side note, however, is that omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which means they are liquid at room temperature. The very nature of their chemical structure means that they are flexible. Although they are essential to cell membranes, they cannot keep them strong because they are flimsy.
It’s also important to note that most older adults have omega-3 levels that are naturally on target simply by the foods they eat. Before you consider increasing your levels with a fish oil supplement, there are some side effects that you should consider.
Are There Side Effects of Omega-3 Supplementation?
Most of the omega-3 you need will come from your diet, so you generally won’t need to take an omega-3 supplement if you eat a fairly balanced diet. If you’re taking a fish oil supplement, you probably already know one of the most offensive side effects they have: that oh-so-fishy aftertaste.
Surprisingly, despite their popularity, omega-3 supplements have some negative side effects:
- Blood thinning. Taking the recommended dose of omega-3 (usually between 2,000-3,000 mg per day) can result in blood thinning, which could lead to excessive bleeding if you develop an injury.
- Rancid bottles. Remember that omega-3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids and are liquid at room temperature. This means they can oxidize, much like cooking oil. Because omega-3 can oxidize, it can spoil on store shelves long before it reaches your medicine cabinet. Independent researchers found that one out of 10 bottles for sale at popular retailers were rancid at the time of sale.
- Cell toxicity. When studied, the strongest and most effective omega-3 (pure, EPA without DHA) was not only toxic to four out of 12 cell types; it wasn’t able to repair very many of them either (only four safely, without toxicity).
How do you get the brain-loving benefits of omega-3 without the side effects? By rethinking your fatty acids.
What Is Pentadecanoic Acid (C15:0)?
Supporting your cognitive function doesn’t have to come with fish breath or the chance of ruining facets of your health.
Pentadecanoic acid, also known as C15:0, is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that the world accepts as essential, and that science supports is better, broader, and safer than omega-3.*
When C15:0 was compared head to head with omega-3, C15:0 had more clinically relevant benefits than omega-3. In fact, C15:0 had 26 more clinically relevant benefits that omega-3 and had an additional benefit of preventing “bad” cells from proliferating, something omega-3 can’t do.*
Of the 12 cell types studied, C15:0 helped repair 10 of them. Omega-3 could only safely repair four. C15:0 did a better job at repairing cells that play a role in gut health, skin health, heart, joint, lung, and red blood cell health.*
You’d never knowingly take a supplement that could kill your cells, but omega-3 could be toxic to some of the cells you’re attempting to support. Cells killed by omega-3, in studies, included lung and blood vessel cells. C15:0 was safe for all 12 cell types studied.*
C15:0 is more supportive for your cells, too:*
- C15:0 improves mitochondrial function by up to 45 percent, helping restore your cells' batteries and helping them continue working hard to keep you healthy.
- C15:0 strengthens cell membranes by integrating into them, fortifying them, and keeping them sturdy. Unlike omega-3, C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that helps keep your cells protected.
- C15:0 helps cells communicate by binding to PPAR receptors all over the body. These receptors control functions like sleep, mood, memory, and appetite. By binding to these receptors, C15:0 can help restore their balance, so you feel better, sleep better, and notice improved memory function.
The cellular health benefits C15:0 offers are greater than those offered by omega-3, and best of all, they come without a fishy aftertaste.* C15:0 has also most recently been linked to the second ever fully-acting endocannabinoid, further supporting bodily homeostasis.
C15:0 and Endocannabinoids
Your body regulates itself using a complex system of special receptors (called G protein-coupled receptors) located all over the brain and body. These receptors are integrated into your bodily systems as part of the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system was discovered years ago but wasn’t understood until the 1990s. We’ve known that the endocannabinoid system interacts with some plants and fungi, however, we didn’t know that the endocannabinoid system could impact the body’s homeostatic functions.
Chemical compounds that bind to the endocannabinoid receptors are called cannabinoids. The body makes its own cannabinoids (endogenous cannabinoids). Other cannabinoids can be synthetic or found in plants and foods.
If an endocannabinoid is fully acting, it can bind to receptors and produce a range of therapeutic benefits. Neuroscience researchers have discovered the second-ever, fully-acting endocannabinoid known as pentadecanoylcarnitine (PDC).
PDC is made by the body using C15:0 and carnitine. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have high circulating levels of C15:0. Thankfully, there’s a solution.
Where Can I Get C15:0?
C15:0 is primarily found in trace levels in whole-fat dairy products and some fish and plants.
However, simply increasing your intake of whole-fat dairy products comes with extra calories, sugars, and high levels of the "bad" even-chain saturated fats, which isn't good news for the rest of your body.
Fatty15 is a breakthrough supplement, born from scientific discovery, containing one pure ingredient, FA15™, the science-backed, vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced, pure-powderaward-winning form of C15:0. Just one capsule per day contains 100 mg of FA15™, the ideal amount to restore your body’s circulating levels of C15:0 and help promote your health.*
Remember: There’s a Better Fatty Acid
Your mental health is important; trusting it with the right fatty acid supplement can help you regain your edge and remember why you came into the room in the first place! Fatty15 is the solution for helping your cells stay healthy, resulting in a healthier, more youthful you.*
Ready to experience the benefits for yourself? Get started with fatty15 here.
Broader and safer clinically-relevant activities of pentadecanoic acid compared to omega-3: Evaluation of an emerging essential fatty acid across twelve primary human cell-based disease systems | PLOS ONE
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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