Effects of Omega 3

Essay by account13University, Bachelor'sA-, November 2011

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The Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Mental Health

Maintaining a healthy diet not only benefits our physical health but has also proven to improve our mental health. It is especially the food sources high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids that help prevent and treat mental health conditions. Omega-3 Fatty Acids (a.k.a. n-3 fatty acids) are polyunsaturated fats that cannot be produced in our bodies and thus are obtained from food. The two major types of Omega-3 fatty acids that our body uses are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which is consumed at a level of approximately 50 mg/day and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), consumed at a level of approximately 80 mg/day in a typical North American diet. These acids are especially concentrated in the brain and thus are essential for brain functioning such as learning and memory. Most importantly, DHA function at the level of cell membranes and thus is able to change basic properties of cell membranes, such as the fluidity, elastic compressibility, permeability, and their interplay with essential proteins.

Food sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found in fish, such as salmon and tuna, nuts/nuts oil, vegetables and some plants. Omega-3 Fatty Acids can also be obtained from supplements; however studies show that our body absorbs these fatty acids better from food than supplements. In a Norwegian study with 71 volunteers, the absorption of Omega-3 Fatty Acids of salmon was compared to that of cod liver oil. After 8 weeks, the results showed that the EPA levels rose 129% and DHA rose 45% for people who ate the cooked salmon. The people that took the cod liver oil, on the other hand, had an EPA level rise of 106% and a DHA level rise of 25% (Elvevoll, et al. 2006). As a result researchers assume that the reason why our body...