Have you heard that fish oil can help improve heart function and skin condition? The health benefits of fish oil are clear, and, notably, some studies claim fish oil can benefit memory and help treat diseases like Alzheimer’s and other dementias. But is that true?
Millions of Americans suffer from memory loss conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially those over the age of 65. Research surrounding human memory is constantly evolving, and studies regarding the use of fish oil clarify how it affects memory and what its best uses are.
Understanding Brain & Memory
Memory works by storing information in your hippocampus, located in the center of your brain. The simplest way to think about memory is in 3 steps:
- Learning information
- Storing information
- Recalling information
You learn information by hearing, seeing, tasting, smelling, or feeling something. Depending on how valuable that information is, you’ll store it in either your short-term or long-term memory:
- Short-term memory includes what you can recall from the immediate past. Typically, your short-term memory contains events that have taken place in a shorter period and can store between 5-9 items.
- Long-term memory differs from short-term memory because you can store an infinite amount of information. Long-term memories are what you can recall from childhood, for example.
The most recent research shows that memory processing takes place through two systems. The first system deals with subconscious thought and more routine, instinct-based brain function. The second system is more conscious and problem-based.
The brain uses the first system of subconscious thought to transfer information to your long-term memory and slowly consider all it learned when gathering that knowledge. This slow consideration solidifies the information in your brain and creates a long-term memory.
Where Does Fish Oil Come In?
The human brain comprises 60% fat, half of which is omega-3 fatty acids. These fats help produce new brain cells and nerves and are essential to your overall brain function.
Fish are excellent sources of omega-3s, and fish oil provides a concentrated dose. Available over the counter at grocery and drug stores, fish oil is usually made from:
There are different types of omega-3 fatty acids. The ones found in fish are called EPA and DHA and are critical to lifelong normal brain function. Lower omega-3 levels are associated with accelerated brain aging and cognitive decline. However, evidence suggests that omega-3s help those already experiencing diminished brain function.
Can Fish Oil Cure Alzheimer’s and Dementia?
Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent mild brain decline. In light of this, and because of omega-3s ’ benefit to brain function, researchers have suggested omega-3s can improve memory loss diseases like Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Unfortunately, omega-3s don’t improve memory loss conditions.
Alzheimer’s and other dementias are more common in adults over 65 than in any other population. Since Omega-3s help prevent premature brain aging, you can use them to strengthen your brain and, if taken consistently over time, can help maintain your overall brain health.
Some omega-3 rich foods include:
- Chia Seeds
- Soy beans
If you lack omega-3 rich foods in your diet, you can supplement your intake with fish oil which provides omega-3s in a concentrated dose.
Can You Have Too Much Fish Oil?
Fish oil has many health benefits, including reducing inflammation and improving heart conditions. However, having too much fish oil can do more harm than good. Excessive fish oil use can result in:
- High blood sugar
- Increased nosebleeds
- Low blood pressure
- Acid reflux
- Stroke risk
- Excessive vitamin A levels
The Food and Drug Administration recommends limiting fish oil intake to 3000 milligrams a day. 1000-2000 milligrams daily is likely a good starting point, but you should always speak to a healthcare professional before starting a new medication.
Getting Help for Memory Loss Conditions
Watching a loved one suffer cognitive decline is difficult, especially when you don’t know how to help. These conditions can disrupt a person’s life and reduce their independence, and unfortunately, fish oil can’t help treat them.
If you have a loved one suffering from a memory loss condition like Alzheimer’s or other dementias, you may find it challenging to care for them. Specialized memory care options are available to provide you and your loved one with the help you need. Memory care professionals are trained to help your loved one maintain a sense of independence and work with them to strengthen brain function and memory. If you think memory care is an option for your loved one, consider booking a tour of Ramsey Fox Trail.