You’ve probably heard that fish oil is good for your brain and nerves. If you have multiple sclerosis, like I do, you hopefully have heard that MS patients who increase their omega-3 fatty acids seem to fare better than those who don’t. Omega-3s help build and repair the nervous system, providing the materials needed to heal and maintain the myelin sheathes damaged in MS.
But we may not have realized just how big of a role docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 essential fatty acid, may play with our psyche as well.
A recent study of US military troops showed a connection between extremely low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and suicides. By analyzing 800 military suicides alongside a control group of 800 soldiers, they found that low levels of DHA were associated with a 62% increase in suicidal risk among young men. In fact, “Results showed that for every incremental decrease in DHA levels, the risk of suicide death increased by 14%.”
Essential fatty acids are critical for proper functioning and health of the human body, but we can’t manufacture them ourselves so we must get them from external sources. Where can you find omega-3 fatty acids? Cold water fish or fish oil, algae and sea vegetables, flax seeds, and walnuts. DHA, however, is only found in fish.
Wow. If I had a loved one who was feeling suicidal and depressed, I’d start pushing fish oil on him or her (along with therapy), just to see if it helped keep them around. I’m a fan of the Coromega omega3 packets. They come in several flavors and taste like frosting; I just squeeze the packet right into my mouth. Way better than gulping down fish oil, I think. My kids love ’em, too.
Low levels of DHA have also been suspected in Alzheimers and some behavior disorders such as ADHD, though no definitive link has been made in studies. DHA is thought be be good for the development of babies in utero and infants since high levels are found in breast milk.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, low levels of omega-3s play a role in heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, osteoporosis, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, cognitive decline, skin disorders, IBD, asthma, macular degeneration, menstrual pain, and cancer.