Omega 3 Fatty Acids And Brain Activity

The essential omega 3 fatty acids are known to play an important role in protecting the body from a series of medical conditions. They are prescribed to help prevent heart disease and they can improve the mental condition of people suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. Medics believed that omega 3 fats also have a positive effect on brainpower, but they did not have any solid evidence for that.

A scientific study was conducted on more than 100 children from 12 Durham schools. For six months, they were given capsules containing omega 3 supplements after each meal. While not all children presented poof of boosting their mental capabilities, about 40% of children showed some clear improvement.

Medics selected children who were not fulfilling their potential at school, but their general ability was normal. Prior to the test, they were subjected to regular tests to measure their co-ordination, concentration and academic ability. The study followed an experimental method called a “randomised double-blind controlled trial”. Half the children were given capsules of Omega 3, and half given placebos. They did not know what kind of capsule they had been given.

The dramatic effects of Omega 3 fats on the children in the Durham trial may hinge on several functions of fatty acids in the brain. Electrical signals travel through the brain from one neuron to the next. In the changeover, a signal needs to leave one brain cell at a point called the synapse and cross a physical gap before entering the neighboring neuron. For signals to enter a neuron, they need to pass through the walls that surround them. These walls, known as cell membranes, consist almost entirely of fats. About 20% are essential fatty acids like Omega 3s.

In the brain cell membranes, there are structures called ion channels that open to allow the flow of electrical signals into the cell or close to prevent the flow. Scientists believe that DHA, an essential fat, makes the membrane that holds these channels more elastic, making it easier for ion channels to change shape, thus – allowing electric impulses to travel with faster speed. If there is not enough DHA available, it is harder for ion channels to change shape within the fatty membrane, hindering their control over electrical impulses entering the cell.

That is why more and more medics recommend omega 3 supplements be given to people suffering from a series of mental conditions which would prevent them from achieving maximum mental capabilities, such as ADHD or dyslexia.