Advances in nutrition have highlighted, in the family of lipids (or fatty acids), the very different health properties of oils and fats: we can even speak of diametrically opposed impacts.
Omega 3 (a specific category of oily lipids) has been the subject of numerous more recent studies (last 20 years) which have highlighted their fundamental role in the development, maintenance and normal functioning of the brain.
Omega 3: What is it?
The definition of Omega 3 is as follows: “Omega-3 are so-called essential polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA), because they are essential to the body”…
" Fatty acids " ; “Polyunsaturated”, these words deserve some clarification. We will first explain them to you!
Fatty acids are the main molecules constituting lipids (or fatty substances) found in oils and fats.
The difference between the two physical types of lipids is linked to the molecular saturation of the fatty acids that compose them. In detail, saturation means that all the carbon atoms in the molecule carry the maximum possible number of hydrogen atoms. The directly visible consequence of this saturation is the solid nature of these lipids at room temperature. Conversely, lipids whose carbon atoms are not saturated with hydrogen are liquid at room temperature.
We are therefore talking about:
- Saturated fatty acids: the origin of fats, solid at room temperature.
- Unsaturated Fatty Acids: for oils, liquids at room temperature.
Among the oils and unsaturated fatty acids we distinguish again:
- Monounsaturated fatty acids (Omega 9 type) which are not essential because the body can synthesize them from polyunsaturated fatty acids Omega 3 and 6.
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids:
- Omega 6, the dietary precursor of which is Linoleic Acid (LA), which is found in variable proportions in all edible oils;
- Omega 3, the precursor of which is Alpha Linoleic Acid (ALA) and two derivatives of which are of particular importance for the body: EPA and DHA.
Recent advances in nutritional knowledge have highlighted the benefits of oils and particularly specific Omega 3s such as EPA and DHA.
The special case of DHA
We explained in a previous article the specificities of EPA and DHA and particularly the essential role of DHA which is not synthesized in sufficient quantity by the body. It must therefore be provided through food: either through fatty fish or through food supplements based on Shizochytrium algae.
Considering that EPA can be synthesized in sufficient quantities by the body, unlike DHA, we will only talk about the latter in this article.
The benefits of DHA (heart, vision, brain function)
Health authorities (European, American, etc.) recognize the benefits of DHA (250 mg/day) on:
- Cardiovascular health;
- Vision ;
- Nervous balance and good brain development and functioning
Other properties of DHA are being examined (immunity, cancer prevention, stress resistance, etc.).
In the nervous and cerebral sphere, DHA plays a very important role in improving cognitive performance , primarily memory .
The particular importance of Omega 3 on the brain
Our brain is very rich in Lipids and much more than all other tissues and organs.
These lipids represent approximately 40% of its dry weight, and DHA alone represents approximately 20% of the fatty acids it contains .
It is therefore very logical that the role of DHA has been scientifically studied in two particularly sensitive categories:
- Young people: from embryonic development to the end of growth;
The role of DHA on young people's memory
Brain development begins in the 3rd week of pregnancy and continues until adolescence.
The brain also experiences its most rapid development from the fetal stage until the age of 2. Note that cerebral maturity is reached around 3 years old.
DHA represents approximately 20% of the fatty acids in the brain . Its importance is therefore crucial for the sensory, motor, or even cognitive system!
This was confirmed by a 2016 study by the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Researchers measured the impact of taking food supplements rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 on 10-year-old children.
At the end of the 3 months of experience, the children who had taken the supplements had progressed in reading and deciphered new words more easily.
DHA intake in pregnant and breastfeeding women
As explained previously, brain development begins in the third week of pregnancy.
For pregnant women, it is therefore necessary to ensure sufficient nutrient intake to cover growth needs.
Consequently, Omega 3 intake is essential for pregnant women because DHA plays a direct role in the growth of nervous tissues from the embryonic stage and is therefore necessary for the proper development of the fetus.
The same logic applies to breastfeeding women as well as to infant milk which must be enriched with DHA (and in this case also with EPA).
DHA on the memory of seniors
The elderly and seniors are the first to be affected by the effects of aging on brain functions.
Several recent studies suggest that taking Omega 3 DHA has a positive effect on the cognitive performance of seniors.
This is the conclusion reached by the scientists of the Memory Improvement with DHA Study or Midas published in 2010. The results showed that a low level of DHA in the subjects observed was associated with cognitive decline. early.
Another study led by Dr. Zaldy S. Tan of the University of California and published in the journal Neurology came to similar conclusions.
Scientists studied a group of 1575 and observed that the brain volume of people who did not consume Omega 3 was lower than that of people who took a supplement. A reduction in brain volume is common to all people with Alzheimer's disease.
Low levels of Omega 3 in patients' blood were also associated with poorer memorization or problem-solving performance.
Although it is still early to draw conclusions because several studies are in progress, we can consider that taking a daily supplement rich in Omega 3 among seniors is a positive practice to be recommended.
What are the daily DHA requirements (children, adults)?
All the scientific results have led the European EFSA and ANSES in France to publish nutritional recommendations to increase dietary intake of Omega 3 .
This also concerns taking food supplements rich in DHA for all those who consume little or no oily fish.
These needs are essential for everyone, but even more important for pregnant women, from the start of pregnancy, for the proper development of the fetal brain system.
- Adults: 250 mg DHA
- Adolescents: 250 mg of DHA
- (1 to 3): 70 mg of DHA
- (4 to 9): 125 mg to 250 mg DHA
- Pregnant women: 500 mg of DHA
In adolescents and adults, daily intakes of 250 mg of DHA cover all needs and ensure optimal functioning of the body, including brain functions and memory.
Note that in children, it will be necessary to ensure that they have a fairly balanced diet to have diversified intakes of Omega 3 (EPA, DHA) but also Omega 6.
Easily increase your Omega 3 consumption with food supplements
The INRA/INSERM studies have also highlighted the problem of Omega 3 and Omega 6 imbalance.
Excess Omega 6 is a very common phenomenon in the classic French diet. This imbalance also disrupts the synthesis of EPA (and DHA) by the body, which further increases the need for a compensatory intake of Omega 3 in the diet or supplementation.
This is why we designed the Argalys Omega 3 DHA formula. Its dosage of 250 mg per capsule allows you to take one capsule per day and guarantees sufficient intake.
The DHA that we have selected comes from Shizochytrium algae grown in France under very controlled conditions, which guarantees its quality and ethics. This source of DHA has no impact on marine fauna and flora unlike those that use fish.
- R .NarenDran,Pittsburg university 2012 “Improved working memory…”
- M Muldoon, AMS Usa, 2014 “Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and optimization of cognitive performance” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25373092/
- S Bardon et Al, INRA ASIRPA 2017, The beneficial effects of Omega 3 on the heart, vision and brain developmentAFSSA: Fatty acids of the Omega 3 family and the cardiovascular system
- Omega 3 fatty acids and brain functions. P. Guesnet, JM Alessandri, S. Vancassel, I. Denis, M. Lavialle: Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism Volume 19, Issue 3, Sept 2005, 131-134