“60 per cent of our brain is made up of fat, with 25 per cent of that fat being DHA, it made sense that we supplement our diet with DHA!”
Do you recall having to take spoonfuls of a yucky, thick, whitish liquid, your parents said were good for you?
I remember thinking out loud in protest each time they tried to feed me that: “What’s so good about cod liver oil?”
Dreadful, right? I hated it!
This episode would replay itself many more times over the years until the orange-flavoured version – which was slightly more palatable – hit the shelves. And so for that season of my life, I didn’t quite mind having the cod-liver oil.
Years have passed since my last tablespoon-full of the orange-flavoured liquid. Never quite thought of consuming it again until one fine day when I woke up with this “bright idea” that maybe I do need to take some cod liver oil after all (or some other alternatives which were just as effective)! LOL!
So that was how my search for the perfect brain food began.
At a friend’s recommendation, I first started off with flaxseed oil – a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. It served me well, for a while, I think.
But still, I had the tendency to lose my train of thought, mid-sentence. And I’d forget where I’d left my things, or walk from one room to another to get something only to draw a blank when I got there. (Has that happened to you before as well?)
Point is, I didn’t feel like the flaxseed oil was particularly beneficial for boosting my memory. But I kept that up for a year until I started reading about fish oil again.
From my readings and discussions with health aficionados, what really stood out for me was the importance of two omega-3 fatty acids, which is found abundantly in marine sources. Research has shown that when taken together, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) combined with eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) can boost brain function and prevent memory loss! EPA + DHA have also been found effective in curbing stiffness and joint pain, as well as in lowering inflammation, which is responsible for heart attacks and strokes!
Besides, given that 60 per cent of our brain is made up of fat, with 25 per cent of that fat being DHA, it made sense that we supplement our diet with DHA!
According to the authors of Smart Fat, the recommended daily dosage of EPA + DHA is 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams. And the way to figure your dose is to look at how much of EPA + DHA is contained within a 1,000-milligram capsule of fish oil. So if the bottle says each capsule has 400mg EPA + 200mg DHA, that means each capsule contains only 600mg of EPA +DHA.
So, by taking just one such capsule of fish oil every morning along with my high-fat, high-protein breakfast, I know I’ll have a baseline of 600mg of EPA + DHA! This will be supplemented by my regular consumption of fish. That has so far worked well for me, much better and more convenient than having to take five flaxseed oil capsules.
And because flaxseed oil is primarily a medium chain omega-3 called alpha linoleic acid (ALA), only five percent of it would get converted into EPA + DHA in our bodies! Imagine how many flaxseed oil capsules I would have to eat to get the fullest benefit of the EPA + DHA!
At the end of the day, if you aren’t used to taking either of these supplements, just make sure you get an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids from your food. Consciously choose to eat fish high in EPA + DHA like wild trout and salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, herring and anchovies two to three times per week and you’ll be just fine! Otherwise, be like me: take a combination of both EPA + DHA capsules and a healthy portion of fish in your diet!