How important are omega-3s? Absolutely vital, according to Alex Richardson, DPhil (Oxon), PGCE, FRSA, Keynote Speaker at the Naturally Informed event Mental Wellness: Mastering the Market.
“The human brain is 60% fat, and it matters what kind,” she told attendees. “Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential. We evolved as hunter-gatherers with a ratio of 1:1, which didn’t change much when we went agricultural, but with industrialization we shot up to a ratio of 15:1 or even 25:1.”
It’s not, Richardson said, that omega-6s are bad—in fact, she sung the praises of the omega-6 arachidonic acid, which, among other things, makes endocannabinoids. Rather, she explained that there needs to be balance. Yes, omega-6s are pro-inflammatory—but inflammation is a necessary part of the immune system. The issue comes when there is no end to the inflammation, which is where the omega-3s come in, and why there needs to be balance.
She discussed at length the problems caused by prenatal and childhood DHA deficiency. DHA is required for brain-building, and a lack thereof can result in a laundry list of struggles for the child—everything from a lowered IQ to behavioral struggles. She did, however, note that that’s not the end of the story: Supplementation can make a difference. If you’re interested in the details of what DHA can do—and why it’s necessary—register at www.NaturallyInformed.net to view the session on demand. All presentations will be accessible as of Tuesday, January 26.
Those looking for a DHA supplement—either prenatal or childhood—may want to consider ChildLife Essentials’ supplements, as they offer a prenatal DHA soft gel capsule and Omega-3 DHA + Choline SoftMelts, which are sugar-free chewable brain support supplements dosed for children.
The only parts of the conference not available on-demand: The roundtable sessions. In Richardson’s session, she gave tips for vegans—don’t bother with plant-based ALA omega-3s, because, she said, “you can’t trust the conversion to EPA.” Rather, choose an algal supplement, which she understands are expensive—“Come on, companies, scale this up—” but she said that it’s worth it. High levels of EPA are required for mood stability and regulation.
Another topic of conversation at the roundtable: the idea that pregnant women shouldn’t eat fish. Richardson explained that mercury levels in the fish aren’t high enough to be a problem, and stated that, even if the mercury does cause issues, at worst it will drop the child’s IQ by half a point—whereas prenatal DHA deficiency can cause a drop of five points.
And one final question: When should people take these supplements? Richardson told roundtable participants that time of day doesn’t matter, but that they should be taken with a meal, and a fatty one at that, “or else, really, you’re wasting your money.”
While the roundtable is only covered here, the full session is available on demand. Register to find out why omega-3s and B12 vitamins should be taken together, just what arachidonic acid can do, and the dramatic changes that can be made when EPA and DHA levels are high enough.