And The Best Supplement for Your Brain, Body and Athletic Performance Is… (Okay, It’s Omega 3)

By on April 13, 2018

If there’s one supplement that absolutely everybody can benefit from taking, it’s omega 3 fatty acid.

Omega 3 fatty acid is phospholipid found in tuna, in salmon and in certain nuts (among other sources). I’ve eaten bucket-loads of tuna daily my whole life. You’re not really supposed to do that seeing as tuna is also high in mercury… But I LOVE it.

This is not a sexy supplement. It is not even a particularly interesting supplement. Unlike modafinil, it isn’t the ‘secret of 1%ers’ or part of some underground movement. It doesn’t have crazy side effects. You won’t feel its effects right away.

But the sheer number of positive effects that omega 3 has on cognitive and physical performance is absurd. And in terms of long term health and performance, it’s pretty much impossible to beat. I think it’s the best nootropic out there and also a must for gym rats. It’s cheap and it’s no side effects.

Best supplement ever? Maybe!

Omega 3 and Inflammation

Omega 3 and omega 6 compete for space in the body and are inversely correlated. The more omega 3 you have, the less omega 6 will be active in the body – and vice versa.

Both omega 3 and omega 6 are important. The problem is that omega 6 is all over our diet, whereas we don’t get nearly enough omega 3. And when you have too much omega 6, it leads to inflammation. This is only one of several ‘anti-inflammatory’ mechanisms for omega 3. (Study)

Not only does inflammation worsen a host of conditions such as arthritis and bowel problems, but it may also lead to brain fog and possibly even depression (reference). In fact, brain inflammation might be responsible for why we feel so miserable and ‘foggy’ when we have a cold. That and the fact that constantly sniffling is depressing…

This way, omega 3 might also help prevent or reduce DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness) so you can recover from your next workout faster.

Simply increasing your omega 3 intake then could help to minimize joint pain, improve your digestive health, boost your mood (study), aid workouts, and enhance mental energy. Strong start.

Cell Membrane Permeability

As a phospholipid, omega 3 is used in the construction of cells throughout the body. Specifically, it is incorporated into the cell walls, where it contributes to flexibility and permeability. Getting more omega 3 in your diet means that nutrients, energy and signals will be better able to pass between cells, speeding up communication between synapses and improving the function of your cells throughout your body.

In short: faster thinking, healthier cells and more energy.

Myelination

Omega 3 helps to improve myelination. For those that aren’t avid readers of this blog (SHAME!), that means better insulation for your axons, improving the strength of action potentials (signals between neurons). This myelination is typically associated with long-term potentiation: it is the process through which the brain strengthens connections and learns new skills and information. In short: omega 3 will boost brain plasticity and enhancing learning. (Study)

Neuroprotective

And when you combine the multiple benefits that omega 3 has for the brain, it should really come as no surprise that it is highly protective against conditions like Alzheimer’s. What’s more, is that a combination of vitamin D and omega 3 has been shown to be effective at combating amyloid-plaques – which are ‘Alzheimer’s proteins’ (report). This process may also help combat the effects of sleep deprivation.

DHEA

DHEA, also known as dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone produced by the body that plays all kinds of roles but which I have recently learned is linked with ‘coherence’. This is basically a state of ‘calm arousal’ where the heartrate increases but remains steady and in-tune with the breathing. This happens partly because DHEA is able to buffer the effects of cortisol on the hippocampus and elsewhere. DHEA is also a neurosteroid and may help to increase the excitability and firing rate of neurons!

And of course you know where this is headed: omega 3 boosts DHEA. If you want extra help with it, then get some vitamin D in you and try adaptogenic herbs. This may also explain why omega 3 is generally observed to be useful at combating stress (study). Could omega 3 help you to get into a flow state? Who knows… but it’s certainly possible!

Weight Loss

Omega 3 can enhance weight loss and reduce the amount of fat stored around the belly. It does this by reducing insulin resistance, which of course can also help to stave of diabetes and improve energy levels. This way, it has been shown to be effect in combating metabolic syndrome (study).

More Benefits and Types of Omega 3

I’ve focused on these benefits because they’re the ones I know will appeal to you guys. But keep in mind that omega 3 is also effective at improving heart health and blood flow. It can improve eye health and babies who get more omega 3 in the uterus statistically have higher IQs and decreased risk of various mental health disorders (study). Oh, and it’s great for your skin! And it boosts testosterone.

Omega 3 comes in two forms: EPA and DHA. Both play important roles; while EPA inhibits the enzyme delta-5-desaturase which is used to synthesize omega 6 for instance, DHA can help to break down omega 6 fatty acid metabolism.

DHA is slightly more expensive and is often considered ‘better’. But you’ll get the best results if you combine both. And either is better than nothing.

Seeing as all forms are relatively very inexpensive and seeing as there are no side effects, I really can’t think of any good reason NOT to be getting extra omega 3. Either through your diet, or through supplementation.

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

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