The Importance of Omega-3s

This article originally appeared on the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute website.

Perhaps the saying “worried sick” has a biological basis. High levels of stress hormones, or high cortisol levels, are another cause of brain shrinkage. Brain cells are overstimulated and literally wear out. This condition, called glucocorticoid neurotoxicity, can result in a variety of mood disorders. Omega-3s relieve stress and mood disorders by protecting the connections between brain cells from attack by high levels of stress hormones.

The Brain Feels Better with Fish

Those researchers who have earned D degrees like MDs and PhDs really like how omega-3s relieve stress for their patients. Neurologists believe omega-3s fight depression by altering the brain’s neurotransmitters, increasing serotonin receptors, and boosting dopamine levels in the “happy centers” of the brain, the frontal lobes. Mood disorders are thought to be a chemical imbalance of serotonin, dopamine, and other neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine. Researchers generally agree that the role of EPA in alleviating mood disorders is primarily improving blood flow to the brain and decreasing inflammation of brain tissue.

The healthy fats found in oily seafood and fish oil supplements are becoming one of the most researched medicines for depression. Omega-3s help lower the highs (manic states) and raise the lows (depression). These “merry omegas” also help put a bit of a brain brake on people with impulsive and aggressive tendencies.

Could Omega-3s Be Lifesaving?

In 2009 I was a guest on a fishing expedition in Alaska. One of the other guests was the French physician and omega-3 researcher Dr. Thierry Lerond. I went fishing for some French connections between omega-3s and mental health. Dr. Lerond showed me the results of his study, which revealed that French soldiers who took omega-3 supplements were less likely to suffer psychiatric illnesses. When we met again, in September 2011, he shared with me that he had been invited to a NATO Operations Medical Conference to present his research to officers of the U.S. military.

The September 20, 2011, issue of USA Today showed the front-page headline, “Army Looking at How Fish Oil Might Reduce Suicides,” referring to a study conducted by the noted omega-3 researcher Dr. Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health and his colleagues that compared groups of eight hundred service members and found that those with the lowest levels of omega-3s were 62 percent more likely to commit suicide.

Behavioral Brain Claims

The results of what science says about how omega-3s relieve stress and alleviate psychiatric illnesses are often difficult to interpret because so many other therapies are going on simultaneously and patient reporting is highly subjective. So we’re often left with what common sense says: Eat smarter fats, enjoy a better-behaved brain.

The Soothing Ways Omega-3 Benefits Skin

Do you suffer from “chicken skin” on the back of arms, patches of rough “alligator skin,” dry, frizzy hair, or brittle nails? You may be suffering from an omega-3 deficiency. Doctors can often guess whether the amount of omega-3 in a person’s diet is sufficient just by the feel of a person’s skin. If you want healthy skin read on to see how omega-3 benefits skin.
Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements and eating more seafood help you have healthier skin. Most skin conditions are due to inflammation. Omega-3s are natural anti-inflammatory oils. For over ten years, Dr. Sears has been prescribing fish oil for his patients with dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, and other forms of dermatitis. In the last few years, dermatologists have started doing the same, and science agrees on how much omega-3 benefits skin.

More Fish and Oil

During routine checkups the look and feel of the skin often gives me a clue to how much omega 3 oil the patient eats. Dr.Sears looks and feel for dry, rough skin as a possible sign of omega-3 deficiency. Since hair and nails come from the same embryological root cells as the skin, those are also examined. If a patient has eczema or dry, scaly skin, Dr. Sears asks them if they eat a lot of seafood or take fish oil supplements. They look surprised, probably wondering what fish has to do with their skin problems.

When treating dermatitis, Dr. Sears focuses not only on the lotions and potions you put onto your skin, but also the nutrients you put into your skin. That’s where omega-3 benefits skin the most. All that exposure to sun and wind, allergies, and the normal wear and tear of aging cause skin to lose its elasticity, wrinkle, become thinner and more sensitive to rashes.

Even babies get dermatitis (usually eczema), often caused by topical or food allergies or a genetic quirk. Omega-3 benefits skin at all ages because omega-3 EPA/DHA is a smooth, soft, flexible nutrient that treats dermatitis from the inside. Studies reveal that when pregnant mothers eat more omega 3 and/or their infants eat more omega-3 these babies experience less eczema.

We all know our children need omega-3s, but don’t forget to look after yourself too. I have some high quality omegas-3 PLUS available.
– Christine

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