It has been found that many people with learning and memory disorders suffer from a deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential nutrients play a vital role in the proper functioning of the brain – that is the center for all learning and memory functions. Omega-3 for learning helps in improved reading, spelling skills and reduces learning and behavioral disorders.
As a nutrient, omega-3 for memory helps to protect the brain from cognitive decline and age related memory disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Eating fish helps to keep the brain biologically younger. Similarly, higher levels of omega-6 produces impaired learning and memory power. Excess of this is associated with autism, ADHD, dyslexia accompanied by violent and aggressive behavior in children. It could also contribute to the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Omega-3 Impact on Learning and Memory
Stress is a part of everyday life. What we do not realize is that this stress can lead to learning and memory loss. Find out how this can be combated by taking omega-3 for learning and memory.
Stress, Memory and Learning
When we get stressed out, we find that our blood pressure rises, heart rate gallops, we start sweating and become hyper-alert ready to face the stressor and combat it. What we do not realize is that stress can lead to the brain closing down operations. This result in disruption of communication between neurons, slows the formation of fresh neurons, weakens the blood-brain barrier and causes brain cells to grow old quicker. Such stress can lead to learning and memory problems and in serious cases to hostile behavior.
Stress releases cortisol, a hormone that causes damage to the hippocampus – that portion of the brain responsible for learning. Deterioration of the hippocampus is what causes brain degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
Stress also helps to create a dangerous inflammatory compound called interleukin-1B. This causes cognitive problems, perpetual stress and learning problems and memory loss.
Omega-3 protects the brain against the damage caused by stress. Usually, our diet is rich in omega-6 and deficient in omega-3. This causes cognitive problems and stress since omega-6 increases inflammation due to stress and cortisol prevents formation of DHA – a long-chain omega-3 fat. Here are some specific benefits of omega-3 for learning and memory:
Omega 3 is COX Inhibitor
Omega-3 prevents production of the COX enzyme that causes inflammation of the brain caused by stress. COX inhibitors like omega-3 have a beneficial effect on cognitive problems associated with neurodegenerative diseases and Alzheimer’s.
Anger and Agression
Researchers studying children with type-A personality disorder like hostility and aggression recommended that they be given cod-liver oil – an excellent source of omega-3 fats. Such a DHA supplement reduced levels of aggression and hostility mostly caused by stress. A study was also conducted on diverse groups like violent sociopaths, university students, prisoners and elderly persons with the same positive results after taking a fish oil supplement.
Omega-3 benefits in Learning Disorders
Here are some learning disorders that can benefit by omega-3 supplements,
Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) : Children suffering from dyspraxia – DCD – were given omega-3 supplements over a 3-month period. They showed great improvement in their reading and spelling abilities and overall behavior when compared to children on a placebo.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) : This is caused mainly due to a deficiency of fatty acids. Children with ADHD were given a DHA fortified foods and showed reduced signs of aggression. Even adults with ADHD were found deficient in omega-3 fats.
Dyslexia : This is a learning disability that affects people of normal intelligence too. They have difficulty in reading and writing. A study conducted on 102 dyslexic children found that their reading skills improved when given an omega-3 supplement.
Autism : Not enough research has been conducted on the benefits of omega-3 for autism. A small study of autistic kids found that they had lower levels of omega-3 in their blood and higher levels of omega-6. Parents said that they showed improvement in their sociability, sleep patterns, cognitive skills and reduced hyperactivity, irritability and aggression when they were given fish oil for 6 months.
Omega-3 helps to keep the brain young
As we grow older, the brain also degenerates. This can lead to memory loss associated with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease etc. The main cause is the high levels of omega-6 found in our diet. A study of a group of people from birth through the age of 64 found that the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 in their diet contributed to the preservation or deterioration of cognitive functions even late in life.
Fish – rich in omega-3 – is said to be an anti-dote for memory retention. Eating fish once a week can allow a person’s brain to age slower. The more amounts of fish in your food can lead to lower levels of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease etc. Greater seafood consumption also results in quicker thinking abilities. Slowing down of thinking process is one early sign of Alzheimer’s.
Omega-3 can keep the genes in the brain supple and young. It protects the brain from negative effects of inflammation caused by stress. Hence, there are far-reaching benefits of omega-3 for memory, learning and aging.
Brain synapses and molecules related to learning and memory are adversely affected by unhealthy diets comprising mainly of junk foods. Foods rich in omega-3 like walnuts, salmon and other seafood, kiwi fruit, oils like canola and flax oil, flaxseed etc improve learning and memory. They also help to fight mental disorders like schizophrenia, mood disorders, depression etc. We have seen the benefits of omega-3 for learning and memory, so include it in your diet and enjoy better brain functioning for many years.