Health

Vegan Omegas: Preserving Our Oceans & Brains

November 21, 2019
vegan omegas

Flora Omega Brain+ supplies a true vegan replacement for fish oil. Omega Brain+ contains the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and is made from algae grown in stainless steel tanks on land. The algal oil is tested by Flora’s quality control for peroxide value (a measure of rancidity), fatty acid content, heavy metals, pesticides, microbiological contamination and algal toxins in order to ensure a pure and clean finished product.

This means no concerns about oceanic pollutants, heavy metals or toxic compounds from wild-grown algae. Normally, fish eat algae in the ocean to obtain their omega-3s and we eat the fish. Algae DHA-EPA cuts fish out of the equation. According to a UN FAO 2018 report 33.1% of global fish stocks are unsustainably overfished; perfect timing for algae-sourced omega-3 DHA and EPA to replace fish oil and help us move toward a sustainable future.

DHA and EPA support both cognitive health (memory, attention, learning, mood) and cardiovascular health. They help to lower serum triglycerides (fat in the blood, a risk factor for heart disease if levels are consistently too high) and support the health of your blood vessels. As we age, maintaining healthy blood, oxygen and nutrient flow with healthy arteries also translates into brain health.

In the brain itself, these omega-3 fats stimulate neuronal growth and cellular communication, increase cellular energy levels for nerve transmission, downregulate glutamate receptor activity (one of the ways they protect brain cells from becoming “overstimulated” and damaged), and downregulate inflammatory molecules called eicosanoids. They’re also used to make compounds called ‘resolvins’ and ‘protectins’ that reduce inflammation and protect brain cells from damage. The body also uses these fatty acids to make endocannabinoids that help regulate pain, mood, inflammation and satiety.

These omega-3 fatty acids also help guard against age-related cognitive decline. Using acquired knowledge, facts and skills to respond to familiar situations are known as ‘crystallized intelligence’—it’s a deductive form of intelligence based on long-term memory and doesn’t seem to decline much with age. A good Jeopardy player will have a solid base of crystallized intelligence. ‘Fluid intelligence,’ however, is inductive and so is all about abstract reasoning, understanding patterns and relationships, and dealing with novelty. Escape rooms are a perfect example of an activity that demands good fluid intelligence.

Fluid intelligence seems to decline with age, along with attention and short-term memory, and is related to a loss of total gray matter in the brain. Yes, sadly, our brains tend to shrink with age. Omega-3s like DHA and EPA help to preserve fluid intelligence as a result of preserving gray matter in the brain. They do this via neuroprotection and neurogenesis—protecting brain cells from damage and encouraging growth of new neurons.

A recent survey found that almost half of Americans eat little to no seafood; 76% of Americans and 71% of Canadians take dietary supplements, though. In North America, the senior population (age 65+) is outpacing children as a percentage of the population and is expected to double between 2030 and 2060 so that nearly 1 in 4 people will be over the age of 65. There is a very strong case that algae-based DHA-EPA supplements like Omega Brain+ can help support our quality of life—the health and vibrancy of our hearts and minds—so we can continue to participate, enjoy, learn, and thrive well into our golden years.

Robert Dadd is a Master Herbalist (Dominion Herbal College) with a BA in Communications from Simon Fraser University. His areas of research include adaptogens, probiotics, and essential fatty acids. He is currently the Product Information Supervisor for Flora Manufacturing and Distributing.

References

  • Witte AV, et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and structure in older adults. Cereb Cortex. 2014 Nov;24(11):3059-68.
  • Külzow N, et al. Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Memory Functions in Healthy Older Adults. J Alzheimers Dis. 2016;51(3):713-25.
  • Danthiir V, et al. The older people, omega-3, and cognitive health (EPOCH) trial design and methodology: a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial investigating the effect of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids on cognitive ageing and wellbeing in cognitively healthy older adults. Nutr J. 2011 Oct 20;10:117.
  • Yurko-Mauro K, et al. (2015) Docosahexaenoic Acid and Adult Memory: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE 10(3): e0120391.
  • Janssen CI, Kiliaan AJ. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA) from genesis to senescence: the influence of LCPUFA on neural development, aging, and neurodegeneration. Prog Lipid Res. 2014 Jan;53:1-17.
  • Crupi R, et al. n-3 fatty acids: role in neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Curr Med Chem. 2013;20(24):2953-63. Review.

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