There are 3 different types of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFA). ALA (A-linolenic acid) comes from plant sources. Fish oil consists of both EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosaexaenoic acid). They are considered essential since the human body cannot synthesize them.
Those with the highest levels of omega-3 EFAs in the blood cells slowed the normal atrophy of both overall brain volume due to aging and in particular the size of the hippocampus by as much as two years, during the better part of their seventies. Maintaining the size of your hippocampus is important as it is related to both short and long term memories, age-related dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Between 30 and 40 percent of gray tissue matter in the cerebral cortex is believed to be composed of DHA. This concentration is significant since the cerebral cortex is the primary location of human thought. In the well known Framingham study, blood levels of DHA were associated with a 40 to 50% reduced risk for age-related dementia.
Fish oil protects the brain against shrinkage
How these elderly women got their fish oil did not matter. They were either eating ocean fish or taking fish oil supplements. The standard American diet is pretty much devoid of fish oil. Unless, you intentionally try to eat more fish on a regular basis, or supplement with fish oil your blood cells will assuredly test out at the lower end of omega-3 fatty acids in your blood cells.
From other studies, we know that fish oil offers global health benefits related to reduced inflammation, as well as improved brain, nervous system, and heart health. The omega-3 oils can be viewed as an antidote to excessive amounts of the omega-6 oils in a junkfood diet. All polyunsaturated fats and PUFA oils, however, including fish or Omega-3 EFAs promote oxidation. Thus, everyone is advised to eat ocean fish no more than 3 or 4 times a week while they supplement with a good antioxidant.
Those who try to ignore fish oils in their diet in order to minimize their risk for cancer are misguided, as the health of their brains will suffer resulting in a lower quality of life.