Improve Cognition & Protect Your Brain With Fish Oil

Improve Cognition & Protect Your Brain With Fish Oil

When it comes to protecting your brain from the rigors of aging, you want to do everything in your power. One easy way to take care of your brain is to make sure you are getting enough of the omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA, that come in fish oil.

Association studies consistently show that the more fish people eat, the lower their risk of brain disorders. Some randomized experiments show supplementing with fish oil improves brain function and lowers risk of cognitive impairment.

Two recent studies found that older women who took 2.2 grams of fish oil a day improved performance on cognitive tests, with positive effects on memory and executive function. In one of the studies, brain volume and hormone levels (insulin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor) also improved in response to fish oil supplementation.

How does fish oil protect the brain?

EPA and DHA have an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to remove free radicals that damage brain cells.

DHA reduces formation of amyloid plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s.

DHA regulates glucose uptake in the brain, particularly in the aging brain that has reduced blood flow and a harder time getting energy to brain cells.

EPA and ALA (a plant-derived omega-3 fat) help the brain to burn ketones when glucose uptake is impaired in an aging brain.

EPA and DHA improve the electrical properties of the brain, allowing for better mood, memory, and cognition. They also lower risk of psychosis, depression, and other brain disorders.

How To Get The Brain Benefit From Fish Oil?

Unless you’re pregnant or under extra physical or mental stress, you can fulfill your fish oil needs by eating 2 to 3 servings of low-mercury fish, such as salmon, sardines, or mackerel.

If you’re not able to get your omega-3s from seafood or you need extra (pregnant or under excessive stress), supplement with high-quality fish oil that provides roughly a 2-to-1 ratio of EPA-to-DHA. Most studies show benefits from 2 to 3 grams of fish oil a day.

Eat an overall healthy diet based on whole foods, healthy carbs (vegetables, fruit, beans), healthy fats (eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, avocado), and high-quality protein.

Reduce your intake of unhealthy fats, such as vegetable oils (soybean and corn oil) and trans fats.


Kulzow, N., et al. Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation on Memory Functions in Healthy Older Adults. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. 2016. 51(3):713-25.

Witte, A., et al. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids improve brain function and structure in older adults. Cerebral Cortex. 2014. 24(11):3059-68.