Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Should We Take DHA Supplements to Boost Brain Function?

Should We Take DHA Supplements to Boost Brain Function?

“Should We Take DHA Supplements
to Boost Brain Function?” The concept of vitamins was first
described by none other than Dr. Funk in his landmark paper in 1912,
the concept that there were complex compounds that our
body couldn’t make from scratch and so had to get from our diet. By the mid-20th century all of the vitamins
had been discovered and isolated, but it wasn’t until the 60’s that we realized
that certain fats were essential too. In 1929 the necessity for fat was
definitively settled in the diet of the rat, but when one of the researchers
tried a 99% fat-free diet on himself for six months, ironically
he felt better. His high blood pressure went away,
he felt more energetic, his migraines disappeared. This one man experiment fortified
the medical profession’s doubt that essential fatty acids had any
relevance to human nutrition, until TPN was developed in the 60’s:
Total Parenteral Nutrition, meaning feeding someone
exclusively through an IV, initially developed for babies
born without working intestines. But the first preparations
were fat free, because we didn’t think
humans needed fat, and so they rapidly induced severe
essential fatty acid deficiencies, ultimately convincing the medical community
that some fats are indeed essential. They started out using safflower
oil, but as they discovered in a young girl they were giving it to
after an abdominal gunshot wound, we don’t just need fat but
specific fats like omega 3’s and so when they switched to soybean
oil instead she was restored to normal. The fact that it took so long and
under such extreme circumstances to demonstrate the essential
nature of omega 3’s illustrates how hard it is to develop
overt omega-3 deficiency. Of course the amount
required to avoid deficiency is not necessarily the optimal
amount for health. A spoonful of orange juice worth
of vitamin C would be enough to avoid scurvy (the overt
vitamin C deficiency disease) but no one considers that enough
vitamin C for optimal health. What would optimal omega 3
status look like? Well, doubt has been cast
on the role in heart health, which appears to be based on a
faulty premise in the first place, and so taking extra omega 3’s for
our heart might not make any sense, but what about for our baby’s brain? Extra DHA may not help pregnant
or breast-feeding fish-eaters, but those who want to avoid the
contaminants in fish can take supplements of pollutant-free algae oil to
get the best of both worlds for their babies. But what about adults? No apparent psychological
or neurological benefit of DHA supplementation
for the general public, but what about in those
who don’t eat fish? Take the famous Alpha Omega
Trial: thousands of people randomized for over three years to get
either long chain omega 3’s from fish, short-chain omega 3’s from plants,
or placebo, and they found no significant benefits for any kind of omega 3
supplementation on global cognitive decline. But most were eating fish, already
getting preformed DHA in their diet, and so general population studies like this
that found no benefit can’t fully inform us about the role of DHA in brain health, any more than giving half of
these people oranges, finding no difference
in scurvy rates— zero in both groups—and concluding
that vitamin C plays no role in scurvy. In 2013 for the first time DHA
supplementation was found to improve memory and reaction time among
young adults who rarely ate fish. Previous randomized
controlled trials failed to find such a benefit among
like 18 to 45 year olds, but they all only lasted a few months at most,
whereas the 2013 study lasted six months. So if all the studies either showed
no effect or a positive effect, one might give it a try, but in
one of those shorter trials, DHA supplementation didn’t
just fail to show benefit, it appeared to make things worse.
After 50 days those who consumed the DHA had worse memory
than those taking the placebo. So out of the six randomized
controlled trials, four showed nothing, one showed a benefit,
one showed a harm, so if it was just about boosting
brain function in the short term I’d err on the side of caution
and spend my money elsewhere. But what about preserving
brain function over the long run? I’ll address that, next.

61 comments on “Should We Take DHA Supplements to Boost Brain Function?

  1. no supplements do much over the short term. It's always about the long term where the answers are found. Seen as Greger recommends 250mg of DHA for brain function i think we know what the results of his next video are going to suggest. Don't understand though why he's going over old ground and studies. He's already done videos on this

  2. Cmoooon man, I just got a dha supplement. Felt a bit of decline in memory but that might be lack of sleep. Do I keep taking it or not ?

  3. Cmoooon man, I just got a dha supplement. Felt a bit of decline in memory but that might be lack of sleep. Do I keep taking it or not ?

  4. DHA recommended for pregnant women.
    Rest of the video:
    6 studies on short-term DHA supplementation on brain function:
    4 showed no difference between control/placebo group
    1 showed improvement
    1 showed decline.
    Next video will be about long term effect.

    I was looking for a comment like this when started watching the video 😀

  5. OMG OMG OMG… that ending! Next what, next where/when…This wasn't season finale, right?
    I sure hope this guy doesn't trip over a banana peel in the mean time…

  6. It is a good question. The body does produce it's own DHA, which the critics (DHA / fish oil industry?) claim is not enough. People have too many damaged genes, eat really bad stuff all the time, and have been shown repeatedly to be really short on optimum mineral levels that to make heads or tails out of the DHA question is impossible. Also, long term vegans tend to become really low in energy. Are these trials even looking at this aspect? Perhaps each person who does not eat meats / fish has to do their own DHA trials and answer the energy question for themselves.

  7. How do vegans get enough vitamin K2 besides natto or supplements?
    I know fermented cod, skate and high vitamin butter oil have k2 but they don't say how much and i try to stay away from supplements.

  8. Algae-based DHA/EPA oils are not completely free from pollution thing. It may be  loaded with  heavy metals and other pollutants because   it is raised in sea water

  9. I need HELPPPPP!!! I'm in a nutritional dilemma!! I'm 5'11 130 lbs and trying to gain weight on a vegan diet. The best and easiest way for me to gain is to eat a ton of peanuts, cashews, and almonds. However, doing this throws my Omega 6:3 ratio out of wack (so much Omega 6 in nuts)! Is this okay considering the main source of Omega 6 is whole foods or must I change something???

  10. So what does the recommendation of 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed cover? Is this enough for DHA or is algae supplementation needed additionally?

  11. PUFAs are not stable, and are dangerous to your health. Eat fresh food, stay away from omega-3 supplements if you know what's good for ya!

  12. mind mind mind. Jut try it. Try having say 1-3 grams of dha a day from quality algae oil supplement. Its totally fudging amazing. you WILL be amazed!
    Imf your scared, up the dose slowly! Time to start living from the heart yall. Life never stops being bliss omnce we do 😊

  13. He kinda sounded like he hates fish or vegan or something. Im also %90 vegetarian. But it made me confused. I only want to cure my adhd

  14. can you comment / give thoughts on these studies?

  15. I've taken higher dha fish oils for a couple of years after a left temporal lobe brain injury in 2007. Mental health is much better now on the fish oils than when on mental health medications. I assume that the oils help stabilize and rebuild some of the damage from the brain injury. With support from my doctors I tried a certain brand and potency of fish oil and it has helped me feel more normal mentally, with the added benefits of healthier blood pressure and triglyceride levels. I still follow up with neurology and mental health for the brain injury and though I'll never regain what I lost, fish oils high in dha concentration were able to help when pharmaceuticals failed. This is a very specific personal experience and I don't recommend trying any of this without doctor approval and supervision.

  16. DHA supplements make me feel really bossy and manipulative. I don't know why. It's good because I've had two promotions in the last 4 years, but still.

  17. One major variable that is poorly tracked is partially hydrogenated oil or trans-fats. This is not found in nature. Individuals display many different primary inflammation responses to it.

    It can cause chronic tissue inflammation and pain. Chronic inflammation is a precursor to many diseases, even fatal ones.

    These trans-fats interfere with hormone & neurotransmitter production, cell wall integrity, and childhood development.

    Trans-fats can be very slow to be eliminated from body tissue. I am convinced that elimination of dietary trans-fats, consumption of heathy fatty acids, and the burning of stored body fat are all essential to permanent recovery from chronic inflammation.

    People respond in dramatically different ways to healthy fatty acids, depending on their tolerance or disease from trans-fats. Studies on ALA, EPA & DHA are also confounded by trans-fat variables.

    Partially hydrogenated oil has finally been banned in USA peanut butter, probable due to the immense consumption by kids, the large amount of it in each serving and undeniable studies that link reduced IQ in kids to peanut butter consumption.

    I have been consuming only Smuckers brand or fresh-ground peanuts for many decades before this ban.

    I hope it is banned in all food products; especially starting with foods targeted towards kids, such as candy and breakfast cereal.

    The excuses for using trans-fats are that it improves "mouth feel", as it is softer than cold lard even before warming up in the mouth. Mixed with oil, or replacing it, it reduces the transfer of oil to packaging. It may exchange food oils for a rancidity-delaying "vegetable shortening".

  18. Been having memory problems for the last couple years (been vegan for 4); started taking 900mg omega-3 from algae daily and noticed a drastic improvement in my cognitive function (speed of recollection and clarity of memory) after a week.

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