Feeds

Does eating fish improve brain function?

Oh my, Omega-3

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Also in this week's column:

Does eating fish improve brain function?

Asked by Tammy Courtland of Boston, Massachusetts

It is no wonder that health authorities usually recommend the eating of two or three servings of fish per week for most people. This is because fatty, cold-water fish contain healthy omega-3 fats (DHA and EPA). Rich sources of these marine omega-3 fats are sardines, salmon, mackerel, and fresh tuna.

There is some evidence to show that poor dietary intakes or low blood levels of these omega-3 fats can result in learning difficulties, behavioral problems, and mental illness. This may indicate a strong relationship between eating fish and brain development.

Sixty per cent of the brain is composed of fat - but not just any fat. DHA and EPA are good fats. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is important for normal brain and vision development. The increased intelligence and academic performance of breastfed compared with formula-fed infants has been attributed in part to the increased DHA content of human milk.

Cultures whose diet is high in DHA have a lower incidence of degenerative diseases of the central nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis. Some children with ADHD and poor school performance have been shown to have insufficient DHA in their diet.

EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) is also important in brain and eye development and function. EPA has been used to treat depression, bipolar disorder, Huntington's chorea, chronic fatigue syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), obsessive compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.

According to Dr Shawn Somerset of the School of Public Health at Griffith University in Australia: "No study has proved that eating more fish will make you smarter."

So it is not true that the more fish you eat, the smarter you become. If this were so, then Eskimos, who eat perhaps the highest amounts of fish as any people anywhere in the world, would all be geniuses. Yet having survived for so many centuries in such a brutally harsh environment, perhaps they are.

Stephen Juan, Ph.D. is an anthropologist at the University of Sydney. Email your Odd Body questions to s.juan@edfac.usyd.edu.au

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.