Feeds

Does eating fish improve brain function?

Oh my, Omega-3

Security for virtualized datacentres

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

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
The hidden costs of self-signed SSL certificates
Exploring the true TCO for self-signed SSL certificates, including a side-by-side comparison of a self-signed architecture versus working with a third-party SSL vendor.