The essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in fish oil are essential for brain development and function. Our brains are composed of 65% fat, mostly omega 3 EFAs. DHA, the most important of these for brain structure, makes up 40% of the EFAs in the brain and 60% in the retina of the eye. The ability to convert ALA (an omega 3 EFA from flax oil) to DHA and EPA (abundant in fish oil), is limited in infants and children, so supplementation is essential for optimal brain development.
Pregnancy and early childhood are critical for brain formation as 70% of the brain by weight is developed by birth and the remainder by age 5 or 6. Dr. Maharban Singh in a 2005 article published in the Indian Journal of Pediatrics recommends that pregnant and nursing mothers supplement with at least 2.6g of omega-3 fatty acids and 100-300 mg DHA daily. Infants of mothers supplemented with EFAs and DHA scored higher in mental and visual tests at age 4, had a lower incidence of ADHD, and had enhanced learning capability and academic performance. There are benefits for the mother too – depletion of DHA during pregnancy increases incidence of postpartum depression.
Two recent cases suggest another situation for significant potential benefit from fish oil supplementation – healing from traumatic brain injury. In 2006 Randal McLoy was the sole survivor from a coal mine disaster in W. Virginia. He was in a coma and barely alive, his brain injured from CO and methane poisoning. His medical team used hyperbaric oxygen and high doses of fish oil in their treatment. Randal’s recovery was dramatic and unexpected. In March of 2010 a Virginia high school student, Bobby Ghassemi, was in an auto accident that left him in a coma with little chance for survival. His parents persuaded his doctors to give him high doses of fish oil and he recovered sufficiently in time to attend his high school graduation. These two cases don’t provide conclusive proof, but at this time there is nothing else western medicine can offer to assist recovery from brain injury.
For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.