Does Omega 3 Help Brain Health? How It Enhances The Brain Function?


The human brain is incredibly complex and vital to our overall health and well-being. As we age, maintaining a healthy brain becomes increasingly important. Some research has suggested that getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can help support and promote brain health. In this article, we’ll explore the evidence around whether omega-3s actually help improve and protect brain function. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found naturally in foods like fish and some plants. The three main omega-3s involved in human physiology are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). DHA and EPA seem to be the most important for brain health.

Link Between Omega-3 And Brain Health

Several studies have found associations between higher omega-3 intake or blood levels and better brain health. For example, people with higher omega-3 intake or blood levels tend to have more gray matter volume in areas of the brain related to cognition, emotion regulation, and memory. Omega-3s may also help support neuron health and communication between brain cells. 

Additionally, omega-3 deficiency has been associated with a higher risk of impaired thinking skills, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease in some observational studies.

However, evidence from randomized controlled trials testing omega-3 supplements has been mixed. While some studies have found benefits, others have not. Overall, current research suggests a potential link between omega-3s and better brain structure and function, but more research is still needed.

How Omega-3 Can Help Improve Brain Health?

There are several potential ways that getting enough omega-3 fatty acids may promote and protect brain health:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects: Neuroinflammation is thought to play a role in cognitive decline. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s may help reduce harmful neuroinflammation.
  • Neuron membrane health: DHA makes up over 90% of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain. It supports the health of neuron cell membranes, which facilitates communication between brain cells.
  • Increased brain circulation: Omega-3s may improve blood flow to the brain by relaxing blood vessels and reducing clotting. This boosts oxygen and nutrient delivery.
  • Neurotransmitter synthesis: Omega-3s may aid in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood, focus, and motivation.
  • Neurogenesis: Some research indicates omega-3s may stimulate the growth of new brain cells in key areas related to memory and cognition.
  • Reduced amyloid and tau proteins: Omega-3s may help limit proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Improved neuron signaling: Omega-3s may support communication between neurons and maintenance of cell receptors.

So in summary, omega-3s appear to benefit multiple aspects of brain cell health and function. More long-term studies are needed, but getting adequate omega-3s from your diet or supplements may help keep your brain sharp as you age.

Best Omega-3 Sources For Brain Health

To potentially reap the brain-boosting benefits of omega-3s, aim to get 250–500 mg per day of combined EPA and DHA. Here are some of the top omega-3 foods and supplements to help meet this goal:

  • Fatty fish: Wild salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, trout, and anchovies are high in omega-3s. Eat two 3.5-oz servings per week.
  • Fish oil supplements: Look for supplements with at least 500 mg EPA/DHA per capsule.
  • Ground flaxseed: Contains ALA omega-3. Use 2 tablespoons daily on oatmeal, yogurt, salads, or smoothies. 
  • Chia seeds: Also contain ALA. Add 1-2 tablespoons per day to dishes. 
  • Walnuts: Provide 2.5 grams of omega-3s per ounce. Enjoy a handful for a snack.
  • Edamame: One cup of edamame has almost 2 grams of ALA omega-3s. 
  • Fortified foods: Some eggs, yogurts, milk, and juices have EPA/DHA added. Check nutrition labels.
  • Seaweed: Dried seaweed makes a crunchy omega-3-rich snack. Look for kombu, wakame, and nori.

Focus on getting 2-3 daily servings of these omega-3-rich foods as part of a balanced diet. Supplements can help fill any nutritional gaps.


Research indicates higher omega-3 intake and blood levels are associated with favorable brain structure and function. Omega-3s like DHA play vital structural roles in neuron cell membranes, support neuron signaling, and reduce inflammation.

While more research is still needed, eating enough omega-3-rich foods or taking a supplement may help promote long-term brain health. To get the most brain benefits, aim for at least 250–500 mg per day of combined DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids. Include oily fish, nuts, seeds, seaweed, and fortified foods as part of a nutritious, brain-healthy diet.


Q: What are the best omega-3 supplements for the brain?

A: Look for fish oil supplements with at least 500 mg combined DHA and EPA per capsule. Nordic Naturals and WHC are reputable brands that provide third-party testing for purity and potency.

Q: How much omega-3 per day is optimal for brain function? 

A: Most experts recommend getting at least 250-500 mg daily of combined DHA and EPA omega-3s for optimal brain health. Eating 2-3 servings per week of fatty fish helps meet this goal.

Q: What does omega-3 do for the brain?

A: Omega-3s support many aspects of brain health, including neuron membrane function, anti-inflammatory activity, blood flow, neurotransmitter production, communication between brain cells, and neuron growth.

Q: Does omega-3 help with memory?

A: Some studies have found associations between higher omega-3 levels and better memory and cognitive function. Omega-3s may help support neuron membrane health, blood flow, neurotransmitters, and reduced inflammation – all of which can affect memory.

Q: Is fish oil good for your brain?

A: Yes, fish oil supplements containing EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids can be good for brain health and cognitive function. Oily fish like salmon are also excellent direct sources of these important omega-3s.

Dr. Jun Ren is a dedicated and experienced registered dietitian and nutritionist who is committed to helping people achieve their health goals through personalized nutrition plans. With a passion for promoting healthy eating habits and preventing chronic diseases, Dr. Ren has been able to assist numerous clients in improving their overall quality of life.

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