Nervous System

The long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 introduced through diet are essential for maintaining the structure and ensuring the functioning of nerve cells. 

In fact, nerve tissue is second only to adipose tissue in the concentration of fatty acids, in which it is particularly rich. Consider that more than 60 percent of brain mass is made up of these molecules.

Not only that, most of the Omega-3 present in the body is located right in the brain. Here the predominant fatty acid is DHA, whileEPA is present in much lower concentrations.


Omega-3s, cell membranes and the health of the mind

Within nervous tissue, Omega-3s are concentrated at the level of membranes.

DHA plays a key role in the following membranes:

  • retina, which receives visual impulses and transmits them to the brain;
  • synapses, points on the membrane of neurons where nerve impulse passage occurs;
  • mitochondria, cellular elements equipped with membranes that, even in neurons, ensure energy production.

Specifically, at synapses, Omega-3s directly affect the production and release of certain neurotransmitters, molecules essential for nerve impulse transmission.

Among these are serotonin and dopamine. In their absence, the transmission of information slows down significantly. And it is precisely the health of the nervous system that bears the brunt of any deficiency.

When serotonin levels are low, the likelihood of depressive states or violent behavior is greater. In situations of dopamine deficiency, on the other hand, there is an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease or attention deficit disorder, conditions characterized by a decreased ability to concentrate on immediate tasks.


The role of omega-3s in therapy

Some studies suggest that high doses of fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, help maintain adequate levels of both serotonin and dopamine. 

Not only that, some experiments have shown that lab-grown nerve cells need these fatty acids to multiply, differentiate, and pick up or release neurotransmitters.



See also:

Symptoms of depression: do omega-3s help?

Anxiety and omega-3s