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Which Fish Oils Are the Best for a Teen's Brain?

by Tara West, studioD

Fish oils contain fatty acids that are essential to the health of the human brain. Teens who consume fish oil experience a variety of health benefits from increased memory function to lowered risk of depression. Fish oil comes in a variety of forms, each with benefits of its own.

Types of Fish Oils

Fish high in healthful fatty acids are oily fish such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, yellowtail, herring, trout and menhaden. Those fish can contain a full gram of omega-3 acids in each 3 1/2 ounce serving. Consuming those fish and their oils can provide the teen's daily dose of beneficial fatty acids, according to MedlinePlus. Fish oil supplements are typically made from cod liver, but can be made from whale blubber, seal blubber, tuna, mackerel or any other oily fish. Supplements can be purchased in the desired dosage with labels indicating the amount of fatty acids present in the supplement.

Mental Health

According to a 2011 study published in the "Journal of Clinical Psychiatry," the New York State Psychiatric Institute suggests that fish oils might help reduce the risk of depression in teens. Fish oils are high in omega-3s and eicosapentaenoic acid, which were shown effective against primary depression. Bi-polar disorder has shown to be lower in groups who consume more fish oils, according to a 2012 article in "Forbes Magazine." For mental health benefits, the type of fish oil does not matter so long as it contains sufficient amounts of EPA and omega-3s -- a minimum of 500 mg per day.

Healthy Brain Functions

Fish oil helps ensure the brain is functioning at its potential. Teens who supplement with fish oil have been found to have better memory function and increased reaction time, according to PubMed. The study showed that cognitive skills were enhanced and brain lesions were less likely to occur. The reduction in brain lesions shows fish oil's ability to maintain a healthy balance for optimal performance. Healthy brain function was shown with supplementation of as little as 200 mg of omega-3s per day. However, the New York State Psychiatric Institute suggests that fish oil supplementation of 200 mg to 2,000 mg is safe and beneficial to teens, according the "Journal of Clinical Psychiatry" study.

Other Health Considerations

According to MedlinePlus, fish oils have been shown to be effective in lowering triglycerides and the risk of heart disease. Fish oils might also aid in weight loss and combat the ill-effects of a junk food diet. The Science Daily points out that fish oil might be beneficial for kidney health, improved vision, asthma, high blood pressure, arthritis, bone strengthening, lowered stroke risk and overall improved health.

About the Author

Tara West graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor's degree in business administration and human resources. West specializes in parenting, green living and career development as a regular contributor at SocialMoms.com. She has been featured on a variety of websites including a childhood favorite, Reading Rainbow.

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