Omega-3s – Essential, But Not the Only Thing
Omega-3s are some of the best nutrients you can include in your diet. These healthy, polyunsaturated fats, called “essential fatty acids”, are “essential” because you need to get them from dietary sources – your body doesn’t synthesize them on its own. No doubt you’ve heard about how important they are: they keep unhealthy cholesterol in check, strengthen your arteries, relieve depression, and much more. But the fact is, omega-3s aren’t the only components from fish that you should be aware of. You also need phospholipids and peptides.
Phospholipids – Cell-Building Specialists
Whenever you hear the word “lipids” you’re probably going to think “fats”, and most of the time, you’d be right. Phospholipids are like fats, but they are highly specialized. Their primary job is to create and build the membranes of cells, making them strong and resilient. But constructing cellular walls isn’t their only job. Many of the same phospholipids available from salmon, for example, are actually sought after for their own incredible effects on the brain and mood individually. For anyone who feels overwhelmed in their daily life, supplemental phospholipids may be the answer: a scientific study in the journal Neuroscience found that chronic, unpredictable stress can affect levels of phospholipids in the brain. You may simply need to replenish them.
Of course, phospholipids can come from different sources than fish, but if you’ve ever heard of or have seen supplemental forms of these specialized nutrients, they’ve probably been the ones listed here:
· Phosphatidylcholine (PC) – Necessary for acetylcholine production, a vital neurotransmitter, protects nerve cells, and the mitochondria -- the “engine” of your cells -- from oxidative damage.
· Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE) – Helps build the myelin sheath that surrounds your nerve cells, keeping those signals firing properly.
· Phosphatidylinositol (Pl) – Plays a major role in nerve, brain, and muscle signals; helps to keep your brain healthy and your mood positive.
· Sphingomyelin (Sph) – A strong supporter of overall brain health and found in the myelin sheaths of neurons; their concentration in the brain is critical for cognitive processes.
· Phosphatidylserine (PS) – Often recommended as a stand-alone supplement for broad-spectrum brain health, including mood and memory. Some clinical work with PS has shown a positive effect on emotional health and daily functioning for individuals with Alzheimer’s.
Peptides – Unsung Heroes of Health
Peptides are something that you probably don’t ever associate with supplemental forms of omega-3s (if at all) for a good reason. They aren’t there. They are not found in either fish oil or krill oil. However, these short chains of amino acids are normally formed during digestion – especially when you eat cold water fish like salmon.
Peptides are the unsung heroes of protein sources. They protect delicate blood vessels in the brain by fighting oxidative damage. A scientific study using peptides derived from salmon found that they reduced anxiety (in an animal model) in 14 days. The researchers discovered that they also inhibited oxidative damage of neurons (the nerve cells that carry signals in the brain) by 21 percent.
In other research, peptides from animal origin are considered a new treatment option for high blood pressure. A current review noted that peptides found in eggs, dairy, meats – and fish – could yield a new source of functional ingredients to fight hypertension.
The Whole Picture – Not Just an Isolated Component
So I think what it boils down to is this: you can’t just isolate a couple of critical components from fish – healthy as they are – and expect great things. When you eat fish, you get a much fuller spectrum of beneficial omega-3s, phospholipids, peptides, and other vitamins and nutrients. I realize there are people out there who really don’t like the taste of fish, and are unlikely to eat three servings of cold-water salmon per week. And I understand full well the value of being able to supplement omega-3s and figure, “well, I’m all set.” But I would urge you to seek carefully when looking for supplements from fish. There’s so much more beyond omega-3s. Phospholipids and peptides can protect your heart, your mind, and make all the difference in your health. I believe that these often overlooked components from fish can literally save your life.
To protect your mind, heart, and overall health, I recommend taking omega-3s, phospholipids, and peptides from a fish source, especially salmon.