Research Shows Omega-3s Can Support Your Brain Through Bouts Of Loneliness
Whether single, grieving the loss of a loved one, or going through a difficult transition right now (divorce, big move, etc.), feelings of loneliness can be especially prevalent for people at this time of year.
Loneliness is a very real issue that can have a profound impact on cognitive function, mental well-being, overall mood, and even brain longevity. But before this information sends you into a downward spiral of panic and despair, let me assure you there are ways to support your mood and promote cognitive vitality when you're feeling lonely.
In fact, according to a recent Cureus review, something as shockingly simple as taking a quality omega-3 supplement can help support and sustain cognitive function during bouts of loneliness.*
The importance of social health.
As humans, we need social interaction. In fact, prioritizing your social and emotional health is just as important as staying active, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep.
Don't believe me? A 2019 study from the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that social isolation and loneliness are associated with decreased cognitive function in middle-aged and older adults. Loneliness can literally affect your cognitive longevity.
How omega-3s support mental well-being.
While mental health challenges are complex (and quite personalized), many involve neuroendocrine imbalance, like suboptimal levels of a "happy hormone" called serotonin. This neurotransmitter helps regulate mood, as well as sleep, sexual desire, and a number of other physiological functions.
As it turns out, social isolation affects the activation of our serotonergic pathways—but omega-3 fatty acids (specifically EPA and DHA) and vitamin D both have an important role in the actions of these pathways and are thus, critical nutrients for everyone but especially people who are dealing with loneliness.
According to a 2015 review published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, vitamin D, EPA, and DHA all help modulate the synthesis, release, and function of serotonin. To ensure optimal production and use of serotonin, maintaining healthy levels of both vitamin D and marine omega-3s is vital. That requires intention.
If you're feeling lonely (and even if you're not!), you'll definitely want to prioritize this trio of nutrients daily and get both your vitamin D and omega-3 levels checked to ensure your brain has all the nutrients it needs to support your mood and mental well-being. Over time, loneliness can lead to memory difficulties and other cognitive health concerns.
For example, loneliness can affect episodic memory, which is a person's ability to recall details of a specific event. Luckily, evidence from the Cureus review demonstrates that supplementing with an omega-3 supplement can help you proactively support your cognitive health and longevity (and spoiler alert: Science has also clearly shown these important brain benefits for the all-essential vitamin D, too).*
Loneliness can be all-consuming, but you don't have to face it alone! As part of a broader tool kit for nurturing your mind and mental health, taking a quality omega-3 supplement (like mindbodygreen's omega-3 potency+) every day is a proactive and evidence-based nutritional strategy to support your mental well-being and give your brain hardworking healthy fats that it needs to thrive.*
This is nutritional advice that is not a replacement for personalized medical advice or treatment from a health care provider. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, visit the National Institute of Mental Health resource page for support.
Morgan Chamberlain is a supplement editor at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science degree in magazine journalism and a minor in nutrition. Chamberlain believes in taking small steps to improve your well-being—whether that means eating more plant-based foods, checking in with a therapist weekly, or spending quality time with your closest friends. When she isn’t typing away furiously at her keyboard, you can find her cooking in the kitchen, hanging outside, or doing a vinyasa flow.