Proven Scientific Benefits of Combining Omega-3 & Vitamin B
Proven Scientific Benefits of Combining Omega-3 & Vitamin B
According to several research studies, it may be better to take a combination of vitamins instead of brain-healthy B vitamins or omega-3 on their own.
B vitamins are reported to slow cognitive decline in some people, especially folic acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12.
However, clinical trials have had mixed results, which has confused outcomes in the past. The reason for the mixed results may be due to a variation in omega-3 levels.
In this blog, we will summarise the main advantages of combining omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B. As the evidence stands, doing so will potentiate the impact of both.
Omega-3 Boosts the Effects of Vitamin B
An international study from the Universities of Cape Town, Oslo, Oxford and the UAE discovered that higher levels of omega-3 may boost the effects of vitamin B.
Vitamin B has already been shown to slow cognitive decline in people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
A link between omega-3 levels, homocysteine and brain atrophy rates has already been established. The latest Oxford study was focused on the effects of B vitamins and omega-3 in the prevention of cognitive decline.
The omega-3 levels of the participants were measured at the start of the two-year study, wherein participants were split into two groups: one was given vitamin B and the other a placebo. The researcher, Dr Abderrahim Oulhaj, reported:
“We found that for people with low levels of omega-3, the vitamin supplements had little to no effect. But for those with high baseline omega-3 levels, the B vitamins were very effective in preventing cognitive decline compared to the placebo.”
In other words, the reason people may not respond as well to vitamin B treatment may be due to low omega-3 levels in their blood.
Nutrition plays a part in brain health, cognitive decline and the development of dementia. Researchers at The Oxford Project to Investigate Memory and Ageing (OPTIMA) are on a mission to understand the causes, treatment and prevention of dementia.
Is Vitamin B Good for your Brain?
B vitamins when combined with omega-3 supplements (like fish oil) may help improve thinking and memory. B vitamins play a role in preserving brain health and can be obtained from a balanced healthy diet.
Studies show that a significant percentage of the developed world is deficient in at least one of the B vitamins.
Folate, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 are the most studied B vitamins. We know a lot more about these three (compared to the other 5), as they have been the focus of research.
That being said, all 8 B vitamins are essential for brain health and indeed overall health. We cover this topic in greater depth in our article What is Vitamin B: A Comprehensive Guide.
Vitamin B Deficiency in Pregnancy
B vitamins are co-enzymes, meaning they help enzymes do their job. A deficiency in folate (folic acid) or B9 during pregnancy can lead to birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
Like other B vitamins, B9 is water soluble and comes in two forms – folate and folic acid. Folate is the natural form that derives from food and folic acid is the supplement form of B9.
Surprisingly, folic acid is 85% bioavailable and folate is less easily absorbed in the body (50% bioavailable).
B9 is involved in breaking down homocystine, creating blood cells and the formation of DNA and RNA. During periods of rapid growth, for example pregnancy and childhood, B9 is critical for the formation of a healthy body.
How Does Vitamin B Deficiency Affect Brain and Body?
There are many illnesses associated with vitamin B6, B12 and folate deficiencies such as osteoporosis, bone thinning, atherosclerosis, blood clots, heart attack, coronary artery disease, stroke, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin B regulates the amount of homocysteine in the blood; high levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is created as a by-product of the breakdown of proteins, are toxic to the body and can cause disease.
Rampant levels of homocysteine are a known byproduct of excess meat intake.
The findings of 19 research studies that measured homocysteine levels in relation to the consumption of omega-3 and vitamin B were unanimous: the combination of Omega-3 with B vitamins was more effective than omega-3 or B vitamins alone at lowering homocysteine levels.
Is a B Complex Good for the Brain?
Vitamin B is important for energy metabolism and is essential for health and wellbeing.
As mentioned, there are eight B vitamins and together they form “B complex vitamins”. In particular, B12 (cobalamin) is good for brain health as it protects sensitive nerve endings. This protective sheath ensures that nerves are not overly impacted by oxidative stress and free radicals.
What are the 8 B Vitamins Called?
The eight B vitamins are as follows:
- Thiamine (B1)
- Riboflavin (B2)
- Niacin (B3)
- Pantothenic acid (B5)
- Pyridoxine (B6)
- Biotin (B7)
- Folate (B9)
- Cobalamin (B12)
Do B Vitamins Help with Depression?
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) plays a major role in the synthesis of dopamine, serotonin, ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA), noradrenaline and the hormone melatonin.
Folate (Vitamin B9) and vitamin B12 (Cobolamin) are also essential for healthy brain function. A deficiency in any of the B vitamins can result in neurophsychiatric symptoms.
A third of psychiatric admissions have a folate or B12 deficiency. Folic acid and B12 may play a role in the prevention of mood disorders.
Our understanding of the complex relationship between nutrition and health is improving due to the work of various research studies, some of which are cited in this article.
Omega-3 levels have repeatedly been found to impact our ability to absorb B vitamins, and B vitamins are essential for both mental and physical health. Ensuring optimal omega-3 intake from our diet may boost our ability to absorb B vitamins.
If you’re after a supplement, we recommend pairing Revitacell B-Complex, a vitamin B formula which supplies all 8 essential B vitamins – with a high-quality fish oil. UnoCardio 1000 is ranked #1 by independent aggregator Labdoor, so it’s a terrific option. In addition to 1.2g of highly pure omega-3, it contains vitamin D3.
Written by best-selling author and integrative nutrition health coach Rowanna Watson, who has a passion for natural health. Rowanna is an expert in all areas of holistic health, plant-based nutrition, detoxification and personal development.