Image Credit: Greg Clarke

While Americans guzzle record amounts of saturated and trans fats in red meat, fatty dairy foods, and processed junk, most of us include only small amounts of the omega-3 that is most important for mood, mind, and memory…that would be DHA. Americans average as little as 100 milligrams a day. Research shows you need at least twice that, or 220 milligrams. The MIDAS study found 900 milligrams a day are needed to keep your main-frame brain in tip-top condition.

Fatty fish is the best dietary source of both DHA and EPA. Ounce for ounce you get the biggest omega-3 bang for your buck with salmon, herring, lake trout, anchovies, and sardines. Eat fatty fish twice a week and you reduce the risk for developing memory loss by 28%, according to a study from Tufts. On the other hand, eat it less than once a week and depression risk goes up 34%. (Hint: Bake or broil, don’t fry fish. Studies show that frying negates the heart-healthy benefits.)

If you don’t like or can’t afford fish, are vegetarian, or are concerned about pesticides or mercury in seafood, then look for foods fortified with a vegetarian or algal DHA (it will have the “life’sDHA” stamp on the label). Be careful when reading labels, because many foods are enriched with the wrong omega-3, or ALA (alpha linolenic acid). If a food is fortified with ALA, which is typically found naturally in flax, walnuts, and soy, you won’t get the mood and memory boost you are hoping for. You’ll find DHA on a variety of foods, including certain varieties of Silk soymilk, Horizon milk, Mission Life Balance Tortillas, and bottled Rinaldi sauces.

If you can’t get at least 200 milligrams of DHA each day from a combination of fatty seafood and DHA-fortified foods, then consider a supplement. Supplements of algae-based DHA, such as Brain Armor and BrainStrong, supply optimal amounts of this important omega-3. For vegetarians, Ovega-3 is the first supplement to provide both EPA and DHA in a vegetarian form.