Do you know why we need to consume Omega-3 fatty acids? Did you know your body cannot make Omega-3 fats on its own? Well, the only way to feed your body these essential fats are to eat foods rich in Omega-3s or take a fish oil supplement.
Since our body can’t make omega-3 fatty acids, we need to get them from our diet. Omega-3 supplements are one of the most popular supplements in the U.S.
Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for normal growth and development. Too much intake of Omega-6 fatty acids and lack of dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids is thought to be an important contributing factor to numerous diseases. 1
Symptoms of Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency
Omega-3 fatty acids are very much concentrated in the brain and seem to be important for behavioral and cognitive (brain memory and performance) function. Actually, babies who don’t get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at higher risk for developing nerve and vision problems. 1
Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency symptoms include:
- poor circulation
- mood swings or depression
- heart problems
- dry skin
- poor memory, and
Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acid
The research found that omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and can help lower risk of certain chronic diseases such as arthritis, cancer, and heart disease. Here are the proven benefits of omega-3 fatty acids:
- Reduces Bad Cholesterol Levels
One reason Omega-3s benefit heart health is because they help lower triglycerides (fats in the blood) and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. 1
- Heart Health
Many studies show that Omega-3s benefit cardiovascular health in a major way. Consuming sufficient amounts of Omega-3s can reduce fatty plaques inside artery walls and lower high blood pressure, according to The American Heart Association. It can also reduce the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias), stroke, and heart attack. 1 2
Indigestion, bloating, and gas… oh, my! Handling with digestive problems is both embarrassing and painful.
If you are one of the 25 to 45 million people in the U.S. who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) then you definitely start eating foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Research show Omega-3s can help relieve IBS symptoms and support proper digestion.
Since Omega-3s have been found effective at fighting inflammation, they are also said to reduce Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) symptoms. Ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease are two types of IBD. 1
Children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are more likely to have low levels of Omega-3s. In one research, scientists examined nearly 100 boys. The researchers found that the boys with lower levels of Omega-3s had more behavioral and learning problems than those with normal Omega-3s levels.
According to these findings, the logical thought would be to give an adolescent with ADHD sufficient amount of Omega-3s. 1
Preliminary clinical evidence submits Omega-3 fats can improve symptoms – but more research should be conducted before we can say for sure if these fats benefit Schizophrenia. 1
- Children’s Learning Ability
Along with behavioral and mood issues, Omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with children’s learning abilities. The finding in this next research may surprise you.
According to a study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children ages 3-5 that consumed Omega-3 fats as kids scored higher on intelligence tests. Other studies have related low DHA levels with poor reading skills and memory. And the bottom line here is – Omega-3 fats are particularly beneficial for children! 1
- Cognitive Decline (Alzheimer’s and Dementia)
Low Omega-3 fatty acid levels have been associated with cognitive aging, Alzheimer’s disease, and Dementia. With a number of studies that’s been done so far, experts believe DHA could play the main role in helping protect against such diseases. 1
- Fights Depression
Studies have shown Omega-3 fats play an exceptionally significant role in achieving good mental health and prevent depression. In addition to behavioral and learning patterns, experts decided to take a closer look at the effect of Omega-3 fats on mood and depression. Many studies have found it effective. 1 2
In one British research 1 , experts gave a group of depressed individuals a daily dose of EPA. After 3 months, over 2/3 of the group reported a 50 percent reduction in their symptoms. They saw great improvement in the following:
- Inability to sleep
- Feelings of sadness
- Low libido
- Inability to work
- Reduces Risk of Cancer
Scientists say eating foods rich in Omega-3 fats may reduce the risk of getting prostate cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer. That’s because Omega-3s is suppressing inflammation, which is a catalyst for some cancers. And along with a reduced risk or developing a certain type of cancer, Omega-3s have also been found to prevent worsening. 1
- Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis
Scientists have found Omega-3 fats can help increase levels of calcium that improves bone strength – thus, prevent osteoporosis. Certain studies also claim that people who do not consume enough Omega-3 fatty acids are more likely to experience bone loss. This could weaken the bones, making them really susceptible to fractures and breaks. 1
- Alleviate Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
While Omega-3 fats perhaps won’t slow down the progression of inflammation in your joints (rheumatoid arthritis), research has found it can help ease symptoms. The key is to reduce inflammation; which Omega-3s have been shown to do. Therefore, Omega-3 fats can help in easing morning stiffness and easing joint pain. 1
- Skin Disorders
A diet rich in Omega-3s can help reduce the signs and symptoms of psoriasis, eczema, and acne. Even if you’re blessed with flawless skin, consuming Omega-3s can help strengthen the skin cells and provide you an even healthier look. 1
- Menstrual Pain Relief
In a Danish research, scientists had a group of women with menstrual pain takes either fish oil with Vitamin B-12, fish oil alone, seal oil, or a placebo.
They found women taking fish oil plus B-12, fish oil alone, or seal oil had less pain and fewer symptoms than those taking the placebo. 1
Hence, next time it is that time of the month, enjoy a delicious plate of wild caught salmon or reach for a fish oil supplement!
Omega-3 Vs. Omega-6
It’s important to have the proper ratio of omega-6 (another essential fatty acid) and omega-3 in the diet. Omega-3s help reduces inflammation, and most omega-6s have a tendency to promote inflammation. 1
The standard American diet has 14-25 times more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats that some physicians consider to be way excessively high on the omega-6 side.
Certainly, studies submit that higher dietary omega-6 to omega-3 ratios seem to be linked to worsening inflammation and a higher risk of death among hemodialysis patients. 1
On the other hand, The Mediterranean diet has a healthier balance between omega-6 and omega fatty acids. Various studies have found that persons who follow this diet are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
The Mediterranean diet includes foods which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, garlic, fish, olive oil and moderate wine consumption.
Omega-3 Rich Foods
Now that you’ve read all about Omega-3 benefits, you can see how significant they are for your overall health. Though, here is the big problem – most people are not getting enough of the important nutrient. Following you can find the list of the top Omega-3 rich foods:
- Hemp Seeds
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- White Fish
- Egg yolks
- Brussels Sprouts
You can also take a daily fish oil supplement. When it comes to dosing the fish oil supplement, it should be based on the amount of DHA and EPA (instead of the total amount of fish oil). It’s always a good idea to talk to your GP for proper dosing.
How Much Omega-3 Fatty Acids Should You Take?
There are no any typical doses for omega-3 fats.
The American Heart Association (AHA) vouch for 1 gram a day of EPA and DHA for individuals with heart disease. 1
Higher doses – between 2 – 4 grams a day – are usually used to lower triglycerides.
In case you decide to take omega-3 fatty acid supplements, consult with your GP what dose you should use.
Children should not use omega-3 supplements unless a GP suggests it. In general, the dosage of plant-based fatty acids is much higher than for fish oils. 1
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. They are crucial for human health, but our body cannot make them – therefore, we have to get them through food. Omega-3s are found in fish, such as halibut, tuna, and salmon, other seafood including krill and algae, nut oils, and some plants.
Omega 3 fats, which are also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), play a vital role in brain function, along with normal development and growth. They have also become popular because they may reduce the risk of some cardiovascular diseases. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you should eat fish (particularly fatty fish such as salmon, albacore tuna, sardines, mackerel, herring, and lake trout) at least 2 times a week.