All About Omega-3’s – What They Are and How Much You Need?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital part of a healthy diet due to their many potential health benefits. Barring a few other nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids have been thoroughly researched, and these studies consistently reveal that omega-3s are essential to some body functions, not to mention other therapeutic uses as well.
Omega-3 is sourced from both plants and animals. The main animal sources are krill oil and fish oil, while the essential plant sources are chia, hemp, and flaxseed. These days omega-3 supplements generate as much as 2.6 billion dollars in business on nutritional supplements and related food products.
What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids, namely α-linolenic acids (ALAs) which are sourced from plants, eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA)s, and docosahexaenoic acids (DHAs), which are both sourced from marine oils.
Phytoplankton and marine algae are main sources of omega-3s, while typical sources of plant oils that contain omega-3 ALAs are edible seeds, Echium oil,Sacha Inchi oil, walnuts, flaxseed oil, algal oil, clary sage seed oil, and hemp oil.
Sources of animal omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids are usually eggs, fish oils, fish, krill oil and squid oils.
What is the Difference Between Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids?
The majority of omega-6 fatty acids can be found in the stuff we eat almost every day. Popular food sources of omega-6s include poultry, eggs, nuts, whole-grains, vegetable oils, cereal, and many more.
Omega-6 fatty acids are able to help in lessening the effects of rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathy, allergies, and hypertension. They also alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause in women, specifically tenderness and breast pain.
It likewise helps those afflicted with multiple sclerosis, and those with ADHD, eczema, menstrual pain and even breast cancer. A balanced diet will supply most of the omega-6 fatty acids that we require.
Omega-3 fatty acids typically require supplementation in order to get adequate amounts. Fish or fish oils are the best sources of omega-3s.
It is a fatty acid observed to lessen the odds of heart disease, in addition to other diseases and health issues. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for the performance of the brain and for proper growth development. It is also good for the growth of hair and skin.
A diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, wheat germ, fish, garlic, flax seed, olive oil, walnuts and canola oil will provide an adequate amount of omega-3s.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also great for lessening inflammation, reducing blood pressure, and lowering bad cholesterol, in addition to reducing the severity and even preventing other diseases. Asthma, diabetes, irritable bowel disease, arthritis, lupus, osteoporosis, breast and colon cancer, hypertension and cholesterol are just some health conditions that can be treated and prevented with omega-3 intake.
7 Health Benefits of Omega 3
1. Omega-3s Help Battle Melancholy
Gloominess and feelings of hopelessness are some of the most prevalent mental problems.
If you feel depressed and have a general lack of interest in life, then you probably are one of those dealing with melancholia. Research has revealed that individuals who took omega-3s regularly are less likely to experience melancholia. Of the three kinds of omega-3s, EPA seems to be the most effective at battling melancholia.
2. Omega-3s Promote Eye Health and Better Eyesight
The DHA variety of omega-3 forms an important part of the retina of the eye as well as the brain. If we are deficient with DHA, eyesight issues could ensue. It could also aid macular degeneration, which could lead to vision problems and even blindness.
3. Omega-3s Are Key to Brain Health During Maternity and Early Childhood
Omega-3s are extremely important for brain development in childhood.
DHA comprises 40% of the polyunsaturated fatty acids present in the brain, as well as 60% of the retina. Sufficient omega-3s at maternity and during early childhood is so important for the development of an infant. Lack of it is suspected to cause intelligence issues, compromised eyesight and a raised likelihood of many developmental issues.
4. Omega-3s Help Prevent Heart Disease
Omega-3 fatty acids have been observed to possess a myriad of heart health benefits, after observing many fish-eating communities.
They have been found to reduce levels of triglyceride levels and bad cholesterol in the blood, alongside lowering blood pressure levels and elevating good cholesterol.
5. Omega-3s May Help Reduce ADHD Symptoms in Kids
Research has found that kids with ADHD have decreased blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, compared to their healthy counterparts.
Several studies have observed that omega-3 supplements can actually reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Omegas-3s enhance attention levels and lessen impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and hostility.
6. Omega-3s Can Lessen Inflammation
Inflammation is a double-edged sword since it battles infections and fixes damage to the body.
On the other hand, inflammation can linger for a long time, known as (long-term) inflammation, which can lead to practically every known chronic disease, most notorious of which are cancer and cardiovascular disease. Omega-3s can even combat mental degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease in older individuals.
7. Omega-3s Can Help Treat Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is quite common, being the most frequent culprit of chronic liver disease. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been observed to lessen liver fat and inflammation in individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been observed to lessen liver fat and inflammation in individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease without any other change in diet. If you have a history of liver disease in the family, supplementing omega-3s can help reduce your risk of developing chronic liver disease in the future.
Negative Effects of Not Getting Enough Omega-3s
Inadequate intake of omega-3s has been linked to a host of health issues and conditions. These are, but not limited to:
- Elevated cholesterol
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Macular degeneration
- Skin issues (eczema and psoriasis)
- IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)
4 Best Omega-3 Food Sources
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are one of the best sources of omega-3 fats. As a plus, it is plant-based, so it is good for those following a plant-based and/or meat-free diet.
This seed is composed mainly of fats, with most of it being omega-3s. Adding just 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds to your morning oatmeal or breakfast smoothie can help you hit the required daily intake for omega-3s to reap its benefits.
2. Fish oil
Fish oil is one of the easiest ways to raise your intake of omega-3 fats. Premium fish oils in capsule form are a great way to go. You can find fish oil supplements almost everywhere these days.
Just bear in mind that antioxidants are needed to guarantee that the fish oil does not become rancid, and that it’s always better to purchase a fresh batch every few months rather than stocking up.
Consuming 2-3 servings of fatty fish per week should fulfill your required omega-3 fatty aid intake.
However, most fish these days have been exposed to pollutants and other environmental toxins, making the consumption of fish a risk factor in itself.
Opt for wild-caught Alaskan salmon and small fish such as sardines. Avoid sea bass, tuna, and marlin because these three varieties of fish were found to contain mercury, which when consumed in large amounts, may lead to mercury poisoning.
4. Krill Oil
Krill oil has the essential DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids, and its antioxidant potency is 48 times stronger than fish oil.
Krill oil likewise has astaxanthin, a flavonoid that produces a unique bond with the EPA and DHA, making them more bioavailable. Krill are the most abundant biomass on the planet and can be found in all the seas.
Plant Based Sources vs. Animal sources of Omega 3-s
Sea creatures like Krill and fish are sources of EPA and DHA oils, highly regarded for their protective properties for the heart. Plant sources like chia, flaxseeds, as well as some other foods, alternatively, offer ALA.
Generally, one should opt for an animal-based type since the vast majority of health benefits are attributed to Omega-3 fats derived from animal-based EPA and DHA, rather than plant-based ALA.
Moreover, ALA is metabolized into EPA and DHA in the body at quite minimal levels, hence even if you consume a lot of ALA, the body transforms only a tiny level into EPA and DHA. While plant based Omega 3s are not inherently bad at all, getting them from animals is the more practical way to go.
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for overall health. Since they are not naturally occurring in our bodies we must obtain them ideally from our diet.
However, when the diet is less than optimal, then a premium omega-3 oil supplement is the next best thing. There is a substantial amount of research on the benefits of omega-3s, and there are no negative side effects associated with its consumption. For your health and wellbeing, be sure to incorporate fish, fish oils, chia seeds, or other sources of omega-3s into your diet.