What is Omega 3 good for – besides all the hype

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IntroductionOmega 3 - fish oil

I have noticed that there has been a lot more interest in Omega 3 lately. It’s all over the media, the internet, and even more studies are being conducted.  I know basically what it is and its sources, but I have decided to look into it more due to the recent increase in interest and find out what is omega 3 good for and sources of Omega 3.

Omega 3 is name used to refer to alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). I like to keep things simple, so let’s just say Omega 3s are three essential acids that our bodies need.

This article is primarily on Omega 3’s. Omega 6 and 9s are similar and are also beneficial.  The main different is there chemical structure.  If we have too much Omega 6 in our system, this will affect our health. Our bodies are lacking in Omega 3’s, which can be made up for by adjusting our diet or taking a quality supplement.

History of Omega 3

Omega 3 was first realized to be an essential oil in the 1930’s. It was not made popular until the 1980’s when people started to take notice of the benefits. (source)Omega 3 history

In 2004 the FDA finally gave a qualified statement regarding Omega 3. “supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA [omega−3] fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease”. Since then, numerous studies have been conducted in Omega 3, 6, and 9.  Studies confirm earlier findings and have even discovered additional benefits of Omega 3.

The resurgence of interest in Omega 3 may come from the changes in our diets. Much of our current diets consist of processed and refined foods.  Many valuable and necessary nutrients are not consumed in sufficient quantities. This is why I believe that people suffer from many of the health problems that plague society today.

Where do we get our Omega 3 from?Where does omega 3 come from

Omega 3 can come from whole foods or fish.  Many supplements include fish oil, due to its higher levels of Omega 3.  Other good sources include walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and hemp or flax seeds.  Some seeds are high in calories, so be aware of this when eating them.

We are now seeing some products in our groceries stores that have Omega 3 added. How many infant formulas do you see that have DHA added to them?  DHA has been linked to brain development in infants. This shows the importance of this single nutrient that we are lacking.

Some studies have shown that there is a slight increase in the amount of Omega 3s in grass-fed cattle over commercially fed. This is still less than fish, but it is a step in the right direction.

We want to increase our Omega 3s and reduce the amount of Omega 6s.  There are some sources we want to avoid or reduce. Sources of Omega 6s include safflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and sunflower oil. Omega 9s are good in moderation, these include olive oil and animal fats.

What are some of the benefits of Omega 3? 

Studies have proven many benefits of Omega 3s. I will list some, but this is not a complete list and additional studies are currently being conducted.Benefits of Omega 3

  • Inflammation – Studies show that Omega 3s from marine fish have shown a decrease in chronic inflammation in adults in 2013. (source)
  • Parenteral nutrition associated liver disease (PNALD)- this is a cause of death in infants from long term care of parenteral nutrition. Fish oil has been used to reduce inflammation, which has increased the survival rate of infants. (source)
  • Cardiovascular disease – fish oil supplements have been effective in lowering higher levels of triglycerides in the blood.  Lower levels will reduce the chance or heart attack, stroke, or other disorders.  (source)
  • Mental Health – various studies have been conducted on Omega 3s in regards to mental health
  • Cancer -some studies suggest that taking larger amounts of Omega 3s, there is a reduced rate in the risk of certain types of cancer, which include breast cancer. (source)

There have been studies relating to Rheumatoid Arthritis, but the studies were inconclusive and will be studied further. (source) Other studies show that Omega 3 has reduced the stiffness in joint and has helped reduce inflammation in arthritis patients. (source)

Studies have also shown that fish oils can help to moderately lower your blood pressure and with hypertension. (source)

Depression – researchers have shown that Omega 3s has helped those with moderate depression. The results were inconclusive for manic symptoms. (source)

ADHD – those with ADHD may benefit from fish oils. Studies have shown how the membranes of the brain is improved for those who take fish oil supplements. (source)

Alzheimer’s – for similar reason as those with ADHD, studies have shown how fish oil can help those with Alzheimer’s. (source)

Conclusion

Omega 3s have been shown in numerous studies how they can benefit us in a variety of ways.  Before taking any supplements, always do your own research, then consult your doctor. Since Omega 3s have properties similar to an anti-inflammatory, it may take longer for the blood to clot when using supplements.

When we ate a simple whole food diet, we did not have as many health-related concerns as we do now. Most of our diet contains large amounts of processed and refined foods, unfortunately, these are usually the most cost efficient and convenient way to eat. It’s all about brining our body back into balance, even something as simple as restoring the ratio between omega 3 and 6 can help us have a healthier life.

Please leave a comment or question below and be sure to read my other articles.

Thank you for reading,

Jim

4 thoughts on “What is Omega 3 good for – besides all the hype”

  1. Hi! Wonderful post about omega-3 fatty acids! Do you personally take fish oil supplements? If you do, would you mind sharing with us which brand?
    I was very interested and wanted to try fish oil supplements. Then, I read that a lot of fish oil manufacturers used rancid fish oils… Rancid (oxidized) oils actually cause inflammation and many other bad problems. So to be honest, I lost some faith… but if you have some good recommendations, I will definitely want to try!
    By the way, DPA, which is also an omega-3 fatty acid that has gained a lot of interest. What do you think about DPA?

    Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your comments.  I am currently reviewing a few different fish oil supplements for my own use and have not decided yet.  

      There have been some studies within the past 3 years on DPA. They all seem very promising, especially in neurological studies such as mood disorders.  

      The key to any supplement is to buy them from a reputable source. Quality is very important. Wild fish oils are usually the best ones.  There are a couple of newer ones that I may try.  When I gather enough information, I will write a review on some specific brands that may help you. 

  2. Hey Jim! Great website and article. Filled with a chockful of good, relevant and timely advice. I have been on the road to recovery for about 6 months now (I was pre-diabetic…nearly falling into a precipice of full-blown diabetes!). I pulled back just in time. And though my eating habits have improved these past few months, I’m still unsure on which supplements and “superfoods” to eat. Man, many are pricey, that’s for sure! So which would you suggest to make as part of my supplement cache, say, top three must-haves? Tks for a great article and share it with everybody.

    1. Hi Luis, I know supplements can cost a lot and some are not worth it. You may want to look into blueberries, acai, or strawberries. These are loaded with antioxidants that may help according to the ADA. You may want to check out my articles I recently posted on Acai, Navitas, or Terrasoul. Any of the acai products would be great. I started using Navitas 2 days ago and I love it.
      Jim

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