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 the 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 difference is their 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 1930s. It was not made popular until the 1980s when people started to take notice of the benefits. (source)
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?
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 grocery 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.
- 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 of 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 by 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 joints 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 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 are improved for those who take fish oil supplements. (source)
Alzheimer’s – for similar reasons as those with ADHD, studies have shown how fish oil can help those with Alzheimer’s. (source)
Omega 3s have been shown in numerous studies on 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 bringing 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.
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