Food and Nutrition

Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Supplementation

Omega-3 fats are essential to your overall health. Many health experts stress the same point, and as such decades of research have been devoted to discovering the many health benefits of omega-3.

Omega-3 comes from both animal and plant sources. The primary animal sources are krill oil and fish oil, while the primary plant sources are flaxseed, chia, and hemp.

Studies have shown that Americans spends about 2.6 billion dollars on nutritional supplements and foods fortified with omega-3 fats

Types of Omega-3 Fats

Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) And Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Marine animals such as fish and krill provide Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are some types of Omega 3 fats. These acids are mostly promoted for their protective effects on your heart.

Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA)

Flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, offer alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which is another type of omega 3.

The recommendation is that you choose an animal-based variety since most of the cellular health benefits linked to omega-3 fats are linked to the animal-based EPA and DHA.

Furthermore, ALA is converted into EPA and DHA in your body at a very low ratio, meaning that even if you consume large amounts of ALA, your body can only convert a relatively small amount into EPA and DHA.

Plant-based omega-3 fats are not inherently harmful and should not be avoided, but ideally, what you want to do is include an animal-based form in your diet.

Omega-3 Benefits

Helps Your Heart Vigor:

An Italian study of heart attack survivors found that patients supplementing with fish oils noticeably reduced their risk of another heart attack, stroke, or death.

In another of such study, American medical researchers reported that men who consumed fish once or more every week had a 50% lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than men who eat fish less than once a month.

Omega-3 Normalizes And Regulates Your Cholesterol Triglyceride Levels:

Several studies have also shown that omega-3 fats are anti-thrombotic (prevents thrombosis or a blood clot within a blood vessel), anti-arrhythmic (preventing or counteracting cardiac arrhythmia), anti-atherosclerotic (preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries), and anti-inflammation.

Both fish oil and krill oil are more efficient in doing these functions, as both oils notably reduced the enzyme activity that causes the liver to metabolize fat. Krill had a more pronounced effect and is known to reduce liver triglycerides significantly more.

DHA Affects A Child’s Learning And Behavior

A study did link low levels of DHA with poorer reading, memory and behavioral problems in healthy school-age kids. Another study that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that, children who consumed an omega-3 fat supplement as infants scored higher on rule learning, vocabulary, and intelligent testing at ages 3 to 5.

Thus, Omega-3 has such great impact on your brain health, as EPA and DHA keep the dopamine levels in the brain high, helping to increase neuronal growth in the frontal cortex of your brain, and the cerebral circulation.

Other benefits include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids can help fight several autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis.
  • People with mental disorders often have low blood levels of omega-3 fats; thus, improving omega-3 status seems to improve symptoms.
  • Omega-3 has also been found to save the lives of children going through short bowel syndrome (SBS). This is not common but it still impacts thousands of people in the United States alone. SBS can occur from birth, due to the failure of a portion of the intestine developing, or due to an infectious inflammatory disease that attacks premature newborns.
  • Omega-3 fats may help prevent age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Omega-3 consumption may decrease the risk of some types of cancer, including colon, prostate and breast cancer.
  • Omega-3 benefits cover many areas of health, from mental and behavioral to preventing diseases and premature death.

Recommendations

Do not Substitute Animal Omega-3s with the Plant-Based Sources. Many people, particularly, vegetarians have believed that they do not have to consume animal products to get omega-3s, as long as they are consuming high amounts of plant-based omega-3s, but most of the health benefits that you can get from omega-3 fats are linked to its animal-based EPA and DHA fats, not plant-based ALA.

They are simply not substitutable, because, while EPA and DHA contain between 20 and 22 carbons, ALA has 18 carbons, and all of these fatty acids have their first double-bond in the third position, which is why they’re called “omega-3.”

Thus, make sure that you and your family get the right type of omega-3 fats, and go for a pollution-free, eco-friendly, and highly sustainable animal food source, like krill oil and fish oil.

The Krill oil appears to work at a lower dose, and that makes it more affordable than fish oil.

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