Benefits of Omega-3's


When it comes to fat, there's one type you don’t want to cut back on: omega-3 fatty acids. Two crucial ones -- EPA and DHA -- are primarily found in certain fish. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), another omega-3 fatty acid, is found in plant sources such as nuts and seeds. Not only does your body need these fatty acids to function, but also they deliver some big health benefits.

Evidence based benefits:

Blood fat (triglycerides). Fish oil supplements can lower elevated triglyceride levels. Having high levels of this blood fat puts you at risk for heart disease.

Rheumatoid arthritis. Fish oil supplements (EPA+DHA) can curb stiffness and joint pain. Omega-3 supplements also seem to boost the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Muscle Soreness. Omega 3’s has shown a small, but potential benefit in helping with DOMS, delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, through reducing localized muscle inflammation. It’s good news for athletes and active people.

Depression. Some researchers have found that cultures that eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. Fish oil also seems to boost the effects of antidepressants and may help the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Baby development. DHA appears to be important for visual and neurological development in infants.

Asthma. A diet high in omega-3s lowers inflammation, a key component in asthma. But more studies are needed to show if fish oil supplements improve lung function or cut the amount of medication a person needs to control the condition.

ADHD. Some studies show that fish oil can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in some children and improve their mental skills, like thinking, remembering, and learning. But more research is needed in this area, and omega-3 supplements should not be used as a primary treatment.

Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Some research suggests that omega-3s may help protect against Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and have a positive effect on gradual memory loss linked to aging. But that's not certain yet.

Where to Get Omega 3s

When possible, try to get omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements. Aim to eat fish high in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids two to three times a week.

These include:

Anchovies

Bluefish

Herring

Mackerel

Salmon (wild has more omega-3s than farmed)

Sardines

Sturgeon

Lake trout

Tuna

While eating more fatty fish is a good idea, some are likely to have higher levels of mercury, PCBs, or other toxins. These include mackerel, tuna, wild swordfish, tilefish, and shark.

Farm-raised fish of any type may also have higher levels of contaminants. Children and pregnant women should avoid these fish entirely. Everyone else should eat no more than 7 ounces of these fish a week. Fish like wild trout and wild salmon are safer.

Good food sources of ALA are:

Walnuts

Flaxseed and flaxseed oil

Canola oil

Soybean oil

While foods containing omega-3 fatty acids have health benefits, some -- like oils and nuts -- can be high in calories. So eat them in moderation.

Should You Supplement?

Fish oil has both EPA and DHA. Algae oil has DHA and may be a good option for people who don't eat fish.

People with heart disease are usually advised to take 1 gram (1,000 milligrams) daily of a combination DHA /EPA from fish oil.

Healthy people should ingest a minimum dose of 250mg of combined DHA/EPA.

Things to Note

Though fish oil is not a stimulant, it increases brain activity, so a stimulatory effect may be felt after supplementation

Most of fish oil's beneficial effects happen over a period of days and weeks, rather than immediately

Post-supplementation "fish burps" can be avoided by consuming fish oil with food, or freezing the capsules before supplementation

Goes Well With

Vitamin E, Milk Thistle because they are anti-lipid peroxidation agents

Curcumin for breast cancer risk-reduction

Fucoxanthin for increasing fucoxanthin's effects

Fenugreek Oil, for reducing after-meal glucose spikes

Green Tea Catechins for increasing GTC bioavaliablity

Caution Notice

Fish oil can oxidize if left out in the sun or in heat. Though generally not harmful, it is prudent to refrigerate fish oil.

Fish oil can reduce blood clotting and should be supplemented with caution if blood-thinning medications, aspirin, warfarin or clopidogrel are already present in the body.

* Extracted and adapted from Webmed.com and Examine.com.

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© Updated 2020 by Personal Nutrition.