Few nutrients have been studied as thoroughly as Omega Fatty Acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for our body and brain.
Not only does our body need Omega fatty acids to function, but also, they deliver some big health benefits.
Always remember that human body can make most of the types of fats it needs from other fats or raw materials, but this is not the case for omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential fats—the body can’t make them from scratch but must get them from food.
They are an integral part of cell membranes throughout the body and affect the function of the cell receptors in these membranes. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation.
Types of Omega fatty Acids
There are three most important types of Omega Fatty Acids. These are ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). ALA is mainly found in plants, while DHA and EPA occur mostly in animal foods and algae.
Where To Get It From
When possible, try to get omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements.
- Orange roughy
- Lake trout
Choosing the right supplement
Looking for an over-the-counter omega-3 supplement? Here’s what to look for:
- A 1-gram dose, unless your doctor recommends more.
- A combination of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Each of these fatty acids provides different health benefits.
- However, if you can’t eat fish or don’t like fish, an omega-3 supplement is something to consider. (Algae-based supplements are an option if you are a vegetarian or allergic to fish.)
1. It can affect the health and intelligence of the baby
Omega-3 fatty acids are important for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get enough DHA, as it can affect the health and intelligence of the baby. Omega-3s are crucial for brain growth and development in infants. Infants fed a DHA-fortified formula have better eyesight than infants fed a formula without it.
Benefits for Your baby include:
- Higher intelligence
- Better communication and social skills
- Fewer behavioral problems
- Decreased risk of developmental delay
- Decreased risk of ADHD, autism and cerebral palsy
2. Lower level of depression
Some researchers have found that cultures that eat foods with high levels of omega-3s have lower levels of depression. The effects of Fish oil supplements on depression has been mixed.
3. A diet high in omega-3s lowers inflammation, a key component in asthma.
A six-month study of children from Baltimore City by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers, published in the journal American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, in March, 2019, added to evidence that having more omega-3 fatty acids in the diet results in fewer asthma symptoms triggered by indoor air pollution. The same study suggests that higher amounts of dietary omega-6 fatty acids may have the opposite effect, and be associated with more severe asthma.
4. Good For Your Heart
Although your body needs 2 forms of omega fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, it is the omega-3s that get high marks from researchers. They believe that omega-3s help prevent coronary heart disease (CHD) in healthy people and slow progress of the disease in those who already have it.
Evidence suggests that seafood rich in EPA and DHA should be included in a heart-healthy diet; however, supplements of EPA and DHA have not been shown to protect against heart disease.
5. It relieves symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
A 2012 review of the scientific literature concluded that EPA and DHA, the types of omega-3s found in seafood and fish oil, may be modestly helpful in relieving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
6. It can help to soothe menstrual pain
Many women endure abdominal discomfort and cramps every month, a condition known in medical terms as dysmenorrhea. It is caused by strong contractions of the uterus triggered by prostaglandins (chemicals in the body involved with pain and inflammation). Studies have found that omega-3, well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, can help to soothe this menstrual pain.
7. Children with ADHD have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a behavioral disorder characterized by inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Several studies have found that children with ADHD have lower blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids, compared to their healthy peers.