Takeaway: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that keep your body running optimally and reduce the risk of diseases. It is highly recommended that you eat fatty fish at least twice a day. Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of depression and anxiety, cardiac arrests, heart diseases and helps improve your immune system.
What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Also known as n-3 fatty acids or ω−3 fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that are very vital in the human diet and play a very significant role in the human body. Really, what is omega-3 and why do we need it?
Omega-3s are very useful to the human body and can specifically only be gotten from marine life – plants and animals alike. Since humans can’t produce these fatty acids on their own, it is essential that we seek diets that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
There are three different types of these fatty acids. They are the
- Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA)
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA).
ALA is commonly present in plant oils while EPA and DHA are present in marine oils.
Sources of omega-3 in its different forms include:
- Hemp Oil
- Flaxseed Oil
- Algal Oil
- Squid Oils
- Krill Oil
- Fish Oils
Other sources include eggs from chickens that have been fed with both EPA and DHA.
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to aid metabolism and significantly reduce the risk of certain serious illnesses.
Omega-3, -6, and -9
As earlier stated, omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated. This term is a direct description of the chemical make-up of these acids. It means that they have multiple double bonds.
Omega-6 acids are also polyunsaturated but are differentiated by the exact position of their double bonds. More specifically, the double bonds in omega-3 are located between the third and fourth carbon atoms.
The omega-6 fatty acids, however, have their double bonds located between the sixth and seventh carbon atoms. Just like the omega-3, Omega-6 fatty acids are very important but can be obtained from dietary sources only.
On the other hand, omega-9 fatty acids are differentiated from omega-3 and omega-6 because they are mono-saturated. This means that, unlike the others, they contain only one double bond. The double bond is positioned exactly nine bonds from the methyl end of the fatty acids.
Omega-9 acids are also extremely beneficial to our health. They help control the levels of blood sugar in the body and also have anti-inflammatory benefits. Omega-9 acids can be made by the body.
All fatty acids are essential for your health.
DHA omega-3 is probably the most vital type of omega-3 fatty acid and is primarily found in meat, eggs, and other types of produce obtained from animals that have been fed with grass. It is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid measuring about 22 carbons.
DHA is important in inter-cell communication and also lends a hand with brain activity including memory and general mental fitness. Other benefits of DHA include a reduced risk of heart diseases and improved eye function support such as a reduction of eye defects that come with old age.
Like DHA, EPA omega-3 is also a long chain fatty acid with 20 carbons. Interestingly, some of it can be converted to DHA and can be majorly found in produce from animals. This may include fish oil and fatty fish.
At 18 carbons long, this is the most widely available type. ALA can be found in sources like soy, walnut, and flaxseeds. ALA, on its own, cannot properly function in the body without being changed to either EPA or DHA.
Who Should Take Omega-3 Supplements?
Omega-3 supplements have many amazing benefits for you. While it is not recommended that everyone ingest omega-3 supplements willy-nilly, they can be very beneficial. It is recommended that you buy omega-3 supplements as directed by a doctor if you fall among:
- People who have anxiety or depression.
- People who want to improve their eye function. It is important to note that you cannot take omega-3 supplements alone and expect that eye defects would disappear. Please keep this in mind.
- Parents who desire very healthy mental and cognitive functions in their children. Even expectant mothers should take recommended doses of omega-3 supplements because it is linked to a significantly decreased risk of developmental delay.
Because Omega 3 is essential for the body, and the body cannot produce it by itself, you must avoid deficiency at all costs. Omega-3 deficiency occurs when its level in the body is inadequate.
Problems develop when the body has been significantly denied some essential nutrients. You might not worry about a significant lack of the nutrient now, but over time, serious and sometimes degenerative health issues might develop.
There are Omega-3 test kits you can purchase to check your index level and find out if you’re within reasonable range. If you aren’t, you need to either search out foods that have significant omega-3 content or buy some supplements.
Omega-3 Deficiency Symptoms
Look out for some of the symptoms if you’re unsure about your deficiency. There is a wide range of symptoms and ways that an omega-3 deficiency could manifest. They range from bodily symptoms to more mental or cognitive symptoms.
- Weight Gain – Omega 3 directly improves and increases the body’s metabolic processes as they take place in cells. This means that when there is a deficiency, the rate of metabolic processes is significantly reduced causing a person to put on considerable weight.
- Cardiac Diseases – Omega-3 fatty acids are an amazing tool for controlling the levels of excessive cholesterol in the body. The higher a person’s cholesterol level, the more likely they are to have heart disease.
- Skin Irregularities – Omega-3 fatty acids help the skin by making it easier to soak in necessary nutrients and also to eject all harmful materials. This function is significantly impeded when there’s an omega-3 deficiency.
- Reduced Cognitive Functions – Fatty acids help the brain carry out its functions more effectively especially when you are older. Cognitive functions are top-notch when there is no deficiency. Omega-3 brain effects are advantageous for you.
- Constant Fatigue – Chronic fatigue problems have been directly linked to deficient levels of omega-3 fatty acids in the body. To reduce the risk of fatigue, you should always make sure that you are up to date with recommended food or supplements.
Omega-3 Supplements for Dogs
It might interest you to know that omega-3 supplements for dogs are nothing new. They are popular and also as beneficial to canines as they are to you.
If you have a dog, you should know that it helps dogs prevent diseases, improve their own cognitive functions, as well as reducing the risk of heart disease.
One important thing to note here is that, unlike humans, dogs don’t convert ALA to DHA and EPA as efficiently as they need to. For this reason, it’s much better for dogs to be given DHA and EPA directly.
Also, there are conflicting reports on what the omega-3 fatty acid’s optimal dose for dogs should be. This is a bit of a problem because giving your dog a really large dose can cause severe issues including immune problems and blood clot irregularities.
22-40mg/kg/day of EPA is said to be the best dose for dogs. However, every supplement contains significant doses of DHA and EPA which would mean that the overall omega-3 dose for the dog would still be substantial. Caution must always be exercised.
Omega-3 Fish Oil Side Effects
Omega 3 Side effects from fish oil may include
- Stomach aches
- Mild to severe levels of nausea
- Fishy breath
- Bleeding, especially when dosage has exceeded three grams
Many people wonder about whether or not fish oil is the best source of omega-3. There is no fish oil vs. omega-3 discussion to be had as fish oil is rich in omega-3. Please see a doctor if you have many omega-3 side effects.
Benefits of Omega-3 Supplements
Omega-3 fatty acids are a necessary addition to your everyday diet. If you’re still unsure about why you should have optimal levels of omega-3 in your body, the following should help you understand better.
What Does Omega-3 Do?
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that keep your body running optimally and reduce the risk of diseases. There are many benefits of eating foods rich in omega-3 or using supplements. Some of these benefits include:
- Reduced risk of depression and anxiety
- Reduced risk of cardiac arrests and heart diseases in general
- Omega-3 anti-inflammatory actions in the body
- Helps children focus and reduces the risk of ADHD
- Helps to keep metabolism prime
- Helps to keep immune system top-notch and possible combat autoimmune diseases
- Helps improve cognitive functions and even greatly reduce the risk of mental degradation
- Helps prevent cancer as people who add omega-3 rich foods or supplements to their diets are 55% less likely to develop colon cancer
Omega-3 Weight Loss Benefits
Because omega-3 helps improve metabolism, weight loss will not be a problem for you if you consume the proper amounts of these nutrients.
Omega-3 Brain Health Benefits
Omega-3 specifically helps the brain function optimally. When the brain functions properly, mental and other brain-related functions run smoothly. Also, people who have reduced brain functions usually have low levels of omega-3.
Omega 3 Anti-Inflammatory Benefits
Sometimes, inflammation is your body’s deliberate reaction to certain levels of injury. However, when not treated or when the body doesn’t rectify itself, it could lead to serious problems.
Omega-3 helps tackle inflammations by significantly scaling down the creation of the substances that have a direct relation to inflammation. They include eicosanoids and cytokines.
Omega-3 for Depression
In today’s world, depression is one of the most widespread mental illness. Depressed people respond favorably to Omega-3, especially EPA.
Omega-3 Acne Benefits
Omega 3 helps the skin in many ways. It reduces the risk of premature skin aging and also helps maintain the skin by hydrating it properly. When this is constant, the risk of an acne breakout is almost completely eliminated.
Daily Recommended Omega-3 Intake
It is highly recommended that you eat fatty fish at least twice a day. However, omega-3 supplements can be used if you don’t eat enough fatty fish. All you have to do is make sure that what you eat has enough EPA and DHA.
Officially, the standard amount of omega-3 that must be consumed is still somewhat disputed. However, most stakeholders recommend 250-500 mg as the minimum combined amount of EPA and DHA for adults. Only in some health conditions should this be surpassed.
The Best Kind of Omega-3 Supplements
There are many different omega-3 supplements available. Even though they are supplements, they should be recommended by a professional in order to ensure the proper dosage is given. Some of the sources include vegan supplements, krill oil, gummies, capsules, and hemp seed oils.
Vegan Omega-3 Supplements
If you’re vegan and you’re a little worried about eating fatty fish or ingesting supplements that might make you “betray” your lifestyle, there really is no worry. There are a few different vegan-friendly omega-3 supplements that you can take.
Omega-3 Krill Oil
Krill oil is another fantastic source of Omega-3. It’s gotten from krill, a small crustacean animal. Oil is extracted and made into omega-3 capsules, which you can take to keep your omega-3 at a recommended level.
Omega-3 gummies taste fantastic and are a great way to get kids excited about supplements. They come in different colors, shapes, and sizes and they taste great. This is the most recommended way to get omega-3 for kids.
Hemp Seed Oil Omega-3 Supplements
Hemp seed oils contain about 85 percent of the essential fatty acids that are needed. It is an excellent source of omega-3 as its levels of saturated fatty acids are considerably lower than other oils.
Hopefully, you understand a little better about the importance of taking omega-3 more seriously than you used to. Find foods you can eat that are rich in omega-3; if that is difficult, you should feel free to take supplements. Also, note that the best time to take omega-3 is together with your other regular multivitamins.