Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Benefits of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

May 04, 2021

Fats often get a bad rap, so you might be surprised to learn there's a type of fat you might not be eating enough of — Omega-3 fatty acids. Often just called Omega-3s, these poly-unsaturated fats are essential fats. Your body needs them to survive. The challenge is that your body can’t produce them so you have to get Omega-3s from your diet.

Sources of Omega-3s

The most important Omega 3 fatty acids are ALA, EPA, and DHA.

ALA is found mostly in plants such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.

EPA and DHA are primarily found in animal-based foods — fatty fish, eggs, meats, and dairy from grass-fed animals — as well as algae. DHA is considered the most important Omega 3 as its a component of the brain, eyes, and other parts of the body. Fatty fish, eggs, meats, and dairy from grass-fed animals provide Omega 3s.

The body can convert plant-based ALAs into DHA and EPA, but the conversion rate is low or inefficient. Vegans often have low intakes of DHA, so taking an Omega-3 supplement made of algae should be considered.

Health Benefits

Omega-3s are one of the most thoroughly studied nutrients. A recent study published in the April 2021 issue of Nature Communications found that those individuals with a higher Omega-3 index (EPA and DHA levels in the blood) lived longer than those with lower levels. Their risk of death from all causes was reduced. Omega 3s have many health-related benefits: 

  • Decrease depression and anxiety
  • Prevent macular degeneration and support eye health
  • Crucial to brain development and growth. During pregnancy, it is recommended to consume Omega -3s as well as providing them for your child early in life.
  • Reduce cardiovascular disease risk, lower triglycerides, increase HDL cholesterol, decrease blood clots, and reduce inflammation
  • Reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome, cancer, and autoimmune disease
  • May help age-related mental decline
  • Improve joint and bone health
  • Improve skin hydration and oil production/balance as well as reduce acne

Recommended Intake

So, what is recommended for Omega-3 intake? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends at least 2 servings a week of fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna, and trout. If you don’t consume enough Omega-3s through food, you may want to take a supplement. Up to 3 grams of fish oil is considered safe. Certain conditions like high triglycerides may require more, so be sure to discuss this with your physician or registered dietitian. The quality of fish oil supplements is also an important consideration.

Are you getting enough Omega-3 fatty acids? Looking for a recommended supplement? Contact FitLife today for a consultation.

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