The human body requires fatty acids for a multitude of physiological and biochemical functions essential for sustaining life. They belong to a class of molecules called lipids.
Fatty acids form an integral part of the cell membrane, act both as storage and transport form of energy, promote proper development and functioning of the nervous system and produce hormone-like substances.
Omega 3 fatty acids is an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid whose carbon-carbon double bond is in the third carbon position from the methyl terminal. Hence, also referred to as n-3 PUFA.
Download Free PDF: Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acid
The three main Omega 3 fatty acids are
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
ALA is found mostly in plant oils such as flax seeds and canola oils. EPA and DHA are found in fish and seafood.
Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, sardine, mackerel, tuna, grass-fed beef, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, kiwi, kale, and canola oil.
People who dislike fish can take adequate green leafy vegetables and nuts in their diet.
They can also take omega 3 supplements including cod liver oil, fish oil and krill oil in the form of tablets or capsules.
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A regular and adequate intake of omega 3 fatty acids not only boosts immunity but also helps maintain the integrity and function of the skin, hair, heart, eye, and brain.
Some studies have shown that omega 3 fatty acids are important because they have antioxidant effects and may have benefits in arthritis, cancer, and pregnancy.
The levels of DHA have been found to be quite high in the brain, retina of the eye, and sperm cells indicating their importance at the tissue or cellular levels in these organs.
Additionally, Omega 3 fatty acids are a source of body energy and have myriad functions in the body’s immune system, lungs, blood vessels, and endocrine system.
15 Amazing Benefits of Including Omega 3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet
Health benefits of consuming omega 3 fatty acids influence human lives in many ways. Following are some of the benefits enumerated.
Just like the omega-6s, omega-3 fatty acids cannot be made by the body and we must get them from the diet since they have important roles in inflammation, brain function, heart health, and more processes.
1. Helps Fight Depression and Anxiety
EPA is the best in fighting depression. Depressed people witness improvement in their symptoms after they start taking omega 3 fatty acid supplements.
Studies have indicated that those who regularly consume omega 3 fatty acids are less susceptible to depression.
2. Improves the Health of The Eye
Regular intake of omega 3 fatty acid acts as a protection against the risk of macular degeneration, which is a major cause of blindness and eye damage in the world.
DHA constitutes the major structural component of the retina of your eye.
When you don’t get enough DHA in your diet, vision problems may arise.
3. Positive Effects on Pregnancy
Omega 3 fatty acid helps the development of the brain and overall growth of the fetus during pregnancy.
4. Impact on Early Childhood
Children are greatly benefited from the consumption of omega 3 fatty acid as it is linked to higher intelligence and lowered the risk of several diseases like ADHD and cerebral palsy.
5.Protects the Heart
Omega-3s Can Improve Risk Factors for Heart Disease
Studies have found that fish-eating communities are less likely to fall prey to cardio-vascular diseases. This has been linked to consumption of omega 3 fatty acid.
- Omega 3 fatty acids reduce triglycerides in the blood
- Controls the bold pressure
- Raises “good” HDL cholesterol levels
- Prevents the formation of harmful blood clots
- Prevents the arteries from damage
P.S*Omega-3s have proved to be beneficial for heart disease risk factors. However, omega-3 supplements do not seem to reduce your risk of heart attacks or strokes.
6. Controls the ADHD Symptoms in Children
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children can be controlled with the application of omega-3 supplements.
Omega 3 fatty acid facilitates lowering inattention, hyperactivity, and aggression and enhance task completion.
7. Reduce Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions which leads to major public health concern including obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and so on.
Omega 3 fatty acid help people with metabolic syndrome by reducing body fat and insulin resistance, fighting inflammation and improving the risk of heart disease.
8. Fights Inflammation
Omega 3 fatty acid lowers the production of molecules and substances that cause inflammation and thus, acts as a protection against heart disease, cancer, and other ailments.
9. Impact on Autoimmune Disease
Omega 3 fatty acid can combat several autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis.
10. Improves Mental Health
People suffering from mental disorders have been reported to have low levels of omega 3 fatty acid.
Omega-3 supplements assist in lowering the incidence of mood swings and relapses in victims of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Omega-3 fatty supplements also decrease violent behavior among people with mental conditions.
11. Fights Alzheimer’s disease and Age-Related Mental Decline
Several studies have shown that intake of omega 3 fatty acid helps in decreasing age-related mental deterioration and lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
12. Prevents Cancer
Studies indicate Omega 3’s may decrease the risk of colon, prostate and b cancer breast cancer.
13. Reduces Fat in the Liver
People with a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may take advantage of omega-3 fatty acids supplements to reduce liver fat and inflammation.
14. Improve Bone and Joint Health
To protect oneself from two common disorders that affect the skeletal system, namely osteoporosis, and arthritis, one should consume omega-3 supplements which boosts the amount of calcium in the bones and thereby improves bone strength.
Studies indicate that regular intake of omega-3s can significantly improve bone strength by boosting the amount of calcium in your bones. This eventually leads to a reduced risk of osteoporosis.
15. Beneficial for Skin & Hair
Omega 3 fatty acid should be a part of the beauty regime. It promotes healthy skin, prevents premature aging and sun damage.
A healthy cell membrane will result in the flawless, moist, soft and wrinkle-free skin.
Omega 3s aid in
- Reduces the risk of acne
- Managing oil production and hydration of your skin
- Reducing Premature Aging and Blemishes
- Preventing hyperkeratinization of hair follicles, which appears as the little red bumps often seen on upper arms.
Omega 3 not helps immensely in preventing hair loss and breakage. It encourages new hair growth and keeps them lush and healthy.
The fatty acids in omega 3 reduce inflammation and nourish hair follicles, encouraging hair growth and overall hair health.
Nourishing Omega 3 fatty acids promote blood circulation and also soothe and moisturize the scalp, preventing dryness and dandruff.
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Official Guidelines for Omega-3 Fatty Acid Dosage
There is no prescribed unit for how much omega-3 you should consume each day.
However, most health organizations agree that 250–500 mg of combined DHA and EPA is enough for adults to maintain overall health.
For children and infants, various global and national organizations have published guidelines where the intake is ranging from 50–100 mg per day of combined EPA and DHA.
Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, especially DHA, are vital before, during and after pregnancy for women.
Studies highly recommend following the adult guidelines and then consuming an additional 200 mg of DHA during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Consumption of omega 3 fatty acid supplements along with a healthy and balanced diet will keep the body fit and disease free. It will promote health in all ages and among both men and women.