9 Important Reasons to Consume More Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Do you know what is the biggest selling supplement these days and why? After many years in the dietary supplements market there has been a revolution, and at the top selling supplements is omega 3 and not the multi vitamin any more. What is so healthy in omega 3 fatty acids that come from fish?
In the early 80s a study was published which paved the way for understanding the importance of omega 3 fatty acids. The study followed the fishermen in Greenland, a population whose main dietary source is from the sea and is very rich in fatty acids. During the test period it was found less chronic diseases in the population being tested, compared to the Western population. It was found that the fishing population was healthier, although it consumed fatty acids. Since these days these fatty acids were called omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to the body, but our body is not able to produce them. Our body can receive them only through proper nutrition. These fatty acids have a role in cell membranes of the body and they also affect metabolic and biochemical processes.
How Omega 3 is beneficial to us?
1. Reducing risks in pregnancy – omega 3 supplements for pregnant women may help reduce the risk of very early birth, according to results of a new study published in the American Journal of Nutrition. The findings join other evidence that omega 3 supplements bring a slight extension of the pregnancy. These effects are very important for women with short pregnancies and that give birth of low weight babies.
2. Omega 3 fatty acids improve cognition and memory – a new study suggests that healthy people aged 18-25 years may have improved cognitive function and memory with increasing intake of omega 3 fatty acids. Another study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that there is a significant improvement in cognitive function in people that consumed fish (amount over 10 grams per day). The amount of fish in the diet was significantly related to cognitive function. It was found that taking Omega 3 improved learning and memory function in people with cognitive impairment depending on age. To read more about other foods that can improve memory click HERE.
3. Mood improvement – researchers note that some previous studies have indicated that lack of omega 3 fatty acids accompanied by a mood disorders and reduced cognitive function. Some studies have also suggested that omega-3 supplements may be used as additional therapy in neuro-psychiatric disorders, such as mood disorders, schizophrenia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The researchers explain that the period between the end of adolescence to early adulthood (ages 18-25 years in the study), is a very vulnerable period for the appearance of most of the psychiatric illnesses, including bipolar-disorder and schizophrenia.
4. Omega 3 protects the brain from damage caused by junk food – a new study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in May 2013, shows that consumption of Omega 3 protects the brain from damage caused by eating foods high in bad fat such as junk food. The study found that fish oil prevents the adverse effects caused by junk food and excess fat in food. It is important to note that there wasn’t any effect on weight loss. Studies conducted over more than a decade show that high fat diet causes damage to the creation of nerve cells in the brain. Researchers from the University of Liverpool have found that a diet rich in omega 3 fish oil can prevent the damage by stimulating areas of the brain responsible for learning and memory. The researchers noted that the effect is created through changes in the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
5. Inflammation treatment with omega 3 – inflammation is the body’s natural healing process during injury or invasion of a foreign antigen to our body. However, sometimes the inflammatory response doesn’t heal and becomes chronic. Chronic inflammatory eventually leads to tissue damage. Today, it is known that chronic inflammation may accelerate the development of chronic diseases such as heart and vascular diseases, cancer and metabolic syndrome. Omega 3 is responsible for metabolic processes that help fight inflammation.
6. Omega 3 supplements reduce symptoms of ADHD – a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that the condition of children suffering from ADHD who consumed omega 3 was relieved significantly.
7. Reducing learning difficulties and improving behavior with omega 3 – a study conducted at the University of Oxford, found that high consumption of omega 3 led to a significant improvement in reading, spelling and behavior in children.
8. Beneficial effect of omega 3 consumption during primary depression – review published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that omega 3 was found effective in situations of primary depression. Primary depression is a condition in which depression is the main symptom. If the depression is accompanied by another key symptom it is called a secondary depression. To read more about natural cures for mild to moderate depression click HERE.
9. Omega 3 and mental states – omega 3 reduced the progression in mental changes and situations of psychosis in people at high risk. It was found that omega 3 reduced the risk of clinical psychosis in people with high risk of developing psychosis – the ones who developed early stage where there are mental changes, but it is still not certain that they will develop schizophrenia.
Sources of omega 3
These studies on the effects of omega 3 are a clear attempt to highlight how important this fatty acid is to people. It is important to remember that omega 3 is not produced naturally in our body so we must consume it in order to provide the body with the ingredients it needs to develop and maintain itself. Seafood is a great source for omega 3, such as: halibut, herring, mackerel, oysters, salmon, sardines, trout, tuna and cod. Vegetables, especially green leafy ones, such as: kale, parsley, mint, Brussels sprouts, spinach, watercress and ground flaxseed, are rich in ALA, one form of omega-3 fatty acids (although ALA isn’t as powerful as the other omega 3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA). Bread and pasta are some of the foods most commonly enriched with omega 3. Chia seeds and quinoa are also a good source of omega 3 in its ALA form.
It should be mentioned that some plant-based foods contain omega-3 in the form of ALA, whereas seafood contains the form of EPA and DHA. ALA is a short chain fatty acid, whereas EPA and DHA are long chain fatty acids. The body needs to convert the short-chain version (ALA) to a long-chain version (EPA and DHA) in order to make use of it, however some studies indicate that the conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA is relatively small. If you suspect that you have any lack of omega 3, it is recommended to consume it as a supplement, but always consult with your doctor before taking omega 3 supplement.
You’ll also find omega 3 in whole foods like seeds and nuts. Click here to read about the health benefits of nuts and seeds: