Nutrients are critical for the health being of our bodies, and we need a decent dose of them for our bodies to carry out specific functions. Nutrients are present in our food or we can take them in supplements form.
One of the most important nutrients we need are omega-3 fatty acids. These acids are also known as “n-3” fatty acids, and it is a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids with a double bond; they have a crucial role in our body’s physiology.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
There are three fatty acids that are essential in order for our bodies to function. These acids are called: ALA, EPA and DHA.
ALA are mainly found in plant oils, while EPA and DHA are found in animal oils (mostly of marine origin). They have several benefits in the body, as we are to see:
The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
1. Lowering Blood Fat Content
When you eat food, your body saves calories and stores them into fat cells to be used for energy throughout the day. The body stores these calories into triglycerides. While you do need triglycerides, too much of it can increase your risk of heart disease. That is why the American Heart Health Association recommends eating fish with unsaturated fats at least twice a week. The unsaturated fats are what we called omega-3.
Research shows that the consumption of these oils reduces the levels of blood fat in circulation. The result is reduced susceptibility to serious cardiac conditions such as high blood pressure and cardiac arrest in dire cases. Fish oil is among the omega-3 rich foods associated with lowering blood fat content and keeps your body function at its maximum capacity.
2. Development in Children
Omega-3 is not only a crucial component for adults, it is an also an essential part of children’s growth and development. The long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are the key ingredient. For children’s healthy development, it is advisable to give them foods that are enriched in omega-3. These fatty acids bring several benefits to the table. helps in the development of their vision and also boosts their mental capability by improving memory.
3. Helps Fight Depression
Nationals which primary food source is fish, the depression rate on nation is significantly lower than other parts of the world. Research and studies have shown that depression and mood swings can be cured with two types of omega-3. These types are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). With initial research, it shows that omega-3 is a beneficial treatment of mild to moderate depression; however, more research needs to be conducted to support this correlation.
4. Inflammation Suppressor
A study published in the American Heart Association found that fish oil that contains a special formula of omega-3 fatty acids reduces the risk of high inflammation by increasing a particular molecule. Not only does it help with inflammation in adults, but children also benefit from it. While it does not treat conditions such as asthma, taking a dose of its supplements goes a long way in controlling the condition.
5. Control of ADHD in Children
ADHD is a health condition characterized by restlessness and inattentiveness in children. In severe cases, it can lead to poor social skills and difficulty in learning. American Psychiatric Associations recommends everyone should eat fish at least 2 – 3 times a week. People with diagnosed ADHD should take at least 1 grams of omega-3 daily. The fatty acids help control various symptoms of this condition, such as restlessness, hyperactivity and aggression.
6. Relief Against Metabolic Anomalies
This nutrient comes to the aid of those suffering from metabolic issues such as obesity, insulin resistance, and high body triglyceride levels, among many more. Such illnesses put your body at risk of other serious illnesses like cardiac and immune problems.
7. Bone and Joint Pain Relief
One to three grams of omega-3 fatty acids may help relieve joint and bone pain. It improves bone strength and can curb illnesses like arthritis. The fatty acids inhibit the production of osteoclasts, which are cells that break down your bones. In addition, during exercise, blood flow increases throughout the body which helps to reduce pain and swelling.
The Action of Omega-3 in the Brain
The brain is one of the organs that benefits majorly from a diet that’s rich in fatty acids. The structure of the brain consists of complex polar lipids, including phospholipids, cholesterol and sphingolipids. The lipids make up the structure and are involved in various cellular processes, mainly in the cell membrane.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in providing essential amino acids, which the body cannot manufacture independently. The lipids play a major role in cushioning the brain cells and also help in their development, especially in infants.
How Much Omega-3 Per Day?
The more you look at how important this nutrient is, the more you understand why our bodies need it. It further leads us to the question of how much of these fatty acids should we be consuming per day.
The omega-3 dosage varies depending on factors such as age, sex, and health condition. Major food agencies recommend that the daily limit should not exceed 3000 – 5000 mg per day. This limit is due to risks of side effects such as blood-thinning, which can lower your blood pressure.
There is also the issue of vitamin A toxicity, which comes with too much intake of this vitamin. Some omega-3 rich foods such as marine-based oils have too much vitamin A in them and can lead to toxicity.
According to Medical News Today, the recommended dose of ALA for adult males is 1.6 grams and 1.1 grams for adult females, respectively. For EPA and DHA, 0.25 grams for adults of both sexes is a good limit.
Lactating mothers also need a decent serving of omega-3 fatty acids to boost the health of themselves and their babies. Dosage of 0.3 grams of both EPA and DHA, and 1.3 grams of ALA is a decent amount for breastfeeding mothers.
When pregnant, it is advisable to consume 1.4 grams of ALA. Children less than a year old should take 0.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day.
Foods That Contain Omega-3
Several foods contain omega-3 acids, with marine sources containing an impressive amount. Fish is a great omega-3 source, the same to lean meat and turkey; though, the former two have lower amounts. Fish oil benefits are a mask of many advantages you get from consuming omega-3.
Some plants, such as flax and hemp, contain large amounts of this nutritional substance. Plant sources mostly have ALA, with other sources being kiwi fruit oil, chia seeds, fig seed oil and canola oil.
Krill oil and cod liver oil are also excellent sources that will provide ample servings of omega-3 acids. There are also omega-3 supplements that you can take before or after meals.
When consuming marine sources to provide you with omega-3 acids, you need to be on the lookout for metal poisoning from the fish. They can include lead and arsenic poisoning that may lead to cancer.
Food contains various different nutrients that our bodies need in order to function properly and in a healthy manner. Omega-3 fatty acids are among these nutrients.
The goal of this article is to introduce you to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, their sources, and the recommended dosage. Remember to include omega-3 in your daily diet to boost your health.