If you’ve been wondering what Omega 3 or omega 3 fatty acids are, we’ll explain shortly.
These are essential facts that people usually get through a good and well-balanced diet. However, most people are still unaware of its importance.
Let’s just say they are an integral part of the body cell membranes and a vital part of the cell receptors functioning, for starters. They participate in making the hormones regulating blood clotting and functioning of artery walls and are also connected to the cells that regulate genetic function.
So, read on to discover everything about omega 3 fatty acids, types of omega 3, and how they really work!
Table of Contents
What are omega 3 fatty acids?
Omega 3 is an integral part of the membranes that surround each body cell. By helping the cell membranes good performance, they keep all cells in the body working well. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods, mostly fish and linseed, and in supplements such as fish oil.
There are three types of omega-3 fatty acid:
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
ALA is found mainly in plant oils, like soybean and canola oils. On the other hand, you can find DHA and EPA mostly in fish and seafood.
ALA is an essential fatty acid, meaning you must get it from the diet as your body cannot produce it independently. Your body converts some amounts of ALA into EPA and DHA, but it’s hardly sufficient to do any good. Having that in mind, we must take enough EPA and DHA through our diet or take dietary supplements for our bodies to function correctly.
Omega 3s also provide calories to give your body enough energy. Its various functions expand to the heart, blood vessels, immune system, lungs, and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands).
But, let’s see in more detail:
Alpha-linolenic acid or ALA is the most common omega-3 fatty acid in your diet. It’s mainly used for producing enough body energy. Also, some amounts can convert to EPA and DHA.
Unfortunately, we must say that this process’s outcome is inefficient for the body to function properly. It’s because only a small percentage of ALA converts into EPA and DHA active forms.
But, there is some good news for vegans. ALA is not limited to non-vegan sources like fish or meat. There is enough ALA in foods like flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, walnuts, beans, soybeans, and canola oil.
Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA is mainly found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and fish oil. There are some reliable sources for vegans too. It serves several functions in your body, while some parts can convert to DHA.
DHA or Docosahexaenoic acid is crucial for the human body’s functioning. It is one of the most important structural components of your eyes and the brain.
It’s a key structural component of your brain and the retina of your eyes! Like EPA, it occurs mainly in animal products like fatty fish and fish oil. Meat, eggs, and dairy also tend to contain significant amounts.
Vegetarians and vegans often lack DHA, so they need supplements to get enough of this compound. Since some algae contain some DHA amount, they are a precious source of DHA for all vegans.
How much omega 3 per day?
The recommended amounts for omega-3 fatty acids are not yet established by the experts, except for ALA.
Omegas 3s are the fatty acids playing essential roles in your body by providing numerous health effects. Many health practitioners recommend numerous supplements like fish oil or algal oil for people who do not eat much of the omega 3 rich foods.
For people suffering from heart-related ailments, taking one gram of EPA and DHA per day may be beneficial. Even health practitioners may recommend appropriate levels of omega 3 daily intake. If you cannot secure a continuous input of food alone by any chance, your health practitioner may suggest a fish oil supplement.
The situation is more or less the same for people with high triglyceride levels. Even if they take their medications regularly, there is a 99% chance that their doctor will suggest taking omega 3 rich food or appropriate supplements like fish oil. So it’s crucial to stick to your doctor’s recommendation on how much to take per day. Taking the advised amount will provide enough protection and will keep you from taking large doses.
Algae or algae oil are also a great source of this compound. Many foods use algae oil as a source of omega 3. These are excellent options for vegetarians that do not eat fish.
There are currently no serving size recommendations for both ALA or EPA and DHA. But, adding these foods to your diet regularly may help your heart health.
Unfortunately, mercury can be found all over the environment and as a result of industrial pollution. It’s in the air but can also be found in rivers and oceans, and this time converted to methyl mercury. Taking it can be harmful, particularly for young children.
When it comes to a fish-rich diet, it’s worthy of knowing that some fish have higher mercury levels than others. To mention, the most famous among them are king mackerel, swordfish, tilefish, and – sharks! Pregnant or nursing women and young children should not eat these fish. And everyone else should limit the amounts of these fish intake.
Pregnant or nursing can safely take up to 12 ounces of fish each week. These include all other types of fish different than the ones we mentioned above.
It’s maybe better for the most vulnerable groups to use omega 3 supplements to avoid any possible mercury traces.
The omega 6 to omega 3 ratio
Omega-6 fatty acids also have notable roles in your body, similar to those of omega-3s.
Both are used to produce signaling molecules called eicosanoids, which have various inflammation and blood clotting roles.
Yet, omega 3s are anti-inflammatory, and there are more than a few rumors in the scientific community that overeating omega-6 counteracts the effects of omega 3.
Omega 6 intake is very high throughout the Western hemisphere. So, the omega 3 – omega 6 ratios are currently distorted towards the omega 6 sides.
Keeping a good balance between these fats could be a life-changing formula and essential for staying in good health. To be clear, there is not enough evidence about omega-6 being harmful – but most health practitioners agree that getting enough omega 3 is vital.
What omega-3 fatty acids do?
Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly DHA, are vital for your brain and retinas. It is crucial for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get enough DHA because it can affect the baby’s health and intelligence.
Additionally, sufficient omega-3 intake can have powerful health benefits for adults, particularly for EPA and DHA.
And an exquisite source of omega 3 fatty acids is fish oil. These fatty acids play an outstanding part in proper brain functioning. And fish oil supplements are a great source of EPA and DHA. People with depression may have low blood levels of EPA and DHA.
Eating fish a few times a week may be the best way to get these precious compounds. Some of the fish high in omega 3s are salmon, herring, sardines, and trout. And as we already mentioned before, some fish have higher mercury levels, so you better follow the recommendations of the Food and Drug Administration or FDA, particularly if you’re pregnant or nursing.
What is generally considered valid is that all of us should take different sorts of healthy foods to get all the beneficial nutrients for keeping the overall body healthy.
OMEGA 3 Supplements
There are certain occasions where a well-balanced diet isn’t enough or could create more harm than good. Some studies showed contaminants such as mercury do not appear in the fish oil but remain primarily in the actual fish’s meat.
So, we are getting to a situation where a supplement may help better than the actual food source. Getting a top-quality fish oil supplement may help with your daily omega 3 intakes without the additional worry of ingesting any unwanted harmful materials.
Using fish oil is generally safe. But it is worth considering that taking large doses can increase your risk of bleeding and might affect your immunity. People who use blood-thinners like aspirin or warfarin or have specific conditions like hemophilia should ask their medical practitioner for a particular dosage plan. All in all, you better use this one only under a doctor’s supervision.
Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in treating mild to moderate depression, but more research is needed. Either way, fish oil supplements high in omega 3 fatty acids may lower the risk of depression. After all, they are famous for reducing high triglyceride levels, which may protect heart health.
If you don’t eat fish or another omega 3 food sources, consider taking supplements. These are both cheap and effective.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential fats beneficial for numerous body functions. High levels may result in a reduced risk of inflammatory diseases and depression.
The natural sources rich in omega 3 are fatty fish, flaxseed oil, beans, and walnuts, while an excellent intake form includes fish oil supplements.
As we already concluded, westerners cannot pride themselves on high omega 3 intake levels. So, most health professionals and nutritionists recommend taking omega 3 supplements to get appropriate levels for keeping your body fit and healthy.