The Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acid
In the present day scenario, we all are so busy that we forget to take care of something essential for us to function well. We have, perhaps, forgotten that a healthy body is one of the vital requirements for a person to be professionally efficient and productive. Have we ever thought that our body needs essential nutrients like the omega-3 fatty acid?
We are all aware of the role that nutrition plays in maintaining good health. But do we eat what we need? Do we consider the needs of our bodies before selecting our meals? It is time that we stop just eating. Time has come that we start eating mindfully.
It is essential to understand that the food which we eat is not only supposed to be tasty. But, it should also have all the vital nutrients which help our body to function correctly. All seven nutrients combine and provide us with the energy to work efficiently. The food which we eat is worthy only when it has an adequate proportion of all the nutrients.
To eat properly, we must be aware of the role that each nutrient plays in maintaining good health. There are two main nutrient groups. They are macronutrients and micronutrients. We have already discussed the role that protein plays in maintaining a healthy body.
Like protein, omega-3 fatty acids are also a part of the macronutrient group. Omega-3 fatty acids are yet another form of macronutrients which are essential for our overall health and well being.
It is time to discuss omega-3 fatty acids in detail. A detailed discussion will help us include an appropriate amount of omega-3 fatty acid in our daily diet in the form of food or dietary supplements.
What is Omega-3 Fatty Acid?
Omega-3 is a part of the macronutrients group, which is essential for a human being because of its many benefits.
This fatty acid is a great supporter of both the mental and physical well being of a person. It helps in the proper structuring of the cell membranes. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for the retina and various inflammatory issues. Omega-3s also support in maintaining the human immune system. It also fights depression, ADHD, and various other matters.
After looking at the definition of omega-3 fatty acids, it is time that we talk about the various types of omega-3.back to menu ↑
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Types
Omega-3 fatty acids are of 11 different types. Broadly, the three most important types of omega-3 fatty acids are as follows.
ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)
It is the most common type of omega-3 fatty acid. It reduces the risk of a person’s death due to cardiac problems. Plant foods are rich in this type of omega-3. Walnuts and soybeans are also rich in ALA. It is also there in several seed oils such as rapeseed and flaxseed.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid)
EPA is an omega-3 type that aids in maintaining the psychological health of a person. Also, EPA helps in fighting inflammatory issues. Fatty fish algae and seafood are the primary sources of EPA. Salmon, shrimp, herring, etc. have high EPA levels. Fish oil that is rich in EPA aids in fighting depression and anxiety.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid)
It is one of the essential omega-3 types. DHA is an omega-3 type that provides structure to the skin and maintains retinal health. It also helps in proper brain development. DHA is helpful for people with hypertension, Type-2 diabetes, and cholesterol problems. Seafood is rich in DHA.
Alone, ALA does not serve its purpose in the human body. It gets converted into DHA or EPA and then plays its role. The rate of conversion of ALA depends upon several other nutrients in the human body. They are vitamins B6 and B7, minerals like zinc and copper, etc.
Now, we are also aware of the omega-3 types that are available for consumption.
It is time that we talk about the benefits that Omega-3 fatty acids bestow upon us in terms of good health.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Health Benefits
We know that omega-3s are essential macronutrients which help in the proper functioning of the human body. They also maintain the fluency of several life processes as well. It is time that we talk about omega-3 health benefits in detail.
Some of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are as follows.
Enhances the Muscle and Bone Health
During old age, a person becomes vulnerable to conditions like osteoarthritis. This happens because they begin to lose the essential minerals from their body.
Besides Vitamin D and calcium, omega-3 fatty acids also help in keeping the muscles and bones strong. Adequate consumption of omega-3 maintains bone mineral density in a person.
Prevents Mental Slow Down
Omega-3 fatty acids enhance the functioning of the human brain. Proper consumption of omega-3 helps fight dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps improve the memory power. Omega-3 also fights against bipolar disorder.
Not only this, but omega-3 fatty acids also help in fighting depression and anxiety disorders. Omega-3 is a powerful weapon against the tendential mental slowdown which happens as a person grows old. Several fish oil supplements might prove helpful against depression.
Helps Fight ADHD in Children
Omega-3 fatty acids protect children against several behavioral disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. They help in the development of a major part of a child’s brain, which controls his/her behavior.
Some of the symptoms of ADHD are impulsiveness, hyperactivity, lack of concentration, etc. This hampers the growth and development of a child. Fish oil is an omega-3 source that fights symptoms of ADHD, such as inattention and aggression in children.
Enhances the Skin Health
A person’s skin is a major part of his body and has a lot of omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids prove helpful against skin conditions such as psoriasis and skin aging. Fish oil is a great way of fighting against such skin conditions.
Promotes Cardiac Heath
Adequate consumption of omega-3 fatty acids helps in maintaining cholesterol levels. It helps in maintaining low blood pressure levels. Alongside, omega-3 also lower the triglycerides and prevents plaques.
Not only this, but omega-3 fatty acids also fight against inflammation and pain. It also protects a person’s vision. Omega-3 also protects the liver from damage.
Now, we are well aware of omega-3 benefits. But, like every coin has two sides, omega-3 consumption can also have several side effects.
Read this article by Mayo Clinic to know more about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acid in maintaining a person’s cardiac health.back to menu ↑
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Side Effects
Adequate consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has a lot of benefits. But, excess of omega-3 consumption can also lead to several side effects.
Some of the omega-3 side effects are as follows.
- Bleeding in nose and gums
- Might lead to a rise in blood sugar levels
- Can result in low blood pressure
- Disrupted bowel movement
- Can lead to acidity, nausea and abdominal discomfort
- Negative impact on a person’s sleep pattern
On the one hand, we know about the potential omega-3 side effects in case of excess consumption. It is equally important to know about the situation where a person might be omega-3 deficient.back to menu ↑
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Deficiency
Fatty acids are essential for the proper functioning of the human body. A question that pops up is: “How do we know if one has a deficiency of fatty acids?”
A person who is omega-6 or omega-3 deficient will show or experience several symptoms. Some symptoms indicative of omega-3 deficiency are as follows.
Skin and Hair Problems
A person with omega-3 deficiency might have dry skin. Dull and thin hair is yet another symptom of omega-3 deficiency. Brittle or chipped off nails is another sign that a person is omega-3 deficient.
Mood swings, irritability, anger, and anxiety indicate an omega-3 deficiency. Serve a person with omega-3 if he or she is short-tempered or frustrated.
Improper sleeping patterns, lack of energy and dizziness, fatigue, and nausea are several other signs and symptoms of omega03 deficiency in a person.
Some other Signs
Lack of concentration and attention are signs that there is an omega-3 deficiency in a person’s body. A discomfort in the joints and muscles are indicators of lack of omega-3 in a person.
So, now we know about the indicators of omega-3 deficiency in a person. It is time that we proceed with the various omega-3 sources available for us.back to menu ↑
Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acid
The various omega-3 benefits force us to look for the sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Only when we know about them, we will add them to our routine. Right?
Omega-3 fatty acids are available for human consumption in the form of food and dietary supplements.
Let us dig deep into the sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 Food Sources
Omega-3 is a fatty acid which is found in many food items. Foods rich in the omega-3s range from seeds to nonvegetarian food items such as fish.
A list of omega-3 rich foods is as follows.
- Salmon, sardines, and herring (fatty fish varieties)
- Cod liver oil
- Flax and chia seeds
- Brussels sprouts
- Dairy products
- Hemp seeds
- Perilla and Algal oil
So, these are the various food sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega-3 Food Supplements
There might be people who do not prefer to fulfill their omega-3 requirements with the help of food sources. For them, we have an alternative in the form of dietary supplements. Omega-3 supplements are available in the form of capsules and health drinks.
It is imperative to consume omega-3 fatty acids to curb deficiency. But how much omega-3 is enough for a person on a daily basis?back to menu ↑
How Much Omega-3 Fatty Acid Should a Person take Daily?
Several health-based organizations such as WHO recommends the dosage of omega-3 fatty acids, which is as follows.
Minimum 250-500 grams of omega-3 (a combination of EPA and DHA) is essential for a person with normal health conditions. Eating fatty fish twice a week is likely to fulfill a person’s regular need for omega-3 fatty acids.
For pregnant women and children, experts suggest an additional 200 grams of DHA over the recommended omega-3 dosage.
Your consumption of omega-6 is likely to have an impact on your need for omega-3. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 2:1. Both omega-3 and omega-6 have similar enzymes that activate the fatty acids in a similar way.
It is time that we address those who prefer omega-3 supplements over the various food sources.back to menu ↑
Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplement Guide
By now, we are well aware of the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. There are ways through which we can fulfill our need for omega-3. We have already discussed the food sources of omega-3. It is time that we talk about the omega-3 supplements in detail.
Practically speaking, there is no better food source of omega-3 than fatty fish. For those who are vegetarian, we have an alternative in the form of omega-3 supplements. It is important that we choose the best form of omega-3 supplements to fully reap the benefits.
Omega-3 oils are available in the form of soft gels and capsules. Most supplement consumers opt for capsules due to the convenience of consumption. Omega-3 capsules are tasteless and easy to swallow. This makes it easier to consume on a daily basis.
Fatty fish consumption may lead to acidity in the case of indigestion. Omega-3 capsules serve a similar purpose as the fatty fishes. But, they do not cause any burps or acid reflux upon consumption.
Omega-3 Supplement Buying Guide
Consumption of omega-3 through food or supplements is important. But, purchasing a good quality supplement is even more important. Here is a list of a few things which you need to keep in mind while purchasing omega-3 supplements.
Omega-3s are prone to developing smells, which indicate that they are not fresh. Take care that your supplement does not smell bad while you purchase it.
It is important that the supplement is of a pure form. It must be of good quality, and least preservative usage is a thing to look out for.
It is important to look for certification by renowned organizations that declare that the supplement is safe for consumption. Few such organizations which give such certification are the Environmental Defense Fund and MSC.
Choose supplements that have a higher concentration of the DHA and EPA combination. The best supplements have a concentration of around 90% with the EPA and DHA omega-3s.back to menu ↑
Omega-3 fatty acid has three major subtypes. EPA, ALA, and DHA are the three main forms of omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acid bestows us with several benefits. It helps our bodies to function smoothly. Omega-3s are good for the brain and vision strength of a person. Improvement in a person’s cardiac health is another one of omega-3 benefits.
We also know about the brownie points that it adds to the lives of children. It adds to their brain development and proper overall growth. Pregnant women can also reap the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
However, we need to be careful about the amount in which we consume omega-3 fatty acids. An excess of omega-3 can cause several issues like nose bleeding, low blood pressure, etc. Not only this, an excess of omega-3 can lead to an increase in blood sugar levels. So, we wise while you consume it.
We also saw that omega-3 is available in the form of food sources and dietary supplements. One can choose whichever option serves him well.
We really hope that this article was helpful for our readers in various ways. Keep coming back for more such articles.
Stay healthy. Stay fit!