Omega-3: The Good Fat for Good Health

Fatty acids are made up of carbon atoms chained together by chemical bonds. Whether a fatty acid is unsaturated or saturated depends on the chemical bonds. Fatty acids are used by the heart and muscles for energy and as building blocks for cell membranes. However, unused fatty acids are converted to triglyceride and stored in the body as adipose (fat) tissue. Saturated fatty acids if taken in excess can cause blood cholesterol to rise, increasing the risk of heart disease. Increasing the consumption of monounsaturated fats helps in lowering LDL and heart disease. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are required by the body for metabolic functions. However, the body cannot produce polyunsaturated fatty acids and hence they need to be derived from food.

A type of essential polyunsaturated fatty acid, Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to your health. Omega-3 fatty acids are derived from food. Of the three types of omega-3 fatty acids, ALA is found in plant sources, and EPA and DHA are found in certain fish.

While most experts recommend sourcing omega-3 requirements from food sources, certain factors can prevent you from getting your required quantity of omega-3 fatty acids. Vegetarians who do not consume fish cannot get EPA and DHA like fish eaters. However, even fish eaters need to be aware that some fatty fish have high levels of PCBs, mercury and other toxins. ALA can be derived from seed oils like canola, soybean, and flaxseed. But these need to be consumed in moderation to ensure that the health benefits are not overshadowed by the problems associated with increased consumption of oils and nuts.

One option to take care of your omega-3 requirements is to take supplements. Fish oil supplements are an option, although many people suffer from flatulence and indigestion – a common side effect of taking fish oil. For people who don’t want the hassle or cost of taking multiple supplements and pills each day, Earl Hailey of explains that there are patches that can deliver that same amount of vitamins and nutrients. More information on patches can be researched regarding the method of use, technology, and benefits of omega-3 patches. Omega-3 patches are a good source and can be availed and used with ease.

Omega-3 Benefits

Fight Anxiety and Depression – A mental disorder, depression, and anxiety can affect anyone. Research indicates that regular consumption of omega-3 reduces the chances of depression and helps overcome anxiety. EPA is considered as the most effective fatty acid to fight depression.

Eye Health – An important component of your retina is DHA. Macular degeneration which causes blindness and eye damage can be reduced by taking required quantities of omega-3.

Development and Growth of the Brain – Forty percent of the polyunsaturated fatty acid in your brain comprises of DHA, while the percentage in the retina goes as high as sixty percent. Consuming omega-3 in the required quantities during pregnancy will have numerous benefits for the developing baby. Omega-3 intake during pregnancy has been linked to higher intelligence in the child along with decreased risks of several diseases.

Heart Disease – One of the leading causes of mortality in the world, strokes and heart attacks could be kept at bay with omega-3. Research shows that the incidence of heart attacks and strokes is much less in communities that consume fish regularly. Some benefits of omega-3 that are associated with the heart are a reduction in triglycerides, increase in HDL, reducing blood pressure, preventing blood clots and plaque in the arteries, and in some people reducing LDL.

Metabolic Syndrome – A collection of conditions including central obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and triglycerides and low HDL, metabolic syndrome can increase the risk of other diseases. Regular intake of omega-3 helps in reducing inflammation, improves insulin resistance and heart disease risks.

Autoimmune Disease – This problem occurs when your healthy cells are mistaken for foreign cells and attacked by the immune system, for example as in Type 1 diabetes. Research indicates that omega-3 taken during the first few years of your life helps to reduce the risk of autoimmune diabetes, Type 1 diabetes, and multiple sclerosis.

Mental Health – Research shows that people with psychiatric problems have low levels of omega-3. Studies have also shown that there is a marked reduction in relapses of bipolar disease and schizophrenia, as well as the frequency of mood swings.

Asthma in Children – Pollution is one of the major problems faced in ever part of the world. Children are more susceptible to breathing problems associated with pollution. Research shows that regular consumption of omega-3 could lower the risk of asthma in children.

Fatty Liver – With an increase in obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver has become a major health issue. Omega-3 supplements have been proven to reduce inflammation and liver fat.

Bone and Joints – By helping boost the quantity of calcium in your bones, omega-3 could help in reducing the risk of arthritis and osteoporosis.

Menstrual Pain – One of the biggest problems for women, menstrual pain can be reduced with regular intake of omega-3.

Sleep Improvement – Sleep deprivation is a cause for many health problems which can lead to bigger consequences like diseases. According to research, sleep apnea in adults and sleep problems in children are linked to low levels of omega-3. Melatonin, the hormone which helps you sleep is also found to be less in people with low levels of DHA.

Good Skin – Cell membranes are a large part of your skin and DHA is responsible for the good health of the cell membranes which keep your skin wrinkle-free, supple, soft, and moist. EPA manages the hydration and oil production in the skin along with preventing hyperkeratinization, helps reduce premature aging, and reduce acne risk. Omega-3 fatty acids also help protect your skin from sun damage.

ADHD – ADHD in children can be reduced with regular intake of omega-3 along with boosting mental health. Studies show a marked improvement in thinking, learning and remembering in children who are given omega-3 regularly.

Dementia and Alzheimer’s – There are indications, according to some studies, that show the association of omega-3 intake and lowering of risk against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Give Your Health a Boost

If you are unable to get your requirement of omega-3 from food, supplement it with patches to help improve your health and maintain it as you age.

Kenneth Bennett Atticus

Atticus Bennett: Atticus, a sports nutritionist, provides dietary advice for athletes, tips for muscle recovery, and nutrition plans to support peak performance.