In the world of vital nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids are heavy hitters. Necessary for our bodies to function normally, omega-3s are monounsaturated “good fats” and come in a variety of foods. Because the human body does not produce them on its own, omega-3s must be consumed through outside sources.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. They provide a number of health benefits, including the reduction of inflammation in the blood vessels and joints. Omega-3s also allow the brain to function properly. Emerging studies indicate that these nutrients can help to alleviate symptoms of depression, bipolar, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Omega-3 supplements affect the brain differently than prescription antidepressants. which means that adding them to a health regimen tackles psychological issues from a new angle.
Other health benefits include:
- Reduced symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
- Lowered high blood pressure
- Reduced risk for coronary heart disease
- Therapeutic effect on children with ADHD
- Decreased inflammation in cystic fibrosis patients
- Therapeutic value in the treatment of lupus
- Prevention and reduction of insulin resistance
- Prevention of preterm birth in both high and low-risk pregnancies
- Protection against chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in smokers
- Reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration
- Reduced risk of pneumonia
- Decreased wrinkles
What foods contain omega-3 fatty acids?
With medical evidence overwhelmingly supporting the multitude of omega-3 fatty acid health benefits, you may be wondering how to find them in your diet. There are many types of omega-3 fatty acids, two of which are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). These acids are found together in fish and have the most established health benefits of all the fatty acids. DHA can also be found on its own in algae. However, the best method for taking in omega-3s is to consume fish or fish oil supplements. Salmon is a fish known for its high omega-3 levels.
Other types include ALA (alpha-linelenic acid), found in plants like flax, which partially convert into DHA and EPA once it enters the body.
Additional foods containing excellent levels of omega-3 fatty acids that you may already enjoy include walnuts, avocado, tuna, and olive oil.
How much do I need?
The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish per week in addition to ADA-rich plant sources. Healthy individuals do well to intake at least 500 mg per day of EPA and DHA to meet their daily needs. For people suffering from chronic pain, studies support 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams of omega-3 of daily supplementation can help reduce or even eliminate the pain.
One gram of EPA/DHA has been found to have significant therapeutic effects on patients with a history of coronary heart disease. Those with high triglyceride levels are recommended to take up to four grams daily.
Do I need to supplement? What do I look for?
For patients both with chronic conditions and healthy individuals who may not eat omega-3-containing foods on a regular basis, supplementation is a simple, effective way to boost your health and daily wellness.
When shopping for a supplement, look for omega-3 fish oils in their triglyceride form. This is the form in which they occur in nature, and the one best absorbed by the body. However, many supplements today use the converted form, ethyl ester, which is sub-optimal for absorption. Supplements containing nearly 100 percent of the triglyceride version of omega-3s are available from high-integrity suppliers and are your best choice.
Omega-3 fatty acids boost the body’s performance, relieve chronic pain, and help treat and reduce symptoms of a wide variety of severe health conditions. Be sure to include omega-3 rich foods in your daily diet and make the most of this nutrient with a high-quality supplement.