You’ve heard it many times, haven’t you? ‘Make sure you get enough Omega-3 in your diet ‘ it’s good for you!’
So what’s all the fuss about? What is Omega-3 and why should you take it every day? Well, let’s take a closer look at what is so great about Omega-3!
Omega-3 is a class of fatty acids (the building blocks of fat) that are essential to our health. Because our bodies cannot synthesize them they must be obtained from food or supplements.
Omega-3 is available from both plant foods (such as flaxseed) and cold-water fish (such as Hoki). Omega-3 from fish oil is superior to plant-sourced Omega-3 because fish oil contains the most important Omega-3 fatty acids for our bodies ‘ DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid). Both of these are long-chain fatty acids. Plant-based Omega-3 is only in the form of ALA (Alpha-linolenic Acid), a short-chain fatty acid which must first be converted by the body into DHA and EPA for it to use. The efficiency of this process is low ‘ it is estimated that an average adult would need to consume 10 – 40 grams of flaxseed oil to produce only 200 mg of DHA. So obviously taking Omega-3 from a fish source is much preferred.
What are some of the Benefits of Taking Omega-3?
To begin with, the western diet contains far too much Omega-6 fatty acids. These come mainly from vegetable oils such as corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower, canola, and so on. These fats are found in margarine, shortening, and most processed foods. They are associated with high cholesterol levels, heart disease, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, etc. Scientists seem to agree that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 should be in the range of 4:1 to 1:1. However, because the typical diet is so low in Omega-3 and at the same time so high in Omega-6, the actual ratio is estimated to be as high as 50:1!
Omega-3 from Fish Oil has many Health Benefits Including:
‘ Cardiovascular ‘ Studies show that Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for overall heart health, increases HDL while lowering LDL cholesterol, lowers mild hypertension due to cardiovascular disease, helps avoid blood clots, reduces heart irregularities, and improves all circulatory problems.
‘ Brain Function ‘ Fish oils, especially DHA, is known to improve mood disorders such as depression, to positively affect overall mental functions, curb aggression, support the formation and repair of brain cells to improve conditions such as ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, Alzheimer’s disease, as well as improve memory and learning abilities.
‘ Allergies ‘ Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent the development of allergies and protect against symptoms of hay fever, sinus infections, asthma, food allergies, hives, and eczema.
‘ Skin health ‘ Fish oils have shown to reduce inflammation in the skin of persons with psoriasis, and generally improve the health of skin, nails, and hair.
‘ Autoimmune Conditions ‘ Omega-3 in fish oil inhibits inflammatory compounds which can benefit sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis, gout, psoriasis, etc.
‘ Diabetes ‘ Research indicates that fish oil is beneficial to type II diabetics by helping to regulate blood sugar levels and reducing insulin resistance.
‘ Immune System ‘ Omega-3 from fish oil has been shown to improve the immune system, and research has linked fish oil supplementation to a lowered risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
‘ Women’s Health ‘ Fish oil intake benefits women before menopause by releasing natural menstrual pain relieving substances and after menopause by lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
‘ Intestinal health ‘ Fish oil is beneficial for the intestines and reduces inflammation of the bowels.
‘ Eye Health ‘ Consumption of fish oil is known to lower the risk of vision loss related to aging and to improve overall eye function.
Are all Fish Oils the Same?
No, but typically you get what you pay for. Here are a few things to consider when searching for a fish oil supplement:
DHA is the Key Ingredient!
Most fish oil is low in DHA which is far more important than EPA. Yet most fish oil supplements contain more EPA than DHA. Typically, a 1000 mg soft-gel capsule will contain 180 mg of EPA, but only 120 mg of DHA. Usually these capsules contain an unknown amount of glycerin and water as well. So you really are getting a diluted product. Superior fish oils are concentrated with at least 240 mg of DHA per capsule and contain only fish oil with no fillers like glycerin and water.
Know the Quality of the Fish Oil Before You Buy!
It is also important that the fish oil you take is not contaminated. Most low quality fish oil is not molecularly distilled to remove all of the heavy metals and other potential contaminants such as PCBs. Consider also its freshness. Cheap fish oil can be old and rancid, made from a collection of low-cost ingredients from polluted waters. Instead, look for guaranteed fresh and uncontaminated fish oil that you can consume with confidence.
Bio-availability of the Fish Oil
Finally, the best fish oils are in an ester form to allow easy absorption of the active ingredients. Most fish oils are in a triglyceride form which the body must first convert into esters in order to utilize. This can be a very inefficient process and therefore you may not be getting all of the active ingredients into your system.
Don’t Delay in Adding Fish Oil to Your Diet!
Now you know how important Omega-3 from fish oil really is for your health and wellbeing. By reducing your consumption of Omega-6 (vegetable oils) and taking daily supplements of high quality fish oil, you too can enjoy the full range of health benefits from those amazing Omega-3’s!