Health Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are known as essential fatty acids because they are nutrients that are necessary for human health but the body can’t make them, so we must obtain them from our diet. An abundance of research indicates that omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oils can help reduce the risk of many age related conditions including heart disease, memory loss, joint inflammation and depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. In fact, infants who do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids from their mothers during pregnancy are at risk for developing vision and nerve problems. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation.
According to research reported in the May 2007 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those people who consumed 6 grams of fish oil daily and walked 45 minutes 3 days a week for 12 weeks had increased levels of HDL cholesterol and decreased levels of serum triglycerides.
Other studies have reported that fish oil supplements can reduce LDL cholesterol, improve arterial health and lower blood pressure significantly in people with existing hypertension.
According to information from the University of Maryland Medical Center, there is strong evidence that omega 3 fatty acids help inhibit the development of arterial plaque in blood clots.
Research has shown that Omega 3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk of colon cancer as well as the risk of developing macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of blindness as we age.
Diabetes is a related area involving omega-3 research. Many people that have diabetes also have high triglycerides and low HDL levels. Omega 3 fatty acids, especially DHA and EPA, may be particularly helpful in managing these two risk factors in people who have diabetes.
There has also been a good deal of research investigating the impact of omega 3 fatty acid supplements on inflammatory joint conditions. Many studies have focused on rheumatoid arthritis.
Most all of these studies concluded that omega 3 fatty acid supplements reduce joint tenderness, decrease stiffness, especially morning stiffness, and often allow people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis to reduce their medication.
The American Heart Association recommends an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils), 1 gram daily of EPA and DHA for adults. For those with high cholesterol levels, the American Heart Association recommends an omega 3 fatty acid supplement (as fish oils), 2 – 4 grams daily of EPA and DHA. It may take 2 – 3 weeks for benefits of fish oil supplements to be seen.
When purchasing an omega-3 supplement, there are two things to look for…purity and potency.
Some fish may contain potentially harmful contaminants, such as heavy metals (including mercury and lead), dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) due to the diet of the fish. The source is very important. Make sure that the fish oil product is ultra-pure certified pharmaceutical- grade fish oil. The best fish oil contains a blend of the seven ultra-pure essential fatty acids found in fish. When comparing products available, be sure that your comparisons are accurate.
Look not at just the size of the capsule, but at the actual amount of EPA (at least 545 mg) and DHA (at least 360 mg) available. Processing method of fish oil is extremely important. A method called triple distillation at low heat guarantees the finest product with low odor, no after-taste and no impurities.