Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Why we need them.

Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly referred to as Fish Oils, have been talked about a lot in the last two decades and have earned a lot of respect due to their numerous benefits. Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid, meaning our body does not produce them naturally, we need to get them through our nutrition or supplementation (mainly fatty fish like tuna, salmon, sardines).

There are numerous benefits for consuming Omega-3s, but they are most commonly known for reducing the risk of heart disease, helping with proper fetal development, reducing inflammation, improving joint health, favorable changes for fat loss or weight management, and helping to improve cognitive function. They’re key to the structure of every cell wall you have. They’re also an energy source and help keep your heart, lungs, blood vessels, and immune system working the way they should. 

There are 3 common Omega-3s found in our food; ALA, EPA, and DHA (DHA and EPA being the most important). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.

Although it can be found in our food, it is difficult for most people to eat the required amounts of wild-caught, oily fish to fulfill daily Omega-3 needs. Therefore, they add a high-quality Omega-3 supplement to their diet.

Some signs that you may be deficient in Omega-3s are (based on University of Health News):

  • Soft, peeling, or brittle nails (or slow-growing nails)
  • Attention deficit, restlessness, poor concentration, or poor memory
  • Depression, anxiety, or mood swings
  • Dry, flaky, cracking, or callused skin
  • Dry eyes
  • Dehydration, thirst, dry mouth/throat, or frequent urination
  • Dry, dull, or brittle hair (also dandruff or “cradle cap”)
  • Delayed recovery 
  • Stiff or painful joints
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Allergy symptoms (eczema, asthma, hay fever, hives, etc.)

Most people in the United States get enough ALA from the foods they eat. They also get small amounts of EPA and DHA. Recommended amounts of EPA and DHA have not yet been established, but the amount you need depends on your age and sex.

Overall, Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for optimal health. Getting them from whole foods, such as fatty fish 2-3 times per week, is the best way to ensure adequate amounts. However, if you don’t eat a lot of fatty fish, then you may want to consider taking an omega-3 supplement. For people deficient in omega-3, this is a cheap and highly effective way to improve health.

 **Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements, as they may affect any other medications you are taking**

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

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