Omega-3 Benefits

Did you know that there have been over 7000 studies done on omega-3 essential fatty acids? It seems that everywhere you turn you see more and more products fortified with omega-3. What’s the big deal? And what are the  benefits?

Essential fatty acids are natural substances your body needs to establish and maintain overall well being. The body cannot produce these essential fats on its own so it is very important that they are acquired daily through a healthy diet or supplementation. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish, such as anchovy, sardine, mackerel, salmon, tuna, halibut and other seafood including algae and krill, some plants and nut oils.

Extensive research has been conducted with regard to the overwhelming health benefits of omega-3s, including: asthma; attention deficit disorder; arthritis/inflammatory conditions; cholesterol; fat metabolism, healthy brain/eye development; healthy skin; heart health; high blood pressure; impaired digestion; mental illness; and pregnancy.

Of the three most common types of omega-3 fats, the two you may be familiar with are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They are the components of omega-3 oils that are most beneficial to our health. They are found primarily in smaller, fatty cold water fish. Leading national and international health agencies recommend a daily (combined) dosage of approximately 1,000mg of EPA and DHA for optimum health. EFA supplementation can help to maintain good health but also treat certain health conditions such as:

Arthritis and Inflammatory Conditions

The powerful anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3 help reduce stiffness in joints and help relieve joint and muscle pain.

Attention Deficit Disorder and Memory

Recent research reveals that omega-3’s, specifically DHA, help increase focus and memory retention in children and adults. Omega-3 fatty acids also support normal neurological development in infants. More positive research is coming out with regard to fish oils and its effect on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and Diabetes

Omega-3 oils promote healthy cholesterol levels in the body by helping to lower bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels. Clinical research also reveals reductions in blood pressure with the intake of omega-3 fatty acids. People with diabetes often have high triglyceride and low HDL levels.

Depression and Mood Regulation

Regular supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids helps to elevate mood and lessen depression and anxiety. High potency fish oil with added Vitamin D is very useful in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder or the “winter blues”.

Digestive System Health

Regular omega-3 supplementation helps to soothe and lubricate the bowel, ease elimination and support overall digestive health. Fish oil is helpful in treating many gastrointestinal disorders such as ulcers and inflammatory bowel disease including Crohn’s Disease and colitis due to its anti-inflammatory effects.

Healthy Eyes

Fish oil supplements reduce the risk of age related vision problems including macular degeneration. The DHA found in fish oil is important for the visual development in infants.

Menstrual Pain

In a recent study, women had less menstrual pain when they took fish oil supplements than when they took a placebo.

Skin Disorders

In a study of 40 people with psoriasis, those who took EPA with their prescription medications did better than those treated with medication alone.

Colon Cancer

Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids seems to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Animal and laboratory studies have found that omega-3’s prevent the worsening of colon cancer. Preliminary studies suggest that taking fish oil daily may help slow the progression of colon cancer in people with early stages of the disease.

Breast Cancer

Women who eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids over many years may be less likely to develop breast cancer. More research is needed to understand the effect that omega-3 fatty acids may have on the prevention of breast cancer.

Prostate Cancer

Population based studies of groups of men suggest that a low-fat diet including 0mega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil help prevent the development of prostate cancer.

If you are currently being treated with any of the following medications, you should not use omega-3 fatty acid supplements without first talking to your health care provider: blood-thinning medications; diabetes medications; cyclosporine; etretinate; and topical steroids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Fish and Toxicity

Many people avoid fish due to environmental toxins such as mercury, PCBs and pesticides. Supplementation with a high quality fish oil is an ideal way get your omega-3 fatty acids.

Here are a few things to look for:

  • International Fish Oil Standard Certification – IFOS standards are the highest in the world for quality, purity and potency. If a product meets IFOS standards, it will indicate it on the product packaging.
  • Molecular Distillation – Eliminates heavy metals, PCB's, and impurities. It also separates most of the saturated fat which allows for a better concentration of EPA and DHA per gram.
  • Lipase – This fat-digesting enzyme lipase is added to fish oils to enhance digestion and utilization. It also helps eliminate any fishy aftertaste, which can occur if you to not digest the oils well.
  • Enteric Coating – Provides three times the absorption compared to non-enteric coated capsules.
  • Fish Gelatin – An added benefit for fish-eating vegetarians is the fact that some fish oil supplements have 100% fish-derived gelatin capsules.

With all of these benefits it is no surprise that fish oils are one of the most commonly researched and consumed natural health products in the world. Have you taken yours today?

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Caroline Farquhar is Naturally Savvy’s Digestive Care Specialist. Caroline is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Energy Medicine Practitioner, and Reiki Practitioner.